As you embark on your van conversion journey, lighting is a crucial consideration to set the mood and functionality of the interior space. After over 5 years of skoolie and van life, I know firsthand how poor lighting significantly dampens your day-to-day experience. The best LED lights for a van conversion should be bright, low energy consumption, mood-setting, and complimentary to different elements of your design.
LED lights have become the preferred choice for van conversions due to their energy efficiency, versatility, and longevity. In this guide, we’ll review the best LED lighting options for your van conversion project.
Top Pick: Obeaming 12V Recessed LED Puck Light
Short on time? Of all the lights we’ve tested and reviewed, these are the most reliable, energy-efficient, and aesthetically pleasing. The bright aluminum-lined design is slim, modern, and sleek. With a 12V DC voltage and only 0.26 amps (3 watts) energy use per light, the Obeaming puck lights are low energy consumption and easy to integrate into any van’s electrical system.
They are available in warm white, neutral, and cool white for a soft even glow that’s easy on the eyes. The dimmable design lets you set the vibe in your van for bright mornings and chill evenings. These recessed circular lights also have spring-mounted clips to snap easily into holes in the ceiling, creating a streamlined flush mount look.
Choosing the Best LED Lights for Your Camper Van Conversion
Lighting sets the vibe and ambiance of your van, transforming a cold metal box into a cozy haven, a functional workspace, or a vibrant entertainment area. Your light selection(s) also affects energy consumption.
Before choosing LED lights for your van, consider:
- Lumens and Color Temperature: Brightness is measured in lumens and color temperature is measured in Kelvin. For van interiors, a color temperature of around 2700K to 4000K is often preferred, providing a warm and cozy atmosphere without being too harsh. Cool light tends to be more “blue,” while warm light has a “golden” cozy vibe. Neutral white is bright and modern. In my rustic cabin-themed skoolie, I used all warm lights, but in my modern marble-inspired van, I used neutral.
- Energy Efficiency: LEDs are naturally energy efficient, typically consuming 1 to 10 watts. The lower the wattage, the less energy a light consumes. For example, if you install 10 LED lights, each rated at 5 watts, and run them for 5 hours a day, your total daily energy consumption for the lighting will be around 0.25 kWh. Use the math equation below to calculate energy consumption…
(# of lights) x (Watt rating per light) = Total Watts x .001 = Total Kilowatts
(Total Kilowatts) x (Estimated hours of use per day) = Kilowatt Hours per day
- Power Source: 12V lights are standard for van conversions because they don’t require the power of an inverter to turn on. If you choose 120V (household plug) lights, you will need a stronger inverter and more power. Depending on your van’s electrical setup, you want to choose lights that can be powered by your van’s battery system or a separate power source like a generator. Don’t forget to plan where you will run the wires (behind the walls, through the cabinets, etc.)
- Durability: Look for lights marked for RV, marine, or camping use so they can withstand the rattling and vibrations of the road. Ensure they are easy to install and anchor to the van’s interior to prevent breaking.
- Water Resistance: If you plan to install lights in areas exposed to moisture, like the kitchen or bathroom, consider lights with some water resistance or waterproofing, like those marked for outdoor use.
6 Best LED Lights for Your Van Conversion
Brands like Rigid Industries, OPT7, AMBOTHER, and MICTUNING are known for producing high-quality LED lighting products suitable for van conversions.
Best Overall: Obeaming 12V Recessed LED Puck Light
If you want classic, sleek lighting that blends seamlessly into your ceiling, these recessed puck lights are the top-tier option. They come in black or silver and snap into 2 ½” holes in your ceiling (easy to drill with a hole saw). The 12V lights can be installed with a simple switch or a dimmer for adjustable brightness.
After 5 years of full-time van life, these lights never had an issue! In my 144” Sprinter conversion, I used 14 lights in two rows down the center of the ceiling with a black finish and neutral light. The result is a bright, welcoming, and modern sleek ambiance.
