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Tiny Lights for RVers and Campers

| Updated Jan 29, 2016

Most RVs have interior lights that work on 12 VDC battery power or 120 VAC shore power to light dark corners and illuminate activities like cooking, reading, and finding the bathroom in the middle of the night. And nearly all owners have one or more flashlights handy. But are some flashlights better than others? We have tried several dozen tiny lights. The best of them have long-lasting batteries, can be kept handy for instant access, and are compact enough to stick around without displacing other vital objects.

Here are our nominations for tiny lights that pass our tests of utility, cost, and accessibility.
Cap Light & eGear Splashlight1. eGear SplashLight. This is a single LED flashlight with a hole at the end for hanging a mini-carabineer. It is about 2.5″ long. The light turns on by twisting a bezel around the lens and gives a brilliant white semi-flood light for any task. The battery is long lasting, so much so that in two years of use we have not had to replace the battery. Mini-carabineers are available in your choice of colors at the checkout of any hardware store. We have installed double hooks at six places around the interior of our Roadtrek 190 Popular, which means we can hang it anywhere and find it on pitch black nights by feel alone. We found it on Amazon for various prices and colors from $9 to $16.

2. Baseball cap lamp. Some baseball caps have built-in LEDs and a coin battery (click here for example). Others are a self contained flashlight specifically designed with a clip to mount onto any baseball cap brim, and stay with the cap wherever you hang your hat (click here for example). Roger uses it frequently to use at night outside the RV, to check the propane tank level or look for something in our rear mounted cargo box. It's also handy for searching the dark compartments near the floor for seldom used stuff you believe is stored there. Here's one on Amazon for $16.

Zebra & Black Diamond3. Head lamp with elastic band. Petzel and Black Diamond make a variety of LED headlamps at a wide spread of prices. These are available at most camping and outdoor stores and on line at Amazon. Petzel and Black Diamond quality is good, while cheap imitations are often unreliable due to switch failures or flimsy constructions. Lynn prefers a good headlamp for outdoor tasks or checking for blown fuses in the electrical panel.  Her favorite is the Zebra H600FW with the rechargeable 18650 batteries – but that is overkill for this application.  But for a really bright light to take the dogs on a night time walk, it is wonderful.

LED Flashlights4. LED Flashlights. Dozens of configurations are available from cheap one-time throw away models to obscenely expensive armored special forces models. Let your common sense and budget guide you, but don't buy a BIG one. Besides the eGear flashlight mentioned above, we have several others. The 24-LED model shown is from HarborFreight. The single LED light with a long stem has a clip on the back to put it on a curtain. A long bendable stem can be pointed for book reading.

We have purchased various small lights from time to time (an obsession of Roger who at age six saved his allowance for months to buy a five-cell flashlight to visit Mammoth Cave.) Book lights, red lights to save night eyesight, and ultra-miniature LED lights — but we found that none are as handy as those described above. Our RV came with incandescent battery operated tap lights installed here and there by a previous owner, but these lights were in the wrong places. Night lights are often too bright. At a dollar store we bought a couple of 8-inch extension cords that glow when the 120 VAC outlet is live. Those are pretty good night lights and also help you find the outlets when you need to plug in your computer, vacuum cleaner, electric heater, or electric heating floormat.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2016-01-29

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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