Caravan lighting: Bright Ideas
Light up your caravan life!
There’s not much to beat the al-fresco caravan lifestyle, so extend your outdoor enjoyment after dark with some atmospheric illumination.
Written by Clare Kelly
Weather permitting we like to spend as much time outside our caravans as possible, so, isn’t it time you invested in some exterior lighting?
There's tons of choice, and modern LED lights are super bright but use little power.
Have a think about your power source. If your van has an external power point, you can use mains lighting. If not, short of leaving a door or window ajar, your choices are solar or battery power. Whatever you choose, there's tons of choice.
There are some specialist lighting retailers online – we like lights4fun.co.uk. Whether you prefer plain white light, warm amber ambience or a multi-coloured effect, it boasts a brilliant range of outdoor lights that are perfect for caravanners.
Check out the Casablanca Battery Candle Stake Lantern at £12.99; Oslo Battery Candle Lanterns, £9.99; Polzeath Fisherman’s Lantern Fairy Lights, £9.99, the Warm White Connectable LED Fairy Lights, £12.99 and, the daddy of them all, the Warm White Festoons, £31.99.
LFF fairy lights can be linked. We joined four strings, that’s 40m and 400 fairy lights! The lights will all run from one, included battery pack, along with batteries. They are ideal for indoor, or outdoor use.
Repurpose your outdoor Christmas lights
Packing up the lights from outside the house in January is quite a sad affair so here's one way to avoid it. Instead of putting them back in the loft, pack them into the caravan instead and, provided they are safe to use externally, you can use them to pimp up the outside of your van.
It goes without saying that you might want to keep the grotto feel to a minimum and
while an inflatable festive Homer Simpson might be fun for the kids where you live, that's one Christmas decoration that you should place out of sight until December.
If you want to keep the look understated, why not pop handfuls of fairy lights in glass jars and use them as table decorations? It doesn't matter how cheap they are; these little twinkling lights always provide a touch of magic.
Check out DIY stores
B&Q's Blooma range is good value and stylish with simple strands of white lights and for a little romance, how about the Valenti battery powered LED heart string lights, at just £10, they aren't costly. Check out www.diy.com for these and other options.
Solar and battery operated lighting is now widely available and cost-effective – it won’t overload your hook-up or have anxious wardens marching over to complain that you’ve blown up the site with too many appliances. They look good, add real personality and make your pitch look a lot more inviting.
Homebase (homebase.co.uk) sells a LED fairy light jar which is solar powered. At just £7, it's good value for money, and you can leave it outside all day and night. If you're into the earthy look, you might like Homebase's little rustic animal solar lights (£7).
There's even a solar gnome or two, but the jury is out on whether gnomes are naff or ironic. I've also just checked, and if glowing bottomed gnomes pulling moonies tickle your fancy, you can find those online too. I'm not going to tell you where because I couldn't condone that sort of purchase.
Remember to check out budget stores like Focus, JTF, Wilkos and The Range.
Cheap and Easy
One of the simplest ways to light up your pitch is with a few tealights but here's the rub: don't use them inside the van. I know some people do, but it just seems like a dangerous idea to me. Even with a fire extinguisher.
IKEA stock 100 GLIMMA tealights for £1.75 and for just £2 you can pick up a lantern while you're in there – the ROTERA come in silver, white and black and can be used outside to create the perfect pitch side ambience. Bag a few on your next visit.
With real tealights, you also have the Citronella option to minimise annoying mossies and bugs, though tealights are only for ambience rather than useful light.
If you like the look of a real flame, seek out IKEA's STOPEN range – three LED block candles cost £10 and while they look authentic, are a much safer option. Although you can use them outside the van, it's best to keep them away from the rain. Not that I'm suggesting it ever rains on a caravan holiday. Nope.
Go with the glow
Festoon lights are having quite a moment, and there's no reason why you can't adorn your van with them. Festoon Lights come in a range of colours and lights4fun.co.uk have a great variety. We love the white ones as they blend in perfectly with the van. Starting at £30 for five metres, they are connectable so you can easily add another set to them if you wish and use just one battery box to power them.
For more typical fairy lights, you might like their white LED lights which are also connectable (under £10 for 60) and again, run off battery or power supply and can even be hooked up to a solar panel. There’s even a range of solar panel lanterns (3 for £9.99) for creating a little bit of dinner party magic when you’ve got your neighbours over.
Better still, they come with a timer that automatically gives you six hours of power before coming on again at the same time the next day. Your guests should work out if they’ve outstayed their welcome!
Stake it out
If you're staying at a site that's quite dark or you've got little ones, then a handful of stake lights can be used to mark out your pitch – and even provide a way to illustrate your boundary if you have any of those people next to you who like to spread out. And we've all had them.
You can pick up stake lights from pound shops for...well, a pound. Or the 99p Store for...99p. Given, you often get what you pay for, so while these won't stand the test of time, they do provide a significant boost of light and will help you identify your van at night on a crowded campsite while merry!
After something a little more rugged? Outwell's have lighting for tent campers (yet to upgrade to a caravan) but offer some funky products for the caravanner who thinks he's Bear Grylls. The Polaris collapsible LED lamp comes in white, green and blue and can be suspended from a branch, outside the van door or used in the awning and is battery operated. Find your nearest stockist at www.outwell.com.
No one is suggesting you need to go totally off-grid (unless you want to) but with easy ways to light up the night for little cash – solar and battery lights are an attractive option for caravanners and, as we head into the warmer months, make sitting outside the van even more inviting.