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My Model S 90D Cabin Lighting Upgrade

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Haxster, Dec 30, 2016.

  1. Haxster

    Haxster Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2016
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    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    Overview:

    As others have observed, the interior lighting is really dim. It’s pleasant “ambient/mood lighting” but falls short on practical lighting to actually see stuff in the dark.

    My December 2016 MS has the Premium Upgrades Package. This includes thirteen 200 milliwatt cool white LED lighting modules, four red LED modules in the doors, cool white LED strings above the arm rests, and four warm white down lights on the ceiling. Initially, I decided to upgrade at least the trunk and glove box lights. These would be the big wins.

    Approach:

    At first, I planned to open the modules and solder in brighter LED(s). They were a pain to open and it looked like a lot of work to change the LEDs. Then, after a little research, I found snap-in replacement modules from Ultra-Bright LED Interior Light Kit (4 Bulbs) at reasonable prices. It turns out that, other than the guts, they are virtually identical to the factory modules. Impressive! On the bench, they measure about 850 milliwatts; about 4X the power of the factory modules.

    I decided to order the full kit for the Model X, even though I have a Model S. The difference is two less red and two less white modules…and $40. The four bulbs that I decided to not replace are under the front seat (plenty of light from the overhead lights for the back seat) and the red lights on the passenger side (the incremental visibility is minimal and how often are kids skateboarding at night on the sidewalk?). It’s also not clear how much “safety” the brighter red lights add to the drivers side.

    Installation:

    As the Abstract Ocean site describes, there are various lighting payoffs and challenges to removing the factory lighting modules. They recommended a special pry tool, which users seem to like. I found this tool useless for anything but three easy to remove trunk lights.

    In the end, I resorted to a large metal screwdriver with a wide thin blade. This made fast-work on all of the modules with virtually no marks to the interior trim or the old modules. The connectors were easy to remove. Some of the connectors on the new modules were a little tight. Some of the wires were really short (front footwell), while others were really long (red door edge). None of these presented any problems.

    Final Comments:

    The new lighting is not so much an improvement as a remedy for a shortcoming.

    The new lights are “about right”. Bright enough, but not too bright. I wouldn’t mind even more light in the rear trunk.

    The increased footwell lighting really shows off lint and debris on the black carpet.

    It’s curious that all of the cabin lighting is cool white with the exception of the four warm white downlights. Don’t the lighting designers talk to each other? If I had to choose one color temperature for all of the cabin lighting, I’d have chosen warm white (the “living room” vs the “work room” look). The two cool white displays would really pop.

    Overall, I’m pleased with these lights and the ones that I chose to replace.
     
    • Informative x 4
  2. jelloslug

    jelloslug Active Member

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    The overhead lights used to be cool white but Tesla changed them to warm white some time back.
     
  3. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2014
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    Location:
    Santa Cruz Mountains, USA
    I got the AO light set for the front underside doors, all four reds for the doors, the one measly rear hatch light and the under seat lighting. They work great. I didn't get the premium lighting package when I bought because I thought is was pretty bad at the time. I did find these really cheap LED strips on Amazon that I put under the front dash in the footwells and on either side of the trunk that work really well and provide tons of light. I think they cost about $3 each. Before that, the trunk was a big black cavern and the front footwells were a joke. I have been OK with the ceiling reading lights. I don't tend to like cool white lights. But I do like these.

    As far as ambient lighting goes, I think Mercedes beats everybody. Have you seen the new E Series? Lovely. But honestly, when I am driving at night, I want a dark cabin. The lighting would distract me by making it a bit harder to see. So it is cool, but not useful for me.
     
  4. ev-now

    ev-now Member

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    Denver, CO
    Totally agree.
     
  5. WannabeOwner

    WannabeOwner Active Member

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    In case of interest Bjorn has a video on the Abstract Ocean retro-fit kit.

     
  6. bmah

    bmah Obscure Member

    Joined:
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    BTW the semi-official thread on the Abstract Ocean lighting upgrades is here:

    Improved Trunk lighting - Is there demand?

    My two bits: On my non-premium interior S85D, I swapped out all of the lights except the glovebox, added the second-row footwell lights, and had a custom shop add the rear door puddle lights. Then added the red door lights when they came out. So right now I effectively have the premium lighting, without the ambient lighting. Everything except the rear door puddle lights was easy, and this coming from someone who's never made any modifications to a car whatsoever. The spudger wasn't real useful, but I used a combination of that plus a large flat blade screwdriver to pop out the old lights. Painters tape on the trim helped avoid scratches.

    Bruce.
     
    • Like x 2
  7. Akikiki

    Akikiki A'-Lo-HA ! y'all

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    Haxster, I guess you've not seen these then... :)

    Puddle_Light_10.jpg Puddle_Light_012.jpg
     
    • Love x 1
  8. Akikiki

    Akikiki A'-Lo-HA ! y'all

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    Here's a hint how to do this $ 25 mod to your car.
    Puddle Lights2.jpg
     
  9. busaman

    busaman Member

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    Dec 12, 2016
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    Location:
    suffolk UK
    where did you get those there really neat..
     
  10. mrElbe

    mrElbe Active Member

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    Location:
    Stouffville, ON Canada
    I got mine from Ebay. I did not destroy the original lights and was able to push the wires after tinning into the existing plugs. So, totally reversible. Mods
     
  11. Akikiki

    Akikiki A'-Lo-HA ! y'all

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    The old puddle light helps hold the new light in the rectangular hold. The hole saw comes with a kit of two lights. By popping the backside off the Tesla puddle light, there's just enough material left behind to hold the light. You don't need much. Remember though, the Tesla puddle lights are polarized, so you must get the right wire mated to the new right wire. I don't recommend cutting the Tesla puddle light connector, you later might need to reverse this. So, use a posi-tap to connect above the connector.

    There are different colors and a few different emblem designs. A set of these logo lights are usually about $25 shipped. The idea is not new. The picture above of the red car is artsci's red 85, developer of the lighted T and front camera kit.
     

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