Lighting Campervan

A Comprehensive Campervan Lighting Guide

The interior of your campervan should be a welcoming space that offers both functionality and comfort. Lighting plays a crucial role in achieving this ambiance. LED lights are a popular choice due to their energy efficiency, low heat emission, and long lifespan. Here are some key areas where you can incorporate LED lights:

Interior Lighting

1 – Overhead Lighting: Installing LED ceiling lights provides a bright and even illumination throughout the campervan’s interior. Opt for fixtures with adjustable brightness to create a cozy atmosphere during the evening or when you desire a more relaxing ambiance.


2 – Task Lighting: Focus on specific areas where you need bright, direct lighting for tasks such as cooking, reading, or working. LED strip lights mounted under cabinets or above workspaces are excellent options for task lighting, as they provide ample illumination while being discreet and space-saving.

3 – Accent Lighting: To add character and visual interest to your campervan, consider using LED strip lights to highlight architectural features, artwork, or shelving. These lights can be placed under the edges of countertops, along the sides of furniture, or underneath bed frames to create a warm and inviting glow.

4 – Dimmers and Color Temperature: Installing dimmers for your LED lights allows you to adjust the brightness levels to suit different moods and occasions. Additionally, LED lights with adjustable color temperature enable you to switch between cool white for focused tasks and warm white for relaxation and comfort.

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Exterior Lighting

Outdoor lighting around your campervan is essential for safety and extending your living space. LED lights are once again the ideal choice due to their energy efficiency and durability. Here are some areas where outdoor lighting can enhance your campervan experience:

1 – Exterior Lights: Installing LED lights on the exterior of your campervan’s awning provides a pleasant, well-lit space for outdoor activities during the evening. Choose weatherproof LED strip lights or hanging lanterns that are easy to install and operate.

2 – Step and Entrance Lighting: Ensure safe entry and exit from your campervan by illuminating steps and entrances. LED step lights or motion-activated lights can be mounted near the steps or at the base of the doors, providing visibility in low-light conditions.

3 – Awning Lighting: If you have an awning on the side of your campervan, adding LED string lights or lanterns can transform it into a cozy oasis. These lights create a warm and inviting atmosphere, allowing you to relax and enjoy the night sky or entertain guests.


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Low-Light Techniques

While campervan lighting should aim to provide ample brightness, there are situations where low light conditions can enhance the overall experience. Here are some techniques to embrace low-light areas:

1- Starry Ceilings: Create a dreamy atmosphere by incorporating fiber optic lights or LED string lights to mimic a starry night sky on the ceiling. This effect can be particularly magical during nighttime camping or when stargazing.

2 – Indirect Lighting: Avoid direct, harsh lighting by employing diffused or indirect lighting methods. Concealed LED strips behind panels or underneath furniture can provide a soft, gentle glow that adds depth and warmth to the space.

3 – Bedside Reading Lights: Attach adjustable LED reading lights near your sleeping area to enjoy a cozy reading nook. These lights should be focused and adjustable to avoid disturbing your travel companions.

4 – Soft Wall Sconces: Opt for soft wall sconces with warm LED lamps to create a relaxed and cozy environment. These fixtures can be strategically placed near seating areas or beds for a comforting ambiance.

Remember, the key to effective campervan lighting is finding the right balance between functionality, energy efficiency, and creating a welcoming atmosphere. Experiment with different lighting arrangements and techniques to discover what suits your preferences and enhances your campervan adventures. So, light up your travels and embark on unforgettable journeys with a well-lit campervan interior and exterior.


Separation Of Lighting Circuits

When installing your lighting system within your campervan, it is a good idea to split your lighting systems into several circuits. This is for a few reasons:

Safety: Electrical faults, power outages, or circuit trips can occur unexpectedly. By separating lighting systems, the risk of complete darkness due to a single point of failure is significantly reduced. This mitigates potential hazards and minimises the chances of accidents, falls, or confusion that may result from sudden darkness.

Maintenance and repair: Separated lighting circuits facilitate maintenance and repair work. If a particular lighting circuit or system needs attention, it can be isolated and serviced without affecting the lighting in other areas. This saves time and allows for more efficient maintenance practices.

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Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

An LED is a semiconductor device that emits light when an electric current passes through it. It operates on the principle of electroluminescence, wherein electrons recombine with electron holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This process generates light, with the colour determined by the materials and structures used in the LED.

Purpose of LEDs

1 – Energy Efficiency: One of the primary advantages of LEDs is their exceptional energy efficiency. Traditional incandescent bulbs waste a significant amount of energy as heat, whereas LEDs convert a higher percentage of electrical energy into visible light. As a result, LEDs consume significantly less power to produce the same amount of illumination, leading to reduced energy consumption and lower electricity bills.

