Add exterior lights to camper

Primarily to see what I'm doing when I have to go outside, to check why refrigerator isn't on- light the water heater or any numerous things that don't seem to happen or don't remember until its DARK. Decided to add some porch type lights at either side of camper. Typically I have no interest in lighting up the outside.

The why isn't important, what ever you desire is but wiring is problematic. Its getting 12v source to a switch inside and to a light outside and wires between. On our camper the right wall between the vents of refrigerator a light could be added, access to power, access to both back of outside wall and inside walls for switch.All wiring would be behind refer.

On the other side I could go thru closet to poke wire outside for light and thru closet wall for switch. Fairly simply.

However I don't want 2 more random switches stuck on the walls and have exterior light switches scattered thru out camper, rear porch light is at back door, unfortunately would be perfect just cant run wire. At minimum I want the 2 new switches in same location. Which this round and round is why never got done.

What I came up with is adding one light at refrigerator and one at closet to have lights both sides of camper which solves getting wires outside. The wiring solve to locate power/switches though is what finally motivated me. I have access from inside to space between top of refrigerator and slide roof, there is a gap between that leads to back of refrigerator. I used this previously to run switch inside and wire fans at back of refrigerator.

Adding switches to the existing switch panel (cant get any uglier) can access power & can run the wires up and over top of refer, one down to new light midway of refer and a second wire down to bottom of cabinet where I can poke thru dividing wall into a small cabinet next to refer which is under dinette. From there I can drop down thru slide floor, then route the wire all the way around camper to the other side (about 20') and come up in closet and then thru outside wall. Hidden wires. Switches in one location!

Only real work will be snaking the second cable thru the cabinets to other side of camper-doable just a pain. However the convoluted part is that I decided I want ability to turn on or off the lights at either the switches inside or at the lights. Not really convoluted just a bit more effort adding extra switches and wires. As these will be 3 way switches a pilot is needed to ensure they don't get turned on in the middle of day and not notice..

Ordered Led lights and a bag of SPDT switches. Cabling- I could not find my spool of 18ga 4 wire. After several hours gave up & bought 35' of stranded 4 wire cable. As long as links last -lights I used 2 pack LED, many vendors

- LED Porch Light -       -

NOTE FYI: these are on/off/on-, normally on device controlled from 2 locations you would use an on/on. Only advantage of on/off/on (other than cheaper, more readily available in rocker form) is I can have no power traveling thru camper from source, but in use needs to be fully switched to one of the on positions. If one switch set to center off, the other cant turn on, defeating 3way feature.

-found 10 on/on switches for $1 each free ship. Changed out all the switches.

and wire :(
( thru the budget out the window. Lights though were cheap, pair of LED for $17 and 6 SPDT switches for $6. If Id known my spool of cable had grown legs I would have put this project back on "that'd be nice" list. Copper becoming precious metal?

Obviously a lot simpler ways to do this. But using cabinets or refrigerator space allows hiding wires. If lights have no switches (no real reason to have) you can mount lights as high as you want.

  Now to install...

And the beginning. Existing switch box for refrigerator fan is where I'm adding exterior light switches. Available 12v for power. The bumpout space above refer allows access to gap above refer under slide roof that leads to back of refer. Once to back of refer wires can run down. One set to a light and second that continues on to other side of camper.

Tried to get picture looking into bumpout of space above ref, shown is cabling entering to the space that leads outside of refer.

Well doesn't show much- only 6" from ceiling. At any rate the gap between top of refer and slide roof is a good 1/2" so shoving the cable in it easily gets to out side. From outside just pull cable. (I shove some closed cell foam to close off this air space.)

Shoved cable in and from outside pulled it down to reach where light will be located, leaving 12" inside cut off extra. Its about 6' run. Guesstimated location of light and drilled a 1/4" hole for cable-pulled about 6" thru. I could reach down from upper refer vent between refer and wall to poke wire thru.

Then shoved in remainder of cable thru from inside. Pulled it thru again leaving about 12" inside and dropped it to bottom of refer cabinet. The other wire looped, will go into cabinet to the left. Just need to drill a hole. Once inside I can drop thru slide floor and snake it around the camper. There is a small access box in corner of cabinet that covers existing wires-propane line etc that follow this path.

