Most campers use lighting for utility, whether that means using a humble headlamp or a full-out flood light. But it can also be used for ambiance.
Camping is all about simplifying and getting back to basics, but a couple of well-placed lights can do a lot to positively influence your mood. So whether your preferred vibe is bright lights or the warmth of candlelit spaces, here’s a little illumination on how to upgrade your campsite lighting—and uplift your spirits.
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A Lesson on Light Temperature and Hardness
The color spectrum (temperature) of your light and how much it’s diffused make a big difference with ambiance. Warm, diffused lighting creates less harsh angles and feels more comforting, evoking feelings of ease and joy. Unfortunately, most stock RV lighting is on the cooler side.
Without delving too deep into technical light information, just remember a couple of numbers: 2700K is the upper limit of warm lighting, and 3000K is the beginning of stark, bright, cold light. The lower the number, the warmer the light. Depending on your bulbs, you may be able to swap out the brighter “cold” ones for warmer ones closer to the 2700K range.
Types of Accessory Lighting for Camping
Instead of swapping out your bulbs, you can turn them off and set up supplemental lights. You can use a combination of the following outside and inside.
Use a set of colored string lights and a warm-white rope light, like these inexpensive ones, around the ceiling of your rig as mood lighting. Outside, hang larger solar-powered patio lights, which are bright enough to cook by and still warm enough to evoke relaxation. For those with a space crunch, these Luci solar string lights are nice and compact.
You can use solar-powered inflatable lights, like Luci’s Color Essence, which switch through a range of colors to match your mood. There are also UCO’s candle lanterns (yes, those are real candles).
LED lights that flicker like candles set a nice tone around camp, though they occasionally freak out camp hosts when fire danger is high because they look so convincing. Try placing one or two on the table, then perching others here and there around camp.
For safety, you can use them as walkway lighting and near steps, along with lighted tent stake markers. Faux-candle-flicker accent lights come in many shapes, from tea lights to luminaries, but these inflatable solar-powered ones are especially popular among campers.
Sky’s the Limit
There are many other ways to cheer up a campsite with light, like LED tiki torches, DIY glass jars with wire lights inside, mini-flashlight lanterns, and even electric and propane fire pits. Whatever you choose, an added benefit is that you’ll likely spend more time outside, enjoying the atmosphere.
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Lighting Power Sources
Many of these lights are solar-powered, which makes them relatively hassle-free. But if you’re running plug-in lights, make sure to go LED, so they don’t put an extra drain on your battery. And if you are ecologically and budget-minded, USB-chargeable batteries work well in flashlights and battery-powered lanterns, plus they give great savings over disposable batteries.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Remember that light pollution in campgrounds is extremely annoying to other campers, and can even be damaging to wildlife and plants. So point those bright lights in a downward direction, and turn off all lights when you go to bed.
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