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Model 3 DIY Light kits: Review and installation tips, with pics

I went ahead and ordered that kit. Going to try to to Frankenstein the Two kits together.

How does the App work with the three controllers? Do they all pair to the app, or is one connected and then repeated to the other two?

I would imagine the controller I have now from SUMK would not be compatible with this newer set. Are there still 4 total Emitters on the new kit?

Thanks for the update

Here's an update, I wired it up, the "branch" controller instantly synced up to the main controller. I am talking as soon as it got power, it was the right color. So they definitely work off the main controller very quickly. I am going to migrate everything I did previously to match this new kit, first of all the light emitters fit much more snug with the light tubes themselves, screws aren't even necessary.

I am going to put the "main" controller where my current center console one is, and the two "branch" controllers on driver/passenger.
The driver and passenger install is difficult in that you got to fit yourself into a tight spot, but if you did the footwell lights already, you know the situation.

Also, the footwell lights also sync LED color as well, which is a welcomed bonus for me. I think with how this is, at least on my 2022 M3LR, I can probably "fish" the emitter up through a hole on either side after removing dash end pieces, but not sure if this is the best way, if I choose this route I will need to make sure there's some adequate tension to avoid any potential rattles. I have some rather stiff bell wire I can probably use to do the fishing task. There are two large holes on the driver side at the very least the emitter will easily fit into.

I'm actually thinking to remove the dashboard trim to make the adhesive and alignment step on the dashboard strip a bit easier, as it would be a bit tight for me to do with just my fingers, but maybe I can manage without.

Overall, for $50, this kit works really well and doesn't require removing any trim in theory aside from triangular end pieces, and looks a lot more sane.

The dashboard LED strips are unfortunately worthless, they want you to route them behind the screen going toward the door and not only will wires be visible if you looked, but so would the emitter, and it doesn't even leave a gapless situation. If each half was longer it could maybe pass, but a single strip is by far the best play. However, it looks as if they don't want you touching any trim or clips minus the screws under each footwell. The place they want you to mount it doesn't even really make sense since it won't be flush with the adjustable steering wheel. Routing it like how GreenHokie has popularized with the AliExpress kit is definitely the way to go.

I was going to attempt running them deeper into the air vents but I am probably going to bail on that idea due to complexity, but may revisit that if I can find a more appropriate fiber dimension and design in future. I recommend some decent double sided tape or command strips to mount the controllers, maybe some wire clips as well (optional, some form of tape would likely work just fine).

Good luck, you'll see what I'm talking about when you get your kit.
 
Here's an update, I wired it up, the "branch" controller instantly synced up to the main controller. I am talking as soon as it got power, it was the right color. So they definitely work off the main controller very quickly. I am going to migrate everything I did previously to match this new kit, first of all the light emitters fit much more snug with the light tubes themselves, screws aren't even necessary.

I am going to put the "main" controller where my current center console one is, and the two "branch" controllers on driver/passenger.
The driver and passenger install is difficult in that you got to fit yourself into a tight spot, but if you did the footwell lights already, you know the situation.

Also, the footwell lights also sync LED color as well, which is a welcomed bonus for me. I think with how this is, at least on my 2022 M3LR, I can probably "fish" the emitter up through a hole on either side after removing dash end pieces, but not sure if this is the best way, if I choose this route I will need to make sure there's some adequate tension to avoid any potential rattles. I have some rather stiff bell wire I can probably use to do the fishing task. There are two large holes on the driver side at the very least the emitter will easily fit into.

I'm actually thinking to remove the dashboard trim to make the adhesive and alignment step on the dashboard strip a bit easier, as it would be a bit tight for me to do with just my fingers, but maybe I can manage without.

Overall, for $50, this kit works really well and doesn't require removing any trim in theory aside from triangular end pieces, and looks a lot more sane.

The dashboard LED strips are unfortunately worthless, they want you to route them behind the screen going toward the door and not only will wires be visible if you looked, but so would the emitter, and it doesn't even leave a gapless situation. If each half was longer it could maybe pass, but a single strip is by far the best play. However, it looks as if they don't want you touching any trim or clips minus the screws under each footwell. The place they want you to mount it doesn't even really make sense since it won't be flush with the adjustable steering wheel. Routing it like how GreenHokie has popularized with the AliExpress kit is definitely the way to go.

I was going to attempt running them deeper into the air vents but I am probably going to bail on that idea due to complexity, but may revisit that if I can find a more appropriate fiber dimension and design in future. I recommend some decent double sided tape or command strips to mount the controllers, maybe some wire clips as well (optional, some form of tape would likely work just fine).

