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Simple and Cheap Interior LED Upgrade

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by ChrisPDX, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. ChrisPDX

    ChrisPDX Member

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    Recently I decided to upgrade the lighting inside my MS60. I was disappointed with how dim the trunk and footwell lighting was. I ended up using 36 SMD LED arrays to replace them. You can buy them cheap on-line. Here's a link to Amazon so you can see what they are like, but eBay has them even cheaper (I found a US seller that sold them in 10 packs for just $15): Amazon.com: Cutequeen Trading 2PCS White 3528 36SMD 36-SMD LED Panel Dome Light Lamp + T10 BA9S Festoon Adapter (pack of 2): Automotive

    I started with the trunk. The lights easily pop out using a flat head screwdriver. Press the small tab on the connector and the cable comes right out. Even though the LED array comes with double sided tape applied, I figured it wouldn't stick to well to the carpet. However, it sticks really well to the existing light. So I decided to recycle it into a mount and attached it like so:
    IMAG0830.jpg

    Next I plugged it in. These arrays have a basic two pin connector so it can be connected to various types of bulb sockets. You can toss those adapters and plug the array straight into the Tesla harness as the pins line up perfectly! Just make sure the black wire from the array goes to the same side of the black wire of the Tesla harness. If it's backwards, the light will not turn on (you won't damage anything ether, it just won't work). If you want to, add some electrical tape to keep them secured together.
    IMAG0832.jpg

    Now just pop the unit back in and repeat on the other side. You'll now get much brighter light in the trunk! The array is exposed, so there's risk of damage to it. However, I'm not too worried about it as the lights are so cheap, I can always replace it later if needed.
    IMAG0834.jpg

    Next I moved on to the driver and passenger footwells. When removing the existing lights, they are tighter because they are mounted in plastic. You'll need a flat head screwdriver to pry them out. I also discoverd with mine that on the passenger side, the wire harness is really short. So you have to be careful when removing and disconnecting. Once I had the lights removed, I plugged in the arrays. Because there was lots of flat space in those areas, I decided to mount them a little lower so they would throw the light further out instead of down. Here's a pic of the passenger side (the camera flash washed out the array a bit, but at least you can see how it's mounted and wired):
    IMAG0836.jpg

    Here's how it looks on the driver side. Big improvement!
    IMAG0840.jpg

    So for less then $20 and about 20 minutes of my time, I upgraded the trunk and footwell lighting big time. Since I didn't cut into anything, it's all easily reversible too. Simply pry off the arrays and unplug them from the harness. Then just plug back in the stock lights and pop them back into their original locations. That's it!

    I also upgraded the light in the frunk, but don't have any pictures of that yet. In that case I also ran additional wiring to provide a second light for the back area. It's a lot more involved, but works really well too. One of these days I'll take some pictures of it and create another how-to.
     
  2. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    Which light in the trunk did you do this to? The one on the hatch? It's hard to tell from the pictures.

    Early cars had the additional lights on the trunk wall, but mine does not. The trunk is hopelessly dark in our parking garage.

    I've just been using this this, which I keep in the trunk: Might-D-Light LED130, LED Rechargeable Gray Folding Worklight - Portable Work Lights - Amazon.com

    It's awesome, and I use it for detailing all the time, but it'd be nice to have something more automatic.
     
  3. ChrisPDX

    ChrisPDX Member

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    I tried doing the one on the hatch, but it's in there so tight I was worried about breaking the stock unit. I might make another attempt at some point in the future now that I have a few spare stock units laying around. As for the ones I did, they are the trunk wall (I have an early MS60). My understanding is Tesla left the wiring there (there are threads where some owners added lighting even though their MS didn't come with lights there). So you can always check to see if there's a connector behind the carpet and if so, go ahead and connect a light. Maybe use some velcro to attach it to the carpet after making a small hole to run the wire through.
     
  4. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    Sounds good. I'll have to check this out, something needs to be done. The current situation is terrible.
     
  5. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    My last car had footwell lighting that was about as bright as my Model S, but it stayed on all the time as part of its "ambient lighting". When you opened a door, the footwell would brighten up kinda like ChrisPDX's picture.
     
  6. russman

    russman Member

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    That's pretty similar to the trunk/frunk modification that I did that integrates into the existing lighting, doesn't require any cutting and can be returned to OEM configuration. I like the long strips as they integrate well and cover the frunk and trunk. I'm interested in the lighting in the footwell, as I have extra strips. I didn't even look down in the footwell, might use it there. Thanks for pointing it out!

    http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/12392-Project-More-light-in-Frunk-and-Trunk/page9?p=737414&viewfull=1#post737414
     
  7. ChrisPDX

    ChrisPDX Member

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    After thinking about it more, I decided to go for broke and change the hatch light as well. I figured if I mangled the light a bit and needed to put it back, I could always place it under the footwell were it's not directly visible. So after taking a large flat head screwdriver, I was finally able to pry it out (only caused minimal damage to the light). Grabbed another SMD array and attached it like below. I didn't want to cover the original hole completely because I was worried about not having enough surface space for the array to stay in place. It's so bright that you can't even see it without blinding yourself anyway. :smile:
    IMAG0845.jpg

