Introduction: Car Interior LED Lighting Multicolor

Picture of Car Interior LED Lighting Multicolor

Finally a super project you will like when daylight goes by 6 and dark side captures. If you like or this helped you get into your shoes or inspired to do something similar or more creative than please don't feel shy to VOTE ! I will be contesting for LED contest which closes on 7th Jan 2013 so please vote each VOTE counts !!!!!

Everyone must have felt this trying searching in dark under seats and those map lights which are soo dim that one needs have to a torch to search so WHY NOT USE INTERIOR LEDS and make your car STAND OUT.

NOTE : Since i don't want to cut down my main wires and RISK the wiring, all i did was just hook on top no cutting of MAINS.

Now enough of my blah blah ................ LETS get STARTED

Step 1: Requirements

Picture of Requirements

- LED strips (i will prefer to use RGB strips which gives me more color choice and not get stuck with one color)
- RGB LED Strip Controller (+ Remote this is free accessory with controller) i required less than a meter
- 4 strand wire (since RGB strips have connections for RED | GREEN | BLUE | +ve)
- Connectors (twist and turn to break)
- Soldering Gun
- Silicon Gun stick (i dont use gun but just heat it on lighter and damp on required surface)

And more of Patience and Brains ;p
Cause once you hit this you will really beg to sun go down and ride your pimped vehicle ;p

Step 2: The Plan

Picture of The Plan

The first step towards doing THE PLAN.

As seen from diagram we have 4 LED STRIPS two in front (under dashboard) and other two for back seat passengers those will be at bottom of front seats(one below passenger and other drivers seat).

Once the plan is clear we plan for wiring keeping in mind the connectors.

Why connectors?
Connectors play an important part for connection also for maintenance.
Suppose if few LED's goes down one doesn't want to rip the entire wiring so remove just the faulty LED's, repair those and fix it back.

In next image we see 4 connectors two each at front and back i.e. for each strip
all (4-strand) wire running between them

The LED Controller is connected in between with 12v source.

Now since i don't want to cut the wiring and connect with extra fuse(in fuse box) i will source it with cigarette lighter or charging point which will be very easy also when the car key goes out so does the lighting.

Step 3: Measurements [VERY IMPORTANT]

Picture of Measurements [VERY IMPORTANT]

Now once everything is planned we need measurements to be taken to fit the things to places without stretching.

First measurement regarding LED strips go below the dash and measure the length for front two strips.
Second take measurements for LED strips at back.

Once these are done we take measurements for wiring keeping in mind that few extra length wire are left so as to avoid the fit fitting.

We measure for wires for
1> controller to left front connector
2> from left front connector to right front connector
3> from left front connector to left rear connector
4> right front connector to right rear connector

NOTE : For rear connections keep in mind to give extra inches of wire since one does not want to rip their LED under seats when seats are moved back and forth.

Step 4: Preparation for Connections

Picture of Preparation for Connections

Once measurements are done time to cut the LED strips.

We need 4 strips for our project. Every LED strip have cutting lines after every 3 LEDs. Keep in mind to cut short than to cut larger than required, if larger than it might dangle and one would not love that site.

Once the soldering is done we better check the soldering by lighting one color at a time. So, in next few images we see that check for main 3 primary colors RED | GREEN | BLUE, when those are lit perfectly lets safeguard those joints. One way i did was to apply silicone glue which avoids in between contacts also provides rigidity.

This is how we create a strip ready to be hooked to car.Similar, to these we create 3 more totalling to 4 strips.


Step 5: Connections Inside Car

Picture of Connections Inside Car

As we see we first glue the front under dashboard LED strips.Then connecting the connector to it. The diagrams are more explanatory and easy to understand than my words. Have tagged as many tags to express the circuitary.

Now once these are done lets hide our wires. What i did is just tugged the wires inside the panels and poked it our just near the seats where the next set of LED STRIPS will be installed we can see that in image 4.

Now with the under seat LEDs here rather than using glue or sticky tapes i just placed it in between those springs and a string to tie at other end.

Point to note is i have left enough extra wire to smooth the movements when seats are pulled back and forth.

When everything is done load it up and LETS RIG THE CHARGER !

Step 6: Charger Modding

Picture of Charger Modding

There are various ways so source it
> from unused fuse from fuse box using jumpers
> from door panels, so lights will glow when doors are opened and will turn off when they are closed similar to dome lights
> from headlights [either from main fuse box or cutting wires for headlights]

But i will use charger ! WHY ?
Reason for rigging the charger is i dont use lighter for any purpose other than charging so why not rig that is heavily used and thus can facilitates simultaneous use.