2 – Longevity: LEDs are renowned for their remarkable lifespan. On average, LEDs can operate for tens of thousands of hours, far exceeding the longevity of incandescent and fluorescent lights. This extended lifespan reduces the frequency of replacements, minimising waste and contributing to environmental sustainability.

3 – Environmental Friendliness: LED lighting is inherently eco-friendly due to several factors. Their energy efficiency reduces the demand for electricity, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Additionally, LEDs contain no toxic materials like mercury, which is present in fluorescent bulbs. This makes LEDs easier to dispose of and less harmful to the environment.

4 – Versatility: LEDs come in a vast array of shapes, sizes, and colors, making them highly versatile for numerous applications. From small indicator lights on electronic devices to large-scale outdoor displays, LEDs can be tailored to suit specific requirements. They offer flexibility in terms of color temperature, allowing for different lighting effects, including warm or cool lighting for various settings.

5 – Durability: LEDs are exceptionally durable and resistant to shock, vibrations, and extreme temperatures. This durability makes them ideal for harsh environments, such as outdoor lighting fixtures, automotive lighting, and industrial applications.

6 – Instant Illumination: Unlike traditional lighting technologies that require warm-up time, LEDs provide instant illumination. With a simple flip of a switch, LEDs reach full brightness instantly, making them suitable for applications where immediate lighting is necessary.


Guidance & Regulations Where Luminaires Are Concerned

BS 7671 defines a ‘luminaire’ as equipment which distributes, filters and transforms the light transmitted from one or more lamps and which includes all parts necessary for supporting, fixing and protecting the lamps, but not the lamps themselves, and where necessary, circuit auxiliaries together with the means for connecting them to the supply.

This definition contains a footnote regarding lamps: ‘lamps include devices such as light emitting diodes (LEDs).

Section 422 of BS 7671

Precautions where particular risks of fire exist

This segment of the regulations covers special conditions and precautions where there is a particular risk of fire, such as timber-constructed buildings (touring caravans and motorhomes).
In particular, Regulation 422.1.2 requires electrical equipment shall be so selected and erected that its normal temperature rise and foreseeable temperature rise during a fault cannot cause a fire.

The regulation further requires the previous shall be achieved by the construction of the equipment or by additional protection during erection. This requirement places a duty on the designer to ensure the temperature rise of electrical equipment, both under normal and fault conditions, does not increase the risk of fire to the property.

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In conclusion, lighting solutions play a crucial role in enhancing the functionality, aesthetics, and overall experience of a campervan.

LED lights are the most popular choice due to their energy efficiency and longevity. Combining ambient, task, and accent lighting can create a well-lit and versatile interior space. Remember to maximise natural light whenever possible, as it can greatly contribute to the overall comfort and ambiance.

Tom Alderdice

Hey, I’m Tom – founder of Tiny Build Electrics

My mission is to help sustainable-minded folks develop their electrical knowledge, giving them the confidence to do their own tiny build electrics.

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VW Van

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Electrical Systems in Camper Vans

In a campervan, there are usually two different 12V electrical systems because they serve two different purposes.

The first system is the vehicle’s electrical system, which is used to power the engine, lights, and other components that are necessary for driving. This system typically uses a 12-volt DC (direct current) power source and is charged by the vehicle’s alternator while the engine is running.

The second system is the living area electrical system, also known as the leisure system. The leisure system powers appliances, lighting, and other devices inside the campervan. This system typically uses a 12-volt DC power source.

Having separate electrical systems is important because it ensures that the vehicle’s electrical needs are met without compromising the power available for the living area. It also allows the living area electrical system to function independently, so you can still use appliances and other devices even when the engine is turned off.

12 Volt Direct Current System

When it comes to building a campervan, one of the most critical systems to consider is the electrical system. Without a reliable power source, you won’t be able to power your lights, appliances, or even charge your devices. One common option for campervan electrical systems is a 12-volt setup, which we will explore in this guide.

A 12-volt system is a extra low voltage (ELV) electrical system that is commonly used in vehicles and boats. In a campervan, it consists of a battery, a charger or chargers, and various components that run on 12 volts DC. The battery is typically a deep-cycle battery, which can withstand multiple charge and discharge cycles without damaging the battery. Deep-cycle batteries are designed to provide a steady supply of power over a long period of time, which is perfect for powering a campervan.

Charging a 12v Battery

A charger is used to recharge the battery when it gets low. There are several ways of charging your leisure batteries, including solar panels, battery to battery chargers, and shore power chargers.

Solar panels are a popular option because they are quiet, efficient, and eco-friendly. They can be mounted on the roof of the campervan and wired directly to the battery.

Battery to battery chargers are another option that uses the vehicle’s alternator to charge the battery while driving.

