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The $12 Two LED Panel Dome Light Mod

Discussion in '3rd Gen. Tacomas (2016+)' started by davidstacoma, Nov 1, 2020.

  1. Nov 1, 2020 at 3:20 PM
    #1
    davidstacoma

    davidstacoma [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I had previously installed Fyre Fly LED interior lights, they were great for the map lights but the single bulb design of the Tacoma dome light just didn’t give me adequate light on both sides of the rear access cab. So I got two LED panel lights and installed in the dome, one on each side of the wide dome, amazingly good light on both sides now!
    IMG_1872.jpg

    I chose this method of increasing my rear cab lighting since I wanted to maintain the OEM look with the existing dome lens, and did not want it too bright, so no "ultimate" mod. Here is my install post for others who wish to do this mod.

    I did a lot of research into LED panels, some were listed as 8000K (bluish white) and others as 6000K (bright white or “zenon white” as these are listed), I wanted the 6000K bright white. I also took measurements inside of my dome with the lens removed to see what size LED panels would fit. I ending up buying the LivTee LED panel lights here:

    https://www.amazon.com/Festoon-Adap...ywords=livtee+led+panel&qid=1603157602&sr=8-3

    I knew I’d made the right choice when I saw a review by a Tacoma owner who did the same thing I was planning to do. I used 2 of the LED panels for the dome light and kept the other 2 for spares. After installing and leaving the LED lights on for over 5 minutes, the dome light lens was barely warm, so heat should not be an issue at all with these.

    Install Instructions – (method I used)

    1. Disconnect the Negative battery cable (wait a minute or two after popping the hood release and closing the door before removing the Negative cable to allow ECU to save data), OR remove the Dome light fuse in the interior fuse box. If you remove the Dome fuse, check with a voltmeter at the socket to any chassis ground to ensure you have no voltage present. Just turning the dome light switch to OFF will not remove the 12V which would still be present at the dome light socket. You can do more serious harm than just blowing a fuse if you accidentally cause a short (from posts I’ve seen on TW), so DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

    2. Cut the connectors off at the connector end of two of the LED panels, cut the connector off one of the festoon connector (bulb style with spring)

    3. Use wire strippers to strip the wires back about ¾ inch. The wires are quite small (22-26 awg), I suggest these inexpensive strippers which I bought after this mod and wish I had had them when I did it:

    https://www.amazon.com/Eclipse-CP-3...ire+strippers+22-26+awg&qid=1604267781&sr=8-6

    4. Twist each red wire individually to tighten up the strands, then twist all three red wires together, fold over in half and twist again, then screw on a small gray twist on connector. (the reason for the fold over is that even the standard small gray twist on connector available at auto stores is almost too large).

    5. Repeat step 4 for the three black wires.

    6. I used a 12V battery pack with a fused lead to test the assembly, and verified the LEDs all illuminated and that the red wires were the positive polarity, black wires negative. The LED panels got a little warm but not too hot to touch even after 5 minutes on. I recommend testing to ensure that the LEDs you get have the wire polarity the same as mine, with red being positive, if they are reversed then consider that in the instructions below.

    7. Remove the Dome light lens using a small plastic trim tool (a small screwdriver might also work but be careful not to break anything), there are two indents at the front facing side you can see, slip the tool between the gray bezel and the clear lens and just pop it down, one front side at a time.

    8. Prepare the area where the LED panels will be installed with an alcohol/lens cleaner pad, let it dry. Remove the sticky tape cover from the LED panels and install as shown and press to ensure good adhesion (avoid any raised tab areas on the dome light housing, mount as flat as possible):
    IMG_1853.jpg

    9. Install the festoon connector in the bulb socket. Red wire (positive) end toward the driver side, black wire end toward the passenger side – this was the hardest part, if you notice the OEM bulb has little nipples at the ends to fit into the slots and make it easier to install, most aftermarket bulbs including the LED festoon connectors do not have these, so they tend to slide out of the socket holes. What worked best for me was to insert the end toward the passenger side first (the non-spring side of the socket), then compress the festoon spring by pressing on the other end of the festoon and slipping that end up into the spring socket (driver side).

    10. Reconnect the battery Negative terminal (or reinstall the Dome light fuse if that was removed). Test the lights to ensure they work (if you have the front Cabin light switch on “Door” they should come on when the door is open, and ON when turned to On.

    11.Turn off the lights (front cabin switch “OFF”), and re-install the Dome light lens, the two tabs inserted at the back toward the bed, then push up the front side to pop into place.

    12. Turn cabin switch to ‘Door” as desired.

    Install Instructions – Alternate methods
    There are many ways this install might be improved. Here are a few ways:

    1. Strip and prepare all wires, but wait until you install the festoon connector first to make this part of the install easier. Then install the LED panels, twist the wires together and screw on the twist on connectors.

    2. The gray connectors are larger than I would like, you can cut part of the plastic away to make them smaller and tape with electrical tape, this will make it easier to tuck them away in the dome housing.

    3. You can solder the wires together on the bench (not in the car!) and tape or use heat shrink tubing instead of using twist on connectors. I didn’t do this since if an LED goes out I want it to be easy to replace.

    4. I didn’t evaluate this, but it might be possible to cut wires at one of the festoons so you can use the connector and wire, then solder the wire with connector to another festoon, giving you two connectors off one festoon to connect to the two LED panel connectors.

    More Photos:
    Underexposed pic so you can see the LEDs:
    IMG_1867.jpg

    IMG_1852.jpg

    IMG_1865.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2020
    Noswar5, crbr, Tullie D and 4 others like this.
  2. Nov 1, 2020 at 3:59 PM
    #2
    slowlane

    slowlane Well-Known Member

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    Wire nuts though?
     
