How To Install LED Strip Lights On RV Awning (Complete Guide)

Installing LED strip lights is a simple DIY project that adds functional, festive flair to your RV.

In this post, we’ll explain the process of how to install LED strip lights on an RV awning one step at a time.

We’ll walk you through everything from choosing the right strip lights, finding the best location to install them, and more.

Are you ready for an easy DIY? Then let’s get started.

Choosing The Right LED Strip

When choosing your lights, consider paying a little more. An extra $30 or $40 might seem like a deal-breaker until you think about the following.

Is The LED Strip Outdoor Rated?

You’ll need an IP rating of between 65 and 67 to ensure that the strip is suitable for the outdoors. IP here stands for Ingress Protection. The IP rating tells you how much protection your bulbs and components have against dust and moisture.

The first number refers to what types of solids may make it into the casing. A rating of 6 means that the circuit and bulbs are completely enclosed to protect against the smallest dust particles. You’ll see what looks like a distinct plastic coating rather than a simple paper strip.

The second number refers to how water-resistant or waterproof the panel is. A rating of 5 means that electronics won’t suffer damage from water splashes. It is not the same as being completely waterproof, but for our purposes, it’s close enough.

Gusodor LED Strip Lights IP65 (32.8ft long, 300 LEDs, Music Sync, Color Changing & 24Key Remote Control)

Gusodor LED Strip Lights IP65 (32.8ft long, 300 LEDs, Music Sync, Color Changing & 24Key Remote Control)

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

An IP66 means that water sprayed in a steady stream won’t damage the circuits. If you’re in an area with high rainfall, this is preferred.

An IP67 will be more expensive but will stand up to submersion in water up to one meter in depth.

HitLights LED Strip Lights IP67 (16.4ft, 600 LEDs, 12V DC, 5000 Lumens per Roll)

HitLights LED Strip Lights IP67 (16.4ft, 600 LEDs, 12V DC, 5000 Lumens per Roll)

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

The water rating extends to IP68. This rating is for products that you may submerge at greater depths. Such products may be cost-prohibitive and are overkill for our situation.

The Lumen Rating

The lumen rating refers to how much visible light the bulb emits. The higher the rating, the brighter the globe seems. Which option you choose depends on what you’d like to achieve.

As a comparison, pathway lighting comes in at about 100 lumens per square meter, and spotlights come in at around 800 lumens per square meter. If you’d like to be able to sit on your camper porch and read at night, 400 lumens per square meter is a good middle-ground.

The Power Supply

You’ll also want to consider how you are going to power the LED lights.

The easiest option is to simply plug them into a nearby outlet. You may have to use an extension cord if there’s no available outlet nearby.

Other options include wiring the lights into your porch light, which unfortunately requires the porch light to be on for the LED lights to work. Or connecting them straight to your battery or other 12v source.

Colors And Other Fun Features

Most camper manufacturers install plain white LEDs as standard. They are the least expensive option, and they require the least amount of power to run. However, there are many more options to tempt you.

Once you’ve sorted out the basic features you require, have a look at fun upgrades. Some lights pulse when you play music. Other lights have a smart feature that allows you to control the brightness and color by remote control.

More complex systems are programmable and allow you to achieve a range of effects. How complex you’d like to make things depends on your budget and needs.

Have fun choosing the features you prefer before you hit the order button. You’ll have your lights for a while — they should last at least six years. 

Precut LED Strips

Precut units cost more upfront, but there’s less work to do to get them ready. If you’re concerned about damaging the electronics because you don’t know where to cut (we show you how to do this below), order them from the manufacturer ready to go.

A further advantage is that the manufacturer will also usually seal the ends for you. Sealing the ends isn’t essential, but it is advisable for better longevity.

Choose The Right Spot

Once you’ve picked out the perfect LED light strip, it’s time to find the perfect spot to install them.

Two popular locations to install the strips are below the awning roller on the body of the RV or on the awning itself (or both).

Where to Install LED Light Strip

Keep in mind, you’ll have to connect the power supply and controller in a sheltered area to protect them from weather damage.

Below The Roller (On The Body of The RV)

It’s easiest to install the lighting directly to the body of the RV about a few inches below the roller. This placement allows you to use the lights when you don’t have the awning open. The light will face outward, illuminating a small area just outside the shelter too.

End Of The Awning

The advantage of placing the lights on the end of the awning is that the light faces inward into your space. This positioning may cut out some of the glare for other campers.

If you choose at the end of the awning, you should use a longer wire from the controller. Before cutting the wire, make sure that it runs unimpeded when you roll up the awning.

Clean The Area Well

The next step is to wash the area. Clean it with soap and warm water, and make sure you get as much grime off as possible. If the site is tacky, use alcohol or a solvent to remove any traces of glue.

Cleaning the area will probably take longer than laying your new lights. It’s important not to skimp on this step because it ensures good adhesion. Wipe it down afterward with a clean, damp cloth to remove any cleaner residue.

Finally, wipe the spot down with a dry, clean cloth. Allow the area to air dry for about half an hour to ensure no trace of moisture remains.

Cut The LEDs To Size

While you’re waiting for the area to dry, we can cut the LED strip down to size. You want the strip to be about an inch or two shorter than the RV awning on each side.

Check the user manual to see where you may cut along the tape. If you sever it in the wrong spot, you risk ruining the strip.

Most panels will have a single copper dot or strip with a cut line down the center. Some have a double layer of small copper dots placed at intervals.

