2nd GEN Overhead Interior LED Swap | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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2nd GEN Overhead Interior LED Swap

This is a variation from the very good and informative post Interior Dome Light LED Conversion (PICs) by MustangP51.

His post didn't really detail much on wiring and provide a ton of detail on the backseat and cargo lighting and also went the much cooler and more complex method of building his own LED boards :D I went with the lazy man 10-LED disc boards that work out of the box and cost about $6 each (when you buy 5 at a time on eBay from ledwholesalers. Ooo, and I did mine in red, lol. I have this all in my build thread but figured I would post here.

List of supplies for all 3 sections (with links)

* Hot glue gun & glue sticks
* Solder iron & solder
* Wire
* 5 G4-base10-LED discs (red, white, or warm white, can be found from site on eBay for bulk order 5 for $30)
* 2 921 Superstar Wide Angle LED's (blue, green, red, amber) or any other style 921 LED's you wish that can fit and are color/style you want
* Something that would fit into a 921 wedge connector receptacle
* Screwdrivers, wire strippers, etc, etc, etc

Front overhead console

- Remove overhead console. This is pretty straight forward and involves opening up the sunglasses/garage door opener storage compartment and removing a couple screws and then pulling the console down to disengage 2 hidden clips.

-Set on a work table. My map lights hadn't worked in a long time. Note the burned up flex cable which turned out to be broken in a couple of spots and why neither light worked:
20130604_175615.jpg


- Pull the stock bulbs out and remove the junk flex cable. Hot glue the 10 LED discs where the old bulbs use to sit but facing outware instead of inward as we will not be utilizing the reflecting cone thing anymore (remove the cone if you want or keep it... I kept it because I'm lazy). This is how it looks with LED's secured in place and sealed with hot glue:
20130605_172356.jpg


- Splice into the green and red wires from the plug and solder the green to one lead of each LED discs and solder the red to one lead of each LED disc. I used red for everything because I only had red wires, lol. It does not matter which lead you solder to for each as there is no difference in the function of the discs based on which lead you solder to. LED discs installed and back into the console and wired up. Soldered all connectors and sealed with hot glue to help prevent solder joints from breaking over time and/or coming into contact with each other:
20130605_180729.jpg


- This is what the back of the console looks like after being wired up:
20130605_180736.jpg


- Overhead map lights lit up after the console being installed back into the roof during the day:
20130605_181731.jpg


- Overhead map lights lit up at night. They turned out to be quite bright but not overpowering which is what I was afraid of if I had used white:
20130605_211950.jpg


Backseat console

- Getting the console/map unit out was pretty simple... pop the lens off and remove 3 screws and out she goes... No wiring/connectors to disconnect as 2 of the screws themselves makes the connection into a screw female receiver on the roof under the console.

- This is what it looks like out with the map OEM bulbs out and with red 921 LED's already installed:
20130612_192909.jpg


- Because there is no wiring and it is all circuit board type flat flex type stuff I didn't have anything easy to solder to. I ended up taking one of my defective old wedge LED units I had originally bought for my license plate lights and cut the end off that had the LED's mounted to it and then shaved off the electronics leaving just the wedge board. I then wrapped on each side part of a wire and soldered it in place giving me a wedge connector type deal to plug into the socket with wires to solder to for the LED's:
20130612_200805.jpg


- I then plugged in my wedge socket adapter and added some support glue:
20130612_201641.jpg


- I'm sure there is a simpler and smarter way to do this but this seemed simple enough and works so I went with it, lol :D

- I then glued in 2 of the 10-LED red discs with hot glue and soldered them up to the wedge adapter and insulated everything with some more hot glue. The wiring is simple with one wire from the wedge adapter to one lead of each LED disc and the other wire from the wedge adapter to the other open lead on each LED disc:
20130612_203858.jpg


- I was "almost" an idiot and nearly covered the screw holes as I had completely forgot about the whole mounting it back part.. But, thankfully, by luck maybe, I had not covered any of the holes enough to prevent a screw from screwing the console back into place! Be sure to have room to get screws into mount the overhead console back to the root!! Lol.

- And this is what it looks like mounted with the lights on (and the map lights turned on). Ignore the pink hue as that is the result of my fail camera phone and non how it looks in person!:
20130612_215543.jpg

20130612_215551.jpg


Cargo light

- This part is not too difficult but be careful as the housing seems fragile. My stupid light housing clip thing was broken and had to repair that.

