Chapter 14: DC Lighting

Fortunately, skoolies are blessed with a decent amount of natural light. This will be great during the daytime when there is an abundance of light available. But what if your off grid location doesn’t have abundant windows or natural light, and what about at night, or in the early morning? We’ve decided that 90% of our lighting will be in the form of LED strip lighting.LED Strips are relatively inexpensive, low power consumption, and with the right hardware/software, can replicate millions of colors.

5050 RGB 5M 300 LED Strips

We’ve decided to use 5050 RGB 5M 300 LED Strips. Let’s break down what that means.

  • 5050 – The LED Type,  5050 are High Output & Run Cool; avoid the cheaper 3528, they’re smaller, and dimmer as a consequence. Remember, with LEDs, you can usually dim them if they are too bright.
  • RGB – Red/Green/Blue, By mixing these 3 colors you can have any color of the rainbow, or combine the 3 for white light. The purity of the white light will depend on the quality of the LEDs used in the strip.
  • 5M – 5 meters (~16ft.) Strips can be cut down to length, or combined for longer lengths.FFST26PHAQ3AFO1.LARGE.jpg
  • 300 – The # of LED on the 5M strip. Strips also come in 150 count, but like the 3528 LEDs, the output is dimmer. We can always dim the 300s output.
  • BONUS: I typically purchase the “waterproof” type as it has a nice rubberized coating over the strips. While these are great for using outside, the coating also provides some level of diffusion so the light isn’t as focused when using them inside.

Waterproof 5050 LED Strip

With this information, we can continue onto the plan.

Example of LED Strips Illuminating the Ceiling

We would like to run strips the length of both sides of the bus, just above the window line, so as to light the ceiling. We may be painting our ceiling white, to not only reflect the color of the LEDs, but also reflect natural daylight and help our skoolie feel more spacious. The LED strips will be our primary source of light for day to day living.

In addition to overhead lighting, we would like to add LED strips along our floor/pathway for use in the evenings and at night. Should we find ourselves parked along city streets, or in a Walmart parking lot, they are a much more private way of lighting the bus. We will not draw as much attention as we would if we had bright white lights illuminating the whole interior of the bus.

Floor Lighting for Safety / Privacy

Like myself, I’m sure you’ve woken up in the middle of the night, and needed to turn on a light to get a glass of water, go to the bathroom, etc. With RGB LEDs, we are able to set the color to red, which will not hinder our ability to get back to sleep, like white lights do.

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