Good luck, you'll see what I'm talking about when you get your kit.
Thanks for the quick response! My kit should be here tomorrow.

My plan is to leave the two strips from the 2017-2020 kit installed in my console, and connect them to the new master hub, which I’ll wrap in foam tape and place in the gap in the rear vent area of the console.

The two other branch units I may just double side tape to the top side of the kick panels on the driver and passenger sides. Fishing those lines is super easy, there’s a ton of space. I use a Klein tools glow in the dark filament fishing tape that has worked very well for other projects, I’m happy to post a link if anyone is interested. Home Depot has them.

One last question, the footwell light that comes with the kit, can it be unplugged and swapped with my existing one (I have abstract ocean ones that I love and would rather not have to swap them out) it’s hard to tell from the picture if it is a traditional connector or if it’s hard wired in the harness.

My plan for the dash, is to use the Ali express strip on my dash, lighting both ends with the driver/passenger side emmiter. Hopefully that goes smoothly 😎
 
One last question, the footwell light that comes with the kit, can it be unplugged and swapped with my existing one (I have abstract ocean ones that I love and would rather not have to swap them out) it’s hard to tell from the picture if it is a traditional connector or if it’s hard wired in the harness.
Unfortunately no, the way it is right now you have no choice to do this, it uses a proprietary connector, the foot well light cable that the car provides connects to a cable, that cable connects to the light (with a different hardwired connector), so the kit cannot use a drop in replacement light by abstract ocean.

I wish it did as I know AO makes great replacement lights, and in this way you're at the mercy of using this. One way would be if someone designed a "splitter" of sorts which takes the standard plug and "splits" it into two standard plugs, sort of like a molex power splitter or something, it's really hard to explain until you take a look at the cables, which I took a picture of and posted. You will understand where the problem lays.
 
Unfortunately no, the way it is right now you have no choice to do this, it uses a proprietary connector, the foot well light cable that the car provides connects to a cable, that cable connects to the light (with a different hardwired connector), so the kit cannot use a drop in replacement light by abstract ocean.

I wish it did as I know AO makes great replacement lights, and in this way you're at the mercy of using this. One way would be if someone designed a "splitter" of sorts which takes the standard plug and "splits" it into two standard plugs, sort of like a molex power splitter or something, it's really hard to explain until you take a look at the cables, which I took a picture of and posted. You will understand where the problem lays.
Ahhh damn…gonna have to return this newer kit then and go back to the slice and dice approach with the first one.

My reasoning is that I have an SR+ and the footwell lights are not factory activated, I may *cough cough* have a boost sr module that says they are activated 😉

With those now “functioning”, I was able to purchase the abstract ocean rear footwell lightbars. The way those work is the same splitter system as this newer SUMK kit, the AO rear footwell lightbars come with the type of splitter you mentioned and the front footwell light factory harness gets split to two legs, one to the light in the footwell, and one to the light bar that gets run under the seat in the back.

I’ll reach out to AO and see if they can sell me 2 more splitters.

What is something that should be advertised by SUMK is that owners with SR+ will be able to have functional front footwell lights with this kit which is a really nice feature!!!!
 
So, bad news from my front, everything was going insanely smoothly then one of the SUMK controllers (or cables) must be bad now, because it was working fine for several hours then it started "flickering".

I'm starting to think the longevity of this system is questionable at best with multiple controllers. I'll verify if the controller has gone bad on me or not then order a replacement and return whatever doesn't work. If I could get some splitters and just ignore those 3rd party footwell lights and just use it to power this system with low voltage that would be great. Not sure it's possible, though, unless I can find a source for these splitters online and I'll figure out power myself, but if it turns out to be the controller, I'm once again ****ed. It would actually be awesome if this thing worked out as designed without these quality issues, though, the install it truly amazing.

When I replaced the stock footwell light, worked fine, no flicker, so I'm almost certain it's the controller. I did a reboot and everything, just doesn't seem to be working as intended.
 
Something really crazy going on with one of the "branch" controllers, stopped flashing after I left car sleep for a bit, went back, it was working fine, then slowly problems started coming back, the light emitter sometimes isn't outputting the correct color, or none at all, flashing lights including the footwell light, doing something like opening the door is really messing with it. Now, the main controller I had plugged into the cigarette lighter previously also developed issues (alas, nothing like flashing) so I think these are just hit or miss. I wish they would either make these better or let us buy some spares or something, it's looking insane longevity wise right now.