  3. Nov 1, 2020 at 4:01 PM
    #3
    davidstacoma

    davidstacoma [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Wire nuts are fine, you have them in your house wiring ;)
     
  4. Nov 1, 2020 at 4:06 PM
    #4
    slowlane

    slowlane Well-Known Member

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    Haha but your house isn't vibrating down the highway at 65 mph. :bananadance:
     
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  5. Nov 1, 2020 at 4:08 PM
    #5
    davidstacoma

    davidstacoma [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Lol they won’t be bouncing. You can use crimp caps, butt splices, if preferred. But wire nuts won’t be an issue even if you drive off a cliff :D
     
  6. Nov 1, 2020 at 4:10 PM
    #6
    slowlane

    slowlane Well-Known Member

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    Don't test that theory. Haha.
     
    davidstacoma [OP] likes this.
  7. Nov 1, 2020 at 4:14 PM
    #7
    davidstacoma

    davidstacoma [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Haha, 40 years of electrical work and I’ve already done all the real world testing I need :thumbsup:
     
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  8. Nov 1, 2020 at 4:30 PM
    #8
    mtnc

    mtnc Member

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    I'd like my dome light to be brighter, but maybe not that bright. Would one LED panel be considerably more light than the stock bulb?
     
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  9. Nov 1, 2020 at 4:32 PM
    #9
    davidstacoma

    davidstacoma [OP] Well-Known Member

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    It would be brighter than stock. But the pictures are deceiving, two, one for each side, are the perfect lighting and you’ll wish you had installed two.
     
  10. Nov 1, 2020 at 4:33 PM
    #10
    mtnc

    mtnc Member

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    Thanks, I never knew these small LED panels were a thing.
     
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  11. Nov 1, 2020 at 4:38 PM
    #11
    davidstacoma

    davidstacoma [OP] Well-Known Member

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    What I like most about these are each LED chip is low power so they don’t get too hot and the lighting is well distributed. I measured the current draw during my bench test and at 12.4V it was 124.5mA, that’s a little over 1.5 Watts for each LED panel.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2020
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  12. Nov 1, 2020 at 4:58 PM
    #12
    LunarRock_Pro

    LunarRock_Pro Active Member

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    Nicely done. I really like what you’ve done here! Out of curiosity - did you measure the Current draw of the lamp that was removed? I just wonder if that LED array is being over driven. Of course, there are a few ways to fix that. The only reason why I say that is a 125mA and 12V I would guess it shouldn’t be getting warm at all.
     
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  13. Nov 1, 2020 at 5:21 PM
    #13
    davidstacoma

    davidstacoma [OP] Well-Known Member

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    The Fyre Fly LED I removed from the dome had six smaller chip LEDs, I didn't measure the current but have no doubt the chips themselves would run much hotter than these lower power larger surface area LEDs. These panels are designed for 12V automotive, installed you can just barely feel any change in warmth, so heat is not an issue. Even on the bench with direct contact they are merely warm. All LED chips that provide high illumination produce a noticeable amount of heat, but these panels with 32 large area chips with only 1.5W total produce a low amount of heat and are certainly not being overdriven. I suspect the reason I could feel heat on the bench when directly touched is that even at a low 1.5W, the chips heat up over time so you can feel it after a few minutes since the human touch is sensitive and can detect a temperature change of only a few degrees when touching something that transfers heat well like glass or a silicon chip. Remember that the standard 3175 OEM bulb is something like 6-8 watts, not a lot, but if you touch it while its hot you're going to get burnt!
    Interesting questions though, maybe on a free day I will measure the temperature of these LEDs compared to the Fyre Fly LEDs.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2020
  14. Nov 1, 2020 at 6:12 PM
    #14
    CT Yankee

    CT Yankee Well-Known Member

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    Only aesthetic mods so far Leer 180 cap & Clazzio covers on order.
    I like this! Will likely do the same when I finally bring my 2021 TRD OR AC home.
    One question though - do they auto-brighten when opening the door and auto-dim-to-off after shutting the door?
    My '06 OEM dome light does exactly that.
     
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  15. Nov 1, 2020 at 7:29 PM
    #15
    davidstacoma

    davidstacoma [OP] Well-Known Member

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    They come on instantly when I unlock/open my door and stay on for 20-30 seconds or until I start my truck, then fade out slowly over 2 seconds. If I lock truck while they are on they fade out over 2 seconds. I’m pretty sure that’s the same behavior as when I had OEM bulbs and the lighting circuit doesn’t know what bulbs I have in there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2020
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  16. Nov 1, 2020 at 7:59 PM
    #16
    OMGitsme

    OMGitsme Well-Known Member

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  17. Nov 1, 2020 at 8:01 PM
    #17
    davidstacoma

    davidstacoma [OP] Well-Known Member

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  18. Nov 1, 2020 at 8:02 PM
    #18
    OMGitsme

    OMGitsme Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I got the red/white one and it looks great and isn't too bright. You're welcome.
     
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  19. Nov 2, 2020 at 5:41 AM
    #19
    davidstacoma

    davidstacoma [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Glad you like them, many do. There are a lot of dome light LED options on TW, my intent with this post is an option that maintains the OEM look with the OEM lens used and still provides what I believe is an optimum level of light on both sides of the rear cabin area. Choices are good :)
     
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  20. Nov 2, 2020 at 6:13 AM
    #20
    Tacospike

    Tacospike Semi-Unknown Custodial Member

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