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Old 05-02-2016, 08:23 PM   #1
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Fluorescent Fixtures?

I'm thinking of replacing 2 of my 12 volt overhead incandescent lights with Fluorescent Fixtures. I'm not interested in LED lighting for this application because it's the quality of the light, not the power consumption that I am interested in.

Anybody put up fluorescent fixtures that you are happy with? What did you get?
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Old 05-03-2016, 12:39 AM   #2
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What don't you like about the LED quality? The only place we have fluorescent lighting is under our kitchen cabinets above the sink and they will eventually be replaced.
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Old 05-03-2016, 04:06 PM   #3
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In the years before LED lighting was reasonable cost, the only choice for lighting for living off the grid (or boondocking in RVs or cruising in sailboats) was 12V fluorescent - or power-hungry incandescent. Finding a good quality 12V fluorescent with decent light output was surprisingly difficult - a few mom and pop shops made them, but no nationally known companies did.


The issue is that fluorescent bulbs need much more than 12V to operate, and the voltage has to be some form of AC with a frequency within the parameters of the coating on the light tube that is being stimulated to light.


About 20 years ago, electronic ballasts that generated frequencies much greater than 60HZ became popular. These are much more efficient and lighter than the traditional magnetic 60HZ ballasts. The electronic ballasts also made compact fluorescent "bulbs" (CFLs at the stores) possible - these have ballasts built into the "base" of the "bulb". To save space, the CFLs have the tube wound into a curly shape with reflectors/diffusers to spread the light in the desired manner.


But the cheap ballasts in CFLs need decent voltage AC to operate - they will not work on DC. Making higher voltage AC from 12V DC requires a lot more components in the ballast. I'm not sure the mom and pop stores ever made many 12V CFLs, since bright LED clusters at reasonable prices were only a year or two behind.


LEDs are, on average, about twice as efficient as fluorescents (saves battery power), and operate on DC (ideal for off the grid). If you have AC power, it must rectified into DC - LEDs have to have the correct polarity to turn on. Depending on color, each individual LED needs between 2.5V and 3.5V to turn on. LED lamps are multiple LEDs wired in series and parallel to suit the supply voltage, and have cheap electronics to get the right voltage to each LED.


Better quality LED lamps have a fuller spectral output than the cheap LED lamps, just like fluorescents. The LED lamps are also designed for particular color temps, again just like fluorescents. And they are more easily and cheaply dimmed. For these reasons, the LED have become the preferred light source for off the grid living.


Fred W
2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame (interior lighted with LEDs)
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
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Old 05-03-2016, 04:18 PM   #4
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I have installed both and honestly not impressed with any of the flourescent fixtures. I have tried a couple and they are..mmm...ok.

I would still suggest an LED bar like this one if it works. The light blows away anything from a flourescent.
https://www.superbrightleds.com/more...tch/1545/3513/
This one or the next size up will light anything better than an 18" flou....I used this exact one over my rv stove countertop in place of the flou...easily brighter...and the 30" will fry your retinas...

However if you are sold on flourescents...maybe like me you have a bad flourescent in ceiling fixture...so your stuck with a big old hole. Then nothing I could do..had to put a RV flou back in. Grrrrr...
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Old 05-03-2016, 04:26 PM   #5
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I tried many different 12v fluorescent fixtures over the years.
Some made a high pitched noises.
Some, the light output degraded over just a very short time or flickered.
Bulbs have to be disposed of properly.
Newer LED fixtures blow them all away.

As mentioned, do your homework on light spectrum and you'll find LEDs that will do the trick. Probably won't be cheap, but will use way less power and less finicky.
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Old 05-03-2016, 08:29 PM   #6
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Thanks guys...

The light from the existing fixtures is harsh. Bright enough, but harsh and specular. I guess what I need is a better fixture/globe/lens to give me abundant, soft light.

I might wind up using a household light fixture and modify it to use 12 volt bulbs or LEDs.
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Old 05-03-2016, 09:35 PM   #7
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The LEDs Forest River uses in their standard interior lights are indeed harsh, and could stand dimming as well.

Replacing the lens will not fix the problem. You have to replace the LEDs themselves. In my Rockwood A-frame the LEDs are hard-wired as part of the fixture. I would have to find similar LEDs in a strip (in the color and spectrum I want), or replace the entire fixture.

Fred W
2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame with LED interior lights
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time
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Old 05-03-2016, 10:28 PM   #8
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LEDs come in different color temperatures (wavelengths).

We use high lumen output 2700 to 3200K in living areas and use 7000k (light blue) lower lumen output lights on wall lights, reading lights, and lights over dining table.

The 2700-3200K lightening is pleasant and not very harsh.
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:50 PM   #9
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OK here's the solution... I just ordered a couple of these:

http://www.campingworld.com/shopping...te-light/57297

It's a large 10x5 inch oval with a glass shade. It's not florescent but then the quality of light is what I am looking for. We'll see if this will do the trick. I can always change the 921 bulbs to LEDs later...

Once I find LEDs that are bright, affordable and have good reviews for reliability.
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