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Unread 10-09-2004, 10:31 AM   #1
Islandroaddie96
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LED Panel Lights Conversion Write-up

Last night, I got my order of #194 LEDs from superbrightleds.com so I went to work on installing them as my panel backlighting. I also used one #74 LEDs for the backlighting on the climate controls, and one each for the labels above the rear wiper control and defrost.

I chose LEDs because they last longer, are a lot more durable (not that that really matters back there, but if you drop one, it won't break) and they don't create any heat. They also consume far less power than conventional bulbs, so running your panel lights now won't put a drastic load on the battery.

I chose red LEDs because they preserve your night vision better than any other color (NOTE: Blue and Violet are the WORST for night vision) and they just look cool.

YOU WILL NEED:
(5) - #194 LEDs
(3) - #74 LEDs
Various tools (torx bit, philips screwdriver, etc. . .) to get panel and other components disassembled.

This write-up is for a '96. Another thread I read mentioned having 12 bulbs in the cluster. Well, mine only has five so I'm not sure what the different years had. Best thing would probably be to pull your cluster first before you order the number of LEDs you need.

Bascially, all this involved was removing the guage cluster, taking the old bulbs out and replacing them with the LEDs.

I started by removing the dash bezel and steering wheel shroud with a torx bit and screwdriver. I found that it's easiest to get the bezel off by tilting the steering wheel all the way down.



After that, I removed the screws that hold the guage cluster in. They are the four black ones above and below the cluster and the two aboe and below the indicator light panels (not in pic). The brass screws just hold the plastic cover onto the guages. It is not necessary to remove it.



After you get the cluster unfastened, now you need to pull it out. This was a big pain because, mine at least, barely fits in there. It would've helped to remove the panels for the rear wiper and defrost switches, but I never got around to that, so I kinda bent the tabs on the guage cluster.

Once it's out, remove the two wire harnesses that plug into the back of it. Mine simply has tabs that you squeeze down on. For ease of install, I took the cluster all the way out of the Jeep and replaced everything in a lighted area (my room).

In this pic, you can see the five lights we will be replacing. They are the five that are the lowest on the cluster (kinda the ones the go across the middle) The three across the top are for the turn signal flashers and high beam indicator. I left the stock bulbs in those, but you could change them if you want to.



The bulb holders simply turn and pull out. Pull the bulbs out of the holders and replace them with the LEDs. Now, LEDs are polarized unlike bulbs, which means they have to go in a certain way or else they won't work. Because my cluster was out of the Jeep, I ran 12V through the lighting circuit to energize it so I could know when the LED was inserted right. If you don't have the means to run power, just plug the wiring harness back in and turn on the parking lights. If they don't light up one way, pull the holder out, turn it around an re-insert. Once you get all five in, plug it back in (if you haven't done so) and confirm that they all light up. Since it was out, I also replaced the light for my Low Washer lamp while I was back there.

Reinstall the panel. Make sure that the plugs go in firmly and securely or else your guages may start acting up.

Now, I also did the LED conversion to the wiper/defrost and climate controls. Both of these were easy. Undo the four screws holding in the climate controls and pull the cluster out. Do this slowly, as I found that there is little slack in the wiring and if you pull too hard, you could pull something out. There is only one bulb back there to replace and the hardest part was getting it out of its socket. Once again, this was a #74 bulb.

The wiper and defrost controls are just as easy. Take out the screw that holds each panel in and you'll see the socket for the one #74 light that it uses. Pull the socket out, replace the bulb and reinstall.

Start the engine and make sure your guages work beofre you seal everything back up. At first, my temp guage was acting up, but then I fould a loose ground screw on the back that when tightend back down, fixed the problem.

Note that I also could've done the shifter and t-case lights, but held off for right now. Those are much more straightforward to replace, though. Also, you will lose the power to dim your lights after this conversion, but mine ended up being the exact luminosity that I like, so it doesn't bother me.

Reinstall your panel, bezel and steering shorud and enjoy your new LED panel lights!!!!




Good Luck,

Peter

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Unread 10-09-2004, 11:07 AM   #2
MSHarnett
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I've been thinking about this one for a while. I forget who did this before, but he also had Red LEDs, it looks great at night. Thanks for the write up

EDIT: http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f11/led-dash-light-conversion-writeup-65921/
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Last edited by MSHarnett; 10-09-2004 at 04:10 PM..
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Unread 10-09-2004, 04:52 PM   #3
Islandroaddie96
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Yeah, that's where I first got the idea (I actually replied to that thread too). But, his lighting system seems to be different since he had 12 bulbs and I only had 5. He also said that his bulbs he took out were #74 and mine were #194. I didn't catch what year XJ he had though so I don't know. It's a cool mod and I think I might also do it to the Saab I have. The cab feels a lot darker at night, but I can still see my guages !!!