That said, I ran the light strip across the dash and it looks *fantastic*, I'll probably post some pictures once the final product isn't crap. Thanks so much @GreenHokie your pictures and guidance (especially with adhesive promotor and the 3m tape) was invaluable to a professional looking install!
 
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You‘re welcome, @GreatGazoo !

Glad to hear my tips helped. Yeah, I really think the AliExpress light strip on the dashboard + the SUMK light strip on the console is the perfect combination. Initially, I was sort of wishing the narrower AliExpress light strip would be a little thicker to match the thickness of the SUMK light strip on the center console. However, once everything was installed/lit and viewed as a whole, I think having a slightly thinner light profile on the dashboard is really the way it should be done. It just makes our ambient lighting look more refined and professional looking, compared to what I’ve seen anywhere else in this forum and in the dozens of other examples/videos on YouTube. The AliExpress + SUMK combo is definitely the way to go as far as a DIY route… if you are picky about looks and want something closer to perfection.

As for your controller problems, I hope you get that worked out. Mine has been fairly stable. Although, I have observed one infrequent behavior that is a little concerning. Every once in a while, one or two of the emitters will output a slightly different color than the other emitters. When this happens, the slight color difference is only noticeable whenever the “white” color or any custom/user created light shade of blue is being displayed. The other colors like red, yellow, green, purple are not effected and always remain consistent across all emitters/light strips. When this slight color variation happens, the fix is to just slightly move/shift the position where the end of the light strip makes contact with the emitter (basically, I just wiggle/shift the position where the end of the light strip makes contact with the emitter). For some strange reason that I cannot figure out, simply wiggling/shifting where the light strip makes contact with the surface of the emitter can sometimes change the color output of that emitter, so it matches the light color output from the other emitters. Very strange behavior. However, it happens so infrequently (and again only noticeable when white and lighter shades of blue are being displayed) and since the fix is so easy/quick, I’ve decide not to worry about it.

I think we just have to accept that these controllers (regardless of the brand/manufacturer) are fairly cheap and may sometimes act a little quirky…
 
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As for your controller problems, I hope you get that worked out. Mine has been fairly stable. Although, I have observed one infrequent behavior that is a little concerning. Every once in a while, one or two of the emitters will output a slightly different color than the other emitters. When this happens, the slight color difference is only noticeable whenever the “white” color or any custom/user created light shade of blue is being displayed. The other colors like red, yellow, green, purple are not effected and always remain consistent across all emitters/light strips. When this slight color variation happens, the fix is to just slightly move/shift the position where the end of the light strip makes contact with the emitter (basically, I just wiggle/shift the position where the end of the light strip makes contact with the emitter). For some strange reason that I cannot figure out, simply wiggling/shifting where the light strip makes contact with the surface of the emitter can sometimes change the color output of that emitter, so it matches the light color output from the other emitters. Very strange behavior. However, it happens so infrequently (and again only noticeable when white and lighter shades of blue are being displayed) and since the fix is so easy/quick, I’ve decide not to worry about it.

This is happening for me on the same controller that is bad, and remember previously my original controller stopped emitting white all together.

Last night it was showing pinkish when I set it to show white, red and some others worked "ok" but the flickering is still a major issue. I think you're experiencing some early stages of dread. I'm going to keep ordering these damned kits until it all works and return what I need to, also on the look out for some foot well splitters so I can run stock lights there, I found the parts to make it but would rather buy something premade if possible.
 
This is happening for me on the same controller that is bad, and remember previously my original controller stopped emitting white all together.

Last night it was showing pinkish when I set it to show white, red and some others worked "ok" but the flickering is still a major issue. I think you're experiencing some early stages of dread. I'm going to keep ordering these damned kits until it all works and return what I need to, also on the look out for some foot well splitters so I can run stock lights there, I found the parts to make it but would rather buy something premade if possible.
Sucks to hear all these issues arising. I’m just curious, do you both have premium interiors? If you don’t, I’m wondering if the power feeding those branch boxes is not outputting enough to keep them working steadily. Just something that I thought could be causing issues. I’m probably going to return my newer kit and keep the old one at this point, it seems more stable
 
Sucks to hear all these issues arising. I’m just curious, do you both have premium interiors? If you don’t, I’m wondering if the power feeding those branch boxes is not outputting enough to keep them working steadily. Just something that I thought could be causing issues. I’m probably going to return my newer kit and keep the old one at this point, it seems more stable
Yes, my M3 has the premium interior. Power coming out of the 12V cigarette socket has never been an issue for me. I was previously using that socket to provide fast charging capability to my wireless charging pad. Now, I use it for these ambient lights. My SUMK kit/controller has only four emitters, so that is a total power draw of only 2.4 watts. So, yeah, pretty much any power source will be sufficient for this light load. Definitely no flickering and the light output from all light strips has been bright and consistent. I‘m happy with how my controller has been performing. We’ll see if I feel the same way come 1 year from now. Fortunately, I have a spare main controller from SUMK as a back-up in case the current one craps out…
 