- To remove, stick a flat head in from the passenger side of the housing and push the clip in enough to allow for you to pop the light housing out. Cargo light removed, broken:
20130613_192105.jpg


- If broken, it's simple to repair. I removed the festoon bulb and glued in a red 10-LED disc and also added some additional support glue on the housing ends internally. The disc was a little large to fit in flush so had to sit an an angle but still offers enough light radiating downward to be more than enough:
20130613_194917.jpg


- Solder a wire from one LED disc lead to one side of the festoon connector and another wire from the opposite side of the festoon connector to the other LED disc lead. Wiring soldered in place and some additional hot glue added to fortify connections:
20130613_195910.jpg


- How it all looks installed and lit during the day:
20130613_200310.jpg


-How it looks at night (ignore the pinkish hue, once again, this is the result of a cell phone camera fail, lol):
20130613_213249.jpg


Hope this helps provide some added details for anyone bored and waiting to give the conversion a whirl :D
 
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Great guide!

But I've always wondered, why not just get some LED ebay bulbs that fit in the socket?
Would they not work as a direct replacement?
 






Great guide!

But I've always wondered, why not just get some LED ebay bulbs that fit in the socket?
Would they not work as a direct replacement?

Yes, they work, but they kind of suck. Not very bright at all. I tried, lol.
 






Yes, they work, but they kind of suck. Not very bright at all. I tried, lol.

I guess it's just a matter of the type of bulb you buy.
You get what you pay for..

I might try standard LED bulbs when I do my dash conversion, and I'll tell you how it goes.

Also, why red? Doesn't it hurt your eyes?
 






I guess it's just a matter of the type of bulb you buy.
You get what you pay for..

I might try standard LED bulbs when I do my dash conversion, and I'll tell you how it goes.

Also, why red? Doesn't it hurt your eyes?

I went with red because red helps you keep night vision when on versus white which would blind you.
 






I went with red because red helps you keep night vision when on versus white which would blind you.

Good point, but I've read that red hurts your eyes and is the most distracting at night.

I actually like the blue/green from the 95-97 Explorer dash.

But red works too. :)
 






Good point, but I've read that red hurts your eyes and is the most distracting at night.

I actually like the blue/green from the 95-97 Explorer dash.

But red works too. :)

No idea, lol :D All i know is that on Navy ships they switch to red lighting at night time in the berthing and other spaces so if an incident happens or you get called to battle stations you can see and retain night vision running around and whatnot :D
 






No idea, lol :D All i know is that on Navy ships they switch to red lighting at night time in the berthing and other spaces so if an incident happens or you get called to battle stations you can see and retain night vision running around and whatnot :D

So, simply put, you just called your Ex a Navy Ship. :p
 


















green is also a good canidate for NVIS many Air Force aircraft use green for their night vision map lights
 






green is also a good canidate for NVIS many Air Force aircraft use green for their night vision map lights

Yeah, green would be pretty sweet as well though I'm not sure where to get the same style LED discs in anything other than the white, yellow, and red colors. Building custom LED boards with more LED color choices is an option though!
 












Thanks for the great how to. I just did the map lights in 20 minutes with your instructions.

Couple differences though. I snipped away the plastic inner ring on the old bulb holder. My disc sits flush against the ring now. I rotated the disc a bit so they are pointing more towards the hole for the wires then each other. There was a little lip that the disc wires fit right against. Really hard to describe and picture, but look at it and you will see what I mean.

I think your wires are actually reversed where the drivers side button turns on the light pointing at the passenger seat and vice versa. I wired it so the driver side button (red) controls the passenger side (pointing to driver) light.

I went with a white light for the driver and the red for passenger under the thinking that the driver should not need a light on while driving but the passenger just may.

Next step is the middle lights.

Thanks again!
 






Ahh.. Yeah, I have the switch turn on the light closest to it turn it on... The disc's are omnidirectional that it didn't seem to matter how they angeled they mostly lit up the entire front regardless lol... Good catch though :-D
 






Nice writeup, thanks. Going to be attempting this over the winter.
 












My interior LED lights are still looking great many years later :D Lol.

Around the same time I had also swapped in new cruise control buttons (looked pretty bad and the lighting did not work). Pretty simple button swap.
 






Quick update! The hot glue became soft and a little goo like and some of the led circuits drooped down some.. No issues until I moved to South Texas which gets hotter and the car sits for long periods quite often :D Recommend using some clear high temp silicone or something like that instead :) The hot glue held up for about 8 years, so, not to bad. I am now in process of pulling the hot glue off, fixing any solder joints that came loose or weakened over time, and then replacing the hot glue with the high temp clear silicone :D
 



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In the middle of fixing up my interior LED swap (hot glue failed on me after 8+ years) and am putting together a video and figured I'd pull the old photos from this thread to toss in and.... Somehow they all vanished but one which then was duplicated in every photo position? Lol, wtf?
 






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