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Installing The Van Overhead Lighting

  • By Kate Moore
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I wanted to do something a bit different for lighting.  Rather than just make it smell, feel, and taste classy, I wanted to make it look classy.

Cutting light covers
We started with a base of corrugated roofing; ultimately deciding on the clear type instead of the galvanized metal.
Cutting light covers
Sliced into strips right along the edges.
Led Strip Lighting
Next we laid LEDs along a plastic window blind backing which happened to be exact same width as a section of our light cover. The strips were cut off of a 5050 LED roll and were capped with these really convenient LED strip connectors that allowed me to wire them in quickly without having to use solder.
Ceiling panels covered in fabric
Kate cut ceiling sections to space out and support the lighting. These were more of the spare FRP wallboard and were covered in auto upholstery that we found at a local fabric shop. It took us a deceptively long time trying to decide what color and pattern to go with here.
Installing the van light switch
Once the lights were installed, tested, and re-tested all it needed was a switch! We put a nice little rocker switch to match the front panel switches and rear LED bar, removing any excuse we had to not work in the van at night!
Ceiling vent fan
Um… quality craftsmanship from the previous owner. We wanted to maximize the potential storage without making it feel claustrophobic and putting too many more holes in the roof. At first, we just wanted to hang a huge stuffed toy net, but the possibility of dive bombing Build-a-bears steered us in a different direction.
Overhead storage box construction
Ultimately, we figured that two side compartments with space in the middle to stand would keep the van feeling open and still allow the vent fan access to a supply of movable air.
Lighting mood
Looking better as we cover all of the scrappy ends! Once the panels were on, we covered some steal weather-stripping in more Oracal vinyl wrap to start tying everything together.
Ceiling fabric
Popped on some doors using RV push button latches to hold everything shut. I didn’t want to use household cabinet locks as those can be forced open if something were to press or slam into them.  Again, we covered the parts in that ice blue vinyl.


Vent fan upgrade
The mess of screws is still under there, but the eyesore is gone!


Kate is the lead content creator for and has spent over two years living in a camper van conversion. She has traveled through 48 US states and writes about van life, camping and RV living.

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