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Hands-On: Green Light

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

In keeping with the green movement, many motorhome enthusiasts are
looking for ways to conserve resources when on the road. One way is to
reduce the power needed to run their lights. Until the advent of the
LED, most of us relied on fluorescent tubes to conserve electrical
energy. Thinking that it’s not cost effective or convenient to replace
fixtures inside the rig, the Jirah Company, Ontario, California, is
marketing LED retrofit kits for incandescent and fluorescent lighting.

The heaviest abuser of power is the incandescent light bulb, which
wastes an enormous amount of energy on heat. Jirah offers two products
designed to replace incandescent bulbs, available in cool and warm light
iterations. Making the swap is incredibly easy: All you do is pop off
the lens, remove the existing single-contact bayonet bulb, twist in the
new bayonet connector and stick the light panel to the housing. The
wires are connected to the new base and make contact just like the
original bulb. In about two minutes you have a fixture fitted with 36

These LED lights run with 900 percent higher efficiency than
incandescent lights – to put this into perspective, you can run nine of
these LED panels on the same amount of energy it takes to run one
standard No. 1156 or similar bulb. And don’t plan on replacing these
LEDs anytime soon: They are rated for 80,000 hours.

You have to acclimate to the cool light, which is much more
white than the incandescent; the warm panel is better for those who
don’t like harsh lighting. Illumination is about the same, although the
LED light is more focused. Each replacement panel (part number
JC-36-AB-CW or WW) sells for $20.

I was a little more hesitant to replace the tubes in the
fluorescent fixture. For years we’ve relied on these tubes to give us
light without using much battery – a feature really appreciated when we
dry camped. Replacing the 12-inch strip with 18 LEDs takes a little more
time, but the job is very easy. You simply wire the strips into the
existing 12-volt DC power source, bypassing the ballast. A built-in
constant current regulator and bridge diode eliminate the polarity
requirement. The LED strip is attached to the housing (where the tube
used to be) with two-faced adhesive tape. Presto, you now have a light
strip that draws .13 amp versus the .7 amp of the fluorescent tube – and
the illumination is brighter. The JC-18-FL LED strip sells for $28.

If you’re looking to conserve energy while using lighting that will likely outlive your motorhome, check out the Jirah company.

For more information, call (909) 297-1926, or go to Jirah.

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