Most cell phone chargers gives 4v of output (which is way lower to lit the strips) with stabilized voltage, thus it brings 12v from port to 4v.

When charger is opened we can see a fuse(blows when excess current flows) and a chip (does the stabilization and decrease of voltage). So, we need 12v so connect it at the start just before the chip and we are good with 12v. ;[

This is how we will source our LED STRIPS.

Once entire connections are DONE lets check out sick work.

Step 7: Final Result & [I LOVE IT] ;p

Picture of Final Result & [I LOVE IT] ;p
From the remote controller one can
> turn on/off the LED's
> change the color
> adjust the intensity
> use fading effects

Now lets wait to roll down the sun and roll our pimped out ride.

Testing in Morning

Testing at Night

Step 8: Questions and Troubleshooting !

Picture of Questions and Troubleshooting !

LEDs are not working they dont glow?
Check connections if none are working please check the source and most important put the keys in car to make the lighter socket working.

LEDs are glowing but few strips glow in different color?
Its because of wrong connections while wiring make sure that red goes to red and so forth.

In few strips some color don't glow?
To check working fro perfection make the LED glow to white if all strips gives white color all wiring is perfect. If not than check for RED | GREEN | BLUE separately and the color for which one don't glow is the faulty connection or soldering might be the issue.

I don't know but while wiring something got short and my radio or lighter or mirrors are not working?
If things are not connected properly or something shorts or draws more amps their is fail safe mechanism to safeguard the cars wiring by blowing the fuse. One needs to find the blown fuse and replace it. If things are done as said in ible it will not blow the fuse but just a piece of information if something goes wrong.

While starting car the voltages are way beyond 12v will it not burn my LED or wiring?
I have been using from last 1month and have tested it with multimeter spikes goes till 15v and LED strips have resistors to safeguard LED's so it will work fine if still one wants to safeguard those use resistors or voltage regulators. Also the controller have brightness adjustments so lower it down to few clicks by doing this controller sends less voltage to LEDs (lower the volts less the brightness). So even if we are getting spikes till 15v we dim and thus strips get just 10v.

It will be good if we hook it up with TIP31 and sync with Music?
I personally tried and succeeded but trust me its very very dangerous while driving and those blinks are very disturbing. Still someone thinks i need to ible it I WILL.

NOTE: Vote if you like, good ibles take lot of man hours and patience and lots and lots of documentation.


killroytech made it! (author)2017-07-23

I did it, the only difference is since I have a SW, (SAAB 9-3) I illuminated the rear cargo area. Putting the strips under the front seats, was to close to the rear passengers feet. Every car is a little different. Final image is my favoite color, purple!

PS: The glow from the cargo area is barely visible in the rear view mirror, so no blinding light from the back.

samalert (author)killroytech2017-07-24

Awesome !

killroytech (author)killroytech2017-07-23

I forgot: This LED controler can reduce the power, so if it's really dark out there, I reduce it or cut it out. Having a good night vision takes first place over having nice color lights.

NoviceRookie made it! (author)2015-04-19

Great instructable mate. Was wondering one day whether installing led strips in car's interior is possible and stumbled upon your tutorial. You managed to explain it well and the pictures about final results were really motivating so I tried it out. Now driving at dark hours is more enjoyable than ever and each day I can't wait for sun to go down so I can take my iron horse for a spin. Thanks again and here are some pics about my final result. Take care and drive safe ! ;)

samalert (author)NoviceRookie2015-04-20

My man thats awesome ! I am very glad you liked my ible and you successfully did it. I really liked the way you have hidden the IR receiver. Your LEDs also seems pretty bright. All in all its rocking CHEERS !

SoulSlayerAbad (author)2014-04-16

Thanks a lot for this! I gave my brother his graduation project in the form LEDs in his car. He loved it! Took me two days to complete it, but only because it was first time doing this sort of thing. Here's some pics. Again, thanks a lot for this. Because of this, I didn't have to give my brother some boring gift like a watch or something...

samalert (author)SoulSlayerAbad2014-04-16

Aha thats nice he must be flabbergasted :)

gwalsh2 (author)2016-09-27

I want to set this up where it would change the color to red I think that would be a simple code with an acceleramator and a raspberry pi zero hidden under the dash, but I would love some feedback

trainkid93 (author)gwalsh22017-01-15

gwalsh2, you could use a Arduino Uno or a Nano to control your LEDs just to save some time on programming instead of a RPI Zero.

