Replacing Halogen Lighting with LED Replacement Bulbs

replacement-led-bulbs-rv-remodel

We’ve undertaken dozens of remodel and renovation projects on our 1998 Foretravel u320 4200 motorhome, but without a doubt, the single greatest bang for the buck has come from replacing the OEM halogen bulbs in the under cabinet lights with LED replacement bulbs.  If you are looking for a simple, easy upgrade that has both immediate and long term benefits, we can’t recommend this quick LED replacement project highly enough. Replacing the bulbs was very easy, cost-effective and offers other direct and indirect benefits – fire prevention and safety!

Fire Hazard with Halogen Lightbulbs

Our rig has twenty-one (21!!) indirect overhead undercabinet puck lights that originally came with 10 watt halogen bulbs in each of them. While halogen bulbs are 10-20% more efficient than incandescent, LED are 75% more efficient than incandescent and pose NO fire risk because they stay cool. Each of those original 12V 10W halogen bulbs presented an individual and significant fire hazard; our son’s stuffed animal named Book Tiger almost caught fire because he was perched on top of a speaker just below one of the halogen lights – his fur was not even fully in contact with the light and yet he’s scarred for life! Poor Book Tiger.

LED Safety vs. Halogen Hazard

While halogen is known to have an increased risk of causing fire due to the heat of the bulbs, LED stays cool and does not present the same fire risk. Changing your original halogen bulbs for LED is an important safety upgrade – in our opinion, it should be considered mandatory, top of the list, primo-important, like making sure you have adequate smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Total cost for our rig with twenty-one lights was about $88 – because we used Amazon Prime, we did not pay shipping, and we had our replacement bulbs within a couple of days. Take care of this simple safety issue today!

Electrical Efficiency

We compared the relative electrical use of the bulbs to get an idea of the cost savings that LED replacement bulbs represent for our rig, with 21 original fixtures to be replaced.

Halogen vs. LED Halogen LED
Watts per fixture 10 1.5
Total watts 210 31.5

Total Electrical Savings: 178.5 Watts

That’s nearly 200 watts of power, more than enough to run a residential refrigerator! It was enough power that during our first winter, when our Aqua-Hot was not functioning properly, we used them as an auxiliary heating system, and they had a noticeable effect on the room temperature. Unfortunately, they was also a major heat load in the summer. That’s a lot of power to burn every time you turn on the lights and because our kids are nightowls, those lights get used a LOT.

LED Replacement Step By Step

IMG_6208First off, order the correct replacement LED bulbs for your OEM halogen bulbs from Amazon Prime for quick delivery – ours took less than two days. Compare the bulb base and the size of the light as well as light color/temperature to make sure you are getting the right bulb. Order a single bulb or 2-pack at first to test and make sure the bulbs you choose are the correct ones for your fixtures. We will be discussing the installation of these disc-type G4 base LED replacement bulbs that we used to replace the OEM halogen bulbs that were original to our 1998 Foretravel U320.

You should always turn off your main power source before working on any electrical projects, and although this may seem like just “changing a light bulb,” it’s better safe than sorry! Also, make sure the halogen lights jave been turned off for some time and are not hot before you try to remove them! 

Steps to Replace Halogen Bulbs with LED Replacement Bulbs

  1. Remove the decorative cover by twisting it in a counter-clockwise motion until it loosens and pops free of the base.
  2. Pull firmly but gently on the base of the halogen bulb to remove it from the fixture. A quick blow with a can of pressurized air will ensure your fixture is clean once you close it up again.
  3. Insert the new LED light bulb into the fixture. Gently wiggle the prongs into place Test the light to make sure that it works. If so, replace the cover and you’re done!
  4. If the bulb does not light, gently remove the bulb and attempt to re-seat. If the bulb still does not work, you might try a second bulb to make sure the bulb isn’t bad. If not, then you might need to start over with step one and find the correct LED replacement bulb for your OEM light fixture.

Longevity and Cost Effectiveness

These LED bulbs can be purchased online for a huge cost savings over places like Camping World or West Marine, so save your dollars! They can be extremely overpriced in stores and you can pay a fortune for LED replacement bulbs if you’re not careful. The LED bulbs we purchased, these Disc Type G4 Base Side Pin LED Bulbs, are a direct replacement for the halogen bulbs original to our Foretravel. They fit in the same fixtures and they took literally seconds per light to change out.

At about $8 for two, they cost about the same as about ten of the same type halogen bulbs, however in contrast to the expected 2000 hours of the halogen lifespan, the LED bulbs last for 35,000 hours each. That’s about 4 years solid of 24/7/365 operation! If you do the math, the 10 halogen bulbs at 2000 hours each offer a total of 20,000 hours of life for $8 (and cost more to operate!). The two LED bulbs, at 35,000 hours each, offer a total of 70,000 hours of light. Sounds like a win to me!

Light Color / Temperature

I’ve spent years extolling the virtues of LED lighting; it’s a compelling case in almost every way. Unfortunately, the first LED lights on the market were much too blue in color and lent a deathly glow rather than a warmth to the room.

Times change.

The newer lights have very different color quality compared to earlier efforts. I picked a particular shade based on reviews and research, then bought a two pack to do some trials. I replaced two lights at random in a run of four, and asked everyone to see if they could tell which was which just by the color of the light and guess what? Nobody could tell. You could see that they were different, but the LED actually produced better light with a warm tone that we all liked a lot.

LED Replacement Bulb Project Review

Simply put, this is an easy upgrade that anyone with halogen bulbs on board their rig should do – you’ll find an even bigger energy cost savings over incandescent and some savings over fluorescent bulbs as well. Replacing your halogen bulbs all at once with LED bulbs of course has an upfront cost (though our entire 42′ rig was less than $100!) but it is inexpensive compared to the monthly electrical savings while also being important for fire safety and prevention. If you have halogen bulbs like ours, order the LED replacements today and don’t delay replacing the bulbs. You’ll be very glad you did.

If you have different halogen bulbs, and would like some help finding an LED replacement, let us know what bulb you have in the comments below and we’ll help you find a replacement!

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