Finally, shore power chargers are used when the campervan is plugged into an external power source, either at home or on a campsite.


Once you have decided on which way you are going to charge your battery bank, you can begin to add components that run on 12 volts. Some common components include:

1. Lights: LED lights are energy-efficient and can be used for both interior and exterior lighting.

2. Compressor Fridge: A 12-volt compressor fridge can keep your food and drinks cold without the need for propane or external power.

3. Water pump: A 12-volt water pump can be used to pump water from a fresh water tank to your sink or shower.

4. Fans: 12-volt fans can help circulate air in your campervan and keep it cool on hot days.

5. Power outlets: You can install 12-volt power outlets or USB sockets to charge your devices or power other small appliances.


230 Volt Alternating Current System

With van life becoming ever more popular, many people are choosing to outfit their campervans with a 230 Volt Alternating Current electrical system.

Why do I need 230 Volt AC System in my campervan?

A 230V electrical system in a campervan operates on the same voltage as a typical household electrical system. This means that it can power devices and appliances that are designed for use in a home. However, it’s important to note that campervan electrical systems are not the same as household electrical systems and require some specific considerations.

Firstly, campervans require a power source to operate their electrical systems. This can come from a variety of sources including batteries, inverters, or external power hookups. If using external power hookups, it’s important to ensure that the power source is compatible with the campervan’s electrical system.

When it comes to installing a 230V electrical system in a campervan, it’s important to have a good understanding of electrical wiring and safety. We at Tiny Build Electrics can help you with your electrical systems that you wish to install and ensure that the installation is safe and compliant with British wiring regulations.

One important consideration with campervan electrical systems is the size and capacity of the system. The electrical system needs to be able to handle the power requirements of all appliances and devices that will be used in the campervan. It’s important to take into account not only the power consumption of individual devices but also the total power requirements of the campervan’s electrical system as a whole.

Using an inverter to create a 230V system in your campervan

One of the primary advantages of incorporating an inverter into your campervan setup is the ability to access portable power wherever you go. With an inverter, you can convert the direct current (DC) from your leisure batteries into alternating current (AC), which is suitable for powering a wide range of electronic devices. From charging your laptops, smartphones, and cameras to running small appliances such as refrigerators, lights, or fans, an inverter enables you to enjoy the comforts of your tiny home while being immersed in the great outdoors.

When selecting an inverter, safety should always be a top priority. High-quality inverters come equipped with various safety features, including surge protection, voltage regulation, and thermal overload protection. These safeguards prevent damage to your sensitive electronics and ensure a stable power supply. Moreover, reputable inverters undergo rigorous testing and certification processes to meet industry standards. By investing in a reliable inverter and following proper installation guidelines, you can enjoy a worry-free and secure power source during your campervan travels.


To connect your campervan to mains electricity, you’ll need a few essential items:

– To connect your campervan to mains electricity, you’ll need a few essential items:
A high-quality, weatherproof, and durable mains hook-up cable appropriately sized to reach the power outlet on the campsite.

– A suitable adapter plug, if necessary, to match the campsite’s power socket configuration. (If you plan to take your campervan to Europe, you may find you need an adapter plug).

– Cable clips or ties to secure the cable and prevent it from being a tripping hazard.

– A Polarity Tester: A mains polarity tester plug checks the suitability of mains hook up point with regard to earth live and neutral connections.

Note: The supply that you plug your campervan into should have an 30ma type A residual current device (RCD) for additional protection. This device will trip the circuit if it detects an electrical fault, protecting you and your campervan from potential hazards.

Safety Precautions:

While plugging your campervan into mains electricity is relatively straightforward, safety should always be a top priority to:

– Avoid using damaged or worn-out cables and plugs. Regularly inspect and replace them if necessary.

– Keep the cables away from water, sharp objects, and excessive heat sources.

– Use cable clips or ties to secure the cable along the ground, reducing the risk of tripping.

– Never overload the electrical system of your campervan or the campsite’s power supply.

– Always disconnect the mains hook-up cable and switch off the electrical system before driving or leaving the campsite.

– Using a polarity tester, ensure the power supply you’re connecting to is in the same orientation as your camper vans.

Safety & Compliance

An important consideration when selecting and erecting your 230V electrical system for your campervan is the way in which you plan to keep the system and the user safe. Luckily for us, in the UK we have a set of regulations known as the British Standard 7671 and all the vital information and guidelines are in there to help you erect a safe and functional system.


It’s essential to ensure that the system is properly grounded and that the correctly sized circuit breakers and residual current devices are installed to prevent overload and potential electrical fires. Additionally, all wiring should be properly insulated and secured to prevent damage and ensure safe operation.

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Tom Alderdice

Hey, I’m Tom – founder of Tiny Build Electrics

My mission is to help sustainable-minded folks develop their electrical knowledge, giving them the confidence to do their own tiny build electrics.

