12V RV interior lights as emergency lights

I continue to struggle with emergency lighting options.  I have several but each has drawbacks.

Last night we were discussing the issue while enjoying the Aladdin lamps and the wood stove and hubby said, “What about 12 volt RV lights?”

Smacks forehead.

We maintain several 12V batteries on tenders at all times.  One is a heavy duty deep cycle that sits under a coffee table in the house.  It used to be life support for a tropical fish tank.  We also have plenty of generator power for recharging. How could I not have thought of this?

I just ordered two wall/ceiling mount LED RV interior lights, declared to emit roughly 60 incandescent watts of light each, for about $50 the pair.  We’ll know in a week or so how it works out.


  • Comments (11)

    • 2

      Here is the result of our RV interior light project.  Two lights on a lawnmower battery.  The wood stove is approximately 24 feet away from the lights.  We just need to put hanging hardware on them. 


      • 1

        @Barb Lee,

        That looks really good.

        How long will the lawn mower batter keep those going?

      • 2

        Shaun, This was the first time they have been turned on, so I can’t say, but they only draw a tiny bit of current, 0.6 amps which apparently translates to about 7.2 watts each.  They produce over 900 lumens each, which is equivalent to roughly 70 watts incandescent. The lights themselves are very inexpensive.

        We keep this battery and a heavy duty deep cycle battery on trickle chargers just for emergency use already and they’re set up with cigarette lighter type plugs for quick connection.  The plan is to keep them changed with the generators whenever we’re running refrigerators, etc.

      • 2

        Can you post what you bought and how you put it together?

      • 2

        I will do that.  In the meantime, this is the unit that we bought.  RV Lights

      • 2

        Shaun, this is obviously nothing fancy.  The lights are intended for a specific place in a specific room, but they just need picture hanger hooks or whatever to be used on different walls. 

        Hubby just cut a cedar board to mount the lights to.  There are loops on the backs of the boards to hang on hooks. 

        Both lights are wired to the same “cigarette lighter” plug, each with a 10 ft length of lamp cord.  Lights have their own on/off switches.

        Note:  Everything shown here except for the lights and the lamp cord is repurposed stuff we already had on hand.  We had batteries, trickle chargers and battery boxes for slow moving vehicle lights with no electrical system.  Now the small battery is used for the DIY 12V shower contained in a leftover tackle box, on which it’s sitting. The inverter and big marine battery were life support for tropical fish we no longer have.  So we have next to nothing invested in the actual project except the lights.


        This is the small battery, in its battery box, showing the cigarette lighter socket attached to the terminals.  It is plugged in to its trickle charger.  We have inverters with the same type of plug that can be used with the battery sockets for powering small 120V items.


        This is one of the inverters that plugs into the batteries. (Inverter recommended by TP!)


      • 2

        Thank you. This is a really nice, simple and portable setup. I just need the battery and the lights.

        My wife has poor night vision, in fact, she has avoided night driving since we met. She’s uncomfortable during power outages even though we have many types of flashlights. This may solve part of that problem for her.

        Although, I am also going to buy a few of the lithium powered LED lights from Harbor Freight too.

        I knew someone 20 years ago that plumbed part of his house with propane lines during a renovation. He installed indoor propane lamps, kind of like Alladin. Like these (this one is NG).

        NG wall lamp

        The only problem with these is fishing the fuel line. I don’t know if it would be possible with a finished wall, because NG/Propane lines are coated aluminum and stiff, like CPVC.

        Your idea is most practical. Thanks.

      • 2

        I hope you can make use of the idea, Shaun!  And once you have the battery, there’s no end of 12V gadgets available!

        One of the reasons we didn’t go with using the inverter and a 120V lamp is because the inverter itself uses power, so there’s a little extra drain on the battery while using it.  However, that’s another option, perhaps, a battery with an inverter and and something like Redneck’s lights, or just an ordinary lamp with a low voltage bulb.  I think I’ve got an LED light bulb on hand that is only 12 watts, but light equivalent to 100 watt incandescent.  The inverter I showed is good for 300 watts. That may be a vastly easier solution.

        Your gas wall light is very reminiscent of the lights they put in early travel trailers and campers.  We had those when I was a kid.  And being an Aladdin lamp fan, I can assure you, the LED lights are vastly brighter!  It looks like you could pretty much set up the 12V system for the cost of one of those NG lights!

    • 2

      Barb, while my house runs on the generator, I really, really like these 120 volt mini LED work lights.  There are super bright, providing 1000 lumens and only pull 11 watts. They have a 25,000 hour life.  It has a built in carry handle & you can split the double legs to angle it any way you wish.  I have found that feature very handy when we experience extended power outages.  I like these lights so much, I recently ordered several more, along with some extra medium duty extension cords.  This model is currently unavailable on Amazon but they have many similar models.

      light 2

      light 3

      With several multi-day power outages in the last year or so, I quickly found the need to have plenty of lighting options.  As opposed to DC lighting solutions, I use my solar generators to power these lights when the generator is off.  And like you, I use my generator to recharge the batteries in the solar generators.  IMO, using solar generators to power lights and other critical items such as my CPAP, works great in conjunction with regular generators.  Being able to recharge them with my solar panels just provides even more flexibility.


      • 2

        LEDs are just amazing!  We have inverters that we could use with a battery to plug something like this in.

        We’ve been reluctant to invest in any solar energy because the time of year when we usually have power outages (winter), we typically have heavy cloud cover.  I can’t convince hubby to even try a small scale setup (although if I said I’m going to anyway, he wouldn’t try to stop me!) But I think it would only give him a chance to say “I told you so.” On my own, researching a small setup is just kind of out of my grasp. I’m a bit technologically challenged.

      • 2

        I am more than a bit technology challenged.  That is why, years ago, I went with a solar generator.  It has everything in a neat, small package… lithium rechargeable battery, inverter, 120 volt receptacles, USB receptacles, a DC cigarette lighter plug and a DC Anderson Powerpole plug.  For most normal situations, there is no need for hooking up solar panels.  I simply recharge using the gas generator, as you do.  As a prepper, having the ability to generate even a small amount of AC & DC power using a solar panel, simply adds a bit of insurance.  I have a long cord with the Powerpole connectors that goes between the solar panel and the DC input.  Nothing for this tired, old brain to figure out.  🙂