We’ve had a few days of rain here in San Diego recently which means we end up doing alot of indoor stuff. You know what I mean -> hot chocolate, warm meals, watching endless reams of movies (Redbox deals of course! At $1.20 per movie they simply can’t be beat!). I don’t mind these types of days as long as they don’t last too long, which is why wintering here in the SW is sooooo nice. But all this did get me thinking about indoor tips and making your inside RV experience warm and cozy. In Danish we actually have a specific term for this called hygge -> the art of making your environment fluffy-sock-comfy-warm-inviting even on long, dark winter nights (we’re experts, don’t you know). Over the past few years we’ve infused hygge to the RV and picked up a couple of ideas which I thought might be kinda fun to share with others.
1/Add Mood Lighting
Mood-lighting in our bathroom. We hold everything down with Quakehold.
I’m a very light-sensitive person (in my cubicle days I always felt like the office florescents were sucking the living soul out of me), so I’m always looking for ways to make the lighting warm and cozy. Here’s my tips:
- Get LEDs in the right color & brightness - I spent alot of time finding exactly the right color and light when we converted our overhead G4′s and reading lights to LEDs. We’ve been incredibly happy with the results with the added bonus that these super-saving lights use ~1/10 of the power of our old halogens.
- Use Candles – Being Danish I love real candles and we have several spots with candles and tea-lights around the RV. In a closed containers the tea-lights are safe and cozy, and will burn out on their own when done. I buy tea-light candles in bulk at IKEA, sometimes with scent too.
- OR, Try LED Candles - If you’re worried about using real candles in your RV check out some of the new flameless LED candles which are on the market. They’re battery-operated (perfect for boondocking) and the more advanced versions even have timers for the perfect mood-time. You can often find outstanding deals on these babies on eBay or in discount home furnishing stores.
2/ Decorate Your Space
Alot of RV’s have the same kind of “dullish” feel to them (what is it about RV decorators that makes them think everyone wants everything in a shade of brown?), so adding little accents of color and splash can make a huge difference to indoor feel. Here’s some ideas:
We've decorated the kitchen with burgundy-themed cooking accents
Our burgundy, teal and gold living room theme
- Rugs, Pillows & Covers - In our rig the first change we did was get rid of our brown carpet and replace it with a burgundy red in the living room and a sky blue in the bedroom. I accented those colors with gold & red pillows on the couches and finished off the color-splash with teal Sure-Fit washable cloth covers on our (very brown) dinette chairs. Even if you don’t change our your carpet, throw rugs can be an bright, easy and cheap addition to your floor. Walmart, Target and IKEA are get spots to buy these at a reasonable price.
- Pictures & Decor - As everyone who’s ever rented a house knows, adding personal touches to decor and pictures can make your space feel more like home. We’ve put several pics up around the rig (using the 3M Command Strips), added several decor pieces (using QuakeHold Museum Putty), and hung some bigger pieces (with 3M Wire Hooks). None of these things have budged in 2 years of travel.
- Green Living Plants – I feel plants give a vibrant feel to just about any space. We have several pots around the house including a small one in the kitchen and a larger plant in the bedroom. Quakehold will keep these in place while travelling.
3/ Use Real China & Glass
Our home-made handy-dandy glass box
This is a kinda personal thing, but I feel having real china and glass in the RV adds alot to the sense of home I have here. If you package these properly they’ll travel over any terrain, and using these tips we’ve not had a single break (due to travel) in 2 years:
- Glasses – We use a wine-box lined with foam to create a custom wine, champagne & cognac glass holder. Fits any type of glass!
- Plates – For our plates we’ve lined the cupboards with a non-slip liner (the best stuff I’ve found is the thick IKEA shelf liner) and put non-slip plate separators between each item. They sell pre-packaged & cut versions at Camping World, or you can buy a whole roll of the stuff at Walmart for much cheaper and just cut it yourself.
4/ Add Some Scents
Burning some incense for our buddha in the living room
Of the 5 senses, I think smell is one of the most inviting and there’s some super-easy ways to add that dimension into your RV
- Incense - We have several simple incense burners that we use from time to time. Lots of places sell relaxing & attractive incense sticks or cones.
- Flowers – Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh flowers in the RV? We don’t buy them often, but when we do I use my handy-dandy collapsable WonderVase to show them off. Love that thing!
- Scent Spots – There are all kinds of scented cones, crystals and plug-ins you can buy out there, but my absolute favorite is the Febreeze Set and Refresh -> it uses no power, gives decent longer-term scent and you can place it anywhere. We always have one open in the bathroom.
And that’s the whole enchillada for our little family here in the rain. Time to snuggle-up and watch a movie, methinks. Got any good tips of your own?
Green and cozy in our bedroom window sill. Cat basket on the right.