Yes, my M3 has the premium interior. Power coming out of the 12V cigarette socket has never been an issue for me. I was previously using that socket to provide fast charging capability to my wireless charging pad. Now, I use it for these ambient lights. My SUMK kit/controller has only four emitters, so that is a total power draw of only 2.4 watts. So, yeah, pretty much any power source will be sufficient for this light load. Definitely no flickering and the light output from all light strips has been bright and consistent. I‘m happy with how my controller has been performing. We’ll see if I feel the same way come 1 year from now. Fortunately, I have a spare main controller from SUMK as a back-up in case the current one craps out…
I have the same kit as you and have had no issues so far with the strips I have installed (still have to tackle the dash)
The v2 kit seems to only power the console lights from the 12v lighter. The dash is now powered from the two separate branch components which are powered by the footwells instead of the 12v lighter, that’s why I was curious is the premium interior is necessary for this version of the kit to be installed since the footwells are disabled on partial premium interiors.
 
I have the same kit as you and have had no issues so far with the strips I have installed (still have to tackle the dash)
The v2 kit seems to only power the console lights from the 12v lighter. The dash is now powered from the two separate branch components which are powered by the footwells instead of the 12v lighter, that’s why I was curious is the premium interior is necessary for this version of the kit to be installed since the footwells are disabled on partial premium interiors.

Interesting. I didn’t realize SUMK updated their kit/controller(s) in that way. Sounds like they may have taken a step backwards with their newer kit. So, sort of makes me glad we have their “older” version. One controller to rule them all!! Get the reference? 🤓
 
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Interesting. I didn’t realize SUMK updated their kit/controller(s) in that way. Sounds like they may have taken a step backwards with their newer kit. So, sort of makes me glad we have their “older” version. One controller to rule them all!! Get the reference? 🤓
The precious kit!!! Yeah I guess they tried to ease the wiring runs but seems like it’s a no go.
 
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Got an update for you guys, also @GreenHokie may help you resolve your issue. I found on one of the cables when replacing a cable, a "blue" (could be diff depending on version of your kit) conductor was loose and pretty much broke out of the connector. The amount of material on the conductor was really small and just looked like a poor quality connection, which would maybe explain why it isn't working on the emitter correctly. I have two kits now and keeping both to use as spares as necessary. Also make sure to use something to pry the connector off, and don't use the wire itself as I said the connection there is super weak and cheap looking, completely solderless but they happen to have almost no material for the conductor on the crimp style connector.

I do think if you run off one controller you'll be ok once that controller doesn't go bad. That said, take a look at your connectors on both ends, possibly the one on the light emitter could have some loose connection. I want to say that "for now", my install seems solid and I validated connectivity is all fine on all my ends best as I could. If something goes wrong, I hope it's the center console one as that's easiest to go bad/replace.

I actually still want a splitter to go back to default/stock footwell lights, it makes no sense for me to even have this kit's lights given that I want the strip to be white anyway, but alas, install is relatively easy and it would only take me a few minutes to debug each side given replacements available.
 
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Thanks @GreatGazoo . I may have to take a closer look at the terminations to see if any are suspect/loose. A loose connection could certainly be the cause of the occasional color output shift/variation that I see. Right now, it happens so infrequently that I probably won’t bother taking anything apart, but will certainly do so if it becomes more of a problem/nuisance.
 
I got my emitter harness sliced and spliced last night (added 6ft to both long runs) got some 24g heat shrink butt end splices, cut in my 24/4 wire, used larger heat shrink to enclose the 4 splices on each leg, looking nice and clean so far. Cutting the Ali strip now (just logged in to check Hokie’s expert instruction one more time 😎)

I am cutting the strip to 53” even. I’m not worried about under cutting at that length, I can always hide excess if needed.

Hopefully I can get the emitter runs done tomorrow and show off my handwork!
 
I am cutting the strip to 53” even. I’m not worried about under cutting at that length, I can always hide excess if needed.

