LEDs, Spreading the Light...

Discussion in 'Interior' started by Scrambler82, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Scrambler82

    Scrambler82 Old Guy User

    I am trying to light my Heater/AC Panel on a 2003 Ford Ranger with LEDs.
    I purchased a new panel face with RED lettering and I can plug in LED Bulbs but I don't like the way the light pattern is, a few hot spots.

    What I want is a way to spread out the light from an LED Source and keep it even over the whole panel.

    I had a thought of using a plastic panel and a flexible strip light of 20 down firing LEDs positioned behind it, hoping for the light to be spread by the plastic panel.


    1) Will the light actually spread out using the plastic panel ?

    2) Will a frosted panel work better than clear ?

    3) Do the LEDs need to touch the plastic to spread the light ?

    4) if I drill small "V"'s in the plastic, positioned near the lettering and designs I want to high-light, will that help direct some of the light where I want it ?

    Thanks for any help.
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  3. buggman

    buggman Do not touch the trim!

    What style of led's are you using?
    Are they the small t5 base or the larger t10 base??

    The type of led used may have a big effect on the light output.
    Also, what color led's are you using? I'd suggest using white led's to get an even more vibrant red color.

    I've used some super thin led strips that I modded to fit inside an older cluster (a little more room inside) and it turned out really nice. It takes quite a bit of testing & cutting to get everything to fit back inside the housing, but it can be done.

    I actually like running the led strips all around the outside of the inner part of the housing to throw light in towards the center along with using led's in the regular bulb locations too.

    A frosted panel inside the housing may dissipate the light a bit, but it will also take away some of the overall brightness.

    I'd keep the led's at least 1/8" away from anything, especially a thin film so in the rare event they would get hot, they won't melt anything unsure:
  4. OP

    Scrambler82 Old Guy User

    Thanks biggman for the reply.
    Don’t know the base type, never wrote it down so out of site, out of mind.

    I am thinking ahead on this project and I have some white strip LED lights so I wanted to use them up.
    Wasn’t sure of the amount of space available in the Heater Control, but will see soon enough.

    I wanted to eliminate the std bulb locations, hoping to get a more even light; the std positions tend to give brighter spots.

    I will take a spare apart and start gluing in some strip lights and see, maybe two rings of strip LEDs.

    OK on spacing, the strips are down firing so they will face inward. I am hoping for indirect light for illumination.
    was also thinking of painting the inside of the controls area bright white, need to look it over.

    Thanks for the reply.

    p.s. I just ordered some LED indicator lights and some some SMT LEDs, singles set up for 12V already. Plan to use them for the cup holders. One SMD centered in a piece of plexiglass, tapered mounting point to help direct the light and a slight taper on the upper outside edge. I will blacken out the center of the disk approximately 1.5” area to block the bright direct light. If too bright will think on mounting either a different LED Type or moving the existing mounting point of the SMD.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  5. OP

    Scrambler82 Old Guy User

    Anyone ever try making a diffusing panel for LED lighting ?
  6. OP

    Scrambler82 Old Guy User

    Ran into something while working on the lighted Cup Holders, frosted panels will spread the lights some.

    I will be making a prototype diffuser panel for the HVAC Panel after I finish up on the Cup Holders and my daughter’s wedding.

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