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Heater Controls - Swapping out bulbs for LEDS

 
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Old 19 Nov 2016, 07:47 am
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Default Heater Controls - Swapping out bulbs for LEDS

Seems like this is the job of the week for me.

So anyway, the heater controls in my Gen 1 Cruiser have three grain bulbs in grey plastic holders. One of mine was burnt out so I got around to swapping them out for LEDs. Problem is, off the shelf LEDs are too large for this application (that I know of, anyway) so I removed the grain bulbs and retrofitted the plastic base with bright deep blue LEDs.

This is how the copper traces work around the heater controls. The electrical connection at the back has seven pins with the outer two corresponding to panel lamps driver and ground.




LEDs are polarity-sensitive so we need to get them the right way around, plus they can't be dropped straight onto the supply....they'll burnt right up. There's no room for current limiting resistors, so instead I splice one in series into the loom for the entire unit. Easy enough.

So, retrofitting the plastic bases....

The bulbs don't pull straight out; they're inserted through and the wire wrapped around base to create contacts so we have to unwrap the leads and remove it that way.




I have a bunch of these sublime deep blue LEDs from Kingbright. 5mm round LEDs will do just as well as long as the lower flange fits through the opening in the heater controls.




Insert the LED into the base.




Hold the LED flush and bend the leads 90° cleanly into the grooves.




Bend the leads around the edge and back to the front:




Then back over to the other side (use one of the other bulbs for reference if you're lost):




This bit is important. Mash the leads flat with pliers. The bulb's wires were finer than those of these LEDs, meaning that they're slightly more difficult to fit into the controls. Not much, but a bit. Mashing the wires flat (not crushing!) helps make this easier.




Clip the remaining leads short enough so that they fit into the remaining space.




Nice.




I spliced a 390 Ohm resistor into the panel driver line (orange wire) which is a bit too big. I should use a 150 Ohm resistor really, however I don't have any of large enough wattage for this use. I'll swap it out later.

The resistor is wrapped in electrical tape (ran out of heatshrink) and then wrapped to the rest of the loom to prevent it vibrating and breaking.




Re-fitting the LEDs is a chore. They need to be fitted from the back. Using a flat screwdriver bit in the rear groove of the LED base helps you fit it. Check that the LEDs light up as you fit them, otherwise you need to rotate them 180° in place. The bottom one is the most tricky to get in place and fit. I used a magnet to get it in place and slightly crushed the plastic tabs that keep the base in place so that it rotates into location easier.




The LEDs look more like this in person:

VsandFords and Gkon like this.
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2001 2.0l PT Cruiser Touring Edition
Mods: New gear knob, blue LED re-lighting, token chrome bits.
215'000km (55.9% distance to the moon, 71.7% of a second at light speed, Usain Bolt running for 200 days)

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Old 19 Nov 2016, 07:57 am
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Default Re: Heater Controls - Swapping out bulbs for LEDS

A little dim (as is expected of blue, especially deeper wavelengths) but will be better once the resistor is replaced.

Gkon likes this.
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2001 2.0l PT Cruiser Touring Edition
Mods: New gear knob, blue LED re-lighting, token chrome bits.
215'000km (55.9% distance to the moon, 71.7% of a second at light speed, Usain Bolt running for 200 days)

"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use" - Søren Kierkegaard
"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence" - Christopher Hitchens
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Old 19 Nov 2016, 09:12 am
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Default Re: Heater Controls - Swapping out bulbs for LEDS

Thanks for posting. I enjoyed that.
I just replaced mine with grain of wheat bulbs but now may switch to LED's in the future.
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Old 19 Nov 2016, 09:54 am
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Default Re: Heater Controls - Swapping out bulbs for LEDS

Glad it was useful. The big deal with this swapout is retaining the plastic bases and getting the right value of current limiting resistor for three parallel LEDs. I know the maths on this, however having an online calculator makes it even easier.

Current limiting Resistor calculator for leds

....just click "Parallel LEDs" and plug in the values.

If you get around to this one Gkon, post photos and how frustrating the lower location proved to be for yourself also.

Ideally the heater control unit should be removed for this, however the two cable brackets and vacuum line put me off that idea....
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2001 2.0l PT Cruiser Touring Edition
Mods: New gear knob, blue LED re-lighting, token chrome bits.
215'000km (55.9% distance to the moon, 71.7% of a second at light speed, Usain Bolt running for 200 days)

"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use" - Søren Kierkegaard
"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence" - Christopher Hitchens
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