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How to Add Accent Lighting to Your Van

How to Add Accent Lighting to Your Van

Author: Conrad Taylor/Wednesday, May 12, 2021/Categories: Overland Van/RV

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Whether you’ve renovated your own vehicle or purchased a pre-fabricated van, one of the most often overlooked aspects of the build is lighting. Often times there are just a handful of overhead lights that all turn on and off with a single switch, and that’s it. Much of the time, that lighting setup is adequate, but just like you would at home, you may have a desire for different levels and locations of lighting. Luckily for you, there are tons of different options for adding indirect, accent or “mood” lighting to your van. 


Where in your van are you hoping to add light? 

Determining where you want to add light is the first step towards picking the correct fixture for your specific needs. There are several different types of light fixtures each of which are designed for different mounting locations and uses. Below are some different types of accent lighting to consider: 


Under-Cabinet Lights 


Adding some under-cabinet lights to illuminate galley counters or a work station can really improve the overall functionality of the lighting in your van. If you’re bent over chopping vegetables or sketching out your next re-modelling project, your body is most-likely going to be between the overhead lighting and the surface you’re working on, casting shadows. So adding a light source underneath your cabinets or shelves to illuminate the surface you’re working on with no obstructions will go a long way towards improving the functionality of that space.  

There are several options for under-cabinet lighting, none of which are easier to install than flexible LED tape lighting. Tape lighting is a strip of LEDs encased in a silicone-like material with an adhesive on the back to stick it to the mounting surface. So it can be stuck to the underside of a cabinet, wired and you’re done! Flexible LED rope-lighting is very similar, but instead it’s round and does not have any adhesive, so it’s mounted with little plastic clips. However, neither tape lighting nor traditional rope lighting are very attractive to look at because when you look directly at it, you can see the dots of each LED. So if the lighting you’re installing is easily visible, you may want to opt for a more visually appealing option. 

Neon LED rope lighting is similar traditional LED rope lighting in the way that it functions and is installed, but it’s a much nicer looking product, as the polycarbonate casing is diffused and blends the light emitted from the LEDs into one, uniform consistent color, instead of the visible dots of each LED. The final under-cabinet lighting option would be so simply install a linear LED light fixture. A skinny rectangular fixture like the F40 is a great option for under-cabinet lighting, and an added benefit to a physical fixture is that many of them are available with a built-in switch. 


Floor or Toe Kick Lighting 

Toe kick lighting has become a very popular feature in homes in the last few years, as a way to brighten a room, make it appear more spacious and give it a modern look. The same can be said for your van, and it can also provide a good deal of functionality to go with the eye-catching appearance. Much like bi-color lighting, floor lighting can be very helpful for preserving night vision while still illuminating what you need to see.  

If you wake up in the middle of the night when nature calls and need to exit the van, toe kick lighting can help you pick your way safely out of the van, without disturbing your partner’s sleep with a bright overhead light. Once outside, your night vision won’t be as affected, as your eyes will have received no direct light, only adjusting to a glow on the floor.  

Your options for different types of fixtures are very much the same as under-cabinet lighting, and often times mounting floor lighting on the bottom of lower cabinetry is a great option. You can also consider courtesy lights, which are very small (typically 1-2") LED light fixtures that provide a nice glow when a few are used together and are available in many colors. 

Reading or Wall Lights 

While overhead lighting is great for illuminating most of what you need to see inside your vehicle, it often leaves the corners and nooks a little darker. Whether you’ve got a favorite reading spot that needs just a little more light, or want to have a localized light so you can keep working while your partner sleeps, wall-mounted lights can be a great complement to the lighting in your vehicle.  

There are many different types of wall-lights, and depending on the look and functionality you’re looking for, you have plenty of options. There are more modern-looking reading lights finished in stainless steel or PVD gold with colorful glass shades that can add an elegant look to the interior of your van while also providing the light you desire. Many of these light fixtures, like the ones from Prebit, are also available with built-in USB charging ports and dimming capability with the touch of a single button.  

There are also wall-mounted lights with flexible arms that allow you to turn and pivot the light to wherever you need it most. The flexibility makes them multi-funtional, possibly illuminating a work space when pivoted one way, while doubling as a reading light for your bunk when pivoted the other way.  

Having the right lighting in your vehicle specific to your needs can vastly improve your living space and help you get the most out of your adventure. If you have any questions or would like further information, please visit our website or feel free to reach out to the team at Imtra and we’ll be happy to help.  


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