Annaliang (author)2016-09-12

MarkYu (author)2016-06-22

Are the connectors wire splicers? Or please provide a link where I can get them because I am not sure what they are.

samalert (author)MarkYu2016-06-22

i bought this from local shop you could use any just to modularize. You could directly join,solder or use electric tape. Connector :

its costly on ebay but was dirt cheap at local hardware store.

shera.syan (author)2013-01-04

I did this in my Suzuki Alto... I experimented with SMD3528 strip leds.... pasted
them below the dashboard.. covered them with cellophane tape so that they don't fall if they loose their adhesive........ hooked them to the cigarette lighter point with a push toggle button to turn them on when required...... also checked the Voltage

With Engine OFF =13.9 v
With Engine ON = 14.9v
Till now they are working fine ... did the same modding for License plate connected with parking lights switch.

Its fun and I loved it...

ShikharS5 (author)shera.syan2015-09-09

Can you tell how to connect led with cig lighter

Please tell me the detailed procedure from begining to end so that a non professional can do it without any risk

kbpartytime (author)ShikharS52016-04-30

were you ever able to find out how the RGB controller to the cig-lighter?

samalert (author)kbpartytime2016-05-01

2ways to use cig lighter for led controller. 1 behind dashboard - this will need to pop out cig lighter female socket from the dashboard and use the wires to power controller.

2 from front of cig lighter using a make shift male port with 2wires which will power the controller

Or lastly the process i have shown above which is much reliable simple and easy. Why mess with internal when u can buy the charger for a measly 50cents or rs.20

kbpartytime (author)samalert2016-05-02

could you please send me a picture of your connection, please?

samalert (author)kbpartytime2016-05-03

samalert (author)shera.syan2013-01-04

I too was thinking of new socket for strips but I use charger very often and run simultaneously so; p

it would be really great if you would love to display anything you like I appreciate if you show us some detailed images of connections and rigged source

ShawnS82 (author)2016-04-20

Looks good. If I want to hook up power direct to car wiring can I just cut power supply cord and hard wire into car?

samalert (author)ShawnS822016-04-20

Yes obviously you can draw the power lines from battery itself just get a switch in between to toggle the LEDs. Or use power from fuse so even if there are shorts in your LED's just in case a mishap, fuse will blow and safeguard rest of the electronics (fuse are dirt cheap)

samalert (author)2016-03-02

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I feel this video explained everything very nicely, also giving 4 options to power !

MichaelB250 (author)2015-10-28

Hey guys! Love this , exactly what i was needing, i did a led set up with standard LEDS a few years ago, and was a little neck deep with 4pin, but its simple as you have shown!

Something i would like to add, for those out there who want to go further again.

Its a way to enable 2 power sources, now im yet to test this, about to put it into my car but iv been assured by an auto electrician friend this will work.

if you want them to run off your door lights, ( turn on and off as you get in, unlock etc )
but also be able to turn on whilst driving without turning on every light in your car, and any exterior mirror lights.

You splice into, your door lights ( usually in your door, im getting an auto electrician to run it for me from my dash as he has wiring schematics ) then also attach to a constant 12v source, be it a charger point, or straight from the battery ( need a fuse )

then you put a DpDT switch ( 2 outputs 1 input, or 1 input 2 outputs )
and purely switch between a constant 12v power and a trigger ( door light ) 12v power source.

I hope this Helps,
Its unlikely i will check back here for replies, but if you have any questions im sure if you take what i just said to someone with knowledge on lighting in a car, they will be able to pick up where i left off.


Taisou (author)2013-01-11

It would be great if you could make am instructible for syncing with music. I would love to be able to use it while parked.

_-MacGyver-_ (author)Taisou2015-09-10

I haven't dabbled in electrical stuff for a while, but it seems like you could make the light pulse by somehow wiring it into your speakers. Someone with more knowledge on the subject than I should reply to you.

samalert (author)_-MacGyver-_2015-09-10

3 ways to do it.

1. Tapping it direct to speakers but the pulses are not great
2. Using filters using TIP31 transistor split the sound source and feed one to sound system other to LED pulsating module
3. Same as above but rather than splitting sound source we can use mic (only problem in this is external rattling and unknown sounds also affect the pulse)

The 2nd one i had done long back. But didnt implemented under dash since its very distracting.

