RV Pro Tips: DIY 12v Light Replacement

Light it up! You may be here by choice because you’re planning on upgrading to LEDs. Or you’re here out of necessity because one of the kids threw a baseball and cracked a 12v light. Maybe one of your RV’s lights just quit working altogether. No matter the reason, this is where you need to be to learn how to replace a 12v light yourself. 

You will need these items:

  • Square bit screwdriver or Screw gun w/#2 sq bit
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire Nuts for 10gauge-14gauage wire
  • Flashlight/Table lamp
  • Your new light fixture

There are many different 12v lights in RV’s today, and yours may be different than what we are changing today. Some lights are mounted with screws and some have spring loaded clips.

  1. To prevent the possibility of blowing a fuse by disconnecting power to the unit. If equipped - turn off the battery disconnect, or disconnect the 12 volt battery, and unplug the unit from shore power.
  2. Remove the cover from the light by gently twisting.
  3. Now that we have exposed the mounting screws, take your screw gun with #2 square bit and remove the screws holding the light into place. Once the light is loose, carefully pull the wires down from the ceiling until you have exposed the bell connectors. On the factory wire you will notice one side is solid white, and the other side is white with a colored stripe. This is done to identify the function of the wire. The solid white wire is always the ground or negative connection, and the colored stripe wire is the hot wire, better known as battery positive.
  4. Before you cut the wires look at the new light wires compared to the old. On the old light black is to the factory positive and white is to the factory neutral/ground. The new light is the same. Now that we know what is positive and what is negative we can wire in the new light with confidence. With the wire cutters, cut the connections free and discard the old light.
  5. Use the wire strippers to remove up to ½” of sheathing off the factory wires to expose the conductive portion. Do the same to the new light.
  6. Using the new light, twist together the positive wire to the colored stripe wire in the ceiling or wall wire with a wire nut. Now do the same with the negative wire to the solid white wire in the ceiling.
  7. Tape each wire nut with electrical tape.
  8. With the wire connections complete, push the wire connectors and any excess wiring back into the ceiling to allow the light assembly to sit flush.
  9. Using the screws that were removed, reinstall them through the pre drilled slots in the light back into the ceiling panel. Be sure not to over tighten as you may strip the screws.
  10. Reinstall the cover.
  11. Plug the shore cord in, hook up your 12v battery, or turn the battery disconnect back on.
  12. Test the light to make sure it works.

RV Pro Tips: How To Replace a 12v Light