As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.  

Interior Auto LED upgrade

 

This is not even close to woodworking. However, in my experience, it seems that most woodworkers are also pretty active with other areas of Do-It-Yourself. So, I trust that someone out there will find this useful!

In this "project" I am replacing all of the interior lights in my minivan with LED lamps. By doing so, I reduce the power consumption by lights to about 10% of what it was originally. This is a quick, simple and fairly inexpensive project. AND it has already saved my battery from running dead at least once.

The price of LED bulbs has dropped considerably and I was able to find a full set of bulbs online via Amazon (August 2013) for less than $10. I provide links and full descriptions at the end of this article.

I drive a minivan -- currently a 2010 model. Inside my van there are SIX ceiling-mounted dome lights, and FOUR more that are mounted down low (two in the front doors, and two just behind the sliding doors, illuminating the floor. There is also another light in the cargo area, but that one is of rarely used.

These were all originally incandescent bulbs. They're only about 4 watts each, but that adds up to over 40 watts when all of them are on. In contrast, the LED bulbs which I purchased only consume about a tenth of the electricity of the incandescents.

There are two kinds of interior bulbs in my van, wedge base type and festoon. Pictured here are a pair of wedge-base bulbs, next to their new 10-LED replacements. There is a picture later on of a festoon-style bulb.

(I'm no expert, but from browsing various online resources it seems that those two styles are found in most car interiors, at least here in North America.)

In my van it is almost childishly simple to change the interior light bulbs. ALL of the interior light covers are simply friction-fitted into place. There are no screws or any other esoteric hidden fasteners.

All I needed was a small screwdriver and a gentle tug and twist to pop off the covers. You can find numerous guides online. In mine, I just looked closely and you can see where are little tabs that can be lightly pushed.

Here is one of the ceiling-mounted dome lights, with the cover removed. These are just a bit trickier. These lights have "hinged" covers. If you push on them, they click in to turn on the light, and push again to click the light off. I had to be sure and pop open the cover on the non-hinged side, and then the cover could be slipped off the mounts.

In this photo a new LED wedge-base bulb is installed.

Wedge-base bulbs are simply friction fit into place -- so a firm tug will remove them, and new ones are just pushed into place.

Here I am inserting the new bulb in the driver's side door. This is one of the festoon-style lights. The original incandescent is inset in the lower-right corner of the photo.
About to replace the cover.

And no, your eyes are not fooling you. I bought blue LEDs for the doors. It was just for fun.

My son said they looked cool... We like 'em.
The rear cargo compartment also has a festoon-style lamp. Here I wanted much more light. This panel has fifteen LED bulbs mounted to a flat panel, which is wired to a festoon-style mount.
The panel fits neatly behind the lamp cover and provides a LOT of light when clicked on.

Links:

Things change quickly on the Internet. So I have no idea how long these links will still be around, but I thought I would provide them anyway.

Here are details concerning the LEDs which I purchased from amazon.ca. The seller on amazon was a company named "Wise Mall" -- which appears to be a place in Asia. In addition to the links, I have provided as much detail a possible, so hopefully you can find these yourself, in case the links change.

10 LED Wedge Light Bulb (12 pack)
"10 x T10 168 194 W5W Car White High Power SMD 10 LED Wedge Light Bulb Lamp 12V by wise mall"

This is a package of 10 of the wedge-base style lights. This is more than I needed, but oh well, so I have a few extra.

12 LED Festoon Light (2 Pack, BLUE)
"2 Blue 31mm 12 3528 SMD LED Car Dome Festoon Interior Indicator Light Bulb Lamp by wise mall"

This is a two pack of festoon bulbs, which I used in the driver's door. These are BLUE. You can also find white versions.

15 LED Dome Light
"White 1156 BA9S 5050 SMD 15 LED Dome Light Panel +BA9S/T10/Festoon Bulb Adapter by wise mall"

This is the 15-LED panel -- it is very bright -- used in the cargo area. It comes with three different kinds of mounting bases in the kit, so it can be used in various places. I used the festoon-style base.

 

Thanks for reading!