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Tips: Upgrade Kitchen Lighting Easily

| Updated Jul 25, 2015

When we bought our 1995 Dodge Roadtrek 190 Popular the kitchen had one feeble incandescent light, so it was too easy to serve the garbage instead of salad. We remedied that by replacing the light bulb with an LED array that fit into the same fixture. That was some better. It saved electricity. Then we discovered LED strip lights. Roger installed a three-foot string that lit up the white Corian counters just fine. Some LED strip lights age — that is, grow dimmer over a couple of years. (Yes, maybe it's our eyesight that grows dimmer also.)

Kitchen with Single LED light
Kitchen with stock light fixture with LED replacement

Lynn discovered that 12 volt LED lights have improved over the last couple of years, as has our experience on how to install them. We talked about tearing out the klutzy string of old LED kitchen lights and replacing them with 2015 technology. We had already discovered that the best way to mount LED strip lights is to screw down a 1/2″ x 1/2″ aluminum angle strip where you want to locate the lights; then run the self-adhesive light strip behind the front side of the aluminum angle. This mounting shields the bright LEDs from your eyes and aims the light down and into whatever you are illuminating. Our toilet compartment became a first-class reading room when we installed LED strip lighting under the shelf over the toilet.

You can choose LEDs in warm white or cool white for normal use. (Warm white is better.) It is available for interior or exterior use, as on our awning as an outdoor night light. We bought a 16-foot roll, plus two different aluminum mounting extrusions to try out. One extrusion holds a white plastic opal cover that snaps in place. We bought ours at on Amazon.

Roger measured everything (twice). He drew a plan for the strip light run that extended about 12-feet at the back and front of the kitchen microwave, cupboard, and range hood. The single strip of lights crosses the counter in three places. Then he sawed the aluminum extrusions into the exact length and screwed or blind riveted them to the wall and underside of the microwave. After fishing the end of the strip behind the microwave and power strip cords, we wired the strip into the previously used switched power feed. It was a four-hand job to peel the tape from the back of the strip light and adhere the self-stick back to the aluminum extrusions. Where the strip light didn't stick well, we used Emblem & Trim Cement  to fasten the strip securely.

Kitchen with new Strip Lights
New warm white LED strip lights provide even lighting

We switched on the brand new strip lights and WOW! It was Times Square with the ball half way down to the New Year. We still have four feet of LED strip lights left, and a dimmer that we did not use. The single kitchen fixture is still in place if we want dim light on the counter, or we can switch on the strip and see everything clearly.

In summary, our latest kitchen strip light project increases our LED strip light projects to six: Over the dinette in back with a dimmer, in the toilet compartment, over the passenger seat in front as a map light, under the side door step (that needs a switch replaced), outside along the awning edge with a dimmer, and the kitchen.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2015-07-25

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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