- Super low energy consumption (3 watts per light at 12V)
- Dimmable (Obeaming sells compatible dimmer switches)
- Available in cool, neutral, and warm
- Durable, non-scratchable aluminum rim
- Snap into the ceiling for a flush-mounted look
- Only black and silver colors are available
- 4-pack is fairly expensive
Best Strip Lights: Velain 12V LED Strip Light Ribbon
Something about strip lighting creates a magical chill ambiance in your van. These easy-install ribbons of LEDs have double-sided tape to stick on any surface below a cabinet, along the floor, or between wooden beams. The lights can be cut and linked together for longer strips, and are easy to wire into any 12V system. Keep in mind, you will need basic wiring skills to install these because no power adapter is included.
- 5 colors available
- 12V 40 watts energy use
- Cuttable and linkable
- Easy stick application
- Wiring knowledge required
- No power source included
Best Light Bars: LED Under Cabinet USB Rechargeable Lights
These USB rechargeable kitchen cupboard lights are an awesome option for anyone who hasn’t quite mastered their off-grid solar system. They are completely wireless and have low energy consumption, with a built-in 1500mAh battery and USB-C charging port.
The 200-lumen bright light has passive heat protection and a sideways cast so they don’t flicker or glare in your eyes. They even have a magnetic and peel-and-stick backing if you need to use them directly on the van’s walls.
- No wiring needed
- Built-in rechargeable battery (no batteries needed)
- Bright motion sensor setting
- Peel-and-stick installation
- Easy to integrate anywhere in a van
- Must recharge when low
- Not dimmable
Best Dimmable Lights: Acegoo Dimmable RV Ceiling Dome Light
If you like a more classic RV functionality, these dome lights are minimalist and easy to install. You press into the light to dim it or adjust the color! The slim design is only ⅞” thick and doesn’t require a separate switch. The surface mount installation only requires 3 screws, which are concealed by the clean-looking cover lens. The extra low drain (just 0.26 amps per light!) is a major selling point!
- Affordable 4-pack
- Only 0.26 amps per light (at 12V)
- 3000K ultra-bright light
- Push button switch to white or blue
- No extra switch needed
- Must get up to turn on/off each light
Best Reading Lights: Acegoo 12V LED RV Reading Light
These 12V chrome-plated reading lights have built-in buttons and are designed specifically for RVs. They come in brushed nickel or black, with a handy USB charger in the bottom of the light. We love how easy they are to mount anywhere, especially by the bed or in the van bathroom for quick nighttime use. They put off a subtle, relaxing light and only use 1.9 watts
- Sturdy, chrome construction
- Hard-wiring for permanent installation
- Swivel spotlight
- Quick USB charger built-in to the bottom
- Built-in button
- Only 1 color option (warm hue)
- Higher energy consumption with USB charger (18 watts per light)
Best Exterior Lights: RIGID Industries SR Midnight Edition LED Light
If you want to add some badass exterior lights for navigating dark forest roads at night, RIGID Industries creates top-of-the-line LED lighting for overlanders. This stealthy black strip light can be installed on the top of your roof rack or down below your van’s grill.
The UV-resistant coating and impact-resistant polycarbonate lens mean the lights can withstand even the wildest adventures. If your van’s factory brights are slacking, this is an absolute must for nighttime driving. Plus, they’re practically invisible during the day. The installation hardware is included.
- Powerful 8000 lumens
- Easily mounts to roof rack or grill
- 32 foot beam distance
- 50,000+ hour lifespan
- Impact-resistant aluminum and UV-stabilized powder coating
- Made in the USA
- Higher price point
Key Takeaways: Choose LEDs with the Right Vibe, Power Consumption, and Brightness
The best van life LEDs offer a combination of aesthetics, low energy consumption, and adjustable brightness. Before you make your pick, consider how you want the van to feel at different parts of the day, how often you want to get up to adjust the lighting, and how much battery power you have on deck.
Don’t forget to thoroughly research your wiring needs or hire a pro to help create a safe electrical system. The Obeaming 12V recessed puck light is a great choice.