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Old 11-18-2013, 12:59 AM   #1
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LEDs in ThinLites

I yanked the fluorescent bulbs out of my 3 ThinLites and replaced them with these LED strips. I left the ballasts alone because I thought it wasn't worth the effort to remove them. They are no longer electrically connected.

Amazon has LED warm white strip lights for about $14 for a 5m (16ft) roll. They are 12V DC, and work perfectly for our vans. No transformers needed. You can cut the strips about every 3 inches to fit your project. I used the majority of the roll to finish out an under cabinet light project in the house kitchen, and used what was left over to do the SMB.

LED Wholesalers at Amazon

Amazon also sells strip-to-strip push-on connectors for cheap, but I used scraps of speaker wire and soldered the contacts to connect them together. You can't see it in the pictures, but I used crimp connectors to connect to the contacts on the original ThinLite switch. The strips are wired in series.

The LED strips have a 3M adhesive peel-n-stick tape on the back, and they stuck well to the bare aluminum, but wouldn't stick to the white painted ballast covers in the center of the fixture. Gorilla glue solved that problem.


Lights off...


Lights on...


Let there be (covered) light...


Although the ThinLite lens has a lenticular effect on the LEDs, the lights produce a nice soft illumination in the cabin.
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Old 11-18-2013, 09:32 AM   #2
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Re: LEDs in ThinLites

Very nice, could you post a link for the light strips for reference?

Thanks

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Old 11-18-2013, 11:58 AM   #3
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Re: LEDs in ThinLites

How dumb of me! Article edited for link.
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Old 11-18-2013, 04:25 PM   #4
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Re: LEDs in ThinLites

Quote:
Originally Posted by photographix
How dumb of me! Article edited for link.
No worries. I could've found em probably but that makes it easier for anyone else wanting to upgrade. It's a GREAT idea you had. I'm trying to change everything to LED.

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Old 11-18-2013, 04:51 PM   #5
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Re: LEDs in ThinLites

How bright are these lights compared to the original flourescent lights?
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Old 11-19-2013, 01:33 AM   #6
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Re: LEDs in ThinLites

With the amount of LEDs I installed, I would say they are just very slightly brighter than the fluorescents they replaced. I wish I had a number for you, but I don't. I wasn't going for blazing sun brightness, but just general lounging/reading brightness. With the lens cover on, you can look directly at them and have no discomfort.

The best thing about them is that they have a nice, warm color to them, which I much prefer to fluorescent bulbs. They are not as yellow/orange as the typical incandescent spots that SMB likes to install, and are very cool to the touch.
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:20 PM   #7
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Re: LEDs in ThinLites

Great idea! do you know of any led replacement for the high intensity reading lights?....Ken
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Old 12-07-2013, 01:13 AM   #8
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Re: LEDs in ThinLites

I've had these in my Amazon cart for a while, but haven't bought them yet. I think they will work okay, but you should double-check before you buy.
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:18 AM   #9
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Re: LEDs in ThinLites

Quote:
Originally Posted by photographix
I've had these in my Amazon cart for a while, but haven't bought them yet. I think they will work okay, but you should double-check before you buy.
I replaced my reading light bulbs with the cool white version of that bulb. They work great.

I have parts on order to modify my fluorescent like you have done. I will be replacing the switch with a SPDT On-Off-On switch and adding a strip of red LEDs in addition to the white ones for night time.

Steve in L.A.
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Old 12-07-2013, 01:49 PM   #10
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Re: LEDs in ThinLites

Adding the red is a great idea! Post some pics so we can see it when you're done.
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