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12V vs 230V Systems in Campervans

Are you a campervan owner looking to upgrade or improve your electrical system? Understanding the difference between 12V and 230V systems is crucial to ensuring your van conversion is properly powered and equipped for your adventures.

In this article, we’ll delve into the basics of voltage, explore the characteristics and uses of 12V and 230V systems in campervans, and compare the two to help you make informed decisions about your campervan’s electrical setup.

Basics of Voltage in Campervans

Voltage, also known as electrical potential difference, is the force that pushes electric charge through a circuit. It is measured in volts (V) and is the key factor in determining the amount of power that can be transmitted through a circuit. In a campervan, voltage is used to power lights, appliances, and other devices.

12V DC Systems in Campervans

Simply put, these systems run on a 12-volt direct current (DC) and they’re used to power things like lights, fans, and other smaller appliances. They’re also handy for charging batteries, which can then be used to power other devices.

One of the best things about these systems is how simple and easy they are to use. They’re usually a more affordable option and require less maintenance compared to the 230V systems.

However, it’s important to remember that they have some limitations when it comes to powering larger appliances like air conditioners or microwaves.

Keep in mind that the 12V system relies on the campervan’s auxiliary battery for power, which means you need to keep an eye on the battery’s charge and make sure it gets charged up regularly. Otherwise, you might find yourself without power!

230V AC Systems in Campervans

In campervans, 230V AC systems supply power to larger domestic appliances and devices that require more energy than 12V systems can deliver. These appliances include microwaves, air conditioners, and other home-like conveniences.

To get power for these systems, campervans traditionally rely on an external hookup or ‘shore power’. In more recent years, however, onboard inverters have become the norm. These handy devices transform the typically 12V DC power from the campervan’s battery to 230V AC power, which can then be used to power appliances.

Inverters come in various sizes and capabilities, so it’s important to choose one that matches the power requirements of your appliances. But don’t worry, if you’re not sure, we can help size your system for you.

One of the main benefits of 230V AC systems in campervans is their ability to provide more power, making it possible to run larger appliances. They also allow you to use the same appliances you have at home, which can make your campervan feel more comfortable. However, these systems tend to be more expensive and complex to install and use. Additionally, the necessary components and battery storage can add extra weight to your vehicle, which can affect its overall weight distribution and fuel economy.

12V or 230V Systems in Campervans?

When it comes to choosing the best power system for your campervan, you need to think about what kind of stuff you want to power up. If you just need to keep the lights on and charge your gadgets, then the 12V system will do the trick. But, if you’re planning to bring along big-ticket items like a microwave or air conditioner, you’ll need to step it up to a 230V AC system.

It’s also important to think about how long you’re planning to be out on the road and how much juice you need to keep your devices powered up. If you’re planning a short trip and just need to charge your phone, then a 12V system is probably more than enough. But if you’re planning on living off the grid for an extended period of time, you’ll need to make sure you have enough power to sustain your needs.

Of course, you also need to think about the cost and upkeep of each system. A 12V system is generally more affordable and requires less maintenance, but a 230V AC system will give you more power to play with. Ultimately, you need to choose a system that fits your budget and technical abilities, and that will meet your power needs on the road.

Having Both 12v and 230v Systems in Your Campervan

Having both 12V and 230V systems in your campervan can offer the best of both worlds, as it allows you to power both small and large appliances. This is achieved by using a combination of a 12V DC system for low-power items and a 230V AC system for larger appliances e.g. the blender you can’t live without.

One common setup is to use an inverter to convert the 12V DC power from the auxiliary battery to 230V AC power for larger appliances. This can provide more flexibility in your power supply while keeping costs and complexity to a minimum.

Overall, the decision to have both systems in your campervan comes down to personal preference and your individual power needs. It’s always recommended to consult with a professional (cough, that’s us) to ensure that your system is properly sized and installed to meet your specific requirements.


In conclusion, understanding the difference between 12V DC and 230V AC systems in campervans is essential for ensuring your vehicle is properly powered and equipped for your adventures.

12V DC systems are typically simpler, more affordable, and easier to use, but have limited power capabilities. On the other hand, 230V AC systems can provide more power, but are generally more expensive, complex and require more maintenance. By considering your specific needs and the types of appliances and devices you plan to use, you can make an informed decision about which electrical system is right for your campervan.

Remember, a well-informed decision is the key to a successful and enjoyable campervan experience. Take the time to understand your needs, weigh the pros and cons, and make a decision that will serve you best. Happy travels!

Tom Alderdice

Hey, I’m Tom – founder of Tiny Build Electrics

My mission is to help sustainable-minded folks develop their electrical knowledge, giving them the confidence to do their own tiny build electrics.

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