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Campervan Lighting Ideas For Setting The Right Mood

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Create Space & Mood With Smart Campervan Lighting

When designing and building a campervan interior, campervan lighting design often gets neglected. Throughout our travels, we’ve see lots of campers with general lighting without specific purpose.

And in a small, singular space, such as in a van, it’s easy for general, unspecific lighting to make a campervan interior feel utilitarian, uninspiring, and boring.

But we think that by designing smart lighting solutions into your camper interior design layout, you can create beautiful, useful, and cozy nooks in your single, general campervan space. This article will discuss how you can accomplish just that.

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    Why Lighting In A Campervan Is Crucial

    Campervan Lighting Design - Read Lights In Bed
    Lights For Reading At Night
    Campervan Lighting Design - Ceiling Lights Over Living Room
    Dining Room Lights When Eating

    “Wait, now I have to also think about campervan lighting?”

    We think so!

    Smart lighting choices and placement create a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere in your home. The effect that lighting has on interior design is so important that there are actually designers that specialize in ‘lighting science’.

    Lighting is so ubiquitous and ordinary in our lives that we don’t really realize how lighting affects our day-to-day activities and mood. And in a small campervan interior space, the impact of good (or bad!) lighting is amplified.

    Van Interior = No Physical Separation Of Rooms

    Unless you’re driving around in a huge Class A motorhome or towing a sizable trailer, the interior of your campervan will likely be a single room that encompasses all your activities. These activities include:

    • Cooking
    • Eating
    • Sleeping
    • Reading
    • Socializing
    • Or simply just hanging out!

    Everything is done in the same room! There are no interior walls to partition this space into a kitchen, a living/dining room, or a bedroom.

    However, With Smart Campervan Lighting...

    But purposefully placed lights can help create a visual partition of the space without the use of physical wall barriers that are more common in normal households.

    Smart campervan lighting can also help quickly change the mood and atmosphere of a campervan’s interior from active, to calm and relaxing, to fun & social. Being able to manipulate different moods inside a small camper space is invaluable for long van life journeys.

    If you’re interested to learn how, keep reading below!

    Building a camper van? Download our free e-Books with intuitive electrical, solar, and plumbing diagrams.

    What To Consider Regarding Campervan Lighting

    In this post we will focus on three major ideas to think about when planning your campervan lighting scheme.

    1. Lighting Layout Inside A Campervan

    Campervan kitchen cabinet and butcherblock countertop
    Camper van ceiling showing LED lights
    Stunning Camper Van Interior - Sliding Door

    Earlier we talked about using lights to help partition a van’s single room into multiple, different-use spaces.

    We used 12v Puck Lights, which we installed in our ceiling and upper cabinets, to help partition our campervan’s space and create different moods.

    LED 12V Puck Lights (Warm White)
    • Super Slim - Ultra thin, thickness 0.52", lightweight and compact body fits narrow places. Shock and...
    • Full Aluminum - Made out of full aluminum, keeps radiating heat away from LED chip board so as to...
    • Energy Saving - LED contributes to energy efficiency. It consumes lower power of your vehicle...

    Specifically, we wanted achieve several objectives with our lights.

    1. Separate the front half (kitchen) from the back half (bedroom and living room) of the van
    2. Install “task lighting” that focused on certain areas for specific activities, for example when we cooked in our kitchen or worked in our ‘living room’.

    Our first step was to create a digital sketch on our computer of our van’s ceiling. Below is a bottom-up view of our campervan where you can see the placement of our LED puck lights.

    Campervan LIghting Design - Bottom Up View
    Bottom up view of our campervan

    In our sketch above you can see how we planned the placement of our 12 LED puck lights (black circles).

    Zone 1: These 2 lights are used to illuminate the front half of the van. This is ‘general lighting’.

    Zone 2: These 2 lights are installed under our kitchen upper cabinets and are used specifically when using our kitchen counter for cooking and/or cleaning. This is ‘task lighting’.

    Zone 3: These 4 LED lights are used to illuminate the back half of our van. Used for eating, working, and socializing. This is also ‘general lighting’.

    Zone 4: These 4 LED lights (2 on each side) are used for more focused activities, like working, reading, or when we simply want to change the mood of the van. These are ‘task lighting’.

