Ceiling: Recessed 23-color LED Lights

 
IMG_4290.JPG

Ceiling: Recessed Lights

*Technically we processed the lights around the same time as the bead board ceiling, but we love our lights so much that they deserve their own section.


Early on we decided that we wanted recessed LED lights: dimmable ones that can change color. We found these babies on Amazon at a steal and got two sets.

The lights are 12V compatible and come with IR-based remote controls. Plus they light up in crazy colors but also have a bright white/romantic white setting, so it's not party all the time in the van.

The best part? The remote from the two sets of lights are interchangeable, in that we can use either one to control one, or both sets of lights. We stuck some thin magnets on the back and now they stick nicely to the doors, which comes especially handy when we need to turn them off at night (they go straight onto the rear doors). 

We organized the lights in two sets: four lights in the front and four in the back. They cover our living and sleeping space pretty well, although we'll both be getting 12V clip-on goose neck reading light for the very back of the van.

Here comes the problem: the lights aren’t actually recessed: they have stickers on the back and are supposed to be easily stuck on. So we had to get a little creative in mounting them. 

As mentioned previously in the bead board paneling post, we used a hole saw to cut through the bead board and sanded the edges straight. We then cleaned the cut hole with Simple Green to remove any sawdust.

Because it wasn't possible to find a hole drill bit that exactly matched the diameter of the lights, we made the holes a little bigger.

To make them into recessed lights, we wrapped a thin strip of white weather stripping around the light (to match the ceiling) so that the circumference of the lights were similar to that of the holes we cut, and to keep the lights in place while driving.

The key to wrapping is that it can't be too tight or too loose. We used Gorilla tape to tape the ends together. Wash your hands before working with white weather stripping!

The key to wrapping is that it can't be too tight or too loose. We used Gorilla tape to tape the ends together. Wash your hands before working with white weather stripping!

Before installing the bead board, we tucked the wires, the control module and power source on the board so that they ended up out-of-sight between the bead board and our insulation. We made sure to keep the IR sensors popping out of the bead board on the side of the van so that they’re easily accessible by the remote.

Figuring out the best way to tuck the cords in without turning them into a bowl of spaghetti. Because the control module is pretty big we ended up removing a small piece of hard foam insulation to give it room.

Figuring out the best way to tuck the cords in without turning them into a bowl of spaghetti. Because the control module is pretty big we ended up removing a small piece of hard foam insulation to give it room.

 

We then used white acrylic paint to cover up any exposed dark brown spots that came from accidentally stripping away the white surface of the bead board.

Shelly painting the ceiling with white acrylic paint. This was in Montreal, Canada, parked in the middle of a shopping mall garage. The temperature had just "thawed" from a deadly -20 with -40 windchill to a more welcoming -12 or so, so we jumped on the opportunity to do some more work.

Shelly painting the ceiling with white acrylic paint. This was in Montreal, Canada, parked in the middle of a shopping mall garage. The temperature had just "thawed" from a deadly -20 with -40 windchill to a more welcoming -12 or so, so we jumped on the opportunity to do some more work.

 

We love our lights. 

Using a single remote, we can either turn on the front set (around the sunroof) or the rear set, or both. It's AWESOME!

We initially hooked up the power source of the lights to the starter battery because the van came with several sets of pre-wired cables to the starter. Once we got our Goal Zero Yeti 1250, we rehooked the lights to our house battery system. We're still working out the next step, but the goal is this: in absolute emergencies—for example, if we completely drain our house batteries and need light—we want to have the ability to switch the lights back to the starter. 

 

you may also like