Actually, since the AliExpress light strip is so rigid, it is impossible to “hide” any excess length along the dashboard. So, in this case, it is actually OK to cut a little too much off the length. The only slight downside of cutting too much length is your light will end a little short of the two ends of the dashboard, but it will still look OK/good. If you don’t cut enough length (and your light strip runs too long), then you won’t be able to bend & conceal the excess (inner tubular) part of the light strip and it will poke out at one or each end of your dashboard.

I sort of discussed the above suggestion in a previous post, but will repeat and expand on my previous comments.
Measure the length of your dashboard (from the tip of where it touches each door panel).
Subtract 1.0 inch from the above dimension.
The resulting number is the distance you should shoot for when cutting your light strip.
So, let’s say you get 55” when you measure the distance between each end/tip of your dashboard.
55” - 1.0” = 54”
So, 54” is the dimension that you should shoot for when cutting. Note, that 54” is measured from each end where the rubber shrink tube covers the flat tip/edge of the light strip. Below is a photo to demonstrate what I am trying to describe…

F3A72519-50D6-43DD-BC3B-0A1F80ABF03A.jpeg
 
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I taped my strip down using electrical tape and just marked out where I wanted the lit part to be and it worked out for me, would have saved me a lot of time if I had an exact measurement!

Also, applying just a little bit of heat when making your bend helped me get really clean corners as well.
 
I taped my strip down using electrical tape and just marked out where I wanted the lit part to be and it worked out for me, would have saved me a lot of time if I had an exact measurement!

Also, applying just a little bit of heat when making your bend helped me get really clean corners as well.
Honestly, it took me a couple of tries/installs of the AliExpress dash strip to figure out the best way to get/cut the “correct” length for maximum light coverage. Through trial & error, I eventually figured out how much free space I needed to leave at each end of the dashboard so I could gradually bend (without risk of breaking) the inner tube to conceal it behind the dash endcaps. For me, that free space at each end turned out to be 3/8 to 1/2”. Hence, that is why I had suggested subtracting 1” from the measured total width of your particular dashboard, to arrive at the final cut length for the AliExpress light strip. Doing this will give you 1/2” of free space at each end of the dashboard… which is plenty of room to gradually bend/run/tuck the inner tube behind & under the end caps.

Using a heat gun definitely helps by making the inner tube less rigid and easier to bend/shape. Of course, the inner tube is fairly easy to melt/destroy. So, have to be careful not to apply too much heat.

Finally, not sure if I mentioned this before, but when applying the double-sided tape to the AliExpress light strip, be sure to extend/apply the double-sided tape onto the surface of the shrink tube as well, as shown in the photo below. There is a much greater tendency for the ends of the light strip to loose adhesion with the surface of the dashboard, because you will be bending the inner tube in this area, thus causing some stress/tension at each end. So, you will want to have as much tape and adhesion as possible at the two ends.
I also suggest applying a little adhesion promoter to surface of the AliExpress light strip (including on the rubber shrink tube part). This will make the double-sided tape stick more securely to the light strip & rubber shrink tube surface. Of course, also apply adhesion promoter to the mounting surface of the dashboard.
Once everything was applied and the light strip was positioned exactly where I wanted, I took it one step further and applied some gentle heat along the entire length of the dashboard while I pressed firmly on the light strip to get the best possible adhesion to the dash surface. Remember, the 3M tape needs a little heat and time to bond properly. I performed this heat-pressure procedure in 1 foot increments as I worked my way from the left to the right side of the dashboard. Yeah, I’m really that detailed… 😁

A30F049C-6DD1-49C9-BBFE-64FF49A967D0.jpeg
 
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This keeps getting wilder and wilder, with the new kit which breaches off the footwell light, it seems to dim/flicker at night, I was super stumped why this would be, and noticed it always was fine when in park. So figure ok, it's the footwell automatic dimming. Turns out, not only that, it is based on screen brightness!

If you have screen brightness to auto, it's going to dim at night on driver side footwell LED which causes a flicker on the SUMK controller. As soon as I increased brightness of screen it went back on. So, what this tells me is for whatever reason the Tesla footwell for driver side is controlled by brightness but the passenger one is completely normal!

Essentially, if you hook up the main controller to the driver side, it will turn everything off while driving automatically, otherwise those lights will always stay on. Realistically, this may be a desirable thing in some cases, except in my testing of it, the on/off is not "smooth", it just flashes on, if the controller was smart enough to sense initial power and gradually increase brightness it would probably be perfect for that use case.

However, if you want this on all the time (including while driving) going via the cigarette lighter port only and running cables along the trim is definitely the way to go.

So, if you ever notice your driver side footwell LED is dimmer than passengers (for any reason), this is why.
 

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