My lighting situation was in significant need of improvement when I re-fit the van. I had one cabin light above the doors which was great as it’s lined into the car battery, but didn’t provide me with very nice interior light after sundown. The effective light doesn’t reach particularly far, and considering the head of my bed was at the opposite end of the cabin it wasn’t in a very practical position. So I also was using a little usb-rechargeable bike light as a torch, which I charged off the cigarette lighter.
I was always a bit paranoid I’d flatten the battery in the middle of nowhere by overusing it (although I’m pretty sure that would’ve been hard to do). I was therefore determined to achieve two things: improve the light quality and have it run off a backup USB battery. I had quite an adventure organising it all.
To begin with I found some circular LED banks in Jaycar, deigned to go in cupboards. They have this touch-sensitive rim on them instead of switch, literally just tap the edge and they turn on. They are so sick, naturally I impulse-bought three of them before realising the wiring might not be as simple as I thought. Turns out they run on 12v DC power, and USB batteries only output 5v. So I went back to Jaycar for some wiring instructions on how to convert the power - only to be met by a blank faced guy looking at me almost accusatory that I was purposely wasting his time. Impossible, he said. No such thing as a 12v to 5v converter. On ya bike.
Pretty ticked off by how dismissive Mr Jaycar was, I jumped online and discovered my ideal 12v-to-5v DC-to-usb adaptor cable did indeed exist! I immediately bought three of them off ebay.
By the time they arrived it was one of the finishing touches that I completed after having moved back in and returned to the road full time. It was my first proper wiring job, and it relied on some cheap cables form the internet that professionals didn't know existed. Suffice it to say, when they binged on for the first time it was against all odds. But they worked! Unfortunately the light was pretty harsh, and I think there is definitely a bit of chinese electrical fuckery going on in the convertor cables, because they all make a funny little unique whine when all 3 are on. The whole interior is clad in pinewood, I need less potential fire hazards, not more.
So to supplement the wired in cabinet LEDs (which I still love having for #vanity, even if I only use them rarely) I have these USB-powered fairy lights that Sam found on ebay. They were cheap as, dimmable, and use very little power. From my 6000ma usb battery I reckon I could keep them on low and use them for 3 weeks without needing a recharge (which I can then do from the cigarette lighter). Yew!
Despite having fulfilled most of my construction goals the interior just didn’t quite fit the mental image I had envisioned; that is until I put the fairy lights in. The ambience has been trebled, possibly even quadrupled with the fairy lights. I lost my shit the first time I strung them up and turned them on. They just amplify the cosiness to such a degree that it helps reinforce what the van is - a giant roaming cubby house I can take with me wherever I go.