Step 2: Smart Ways to Reduce Power Consumption
Before ever putting expensive solar panels, charge controllers and battery bank upgrades on your Molded Fiberglass travel trailer you need to reduce your power consumption while still providing for the services you need for comfortable Scamping.
- The first step to reducing your power consumption and the easiest way to achieve immediate results is to convert your lighting from incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs. LED lights use about 90% less electricity than their incandescent counterparts. Conversion of your existing light fixtures is usually as simple as replacing the light bulbs with LED bulbs (see “Changing to LED Bulbs” below).You can also choose to replace the entire light fixture with an equivalent LED replacement light. These replacement LED fixtures are easy to install (see “Replacement LED Fixtures” below).
- Use Propane for your refrigerator. If you have a refrigerator that runs off of your 12 volt system use your Propane system to operate the refrigerator (note: refrigerator will still use the 12v system to power the control module, but the power draw should be minimal).
Simply making these two changes could allow you to boondock for up to a week in nice weather without recharging your battery. Depending on your camping style this may be long enough that adding expensive Solar panels and battery upgrades to your Camper may become unnecessary.
Beyond lighting and refrigeration, other systems will place demands on your battery as well. If you are camping in cold weather and you will be running your furnace, you will probably need to recharge your battery each day because the furnace fan (if so equipped) draws a significant amount of power from your battery. Similarly, the electric water pump will use a fair amount of your batteries' stored power (also true if you have a shower pump). Conversely, your water heater will only use a small amount of power for the control board when operating on propane (if you have a pilot lighted unit there would be no drain on the battery).
Realistically, most Scamps (and other RVs) could last 2 to 7 days on a fully charged battery if you are conscientious about your electrical usage (LED lighting installed) and are camping in good weather (not needing to run the furnace fan) without the need to recharge the battery with Solar or another recharging method.
Changing to LED Bulbs
Changing out your incandescent bulbs for LED bulbs is easy. The difficult part is the selection process for the LED bulbs. There are three factors you must consider before purchasing LED bulbs.
- Bulb base
- Most Scamps, Molded Fiberglass trailers, and RV’s will have either a T10/921/194 push base or a BA15 or 1146 bayonet base.
- Color temperature
- Normally, referred to as “warm white,” “white,” or “Cool White,” by the bulb vendors. Sometimes they will list the Kelvin temperature (See Chart).
- Lumens or brightness
- This is the most difficult to determine, since most vendors still publish watts and not lumens. Look at the size of the LED’s, watts, and most importantly the reviews as they will give the best guidance on whether the bulbs were bright enough in application or too dim.
LED Bulb Recommendations
The two most common bulbs used in 12v lighting fixtures are "Bayonet" and "Push" type. From experience most people like the "warm white" which is comparable to existing incadescent light bulbs. The white and cool white are typically a bluish cast to the light and much harsher. We will stay with the "warm white" color temperature on the recommendations, however, some use a combination in certain locations. I.E. Bathroom-cool white, vent hood-cool white, dining table- cool white. So don't be afraid to experiment some in the years ahead.
Here are some recommendations for each type of base:
Push Type (T10):
- Flat panel
- Warm White - Good Brightnes: GRV T10 921 194 24-3528 SMD LED Bulb lamp Super Bright Warm White DC 12V Pack of 10
- Warm White - Super Bright: GRV T10 921 194 24-5050 SMD LED Bulb lamp Super Bright Warm White AC/DC 12V -28V Pack of 10
- Warm White - Super Bright: GRV T10 921 194 13-5050 SMD Wedge LED Bulb lamp Super Bright Warm White DC 12V Pack of 10
- Flat Panel 1156 base: Gold Stars 11568305 LED Replacement Bulb 1156 Base 250 LUM 12 or 24v Natural White (1)
- Round 1156 base: HOT SYSTEM™ 1156 7506 1003 1141 LED SMD 18 LED Bulbs Interior RV Camper White 10-pack - must select temperature choice on page.
Replacement LED Fixtures:
- Lots of choices to replace light fixtures. Tougher to get color temperature selection when replacing fixtures. Interior LED RV Light Fixtures
Contributed by SOI Lifetime Member ManWithAVan