    Each zone of lights operate on different switches, so we can turn each group of lights on and off independently of the others.

    This means, when we are eating in the back half of our van in our dining room, we can turn off the lights in the front half of the van to create a visual partition.

    2. Adding Fun Accent Lights!

    “Accent lighting” is used mainly to focus on a specific point of interest or to achieve a desired effect.

    Just like when designing your camper van interior with accent items, adding an accent light (or two!) is a great way to adjust and enhance the mood of the space. 

    In our case, we use two different light sources for our accent lights.

    1. LED Reading Lights

    LED 12V Reading Lights (With USB)
    • UPGRADE TO LED - Replace RV boat old halogen incandescent with green technology LED lights, save...
    • DIMMABLE - Simply tap lamp base touch switch to adjust brightness from bright lights for reading to...
    • COZY LIGHTS - Soft warm hue light (3000K) beam creates a relax feeling, recessed LED beam (CRI>85)...

    We installed these small, 12v reading lights on both sides of our bed.

    Ironically, we don’t use these lights when reading because we don’t think they’re bright enough. But we often use them for soft, indirect light by pointing the lights away and into the corners of our campervan.

    We love using these ‘reading’ lights when watching movies on our laptops and just before we go to sleep to calm our mood.

    2. String Fairy Lights

    Fairy Lights
    LED String Lights

    We also carry a pack of LED string lights, which we often use when we want to create a more ‘chill & lounge’ atmosphere inside, or even outside,our van.

    We love that we can instantly change the mood of our van interior simply by turning off all our ceiling puck lights and plugging in our string lights into a USB outlet. The atmosphere and feel of our interior space changes dramatically.

    One very convenient aspect about these string lights is that they don’t require any prior wire installations when building your camper interior. Simply plug them into any existing USB outlet to light them up. When we want to use these fairy lights outside, we bring along our portable battery to provide these lights power.

    Building a camper van? Download our free e-Books with intuitive electrical, solar, and plumbing diagrams.

    3. Light Bulb Color Temperature

    Just like in a house, the color temperature of the light bulbs has a major effect on the mood of a campervan’s interior. Here is a basic list of the main options of light bulb color temperature and their specific purposes.

    Bright White

    Blue-ish white tone color. Less cozy feeling and is used to keep your brain active and focused. Suitable for work spaces and schools.


    Warm White

    Yellow white that is suitable for kitchens or bathrooms that involve chores and activity. More appropriate for a home than in a professional setting.

    Warm-White Kitchen

    Soft White

    Warm yellow tone. Suitable for bedroom or lounge that provides a cozy and relax feeling.

    Soft-White Bedroom

    In our cases, we chose warm white lights since most of our activities in our campervan are house chore and lounging instead of working. Warm white bulbs are too bright in the evenings when we’re in bed, so we installed our reading light ‘accent lights’ to provide that soft white light  just before we sleep.

    Another way to provide that soft white light is to install dimmable lights so that you can adjust the intensity of the light throughout the day.

    Read More: How To Create A Color Scheme For Your Van Interior

    Was This Interior Design Article Helpful? We have other useful posts to help you design your own stunning camper van interior. Check out our Interior Design page to read more great content!

    Final Thoughts : Choosing The Correct Campervan Lighting For Your Van Life

    When choosing the best campervan lighting for your interior, it’s important to think about purpose, colors, and layout. 

    It’s important to know your lifestyle. You can start studying your activities at home. What kind of lights do you have in your bed room or living room? Then you can start planning about what kind of activities would you do in your van? Where do you stand, sit, read, or work? Listing all these questions lead to the best campervan lighting fits your needs.

    Learn More About Campervan Interior Design: Campervan Interior Design Guide

    Thank You For Reading!

    We’re Yuko and Eric! We both grew up in Asia ( Japan & Hong Kong ), we left our jobs and homes in 2018 and started traveling full time from Canada to Argentina in our self-converted camper van since end of May 2019. “Asobo” means “Let’s play” in Japanese. We named our site “Asobolife” because the life is always uncertain and we live only once so it’s important to always keep positive, playful mind and enjoy the moment you are in the present. We also want to use this website to share our road trip and van building experiences to inspire our readers. We hope you enjoy!

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