I also just realized how crappy that last picture is, but my camera sucks in low light conditions with no flash. I think you get the idea though.
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Unread 10-09-2004, 05:10 PM   #4
MSHarnett
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Yeah, so you did respond to it, haha. I wonder how yours differs to a 97+ model.
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Unread 10-09-2004, 05:40 PM   #5
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97+'s have backlit gauges, thus the smaller and more plentiful bulbs.

the older ones, the lights sat behind the gauge cluster, and reflect off the back of the grey piece onto the outer rim of the gauges.

You could probably ek just a little more brightness out of things if you used a shiny color spray paint like chrome on the back of the grey piece.
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Unread 10-09-2004, 05:44 PM   #6
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btw. which LEDs did you buy?
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Unread 10-09-2004, 06:41 PM   #7
mbood82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSHarnett
I've been thinking about this one for a while. I forget who did this before, but he also had Red LEDs, it looks great at night. Thanks for the write up

EDIT: http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=65921
That sounds like something that could be fun to do the more I think about it.... I'll have to look into those ones that plug directly in. I'm not a big fan of doing the wiring for it all, and as long as they still light up the gauges I'd be happy. Let me know how yours go MS, I'll be doin the same to my 97 sometime I think....
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Unread 10-09-2004, 07:51 PM   #8
Islandroaddie96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madrabbitt
btw. which LEDs did you buy?
I bought seven #194 LEDs and four #74. The reason I got two extra #194s was because I might also do the shifter and t-case lights. The extra #74 I got because I thought the climate controls were lit by two lights, but it actually just has one.

The only reason I didn't get 12 lights like said in the earlier thread, was because I pulled my cluster to count the number of lights and if I hadn't done that, I probably would've ended up ordering 12. All in all, it was fairly inexpensive - about $15 for the LEDs.

Good Luck,

Peter
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Unread 10-09-2004, 08:31 PM   #9
madrabbitt
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ok. lets ask the question again.

WHICH #194 base lights did you buy?

the single, the inverted, the 4 bulb, the 5 bulb, the 6 bulb jumbo ones.
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Installing HID's in stock housings is bad. Here is why.

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Unread 10-09-2004, 09:01 PM   #10
Islandroaddie96
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Ahhh. . . Sorry!

I got the single LED version with the wide inverted cone/light pattern.

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Unread 10-09-2004, 09:03 PM   #11
MSHarnett
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbood82
Let me know how yours go MS, I'll be doin the same to my 97 sometime I think....
how bout this, you tell me how yours goes first, haha
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Unread 10-09-2004, 09:35 PM   #12
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Dammit, I might do that. I almost ordered them tonight, then realized I have 3 dollars in my checking account. I'll transfer some later on this week and pull the dash to find out what lights I need.
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Unread 10-09-2004, 10:11 PM   #13
madrabbitt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Islandroaddie96
Ahhh. . . Sorry!

I got the single LED version with the wide inverted cone/light pattern.

yeah, thats the answer i was going for.

Personally, i think i'd get the brighter but larger 6 led units...

and probably paint the back of that thing with chrome paint to get more reflection.

And while i'm at it, paint the front black intstead of grey.
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Installing HID's in stock housings is bad. Here is why.

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Unread 10-10-2004, 12:02 AM   #14
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How big is the slot that the LEDS go into? Can you put a larger LED in there?
Looking to get the "brightest" possible led to do that swap with, but am curious if there just enough room to squeeze in a 8x24mm bulb (Single LED Wedge Base Bulbs) or does it require the smaller (Instrument Cluster and Gauge Backlights) that are 4.4x18.5mm . Resistors needed at all?

Thanks!
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Unread 10-10-2004, 12:44 AM   #15
Islandroaddie96
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Well, the orignal bulbs are longer than the LEDs I put in. You could probably also fit the cluster of four LEDs that madrabbit mentioned. There is actually a surprising amount of room behind the guages. But, honestly, the single LEDs were plenty bright for me. The automotive LEDs from superbrightleds.com are pre-made for 12V systems. No resistors are required. They're simply swapped in for the bulbs.

Good Luck,

Peter
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