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Old 10-13-2012, 07:59 PM   #1
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$5 Retrofit LEDs for 6-light ceiling lights in '73 Overlander

My brother ordered these same lights a month or two ago for undercabinet use, I was looking for some cheap 12v led's to retrofit into my new old trailer. I ordered a 15' (5 meter) roll for 10 bucks off Amazon with free shipping included (Prime). I spent a couple hours rewiring one of the vent/6 light fixtures as a proof of concept. I think it came out pretty well. It used about half the roll of LED's and everything else was spare supplies lying around.

These are the LED's from amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002QQ1YOM/..._M3T1_ST1_dp_1



These LED's come on a long roll and are designed to be used in any length, as long as you cut them on pre-marked segment that has little copper lands that you can resolder new wires to. One reviewer on Amazon made it sound like you needed to be a micro-miniature tech to solder on the new leads, but I had no problem. Use a sharp implement to scrape the protective coating and then heat with the iron and tin the contact. Really very straightforward and simple. The LED strip has a sticky tape background to attach it just about anywhere you want. Then you just wire it up like any other light, keep in mind the polarity since these are diodes, not light bulbs.

This is what the fixture looked like with 6 strips installed and wired in.


One set lit, base mounted back up to the ceiling:



I did get two shots of the other banks lit up, but it came out very blurry, must have messed with the autofocus. Here it is with the cover back on and you can see how it compares to the unmodified light at the front:



And here she is hooked up to the truck for the first time since with got her a couple weeks ago. Going out this Friday for her first and only trip before deconstruction starts:



Thanks for lookin,
Bob
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:50 AM   #2
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Bob

Great job on rewiring your overhead lights with the LED light strip. I think I will order a strip and put in some under cabinet lighting. Might even find some other uses such as closet lighting also. Just have to run some 12v wiring to supply power to the LED strips and figure out where/what to use for a switch.

I rewired my Tradewind overhead light using a couple of 36x36 smd pads for each light. Cost was also about $5 per light and works well.

Thanks for posting this info.

Have fun camping before starting on your full blown resto. We just returned from 4 days down the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Dan
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Old 10-29-2012, 12:03 PM   #3
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Thanks Dan. Trip went well, no major issues. Currently hunkered down with "Sandy" so no outside work can be done. I retrofitted a second fixture last night and will do another one today. I've already developed some tricks to make the process quicker and more efficient, this one should take just about 2-3 hours all told.

I got a second roll in of the same lights. Looking to put them in the pockets of the curtain valences so they wash the front dome with light as well as maybe putting them along the top of the cabinets, back far enough to not be seen, but help illuminate the kitchen area. Very neat system and ridiculously cheap for the amount of lighting you get.
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Old 10-29-2012, 01:00 PM   #4
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Just put 2 long strips in mine along the aluminum trim on the center panel in the ceiling. Now looks like one of those multi million dollar Prevost party motorhomes! Very cool!!!
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Old 10-29-2012, 02:01 PM   #5
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Just put 2 long strips in mine along the aluminum trim on the center panel in the ceiling. Now looks like one of those multi million dollar Prevost party motorhomes! Very cool!!!
Oh man - I was thinking about this too. Can you post a picture of what it looks like when not illuminated? And where did you tie-in the power?

Thanks! Laura
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Old 10-29-2012, 02:19 PM   #6
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LED strips

Were transformers required??? Or just connect to 12V as exists in AS lights.?
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Old 10-29-2012, 02:33 PM   #7
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Did you go with white or warm white LEDs?
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Old 10-29-2012, 02:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jim & Mitzi View Post
Were transformers required??? Or just connect to 12V as exists in AS lights.?
J&M

Click on the link in post #1 and you will see that you can order 16 ft of 12v LED lights for $10, so no transformer is required. I order two strips plus a dimmer ($25 total). I figure that I will find lots of places to put LED light strips. Just a matter of how to get 12v power to them and a light switch. 12v wiring can be small because the current draw is so little.

Dan
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Old 10-29-2012, 03:32 PM   #9
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Looks great! I just installed a multicolor LED strip in my Airstream but it steps down to 12V from 110, which is fine, but I'd rather hard wire directly to 12V.

Unfortunately, the controller box that contains the infrared sensor for the remote isn't (easily) hard wired, so I have to find a connector to go into it first.

Thanks for taking the time to do this write up and taking pics.
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Old 10-29-2012, 04:25 PM   #10
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aquinob

What did you use for the wiring of the LEDs to the switch? Looks like a smaller version of Zip cord.

Are you satisfied with 6 strips per fixture or would you advise more per fixture?
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Old 10-29-2012, 07:01 PM   #11
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That looks neat!

How do you think the light output compares to the original?
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Old 10-29-2012, 08:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
aquinob

What did you use for the wiring of the LEDs to the switch? Looks like a smaller version of Zip cord.

Are you satisfied with 6 strips per fixture or would you advise more per fixture?
Wow, this thread took off. I sacrificed some old electronics power adapters for the thin 2 conductor wire and then stripped and tinned about 1/8-1/4" of wire on the ends and soldered them to the terminal spots on the led strip, keeping the wire with the stripe on the positive marked terminal (LED's are diodes after all and dont work with reverse polarity). I then used about an inch of larger heat shrink tubing on ends to strengthen the connection and keep it from potential shorting or breaking. You can get the heat shrink for a couple bucks at Harbor Freight for an assortment or at any place that has electrical or electronic supplies like Radio Shack. Then it's just a question of using whatever wire you have to connect back to the switch. Negative can be wired to the plate itself, since it is the return ground.

Here are a couple of pics of the light assembly for over the sink. Originally was 3 frosted bulbs and is now three strips of about 17" each all wired parallel. I'll put it in tomorrow and hopefully will have some pics showing how well it lights up the sink. It should be as bright or a bit brighter. I may run one more strip behind the fixture as well as there is a bit of a gap there that would hide the LED's but allow it to wash the area with light.



Closeup of the connections:




What the strip connection points look like, note that this is from the first roll of LED's and the second is slightly different, but works just the same. You can see where you cut the strip to make shorter lengths.



And a gratuitous shot of the "Kids" enjoying their first camping trip in the camper:

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Old 10-29-2012, 08:41 PM   #13
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Oh and about the strips per fixture. I think the 6 are about equal to the original amount of light that the bulbs produced. If you want more light, it's very easy to add an extra strip or two. The plastic covers/diffusers tend to cut a bit of the output as well as make it look yellow. I'm going to use more of the roll over the cabinets as well as over the window valences by the gaucho, that should give a nice even distribution of light in the front.

Jim and Mitzi:

Strips are all 12v so DC wiring is fine, no transformers necessary.

Stefrobrts Did you go with white or warm white LEDs? : These are bright white, 5500K, but will look yellow under the diffusers.


I've also got about 6 of the square assemblies that I am going to use up by the gaucho in the corner square lights and maybe over the beds. I'd also like to find a bulb or assembly to use in the light over the door, it's fairly dim and is the only external light on the camper for night use.



Bob
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Old 11-03-2012, 03:31 PM   #14
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Bob

I have not opened my roll of lights yet but can you explain a bit more on the lengths that I can cut the rolls down to. Most LEDs have a ballast resistor for a group of LEDs to drop the voltage across the LED or wire the LEDs in series to do this.

Curiosity got the best of me and I opened the roll. Looks like every 3rd. LED is a cutting point. Am I right?
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