Eight years ago we began changing out the old light bulbs in our Roadtrek for LED bulbs. In an older RV with a single battery, the change to LEDs is a significant power saving. We changed everything but the fluorescent light over the dinette. It was not quite the power hog as the incandescent bulbs and it really produced a lot of light when you needed it. When boondocking we avoided turning it on since it used 1.5 amps.
Many older RVs have that same round fluorescent light – the Thin-Lite 109C – located above the dining table. It is 9.38″ in diameter and 1.63″ thick. The light provides bright illumination for eating and projects, but it has a vulnerable translucent plastic diffuser that becomes brittle and turns yellow over time. Owners frequently bang their head on the diffuser, busting it or their skull. If the latter, it’s 911 time. The broken plastic lens is the common problem. Diffuser replacements are available as listed in the fat RV parts catalog at most RV dealers and are available on Amazon. But there is a better solution.
We found a round LED replacement light on Amazon that you can install in just a few minutes. It is made by Dream Lighting and is 8.5-inches in diameter and 0.43-inches thick (smaller diameters also available). Another Roadtrek owner had done the replacement and was happy with it. With a thinner profile it is less of a headbanging risk. A push button switch lets you select the lighting mode: blue night light with 4 LEDs, normal light comparable to the original headbanger, and bright with operating-room brilliant light. We got the warm white version, but a cool white is available. The same push button steps the light off. The switch is dimly lit by a blue glow when the light is off.
Installation is straightforward. First remove the old light fixture. Unscrew the nut holding the center push button switch on the old light and remove the diffuser. Then unscrew the 3 screws holding the fixture on the ceiling. Two wires hang down from the opening in the ceiling. Cut the wires to remove the old light, and wire in the new light. The green wire goes to the new white wire. The red wire goes to the new fixture’s black wire (your wire colors may differ.) We used automotive crimp wire connectors to hook up the new light. Always try pulling on the wires to make sure the connection is good. If you have trouble getting a secure connection with the multi-function tool that comes with sets of electrical connectors, invest in a separate crimping tool. We have one of these, wish we had bought one sooner.
The wires can be stuffed up into the hole. The new light comes with many small holes for small screws hidden under the white bezel around the outside edge. Three screws were sufficient to attach the new light to the ceiling. A smaller size screw than was used on the original light was required. The white bezel snaps on the new light base with gentle pressure covering the screws.
We measured the 12 VDC current draw of both the old fluorescent circular light and the new LED light. The old light draws 1.5 amps. The new LED version: blue <0.1 amp, normal 0.5 amp, and bright 1.0 amp. The 0.5 amp mode seems to be about the same light level as the original light. The highest setting may rival operating rooms!
We now have all the lights in our Roadtrek changed to LEDs. This had been the only remaining light. We are pleased with its appearance, its lower battery use, and its lower profile over the dinette. Our heads may be spared future encounters with lights!