We have a larger silk Chinese scroll on our wall in the bedroom
Posted in CA, General Musings & Travel Tales, RV Tips & Practical Stuff
Tagged accents, candles, hanging pictures, incense, indoor decoration, LED, LED lights, mood lighting, plates, RV, RVing, scents, transporting glass
One of our G4 bulbs and the LED we chose to replace it
Since we’ve got a few extra days of hanging out while Polly heals I thought I would add another post to my boondocking series, this time on LED lighting. Now, I consider LEDs a luxury rather than a necessity for dry-camping. You can easily manage without and, given their price, it’ll take a good few years before you make back your investment in pure $$, but the fact that they drop your power draw for lights by a factor of ~10, that their lifetime is almost infinite (up to 50,000 hours) and they run super-cool make them fascinating for a self-confessed geek like me.
A reading spotlight (1383 bulb) and the LED we chose to replace it
Oh, I wanted them…oh, yes I did…and thankfully LEDs have come a long way since the days of the dim red types that were used for calculator displays. Nowadays LEDs are both brighter, more efficient, more reliable and available in a range of colors. Technically LEDs are semiconductors, light emitting diodes, and there are a bunch of different types and an even bigger bunch of companies that manufacture bulbs from them. However they all use a similar rating system and that’s the system you want to understand when you buy a replacement for one of your RV bulbs
- Lumens - All LED lights will have a lumens rating which tells you how bright you can expect the bulb to be (as perceived by the eye). The higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb.
- Color Temperature – The color temp is usually listed in K (Kelvin). If you cast your mind back to high-school science you might recall that in a burning fire, the blue part of the flame is hotter than the red part. In very rough terms that pretty much explains how color temps are defined. A higher K rating (~5,000K) is blueish-white in color while a lower K rating (e.g. 2,000K) will be yellow-red. Most incandescent lights that you have in the home run around the 3,000K range.
- Operating Voltage & Regulation - LEDs are quite sensitive to voltage. Their I-V curve is exponential meaning a small voltage change can produce a very large current change, potentially damaging your expensive LED. In practical terms LED lights really prefer a very constant/steady power source which is exactly what you don’t have in an RV. The batteries in an RV go from anywhere from 11V to 14V, depending on charge. So, for RV LED lights you really want to make sure the bulb you buy either has a built-in regulator or states it’s rated to handle a range of input voltages (e.g. 11-15VDC or 8-30VDC). This is one feature that a “cheap” LED bulb might not give you.
So, your handy-dandy steps to buy an LED replacement are as follows:
- Identify Your Bulb - There are all kinds of bulbs inside a motorhome with names like G4, 1156, 1383. This site provides a nice, handy reference for some of the more common bulbs to help you figure out what kind you have.
- Choose Your Brightness - For accent lighting somewhere around 100-140 lumens is fine. For spot and reading lights you want somewhere around 160-300 lumens or more, and for much brighter applications you may want to go above that. For reference a standard 40-watt incandescent bulb produces ~520 lumens (this site provides a nice table of lumens/watt produced by various types of bulbs).
- Choose Your Color - The blue-white LEDs are often called “white” (~5,000K) and do tend to run brighter than the yellow LEDs called “warm white” (~3,000K). Outside the motorhome (e.g. for the porch light) I have no issue with a bright blueish-white color, but inside the motorhome I personally prefer the warm white color more like a regular incandescent bulb.
- Make Sure it Has Regulation – For your LED to last the lifetime you expect it to, it needs to have regulation to handle the varying voltages in the RV. So, check that the vendor either mentions a “regulator” circuit of some kind or specs a wider operating voltage range. Most of the good vendors have this, but some cheaper ones might not.
- Test it Out – No matter what the “spec”says on the website you’ll get variation in color and brightness from different vendors. Taste is individual so some people may want more brightness or a different color than others. It’s always worth buying 1 or 2 bulbs just to test them out before you spend a bundle and replace a bunch.
Our new LED bulb (on left) as compared with the old 20W halogen (on right)
We replaced our G4 halogens with these bulbs from LED Wholesalers through Amazon. We are very happy with both the color and brightness (they easily matched the 10 & 20 Watt halogens that were in the sockets previously).
We also replaced some reading spotlights in our bedroom (1383 bulbs) with these bulbs from buylighting.com. The beam from these bulbs is much more “narrow” than our old 1383′s, but brightness and color are good.
Other good vendors that we’ve seen mentioned on the RV forums:
The overall result? We loooove our new LEDs. They run so much cooler than the old bulbs (no more burning of fingers if you accidently touch the light) and our energy usage has dropped by a factor of ~10. When we turned on our living room lights in the old system we would run ~8-10 Amps. Now we run only ~1 Amp with all the lights on.
There’s much, much more to this whole LED business as with all things geekish, but hopefully this little intro can help you burn the night away in the most energy efficient of ways. Your batteries will thank you for it
Posted in Boondocking
Tagged 1383 LED, boondocking, color temperature, dry camping, G4 LED, kelvin, LED, LED lights, lights, lumens, RV LED lights, RVing