Wire brought in and sat on dinette seat for now. Running this wire down through floor then around the camper then up into closet for other light will be last item done.

With cabeling almost done decided to prewire the lights with new switches, and install interior switches and get everything wired and one light up & running.

Lights were a snap as the switches were a direct fit replacing existing on/off.

Just solder lead to light board to center position of new 3 way.

Made a short pigtail to connect to cabling. To the center wire that feeds light soldered on another lead(red) that will signal pilot at inside switch panel. As Im using only one pilot light for both lights I soldered in diodes to keep from powering other light. The 12v in is either the white or green.
Note later changed switches to on/on and separate pilots, wiring unchanged except removed diodes)

Now the switch box.....
Removed from camper to install new switches. Crude yes but functional. Incoming 12v power is fused at 5 amp at source. Existing internal 12v wiring is fused at 1 amp. Tapped the incoming 12v power & ran thru another fuse-(currently 5 amp but dropping to 1-2 amp as lights only use 0.2 amps each). Contrary to some common wisdom that recommends fusing for wire size and protecting the wire- I fuse for expected load which generally is below what wire can handle. Anything above that there's a problem. I also, on branch lines, fuse lower than source so IF there's a problem only that branch goes down with affecting entire circuit.

Only saving grace is where box is located its really not seen as I was wrong, it did get uglier.

Drilled pilot holes, ran caulk around perimeter sealed wire exit and mounted. Wired, normally wire nut a bad idea but its getting ready to rain and in a hurry. When I install second light (and weather turns nice again) I'll open up and solder connections.

And mounted... Lights came with clear and amber lens, probably use clear to be less conspicuous & more light, still debating.

Switched light on...

Hokey Smoke! Lights are rated at 280 lumens, less than an 1141 incandescent, but wow that's bright.

Another day, run wire and install second light, but seeing this will help getting all contorted crawling on the floor snaking the wire around thru cabinets. Waiting for the rain to stop...

.......... and left side done. Only took 2 hours to route cable around the camper, removing drawers, water tank box lid etc. Pulled in short sections cabinet to cabinet. Once I got to closet from outside a lot of measuring to ensuring wire enters at closet. Actually ended up under it and at rear behind drawer. Closet has a false wall I assumed I'd need to pull so got lucky there.

Nice fuzzy picture but cable poked thru.

Light installed. Thought I took a picture of drilled holes and wiring. Wanted to show drilling more holes in camper :). Unsure why adding a few holes to the already 100s makes some folk cringe. + Solder and shrink wrapped this lights connections. Was hoping to place below stove vent, more centered on wall, but no way to get thru wall and hide cable. Behind stove would have placed light to low. All about compromises but this works

Dang! just really stoked with these cheap lights-hope they last. Light is about 7'-3" to switch which I can easily reach. One on right wall ended up about 7'-6" due to raising above decal.

All in all the convenience, light when I need it, worth the time spent.

Update: Ended removing switch box again and adding second pilot. The single pilot worked as far as signaling a light on. However not knowing which light if pilot on was confusing due to 3 way switches. You could flick switches several times taking before getting pilot to go off.

I should note if not obvious- instead of running wires over refer to one location for switches they could have come thru divider wall at dinette. If not wanting in same location, the light mounted on refer side I could have easily drilled thru the divider wall and placed switch over dinette seat. The light that goes thru closet to outside, same thing. As there is power inside closet I could have run the switch thru wall facing stove-would have saved running cable all around camper. A lot less wiring. Im pretty happy but the extra wiring for 3-way switches is just extra work. Indeed any switch on the light unnecessary if running inside on/off switch.

Bit later... At camp, Moonless night-no flash. No stumbling around in the dark or trying to retrieve something out of cabinet one handed holding a flashlight. Nice. Likely change to amber lens.

Trying to capture amount of light hiding behind a tree as LED was washing out camera. Serves its purpose, bright,

Update: Found and swapped the switches on lights to on/on switches, no 'off' position. More than once from inside go to turn light on and the outside switch is in off position.
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