Introduction: Install Computer Cold Cathode Lights Into Car

Picture of Install Computer Cold Cathode Lights Into Car

Many accessories such as fans and lights that you can put into your computer can also be put into your car since they run off 12v.
This is my first intructable and will be on how to install a cold cathode light kit under the dash in a car. I am using a dual green kit on a 1994 buick park ave., the lights will get their power from the cigarette lighter. You can run a line from the battery, but the reason why I used a cig. lighter is because 1. It already has an inline fuse 2. Easy access and I don't smoke :)
Advantages: Bright
Disadvantages: Somewhat Fragile
I got the kit from  , these kits can be found other places as well so I will be using one of their pictures. A note on that picture is that the bulbs are blue, the ones I used are green.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Picture of What You Will Need

1. this kit and the parts that come with
2. electrical tape, ( i ran out so i used athletic tape for now, please use electrical if you can)
3. wire stripper ( i used a knife)

Step 2: Cut the Right Wires

Picture of Cut the Right Wires

You will notice two white 4 pin molex connectors, one of them has 4 wires going into it, the other only has 2. The one with two wires is unnecessary  and can be cut off to avoid confusion. The Yellow is your 12v and the black is your ground. I'll try to explain on the picture better..

Step 3: To the Cigarette Lighter!

Picture of To the Cigarette Lighter!

Find a way to get to the power and ground wires using your cigarette lighter. My ash tray just popped and slid right out. It did take some force, yours may use screws or involve taking a part of the dash off. If you do not want to use the cigarette lighter, you can run a line from the battery with an inline fuse, or find another 12v source such as the wire off your cd/tape player. Although these lights hardly draw any power (I have left them on for 2days with hardly any battery drain), make sure you know how to change a fuse if you need to.

Step 4: Wire Time

Picture of Wire Time

Now here is where you use the two wires you have cut and are ready to use. Splice the two wires respectively to the power and ground in your car, twist, then tape together. I unfortunately do not have a soldering iron, if you have one, USE IT! In my case, yellow to orange was 12v, black to black is ground. The 12v color may not match in your vehicle, but black is sure to be always ground. There was a third wire in my car but it was not connected to the lighter, but to the light bulb that lights the tray.

Step 5: A Place for the Inverter

Picture of A Place for the Inverter

I put the inverter in a central location right under the ash tray as this is where the lights plug in. You can always extend the power line to the switch, which will give you more room to place the inverter wherever, but you cannot cut the white wires to the light bulbs and lengthen them, they are a specific length. However, thanks to KeiferHurley for finding that white cable extensions ( can be purposed, however adding to much length may seriously dim the lights.

Step 6: Light Placement

Picture of Light Placement

I put one under the dash on the passenger and driver side using the velcros that come with, you may also want to use tape and/or superglue as sometimes the velcros won't stay, especially when the weather heats and cools a lot here in South Dakota.

Step 7: Night Time Lights!

Picture of Night Time Lights!

Now your floorboards are beautiful! I hope this intructable was easy to understand, PLEASE ask questions. With, the lights plus shipping are $10, the only drawback is they are not waterproof. But are very bright! Keeping this in mind, avoid placing them right in front of you on the dash as they can't hurt your eyes and distract from your driving. Enjoy!


dezandseth (author)2011-07-28

Hi! I just picked up one of these kits from the electronics store. I would like to wire it up so I can plug the light into the cigarette socket (i have a 12v belt pack battery that I use for light painting) but can't figure out how. Any ideas? Thanks!

KeiferHurley (author)2011-05-27

Is there anyway to rig these up to a stereo preamp output so they flash to the music? I have a sound reactive inverter and a regular one (both made for dual cathodes). I feel if the sound is up too high it would keep the lights on constantly (even with the variable sensitivity control) if I used the inverter that just has a microphone in it to pick up noise. Oh and btw, xoxide sell a 12" extender cable for the lights. (though reviews state it does lower their brightness)

theduke2011 (author)KeiferHurley2011-05-30

To be honest I'm not so sure myself as I have zero experience with just how well the sound reactive inverters work with low to high volumes so I couldn't tell ya. I really appreciate the find on the extender cables as those were not available back in the day! I'm going to add that right away and give credit just because so many people I've talked to would like to hide the inverter a little farther somewhere else.
Sorry I couldn't help you. Hopefully someone else is smarter with this and can shoot you a comment?

