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Installing a Step Well Courtesy Light.

One area on our RV that I wanted to remedy is the lack of a light in the step well. I see this as a safety issue for both exiting the coach at night as well as walking around inside. Without illumination in the step well, it would be all too easy to fall into it.


My plan then is to add a small low-wattage LED courtesy light that will illuminate the step well, yet not be so bright as to become a distraction at night. The RV and marine industry aftermarket produces several of these types of lights, and I selected an inexpensive small one. The one I selected directs the illumination downward, perfect for a step well.

It should be noted that there are several versions of this light, some are downward illuminating, and some that are not. For the step well, I wanted the downward illuminating version.


The general area I plan on installing the light is above the switches on the rear wall above the step well. I plan on adding a switch to the switch panel for the courtesy light, and hopefully, I will find a source of both positive and negative battery voltage.

One evening, I connected the courtesy light to a 12V portable power source and positioned it in several locations to determine where the light would best illuminate the step well.

I'm thinking about positioning the light about 6" above and centered over the switch panel.




Before drilling or cutting any holes into the wall, I removed the switch panel to see if I could find a source of power.

Luckily, the awning switch provided both positive and negative battery. I therefore simply plan on tapping into these leads with a "piggyback terminal" or some other form of attachment.

The current switch panel is a JR Products 2 bay panel, and I can easily pull out the switches and install them (along with a new switch) in a JR Products 3 bay panel.

Since the wiring to the awning switch is heavy duty 12AWG (for the high-current awning motors), the addition of the LED light will not add anymore than around 100mA, which is an insignificant load. Therefore there will be no issues with piggy-backing on the existing wiring.


The remaining of the project is simple and straightforward.

The hole for the light is cut with a 1 3/4"dia hole saw, and the extended opening was cut with a Porter-Cable Multi-tool.

As with all projects of this type, you only have one-shot at this, so make sure you are cutting into the right area. Make sure you have adequate clearance behind the wall, and there are no wires or other items that could be damaged by either cutting operation.

As a final touch, I added labels to the switches.


Final Test.

As shown here, the courtesy light achieves the goal of illuminating the step well without being so bright as to be distracting at night.


Project video.







Last reviewed and/or updated June 15, 2017