    This picture was taken in my garage with all lights turned off. All light is coming from the trunk and hatch lights! So it works really well if you need to load stuff in the dark.
    IMAG0843.jpg

    The only drawback so far is now my trunk is a bit too bright. This is my view from the front. As you can see it looks like I'm storing the Ark of the Covenant! So I may replace the two trunk lights with 25 SMD array units should I get around to ordering them. If I had a parcel shelf, that may help as well in blocking some of that radiant light. At least they turn off when taking the car out of park, so it's not a danger while driving.
    IMAG0844.jpg
     
  8. bollar

    bollar Disgruntled Member

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    I wonder when this changed? My 2012 has the wall lights, but the R side has always been inop. In fact, I didn't know it existed until I undertook this project. The car was at the SC today, and my friends there said they had never seen a car with the wall lights.
     
  9. ribsandbbqbeef

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    @bollar: can you take a pic of your wall light for us to see? Thanks.
     
  10. franknesss

    franknesss Member

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    Thanks for the information on the bulbs! I replaced all my foot well with these new ones and it gives a really cool lighting effect a night. I did get the premium LED lighting and personally i think this solution is a lot better. I'll share some pictures later tonight.
     
  11. 4SUPER9

    4SUPER9 Active Member

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    #11 4SUPER9, Nov 15, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
    What an easy and great mod! While I did a more elaborate LED mod for the trunk, with 18" strips on either side, I used your method for the foot wells.

    Instead of the ones you suggested, I went a step up and used the 48 LED panels here. The time it took me to order the panels, open the package, gather up a screwdriver and walk down to my car, was longer than the time it took for me to install these on both sides.

    All for $9.00!!
     
  12. Notacarguy

    Notacarguy Member

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    Well I may have to change my user name, but I followed the instructions and got some blue lights instead. They turned out great. I think I am done though with the mods as my wife thinks I am reverting to a 16 year old with this car. Thanks to everyone for sharing on here. Hardest part of installation was contorting my 43 year old bones t see under the dash. Both lights took 15 minutes, most due to lack of flexibility on my part.

    IMG_0813 (1024x683).jpg
     
  13. asim120

    asim120 New Member

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    Thank you for posting this lighting upgrade. I just upgraded my footwell lights to the same LED arrays--what an improvement! I used double-sided Velcro tape so that I can switch out to different colors/sizes of LED arrays.
     
  14. ChrisPDX

    ChrisPDX Member

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    I'm glad to hear this quick mod is working well for others so far. I did notice one thing, I've had two lights fall off already. I think the double sided tape that came with them is either poor quality or there's something on the plastic that's preventing good adhesion. So when I press them back on, I'm going to first try cleaning the surface area with rubbing alcohol. I'm hoping that will make the lights stick better. Something you might want to try before installing these lights on the factory trim plastic.
     
  15. Notacarguy

    Notacarguy Member

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    For how cheap they are I suspect that's not really 3M tape on the back.
     
  16. trils0n

    trils0n 2013 P85

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    Does anyone know what the 2 pin male connector on the LED arrays in the OP is called? (Or the original 2 pin one with the clip Tesla that uses?) I have some LED strips I'd like to connect without splicing and the connector seems like a good way.
     
  17. ChrisPDX

    ChrisPDX Member

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    I don't know the name of the connector. However, on eBay there are small SMD LED arrays that you can get for less then 50 cents with shipping from China. Just get a couple of those, cut off the array and use the connector. Kind of a waste, but at least you are only spending about a buck. Since you are in they bay area, try Fry's as well. They might have something similar in the electronic parts and connectors section.
     
  18. jlucero

    jlucero Member

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    Chris---i did the same---bought some cheap ones, cut them off, and then solder them on.

    heres my trunk with blue LED strips. 2015-10-06 23.39.11.jpg 2015-10-06 23.39.28.jpg 2015-10-06 23.39.52.jpg
     
  19. Dborn

    Dborn Confirmed

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    I cleaned the parcel shelf supports with rubbing alcohol and used 3m quality vhb tape, but it still does not adhere. Same apples to the underside of the door liner when I installed my puddle lights. Don't know what is stopping the adhesion but it must be something in the plastic, as initially it seems to grab then over the following 24 hours it comes loose. Just about when the adhesive is meant to be curing.
     
  20. ChrisPDX

    ChrisPDX Member

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    You might have to consider something else. I've had good luck with silicone adheasive. Sticks pretty well but can be cut/rubbed off too if you ever decide to remove the lights. Less drastic then say epoxy! :smile: For the footwell lights, they are still holding after I cleaned the surface. But the trunk lid has that same textured plastic you are dealing with and I can't get it to stick still. I'm considering modifying the original light and sticking the LED array to that like I did for the other trunk lights on the carpet. The double sided tape sticks really well to those lights.
     

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