How To CUT LED Light Strip

Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut along the line or between the dots to shorten the tape.

If you’d like to check if you’ve done it correctly, power up the panel to see if everything is in order.

Lay A Line Of Exterior Adhesive Tape

Your lights may have come with an adhesive backing for mounting. If not, you’ll need to buy a quality, outdoor double-sided tape. Even if the LED strip has an adhesive backing, you may still want to invest in double-sided tape to ensure a solid mount.

Scotch Outdoor Mounting Tape

Scotch Outdoor Mounting Tape

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

Most LED strips are 1/2inch wide, so if your double-sided tape is an inch wide you can just cut it in half length-wise.

If placing the LED lights below the roller, start on one end and use a ruler to measure a distance of about two inches from the bottom of the roller. Make your first chalk mark. Then move to the center and repeat the process. Make your last mark in the same way on the opposite side from where you started.

Tip: Before you place the adhesive, mark out where you’ll place the tape with line chalk. It’s not essential to do so, but it makes for a neater finish.

Using your ruler, line up the marks and draw a straight line to join them. Line chalk works great for this if you have it. When you put down the tape, use this line as a guide to keep it even. Your adhesive strip should be slightly shorter than the LED panel to achieve a neat result.

If you’re installing the LED lights on the end of the RV awning, first open the awning. Then simply locate exactly where you want to install them and, again, use a chalk line to make a straight line to use as a guide for installing the double-sided tape.

Place Your Lighting

If the LED strip has adhesive on the back, remove a small section of the backing paper. Line up the exposed area with the tape that you just put down, covering it completely. Press down gently to form a strong bond.

Repeat along the length until the entire strip is in place.

Powering Your LED Lights

Lastly, we need to supply power to your LED light strips.

There are a few different ways we can go about this. If you’re simply replacing the old factory-installed LED lights that are wired into the RV, you can wire your new lights into that power source. Find where you cut the old LED strip to remove it, strip the wires, then connect them to the new LED strip using a connector or by soldering them.

If you’re putting up lights for the first time (and there are no existing lights), you can power them in one of the following ways.

  • Plugging them into an electrical outlet: Many RV owners opt to use the electrical outlet closest to the lights. It’s quick and easy to plug them in, there are no batteries to charge, and there’s no major rewiring work.
  • Using an independent power supply: This is a good option because you can place the power supply reasonably close to the lighting. The lights will work independently of the RV, but the battery will require charging occasionally.
  • Wiring them into your RV’s porch light: The disadvantage here is that your lights only work when you switch on your porch light. The rewiring also requires some skill, so it is not a good beginner project.

The most important consideration here is to match the power supply and the lights. Running the bulbs off a power supply too strong for them will damage them. A 12-volt feed provides ample power for your needs.

Wiring Safety Tips

  • If you’re placing the lights on the awning, be sure that the arm won’t pinch the wires when you roll it up.
  • If you’re using a connector box, consider encasing it in silicone to seal it when it’s connected. This precaution provides a little extra protection for the circuits inside it.

Other Ideas For Lighting Up The Night

LED light strip alternatives

When your RV is still under warranty, it may be better to have the light strips professionally installed. This is something you’ll definitely want to look into before installing LED lights as to not void your warranty.

Or you can cheat a little!

Here are some fun lighting ideas that plug into an outlet or come with an independent power supply. They give you instant results, are easy to remove later, and shouldn’t affect your warranty.

Rope Lights

Similar to LED lights rope lights are a little more versatile in that they don’t need to be “stuck” to your RV or awning. You can hang them using clips, wrap them around the awning support posts and arms, temporarily tape them up, and more!

They are available in a myriad of different colors with just about the same amount of options as LED strip lights.

120 LED Rope Lights (Plug in, 40ft long, Color Changing, Outdoor Use & Waterproof)

120 LED Rope Lights (Plug in, 40ft long, Color Changing, Outdoor Use & Waterproof)

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

Solar-Powered String Lights

Solar-powered string lights are extremely versatile, as well, with an added benefit – you don’t have to worry about a power source to enjoy the light!

These lights can be hung in many different ways, just like rope lights, and use the sun’s energy stored during the day to power them through the night.

Brightech Ambience Pro - Waterproof, Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights

Brightech Ambience Pro – Waterproof, Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

Battery-Powered Lanterns

Patio lanterns come in all shapes and sizes, making for a pretty decorative effective.

And many of them are battery-powered, often only needing two AA batteries! This makes it easier than ever to power your outdoor lights without needing to wire into a power supply or a strong sun to charge a battery during the day.

And like the rope and string lights above, they are easy to temporarily hang-up.

Bright Zeal 20' Long Hanging LED Lantern String Lights Battery Powered

Bright Zeal 20′ Long Hanging LED Lantern String Lights Battery Powered

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

You can also find solar-powered versions of hanging lanterns. This particular model gives off a realistic flame effect!

Outdoor Solar Lanterns With Dancing Flame

Outdoor Solar Lanterns With Dancing Flame

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

You can make hanging lights temporarily from your RV awning roller a breeze with Camco’s Awning Roller Hanging Supports!

These durable, easy-to-install clips will fit an automatic awning roller bar.

Camco Gray RV Party Light Holder

Camco Gray RV Party Light Holder

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

CamperFAQs.com is reader-supported. Buying through links on our site may earn us an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Get Our Free Weekly Newsletter!

By subscribing you agree to receive emails from us. We will always respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.