ShikharS5 (author)2015-09-09

Hey Buddy can you please tell me all the procedure of lighting the led

-How to connect wires in connectors,led,controller(in detailed)

samalert (author)ShikharS52015-09-09

Dude read the ible what more do you need its already in detailed wording with plenty of tags. I cannot anything more deeper than this.

reset.mkc (author)2015-04-30

Awesome, just awesome sir. Well done. Thank you for sharing. One question, would you recommend same LED strip for outside of car, undercarriage?

samalert (author)reset.mkc2015-04-30

These are not waterproof ones. For outside cabin use the 5050 if am not wrong smds i.e. the bright ones (i have used a subtle less bright ones since inside. Also use the waterproof strips they have same build type but also include a top layer of transparent layer/sheath which makes it less vulnerable to environmental hazards.

Thanks mate you liked it please do post your build i would really to see them.

reset.mkc (author)samalert2015-05-01

OK, thank you for the advice. Glad I asked before moving forward. Will definitely post pics of build, once I figure out what I want to do. Many ideas running through my head right now. If i executed all of them my car would look like a Christmas tree on wheels LOL. From what I have read it seems I would benefit most from an LED strip with an IP65 or IP66 rating, am I mistaken?

samalert (author)reset.mkc2015-05-01

Rofl a Christmas tree ! But yes many overdo the lights but results are what they like but not appreciated by many.

TO be frank i never actually paid any attention to IP ratings i go and buy one which is waterproof ones. This is the first time i have read what ip ratings and what those no.s means

From the chart your LED looks very rugged to be used for your truck.

Rykley! (author)2015-04-20

Really cool build! I have a few questions though, how did you wire up the connectors? and where did you get the led strip?

samalert (author)Rykley!2015-04-21

LED strips are easily available now. There are many nowaday with super bright to individual programmable ones, single color or multi RGB one's. I have bought a spool of 5meters and used as per my needs.

Connection is pretty simple i have mentioned with easy understandable diagrams, there are 4 dots on LED strip if its RGB one which i have used in above ible. RED GREEN BLUE and +ve so in all 4 wire strands. Buy wire with 4 wire strand as displayed in diagrams and images and connect them. Just a point to remember is connect RED with RED, GREEN with GREEN and so on, if these are not connected properly then 4 LED strips will have different colors. Always a good practice to turn on LED to WHITE color since it uses all colors followed by RED BLUE and GREEN individually if all emits same spectrum then connection is good and perfect.

Hope i have explained and made things clear for you mate.

tayeb.rahman.39 (author)2015-03-05

hi there, if i already have daytime running light on my bmw e92, how do i wire rgb with wifi controller to my car? where do i plug the + and - in to so it works with my DRL in the car?

samalert (author)tayeb.rahman.392015-03-18

The ible is about interior lights and it has nothing to do with DRL which am supposed are near headlights. The interior under dash lights are rigged from Car charger and does not affect any wiring whatsoever.

Now, +ve and -ve are quiet visible on every charger out in market rig it accordingly if in doubt read the ible carefully i have provided enough images.

Lastly if u need DRL to be running on headlights and need to wire LED's there then rig the source from FUSE under bonnet, plenty of tuts available on Ytube.

B_Michael405 (author)2015-02-17

Hi, I was wondering if you were able to use any regular old wiring or if it has to be special LED wire.

samalert (author)B_Michael4052015-02-18

What does old and regular wiring means? I am not aware of these terms.

Delvin123 (author)2014-11-04

Dear Sam
Can you please explain me about the connection giving on the cigrette lighter .Will i be able to switch of these lights without removing the key.Please help

samalert (author)Delvin1232014-11-04

Yes one can switch off the LED by simply using IR remote or just removing the plug.

There is nothing special in cig lighter mod. Thing is lighter or that port gives out 12v, and LED too require 12v. So i powered it from the lighter. Now how to build the connections so i used a car phone charger, now since phone require 5v it have chip which brings down the 12v from cig lighter to 5v suitable for mobile phones. So we rigged the USB charger just before it gets connected to chip and downsize/limit the voltage.

Do not shot circuit the wires it will blow fuse which i had but they are easy to replace too under dash fuse box.

