Easily take a ceiling light fixture for your home and install it in your trailer, camper or RV! All you have to do is convert it to 12V. We give you step-by-step instructions for foolproof installation.
Let’s be honest, trailer/RV lighting can be bland and boring. Most new trailers/RVs have standard non descript lighting because it’s easier for the companies to mass produce and to keep the decor more neutral.
Although our trailer is vintage and we like the original look, the ugly dirty plastic lights had to go. I wanted to personalize our space with a softer stained glass look. Below are Step-By-Step instructions on how we converted a regular home 110v flush mount light fixture in our vintage Airstream Argosy to 12v.
There are two differences between a 110v and 12v light fixture. The first is that a 110v fixture, that is used in your home, is controlled by a wall switch. The second is the power source 110v (home) vs 12v (trailer/RV). The 110v fixture, such as our stained glass mission light, does not care that the new power source is 12v, because wiring is wiring.
- Light Fixture, Flush Mount is easiest for ceilings.
- 15 amp On/Off Toggle Switch
- 12v LED Light Bulb
- Electrical Tape
- Drill and 1/2 inch drill bit
- Self Drilling Screws
Part One – remove the old light
As you disconnect the wires cover the ends with electrical tape or wire connectors. The reason for doing this is so that you do not accidentally touch the hot wire (the black one) and ground together and blow a fuse.
Part Two – preparing the light fixture
Argosy ceiling light fixtures have on/off switches on them as oppose to home lighting, 110v light fixtures, that is controlled by wall switches. So you are going to have to add an on/off switch. I used a 15amp on/off toggle switch I bought at HomeDepot.
- The threads on the switch have a diameter of 1/2 inch
- Using a drill with a 1/2 inch drill bit carefully drill a hole in side of light fixture
- Insert the switch through the hole
- Secure in place with the nuts that came with switch
After you have finished step two your light fixture should look like this:
Part Three – install the new light fixture
There are three wires that will need to be connected:
- Black wire – this is the hot wire that provides power to the light
- White wire – this is the neutral wire
- Copper wire – this is the ground wire
The on/off switch you installed has two connectors, which will need to have the black wire connected to each connector. One black wire goes to the trailer and the other one goes to the light fixture. My wires were short so I added some yellow wire to make them longer. The two connectors had screws so I put a ring crimp connector on the ends of the black wire being connected to the switch.
The copper wire is the ground wire, which completes the 12 volt circuit for the light. For connecting the two copper wires use a twist on connector.
Take the white wire from the trailer and the light switch and connect them using a twist on connector.
Part Four – mount the new light fixture
You will probably not have holes in the ceiling that match up to the holes on the new light fixture mounting bracket. Use self drilling screws to mount the light. These will be able to drill through the galvanized metal of the interior ceiling. The interior metal of the trailer is grounded, so screwing the mounting bracket to the ceiling grounds the bracket. This is important to complete the 12v circuit. The mounting bracket already has a copper wire connected to it (see picture).
Part Five – 12 volt light bulbs
In order for your 110 volt fixture to work with the 12 volt system you will need 12 volt light bulb (see picture). the 12 volt light bulbs are readily available online from various sites.
Part Six – install the light shade
Use threadlock when attaching the threaded post that holds the light shade to the mounting bracket and the light shade to the threaded post. Because your trailer/RV is going to rock and bounce when being towed, using threadlock helps keep your light fixture/lamp shade from coming lose, falling and breaking.
That’s it! You have successfully converted a light to 12V for your trailer/RV.