Saturday, April 13,2024 11:11 am EDT

Upgrade Your RV’s Exterior Lighting for Better Visibility: A Step-by-Step Guide


Lights play a crucial role in the safety and aesthetics of recreational vehicles (RVs). Good lighting ensures that you can see and be seen, which is vital when traveling or camping. This blog post will explore why exterior lighting is important for RVs and the advantages of enhancing this aspect of your motor home.

Explanation of the importance of exterior lighting for RVs

Exterior lighting on an RV does more than just illuminate the surrounding area; it serves as a critical safety feature. Well-lit RVs are easily visible to other drivers, reducing the risk of accidents. Moreover, lighting can deter thieves and help you navigate around the RV at night without stumbling or running into obstacles.

Benefits of upgrading RV exterior lighting for better visibility

Upgrading to LED lights can offer improved visibility, energy efficiency, and longer life spans. These benefits translate into a safer travel experience and reduced maintenance costs over time. With LEDs, you can enjoy brighter surroundings and a modernized look for your RV.

Understanding RV Exterior Lighting

Advantages of LED lights for RVs

It is important to understand the avantages that LEDs offer over traditional bulbs to fully benefit from updating your RV Lighting setup. LED’s are more energy-efficient, consuming less battery power. They also provide brighter light, which is crucial for visibility during night-time adventures. Additionally, LEDs are durable, capable of withstanding vibrations and shocks common while driving.

rv exterior lights

RVs come with various exterior light types that are essential for better visibility weather on the road or at the campsite. This includes tail lights, marker lights, floodlights, and awning lights. Each type has a specific function, from enhancing safety to providing convenience and ambiance.

1. Tail Lights:

These lights are mounted on the rear of the RV and serve as brake lights, turn signals, and running lights. They are crucial for alerting other drivers about your intentions on the road.

One product worth considering in this category is the GloLight series by Optronics. These tail lights are known for their distinctive smooth, glowing appearance when lit and are suitable for RVs. They offer LED options which are energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan than traditional bulbs.

Another option could be the Bargman Series 84/85, which is popular for its reliability and ease of installation. This series includes LED configurations and features a design that allows for quick replacement of lenses or bulbs.

2. Marker Lights:

Also known as clearance lights or side marker lights, these lights are installed along the sides of the RV to make it more visible at night. They help indicate the size and shape of the vehicle to other drivers, reducing the risk of accidents.

The Partsam 12V LED RV Side Marker Lights are a popular choice. These lights come in a pack of four and are designed to be weather-resistant and long-lasting.

3. LED Light Bars:

Consider installing LED light bars on the front or rear of your RV. These light bars are designed to provide powerful illumination in dark or low-visibility conditions, ensuring better visibility while stationary or driving at night.

Popular brands that manufacture LED light bars suitable for RVs include Rigid Industries, which is known for high-quality and durable lighting products, and Nilight, which offers a variety of affordable and reliable options. Another brand to consider is KC HiLiTES, which has been in the lighting industry for many years and is well-regarded for its off-road lighting solutions.

For example, the Rigid Industries E-Series or the Nilight LED Light Bar could be good options to explore. These light bars come in various lengths and are designed to provide a bright, wide beam of light. They are also built to be weather-resistant, which is crucial for withstanding the varying conditions encountered during RV travels.

3. Floodlights:

Floodlights are typically found on the exterior walls or roof of the RV and provide a wide beam of light. They are used to illuminate the area around the RV, making it easier to set up camp, navigate in the dark, or deter potential intruders.

The Cree 65W Replacement Floodlight LED stands out as a superior choice, having been rigorously tested and crowned as the Editors’ Choice by CNET’s lighting lab. Its performance and quality make it an excellent option for those seeking reliable outdoor lighting.

For those who prioritize color accuracy and vibrancy, the GE Reveal BR30 Floodlight LED emerges as a top contender. Its advanced technology enhances red tones, a challenging aspect for many LEDs, ensuring that colors appear more vivid and true-to-life.

4. Awning Lights:

These lights are attached to the awning of the RV and are designed to create a cozy and inviting outdoor space. They usually have a softer glow and can be used for ambient lighting, allowing you to enjoy evenings outside your RV.

To enhance your RV experience, consider the Lrimauix RV Awning Lights, which offer a more permanent lighting solution. These lights are designed for durability and ease of use, coming with a mounting channel and being directly wired into your RV’s power system.

5. Porch Lights:

Porch lights are typically located near the entrance of the RV and provide focused illumination for the immediate surroundings. They are useful when entering or exiting the RV at night and can also serve as a security feature.

In terms of design for RV porch lights, there are various styles to choose from, whether you prefer a classic lantern look, rope lights, or a more modern aesthetic. Some top picks for 2023 include the Camco Hanging Party Outdoor RV lights for their unique and stylish appearance, and the Coleman 10 Lantern LED String lights for those who love classic lantern-shaped lights. Other notable mentions are RecPro, Polymer, Dream Lighting, LED RV, SUPERNIGHT, and Green LongLife, each offering distinct designs to suit different tastes.

6. Docking Lights:

Docking lights are usually mounted on the front of the RV, near the lower corners. They are angled downward to provide additional visibility while parking or maneuvering in tight spaces.

The Pagoda LED Piling Light, a hardwired solution, is a popular choice among RV owners, known for its premium status and reliability for docking illumination. Another excellent option for those seeking a comprehensive lighting kit is the Mantis Dock Light Kit 3-Lights, which provides a robust lighting system for docking needs.

7. Step Lights:

These lights are installed on the steps or stairs leading into the RV, illuminating the area and making it safer to enter or exit the vehicle at night.