Tangski (author)2013-01-03

Hi there, I do love the idea of the lighting effects for show and would be interested in doing some of that for my Camaro.  With the distractive driving laws, it is a good idea NOT to use lights with music, and you are right, very distracting.  Your instructions are rather nice, but please check on spelling, and grammar, OK? Keep wording simple so your instructions don't become confusing or 'lost in translation'. If English is your second language, (since I noted your are driving a car with a steering wheel on rh side I know that is not a normal North American car, but many have made it over here for track fans;) have someone check that out for you so your instructions are cleaned up. Your presentation will show more professional if you can redo that part.
Secondly, use those plastic tie down straps instead of string as they are much stronger and designed for electrical work. I use them often for many other projects and find them very handy! Nice use of photos and the square boxed information bits, again, just watch spelling. I know, I am not a great speller either!LOL  I think I would fall off a cliff with out spell check!!LOL Just my two cents. Great job otherwise! Visuals were really wonderful and close up for great detail, which most forget,  and do the most 'talking' anyway!:)

FrizenF (author)Tangski2014-10-28

it does not look like that English is your first language either. "Your presentation will show more professional if you can redo that part" is incorrect dear. "Your presentation will appear more professional if you can redo that part" or "Your presentation will show professionalism if you can redo that part" is proper. check your mistake and punctuation in your sentence: "but many have made it over here for track fans;" get it checked by your English teacher. "Keep wording simple so your instructions don't become confusing or 'lost in translation' " good combination of singular and plural number in one sentence. Cool!!

By the the author of this project has done a great job and I would like to congratulate him for this. Cheers!!

Tangski (author)FrizenF2014-10-28

LOL, OK you got me! I was in a rush at the time...Oh well. English is my only language...but I do mess up too, which is why I mentioned it. People usually notice mistakes in areas that they may also have problems with.
Anyway, thanks for the correction. I do love to write, but when in a hurry, I want to 'talk' text rather than 'write' properly. It is something I find that many lean toward when working in mixed media technology of ipods, phones etc. I then miss information. I have noted that even the most professional people tend to 'talk' or 'speak' text rather than write out thoughts in the correct formal format. And lets not go into the lingo short cuts...gads! Bad habits are hard to let go of, and the 'texting' world is famous for it. I admit it is not a good habit for me to have either! One can simply forget as one tends to write what is heard and written in everyday lingo, instead of what is formally correct for a written presentation. It would better serve myself and others in the process of having more strict observance of the said subject matter. Having said that, I do find that forums tend to lean way over on the informal bent in written expression, which does not always serve well directional format.
And by the way, yes the author has done a GREAT job of the project and presentation...unlike my mistakes. I had intended not to have the two 'the' in that sentence...sheesh...silly me!
I have probably written my thoughts here incorrect, but my intent was to have someone advance further than myself on the subject since their talent was rather obvious in the creation of the project:) I will strive to present my thoughts in a proper written format next time and just try highlighting what was confusing or incorrect to me, and leave it at that:) Just as you did for me:)
Sorry... school is out for today while I brush up on my grammar;) I thinks me I shall take up a Shakespeare play- to sooth away the rancor noises of a froth grey day. Just the ticket, yes?
Have a great day good teacher folk!

samalert (author)FrizenF2014-10-28

Glad you liked it mate. Cheers !!

Tangski (author)Tangski2013-01-03

Oh, forgot to add, also great trouble shooting tips! Many forget that process too!! GOOD JOB!!!

samalert (author)Tangski2013-01-03

Thanks for appreciating my work and yes i too found some spelling mistakes but really am of opinion of changing it after the competition ends [7th jan13](true format nothing changed from day of posting). It was a big marathon on my side during writing the ible, so forgive my mistakes.

I stay in India so right side driving and regarding tags i wasnt having any during that period so tied with something which was easily available but yes agree tag will be good and handy.

Cheers for pimping ;p

tanilsarikaya (author)2014-10-13

thank you so so much for informations ....

God bless you

tanilsarikaya (author)2014-10-13

Is it start to work when you open doors ?

or manual turn on or turn of

samalert (author)tanilsarikaya2014-10-13

This is manual ON | OFF. So that i have total control over it. More on that i can rip it down in few minutes(2mins) & assemble it back(30mins).

If we flip the same in doors then it have to be rooted to dome lights. Its more or less same. Find the fuse for dome light, use extension fuse and hook it on top of it.

tanilsarikaya (author)samalert2014-10-13

How can I make on -off it with door ?

And always default color blue when it open

About This Instructable




Bio: Very fond of inventing stuff. Creation is what i believe. Relieve my creations and imagination with programming and practical stuff. And Instructable is what i ... More »
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