KeiferHurley (author)theduke20112011-05-30

Alright, thanks for the reply. Excellent guide. I installed these under the dash of my 97 GMC Jimmy and they look great (theyre blue, I had them in my computer for a while). I plan on putting two more behind the drivers & passenger seats to light up the back of the car, think I can run the power lines back to the same cigarette lighter I used for the front two? Can it power 2 sets of dual cathodes?

As for my original question I found a product that would do EXACTLY what I want, but sadly the item has been discontinued a few years ago, like most products regarding CCFL lights (except of course the lights themselves) -( Did some poking around seeing if anyone had modified the ones with the microphones before and all I could find was this forum thread ( but it doesn't seem like anyone has actually done it so far.

For now I'll just wait until either that product is sold again or someone responds regarding modding them. Thanks again!

tokymaru (author)KeiferHurley2011-07-07

I have pulled the mics out of the sound reactive inverters and replaced them with a headphone plug. It did work, but it wasn't quite as good as i was hoping for. It seems that they now accept a lot of interference, so when the one that i left the mic in comes on, the others seem to stay on longer. If you shielded it, or even used a ferrite bead, i think you could get better results.

TheDeviant13 (author)2009-04-10

I am glad that you posted this instructable because I ordered the dual white and the dual blue cold cathodes from xoxide and was wondering how to wire them without the 4-pin molex connector so now I know how to wire them. 5 out of 5 stars

theduke2011 (author)TheDeviant132009-04-10

Thank you! I'm glad this could help :)

TheDeviant13 (author)theduke20112009-04-14

I got them today and am working on wiring them. : )

theduke2011 (author)TheDeviant132011-04-25

Awesome! Just wondering how they're doing? I edited updated the instructable a bit, unfortunately both of mine have been broken by friends in the car >.<

Eik (author)2011-02-07

Is there a way to completely remove the 4 wire molex connector cables to reduces the overall cable and clutter?

theduke2011 (author)Eik2011-02-11

absolutely, if you look at the second photo it shows the wire's that you don't need which includes the molex connectors, these can just be cut right off

jdubaya (author)2010-12-14

hey, my subwoofer is in the back of my truck and i want the lights in the front. i was wondering if there is any way to extend the sound reactive part...

theduke2011 (author)jdubaya2011-02-11

sorry for the terribly slow reply, no you cannot extend that part of it, you can only safely extend from the power source to the module, not the module to the lights as that is a set distance

Cabanaman (author)2010-01-05

 Looks really awesome! I can't believe I didn't think of using cold cathodes before. Though, they look pretty bright. What would be a good way to dampen them do you think?

golddigger1559 (author)Cabanaman2010-03-11

 sand them?

theduke2011 (author)Cabanaman2010-01-06

thanks! they are fairly bright, any brighter and i would hesitate using them
besides putting them as far underneath the dash as possible, at the moment the only thing i can think of to use for damping is using some kind of thin paper wrapped around them...maybe wax paper?  not sure on that one

Cabanaman (author)theduke20112010-02-09

 I actually used some two sided butt connectors to secure my wires. Would simply covering the connections in tape prevent the interference you think?

theduke2011 (author)Cabanaman2010-02-10

I doubt it would make much difference, with that your connection should be good to go, again the only thing I can think of is if the line for the lights runs to close to other wires for the radio.
It's the only thing that comes to mind because right now because my radio also has a 'hum' and 'whine' but because the power line running to the amplifier runs a little close and I'm to lazy to fix it.
Sorry for the bland answer, but it's all I've got.

