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License Plate Bulb replacement

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by patp, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. patp

    patp Member

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    One thing I really do not like on Model S (and my other previous cars) is that the license plate is illuminated by yellowish incandescent bulbs while the rest of car is total LED.

    As anyone replaced them with something whiter (LEDs or superwhite bulbs)? Also, what's the bulb type?
     
  2. vcor

    vcor Member

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    Last week I went over looking at every LED I could find on the Model S to get a lamp count, and noticed this too. I suspect they either couldn't source a LED bulb in time, the LEDs had directional problems, or ones they got were unsatisfactory in some other way, so they went with incandescent. It's a 36mm Festoon bulb. My 2007 LS460 has LEDs for the license plate, so it was surprising to see this on the Tesla.

    I'll likely replace mine too. Strange that such a minor thing is bothersome, but no reflection on Tesla - the incandescent does actually work. If this is the only complaint, they are doing a hell of a job!
     
  3. araxara

    araxara S-P85#3,218 X-90D#3,299

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    #3 araxara, Jan 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
    Yes, I have replaced my license plate bulbs in my Model S with LEDs. The bulbs are 36mm Festoon type (long skinny). I bought a pair of LEDs from eBay. The only "issue" I had was that the LEDs were 1.5W each and produced way more light than the stock bulbs. Since they are unidirectional, I rotated them a little. I've since ordered some LED bulbs that are 1W each - unfortunately, my car is being serviced and I can't replace the bulbs with the 1W ones yet. Here is a link to the 1W bulbs I bought:

    2 Super Bright White LED License Plate Lights 1.5" Festoon 6418 C5W 1 WATT

    You need to be careful with these LEDs, since they have a metal body. The clips in the license plate light housing that hold them could potentially short out. I covered the LED light housing ends with electrical tape which was appropriately hollow punched.
    2013-01-09 15.39.20.jpg 2013-01-09 15.43.35.jpg
    2013-01-09 15.32.44.jpg
     
  4. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    As they were loading my model S on the flatbed for its trip to Chicago, I was surprised myself to note the incandescent bulb and began my own hunt for replacements. Thanks araxara!
     
  5. efxjim

    efxjim Member

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    Thanks, have ordered bulbs!
     
  6. Mike_Schlechter

    Mike_Schlechter Model S - P457

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    When I get a license plate I'll worry about how it is lit...
     
  7. steve841

    steve841 Active Member

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    A before and after shot would be greatly appreciated!
     
  8. araxara

    araxara S-P85#3,218 X-90D#3,299

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    Sorry, I didn't take a before shot - I suppose someone else could post a picture of their unmodified lights. After shot will come when I get my car back.
     
  9. Babylonfive

    Babylonfive Power12

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    Was there a clear plate over that location?
     
  10. araxara

    araxara S-P85#3,218 X-90D#3,299

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    Yes. That's a picture of the LED light mounted in the housing. There is a clear water tight cover that is screwed into place. I was just trying to show the LED held into the clips (which can cause a short if the bulb is not properly insulated). Actually, when removing the clear housing, there are plastic clips on the housing that clip to the ends of the bulb and make it easier to remove.

    Here is an image with the LED bulb held in place by the plastic clips. Note that there is no insulation installed yet on the bulb ends:
    2013-01-09 15.13.45.jpg
     
  11. Al Sherman

    Al Sherman It's about THIS car.

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    Would you mind showing a pic with the insulation on?
     
  12. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

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    araxara, could you show a photo of exactly where you put the electrical tape? I'm a tad confused about what contact areas are of concern.
     
  13. araxara

    araxara S-P85#3,218 X-90D#3,299

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    #13 araxara, Jan 13, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
    Sorry for the confusion. I've updated the photos on the original reply.

    My shorting concern is probably overblown: Both pins are insulated from the body (checked this visually and with a continuity meter). If the LEDs were to slide on the clips that hold them in place, one of the clips would touch the body. But the other clip would be sufficiently away from the body, so there is no shorting potential. I just wanted the peace of mind.

    Here is a more detailed image of the LED bulb (1 Watt bulb shown) which may help illustrate the problem:
    LED Diagram.jpg
     
  14. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

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    Ok, that's kind of what I thought you were saying and it makes sense to add a little extra insulation. The new photos really clarify that quite a lot. Thank you very much. I've ordered the 1W bulbs and look forward to installing them.
     
  15. swegman

    swegman Member

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    The link provided by Araxara indicates these are 1W bulbs in the heading. However, reading the specs in the ad states they are 2W each. Has anyone received these bulbs yet to confirm their actual wattage, and whether the brightness is correct? Thanks.
     
  16. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    So,how many extra miles of range does this mod give you? :wink:
     
  17. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    If the OE bulb is 10W and the LED is 2W (based on the text rather than the title) you gain 8W, at 300 Wh/m you will get one mile for every 37.5 hours of driving with the lights on.
     
  18. vcor

    vcor Member

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    Since there are two bulbs required, you should gain 16 W (10W - 2W)*2 = 16 W. This means you get 2 miles per 37.5 hours of driving!

    Or at $0.14/KW hour for electricity, you'll save $8.75 for every 1000 hours your lights are on.

    These are the kinds of big savings I live for! Use 1W bulbs and save even more (although not much more).
     
  19. Jeeps17

    Jeeps17 Cath Jockey in a P85

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    I wonder why Tesla went old-school with these bulbs.

    Notwithstanding the energy savings noted above, I find that LEDs in that position look substantially better at night that incandescents (IMHO). They really do stand out from the crowd in traffic.
     
  20. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    I assume they did it to save a few bucks, or perhaps they couldn't get a reliable supply at the time they were finalizing the design. They didn't go with LED headlights either.
     

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