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Old 10-26-2014, 08:47 PM   #1
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LED entry lighting

This may only apply to pre 97 SMBs, but my 95 originally had door panels with small courtesy lights towards the bottom of the driver and passenger door panels. When my van was converted by SMB, they just left the plugs hanging inside the door when they changed the original panels to their own upholstered ones.





I was happy to recently discover the wiring was intact and hot and it got me thinking. I bought four 1 foot red LED adhesive strips recently for another SMB project that called for one. They're cheap on Amazon and I knew I'd use the other 3 for something.

Example:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D1A ... UTF8&psc=1

Also, I've always enjoyed these new fangled cars and trucks that have lights in the bottom of the doors to light up what you're about to step on in the dark. A Sportsmobile is very much in need of something like this. You kinda want to know if you're about to step off a cliff, into the mud, or on a snake.

If you have the lights or wires in your door panels this is an cheap and easy mod. These LED's use virtually no power and don't heat up so I'm starting to tack them on to lots of other lighting wires, etc. in various places in the van.

First, pull your door panel and clean the bottom with alcohol so the adhesive strip sticks.



Then drill a small hole through the panel. Make sure you are below the pocket, which is double plastic with an air gap on the bottom edge. If you have these newer style (97 -08 or so) door panels I think they are all this way. Then fish your wire through and fix your LED strip to the bottom. I cut the old plugs off and just soldered right on to the wires, since that plug and light style will never be used again. Remember solder is important here since your doors see lots of movement and the impact of opening and shutting repeatedly. In other words, I wouldn't trust a cheap solderless connector here.



Here's the panel back on the door, and it now lights up anytime any door is open.



It is NOT possible to turn these off via the interior light switch on my van, so they stay on in camp mode with the side and/or rear doors open. This isn't really a problem though since they don't get hot and don't use much power at all. Also, they are run off the starting battery so it's not a parasitic draw on your camping battery bank. I would guess they could stay on for several days before it drained your starting battery, but I won't be testing it. Our doors don't stay open 24/7 when camping.

It would be really cool if I could post a pic of how these look lit up at night, but unfortunately all of my night time pic attempts have been completely useless. Imagine a fairly lit up, albeit red, splash of ground beneath your feet at night. If you went with a warm white or other color LED strip you could probably add a lot more light, but my goal here was something fairly dim.

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Old 10-26-2014, 08:50 PM   #2
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Re: LED entry lighting

Cool mod - mikey likey!!
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Old 10-26-2014, 09:45 PM   #3
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Re: LED entry lighting

Nice clean install. Well done!

edit: Still have seven 8" strips of LED scraps laying around. Gotta open my doors up to see if I can do the same on my '97.
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Old 10-26-2014, 11:43 PM   #4
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Re: LED entry lighting

Very cool!

I have to stop looking at this forum...too many good mods to do....
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Old 10-27-2014, 06:09 AM   #5
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Re: LED entry lighting

We will be adding one or more red led down lights to the rocker of our van. For some of us, me, night vision is an issue so it'll help in wandering around camp without too much light pollution. We also plan on putting one inside so we (me again) can see enough to get in and out when it's dark. Added bonus to the interior one is for stealth camping. I like the strips you used, ours are more like small under mount lights for decks. Supposedly they are waterproof, we'll see.

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Old 10-27-2014, 09:02 AM   #6
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Re: LED entry lighting

John, just look on Amazon, or wherever, for the waterproof ones. They are encased in clear silicone and I feel pretty sure they are probably waterproof. I would guess the difficult part of a waterproof install with them is properly wiring them in with good solder joints, heat shrink, etc. The wires on these things are absolutely tiny and very cheap. I have found it to be quite a pain to strip the wires and make good connections. Usually the few wire strands just come right off with the sheath. YMMV.

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Old 05-26-2016, 01:10 PM   #7
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And I will be stealing that! Well done. Simple and duh!

Makes you wonder how it took 20+ years after blue LEDs for this to become common.
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Old 05-26-2016, 05:18 PM   #8
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Odinson, I totally forgot about this thread, but lemme give an update. Over time the adhesive gave out and these were just hanging down there so I tossed them. If you're going to do it I would still get the adhesive kind (most of them have it anyway) and add some super glue/epoxy/etc. to make sure the strips stay put. I'll use them again but haven't gotten around to it.

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Old 06-06-2016, 03:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 86Scotty View Post
Odinson, I totally forgot about this thread, but lemme give an update. Over time the adhesive gave out and these were just hanging down there so I tossed them. If you're going to do it I would still get the adhesive kind (most of them have it anyway) and add some super glue/epoxy/etc. to make sure the strips stay put. I'll use them again but haven't gotten around to it.

Thanks! I think it's just those cheap rolls, emphasis on cheap. I had a few 'outdoors' color changers in my front yard for accents (converters were in waterproof boxes.) Strips all malfunctioned within about a year or so.

I did replace one of them with a high end roll and that hung around for almost two years before shorting out at the connector. More what I would expect.

Since trashed them and replaced them with home depot 1 color AC powered rope LEDs and they seem unphased by water, ice, snow, temp, etc.

IMO specifically the reels of flat lights are a little disappointing.

Love that idea. Plenty of good LEDs in the sea. Had good luck buying regular auto fixtures and swapping in LED versions of bulbs.
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