LED interior lights
I can't see in here!
HER PERSPECTIVE: Finding things in the back cabinet, cooking, and finding things in the front of the van wasn't always easy when the sun went down. I didn't know what we could do about it except wear headlamps... Mr. Fix It found all kinds of solutions online and now this sucker lights up like a Christmas Tree! I didn't know how dark the interior was until we got these new lights. They're placed throughout the van where we need light the most. Easy to turn on and off, they are really great. Bonus, my hair looks better because I don't have headlamp head.
HOW HE DID IT: The original light did, technically, give off light, but not much of it. It sucked down a lot of power and gave very little in return. I knew better options had to exist, so once I found a link to these dimmable LED lights on a site somewhere in my Internet travels, and I figured I'd give them a shot.
For your money, you get one light, a wire that plugs into the light on one side, and two different sets of brackets. One set screws into each end of the light, and mounts the light flush to the surface. The other set hold the light about a 1/4" proud of the surface - the brackets sit between the light and the mounting surface, so there has to be room for the screw. The latter brackets are nice because you can easily take the lights in and out, and the bolt pattern between the two brackets is largely irrelevant. The former are a little more of a pain to install, but they're nice because they secure the light better and make it lower profile by mounting it flush with the surface.
I installed one in the stock light's location. That one was by far the easiest, only because the power was already there. I originally used the brackets that hold the light proud, but I eventually decided that I wanted mount the light flush and slightly farther out - towards the sliding door, but still under the tray. I did this so that less of the light would be blocked by the kitchen lid when it was up. Plus, mounting it flush simply looks much nicer.
The second light was mounted underneath the upper bunk, as far forward as possible. The idea here was to light up the cabinets to the side of the rear seat and give more usable light when we're sitting on the rear seat. I cut a small hole in the plastic trim piece immediately in front of the light and ran the wire through there - nice and clean. It then went into the closet, where I hooked it up to a power wire coming from the new fuse panel that feeds from the house battery.
The third light was mounted to the front edge of the "head banger" cabinet. The idea with this one was to give light inside the new closet door and under the "hood" if we're doing engine work at night. I drilled a hole in the cabinet and ran the wire up, into the cabinet. I then ran it into the closet, and hooked it together with the other light's power wire.
PROS: The lights really work quite well, and they're pretty bright. Sometimes too bright, but since they're dimmable that's an easily solved problem. They suck down very little power - all three lights on full bright pulls a lot fewer amps than the original light. The on-off switch is touch-sensitive, so there are no moving parts. Theoretically, this means the lights will last longer since there are no moving parts.
CONS: The rear two lights have a weird issue. If one is on, the other one will flicker slightly with very dim light - most people probably wouldn't notice if they weren't specifically looking for it. I installed diodes in the ground wires, which seems to have mostly (but oddly, not completely) solved the problem.
The touch sensor is tough to find in the dark or with gloves on, but that's been a very small issue. Of course, the lights won't turn on if you're wearing gloves, unless you're wearing gloves designed for smart phones.
VERDICT: I don't think I would change anything. The flickering lights are a little weird, but that's mostly solved now. Otherwise, it was a pretty easy install that's made a huge difference. Really, the only change I would make is to install them sooner!