For added safety when entering or exiting your RV, the Facon 12V LED RV Step Light is a recommended option. These lights are easy to install and feature a motion sensor for automatic activation.

It’s important to note that different RV models may have variations in the types and locations of exterior lights. Additionally, some RV owners may choose to customize their lighting setup by adding features like LED strips or motion sensor lights for added convenience and safety.

Step-by-Step Guide to Upgrading Your RV’s Exterior Lighting

Researching Local Regulations and Requirements

When upgrading RV exterior lights, including tail lights, it’s important to be aware of and comply with specific regulations and requirements that may apply. These regulations can vary depending on the country or region you are in. Here are some general considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Brightness and Color: Tail lights typically need to emit a red light that is visible from a certain distance, often up to 500 feet away. The brightness should be sufficient to alert other drivers but not so bright as to cause glare or confusion.
  2. DOT Compliance: In the United States, exterior lights on vehicles, including RVs, must be compliant with the Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. Look for lights that have a DOT certification mark.
  3. Size and Shape: Some jurisdictions may have specific size and shape requirements for tail lights. It’s important to choose lights that meet these specifications to ensure they provide adequate visibility.
  4. Reflectors: Tail lights are often required to have built-in reflectors or a separate reflector must be installed. This ensures that the vehicle is visible at night even when the lights are not turned on.
  5. Installation and Positioning: Proper installation and positioning are crucial. Tail lights should be mounted at a specific height and spaced apart at a certain distance as defined by local laws.
  6. Functionality: Tail lights must function in tandem with brake lights and turn signals. When upgrading, ensure that the new lights are compatible with your RV’s electrical system and can perform all necessary functions.
  7. State/Provincial Regulations: Each state or province may have additional or unique requirements. It’s important to check with local motor vehicle authorities for any specific rules that apply to RVs.

Before making any upgrades, consult the owner’s manual of your RV for manufacturer recommendations and specifications. Additionally, it may be beneficial to contact a professional installer or an RV dealership for advice on compliant lighting options.

Assessing current lighting setup

The first step in upgrading is to assess your RV’s current lighting. Look at what works and what doesn’t. Determine if the brightness is sufficient and whether there are any areas that need better illumination.

Researching and selecting the right LED lights for your RV

Once you know what you need, research the LED lights that fit your RV’s model. Consider factors like size, brightness, and energy consumption. Read product reviews and DIY guides to make an informed decision. Older RV’s are likely outfitted with traditional halogen light bulbs, and these can be replaced by modern LED alternatives.

Installing new exterior lights

With the right lights chosen, installation is the next step. Turn off your RV’s power supply before starting. Remove old fixtures, connect the new lights, and secure them properly. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a professional if unsure.

Testing and adjusting the new lighting setup

After installation, test the lights to ensure they work correctly. Adjust the angle and direction of floodlights or spotlights to maximize visibility and coverage. Make sure all lights are bright and functioning as expected.

Making your RV campsite shine with upgraded outdoor lighting.


Upgrading your RV’s exterior lighting to LED can significantly enhance visibility and safety. It’s an investment that pays off by providing a more enjoyable and secure travel experience. Take the plunge and brighten up your RV journey today!

Summary of the benefits of upgraded RV exterior lighting

Improved visibility, increased safety, energy savings, and a modern look are just a few benefits of upgrading to LED exterior lighting for your RV. These enhancements make a notable difference in your travels.

We encourage all RV owners to consider upgrading their exterior lighting. With this guide, you’re equipped with the knowledge to make an informed decision and tackle a DIY project that will illuminate your adventures and safeguard your journeys.


What are the benefits of upgrading RV exterior lights for better visibility?

Upgrading RV exterior lights, especially to modern LED options, enhances visibility due to their brighter illumination and broader light spectrum, improving safety during night travel. Additionally, LEDs have a longer lifespan and consume less power, reducing maintenance needs and energy costs over time.

How can I determine if my current RV exterior lights need upgrading?

To determine if your RV exterior lights need upgrading, check for any signs of dimming, flickering, or inconsistent performance, which can indicate aging bulbs or electrical issues. Additionally, consider upgrading if your current lights are not LED, as LED lights offer better visibility, energy efficiency, and a longer lifespan.

What types of RV exterior lights can be upgraded for better visibility?

RV exterior lights that can be upgraded for better visibility include tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, and clearance lights. Upgrading to LED options is a popular choice as they are brighter, more energy-efficient, and have a longer lifespan than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Are there any specific regulations or requirements for upgrading RV exterior lights?

Yes, there are specific regulations and requirements for upgrading RV exterior lights, which typically include adherence to Department of Transportation (DOT) standards and ensuring that the lights are bright enough for visibility but not blinding to other drivers. Additionally, the lights must be properly positioned and color-coded according to legal specifications, such as red for tail lights and white for reverse lights.

Can I upgrade my RV exterior lights myself, or do I need professional assistance?

Cpgrading your RV exterior lights can often be a DIY project if you have basic mechanical skills and the right tools, especially when replacing like-for-like fixtures. However, for more complex installations or electrical work beyond your expertise, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance to ensure safety and compliance with road regulations.

How much does it typically cost to upgrade RV exterior lights for better visibility?

The cost to upgrade RV exterior lights for better visibility can vary widely depending on the type and quality of lights chosen, but on average in the US, LED tail light kits can range from $50 to $200 or more. Professional installation can add to the cost, typically ranging from $100 to $300, depending on the complexity of the setup and labor rates.

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Nil Nada
Nil Nada
I'm highly interested in emerging technologies, and how they can transform the world around us for the better when used with compassion and ingenuity. Additionally, I'm a passionate outdoorsman and enjoy getting out to camp as much as I enjoy testing new gear.
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