I’ve been looking to swap out our fifth wheels OEM incandescent light bulbs to the more energy efficient LED lamps for a while now. As luck would have I got an email from a high-quality LED lamp manufacturer asking if I would like to try out their LED lamps for the RV. The company is called StarLights located online at StarLightsinc.com. I sent them a listing of all the bulbs my rig uses and to my surprise they sent me all the different bulb types to try out.
So not only did I get to check out the standard interior lighting replacement bulbs but also LED lamps for the porch, storage bays, trailer marker and rear brake/signals. The package through USPS arrived in a few days. When I opened it and saw all the fancy looking LED packages I was pumped as any die hard RV tinkerer would be. Let the fun begin!
Current Test and Install
First thing I did was set up a little test bed with a 12-volt battery and a couple multi-meters to check out the real world power savings of the bulbs. I was very pleased to discover that the interior lights 921 bulb replacements used about 5 times less current. That means now when we are dry camping using only our batteries for electricity we will be using only 1/5 the power as before! I tested the other lamp types and they also yielded similar results. Nice.
To see the tests check out my video later in this blog post. As far as installation goes it was very simple and took no time at all. It was just a matter of removing the lenses; most are snapped in place and held with plastic clips. Just be careful not to break them if your rig is older the plastic may be brittle. A flat headed screwdriver will aid in getting them loose. The bulbs either used a bayonet type holder or just pushed straight in.
StarLights LED Replacement Lamp Reviews
921 OEM Interior Lamps Replaced with StarLights Inc. 921-250
The 921 bulb is used throughout my fifth wheel trailer for interior lighting. I found the Starlight replacements to offer at least as bright or brighter light. They really shine as a task or reading type light because of the natural warm daylight type light they produce. I really like them in the kitchen area over the sink, food prep area and over my laptop computer. Of course, there is the plus of drawing 1/5 of the juice to power them, but another big positive that I never really thought about was the greatly reduced amount of heat generated.
When I began to replace the lamps I noticed that our most used fixtures showed signs of the being overheated. The bulbs plastic holders had become brown and in the case of our most used living area light very brittle. If fact the bulbs had become fused to the plastic and I had a heck of a time removing them. I ended up damaging that fixture permanently. Also, many of the bulbs had become blackened inside. The Starlight replacements run warmish but nowhere near as hot. I’m really happy about this.
Finally, We Can Shut That Converter Up!
Under the stove in our main living area is where our battery charge converter is located. The converters’ job is to take the AC shore power and convert it to DC power to charge the batteries and also run the interior lighting. Well, when a certain amount of current is being drawn a small fan will come to help keep the electronics inside the converter cool. I find once we have three or four interior lights on the fan starts to wind up and can be very annoying in a quiet rig.
Because the LED lamps use so much less power we are much less likely to have to put up with the fan noise now. For every old incandescent bulb, we now can run at least 5 LED bulbs using the same power! Another side benefit will be less wear and tear on the converter. Being an electronic repair tech, I can tell you nothing shortens the life of electronics like too much heat.
Some Negatives I Found
There are a couple things I didn’t like about the LED lamps. The yellowish light color is much warmer than the typical blaring white or bluish LEDs I’ve seen in the past but still isn’t as pleasing a light as the reddish light of the incandescent. So for mood lighting on full hookups we will keep a few of our lamps powered by incandescent bulbs. My wife also prefers the incandescent light for putting on makeup and such. The human face does look nicer under a pinky hue. While boondocking the power savings makes it worth using all LED lighting. The Starlight LED lamps I’m using are rated at 3200 Kelvin. They come in a few other ranges so I may give them a try.
Another small quibble I have with the 921 replacements was how hard it was to insert them into the socket. After pushing so hard I thought I was going to damage the bulb or fixture I gave up and with a small screwdriver carefully spread the sockets metal prongs apart a little to allow the lamps to slide in. I have since found that if I wiggle the lamp side to side they will work their way in as well. I contacted the StarLights Inc. company about this and they told me this is by design. They have to make them a tight fit so that they stay in place given the serious amount of vibration an RV can produce when traveling.
GE93F Porch Lamp Replaced with StarLights Inc. 1141-350
This is the light that sits over the entrance door and comes with a yellow anti-bug lens. The LED replacement was much larger but fit in the fixture with enough clearance. In my tests, the original lamp used about three times the power. The LED replacement even though it uses a third the energy is actually much brighter and lights up the RV entrance door area very well. I’m very pleased with this upgrade, plenty of light and the new lamp runs much cooler.
1003 OEM Basement Storage Lamps Replaced with StarLights Inc. 1141-250
The replacements use 1/5 the power in my unscientific tests and provide a nice bright light suitable for rummaging around in the basement storage at night. The one in the water closet area puts out a nice clear light giving plenty of visibility when hooking up the water and cable at night. The lamps like the others mentioned before run nice and cool compared to the originals.
C194 Trailer Marker Lamps Replaced with StarLights Inc. 194-70
I had heard from a few fellow RVers that the LED marker lights were brighter and this is exactly what I’ve found with the StarLights replacements. Anything that helps us be seen easier on a busy dark interstate is a good thing in my book. Since we also travel a lot on the west coast through fog and rain; these lamps will really help with visibility in those conditions. I found the LED replacements were a little longer and had barely and I mean barely enough clearance between the lamp end and the lens. It was an extremely tight fit on my particular rig, but I did manage to get all the lens covers to snap back into place.
2057 Brake/Signal Lamps Replaced with StarLights Inc. 1157-170
I found these rear signal lamp replacements didn’t put out as much light as the originals, especially when viewed in daylight conditions. Wanting to use them because of they consume five times less power and run dramatically cooler I installed some foil inside the fixture behind the lamps to boost up the light output and now they are at least as bright as the originals.
Video Showing My Tests and Install of the StarLights LED Lamps
We are currently out boondocking in the Nevada Desert and I really love these new LED bulbs. It’s amazing how much longer the battery bank is lasting between charges. I also got a chance to check out the new LED marker lamps in the dark and man do they look great. Nice and bright, while drawing 1/5 the DC amperage versus the old type bulb.
I’m surprised now I waited so long to upgrade to LED lighting. I guess a major reason was the up-front cost of converting to LED. There seems to be a ton of different LED manufactures and the pricing is all over the place, it can be confusing trying to choose the right lamps. I didn’t want to waste my money on cheap LED lamps that gave off harsh bluish light like a LED flashlight or ended up burning out in a few months.
I asked StarLights Inc. why their LED lamps for the RV cost what they do and here is the answers I received.
Most of the products that we sell were invented and patented by StarLights. In order for these bulbs to last a decade or longer; we use only the best materials to stay true to our mission of “providing only the highest quality LED, 12 & 10 volt lighting products.
Let me try to explain by dissecting the technology behind LED bulbs and reveal why the manufacturing process is such a costly one. Between materials, labor and parts that turn an LED into a light bulb requires some pretty sophisticated technologies. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Components on the circuit board is often assembled by hand because its still too complicated for factory machines.
- The actual LED wafer can cost as much as $8 a unit.
- The brightest LEDs generate blue light. So in order to get the more natural white glow, manufacturers typically coat the bulb with yellow phosphor, an expensive rare earth metal compound imported from China.
- LEDs additionally require the use of drivers to convert energy into electrical current. This component alone can cost up to $4.
- Although LEDs burn cooler than Edison bulbs, they still need a conducting material to dissipate the heat. The aluminum used to accomplish this can cost as much as $3.
Fair enough. If you would like to check out the LED replacement lamp offerings from StartLights just head over to StarLightsInc.com for more information. Happy Travels – Ray