golddigger1559 (author)2010-03-11

 i would change the switch to a bitching toggle that lights up when the circuit is open

swimtrunks (author)2010-02-16

 could these lights be installed under the driver and passenger seat to light up the front and back, and take the intensity down a bit?

theduke2011 (author)swimtrunks2010-02-17

Absolutely! You can put them anywhere of course as long as the wire is long enough.
As I stated in the deal, you cannot cut and extend the white wires between the bulbs and the inverter, those are purposely made a certain length.
However you can extend the power line for the switch, thus letting you place them under the seats. And I imagine the intensity would be less with some of the light going to the back seat as well.
And as a side note: When it's really cold outside ( around or below 0 degrees F) these lights take a little while to 'warm up'.

Yerboogieman (author)2010-02-02

For the ones from Xoxide, you can unsrew the switch and put the PCI cover in your parts bin.

theduke2011 (author)Yerboogieman2010-02-09

This is true, thanks for the tip!

Cabanaman (author)2010-02-06

 I wired these under my dash into the cigarette lighter in my panel. It was working great for a few weeks until I got my alignment fixed. Now sometimes when they are on my radio crackles. Not always but a lot of the time. I have to turn them off using a switch I installed. Why is this happening?

theduke2011 (author)Cabanaman2010-02-09

Only thing i can think of is your wires got moved. If the power line for the lights runs close to your radio or the wires to the speakers in your car, this will cause inline noise.
And I agree with AceDaPig who mentioned soldering the wires instead of twisting them for a good connection. Since I've added the lights, they went out a couple days ago :(
Hopefully it's as simple as moving the wires away. :)

theduke2011 (author)2010-01-01

 that would be pretty sweet,
i grabbed these specs off from and ebay

average current demand +/- 3.7w
current draw: 5.0mAv

not much

theduke2011 (author)2009-12-30

i've never worked with something like that but that looks like it would very well work, and obviously with the fuse right there already it's pretty safe

this line right here has me convinced>> "Turns one fuse slot into two..."

theduke2011 (author)2009-12-28

you could try to cut just the covering of the cigarette lighter wire and solder them together, but i have yet to find a spare 12v slot available in the fuse box
the lights don't draw much juice though, you should be able to run it off of just about anything

i've been wondering about this myself, you should be able to as long as the current is DC not AC and you have them grounded well. an inline fuse wouldn't be a bad idea either.

AceDaPig (author)2009-11-22

 Worked great, I have a 97 Buick LeSabre, and used the blue lights.  A few things I did differently:

my ashtray had a small hole that i widened so I could put my switch in there
I used the sound kit so my switch had a knob on it
I soldered my wires together, you're in a car, twisting just won't due in my opinion - make sure you tape them (I forgot the first time around and had to unscrew the whole mount again.

The last imrovement I made was I used industrial strength Velcro, the Velcro that was supplied didn't stick in my car, and I used it to keep that drawer closed.

theduke2011 (author)AceDaPig2009-11-22

Awesome, I appreciate your input very much and agree 100%. Looking back on this I should have soldered simply because it gets the job done right. If one doesn't take time with twisting, it's easy to blow your fuse. The velcro on the drawer is also a good idea to as mine keeps trying to slide open.

Using another switch with a molex connector like that, I installed led computer fans on my amplifier to keep it from overheating, I should get some pictures of that up too.

thejfactor99 (author)2009-05-25

Possibly a stupid question here... Should I disconnect the battery first, or doesn't it matter?

theduke2011 (author)thejfactor992009-05-28

haha, I was wondering the same thing actually when i did this, I left the ignition off of course, but left the battery connected and I didn't blow any fuses that way. If you do go through the cigarette lighter like i did, you can just take the fuse out and that would be similar to unhooking the battery, I blew the fuse when the lights were switched on and i tried to wire them.

flipstik (author)2009-05-01

Hey, since you spliced it to the cigarette lighter wires, does the cigarette lighter not work anymore?

theduke2011 (author)flipstik2009-05-28

i actually cut the cigarette light off completely since i never use it for anything, but if you just take the skin of the wire off, you could wire it so that you can still use the lighter

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