LED Fixture Upgrade

My wife hates fluorescent fixtures.

We had two fluorescent overhead fixtures on the boat, and I was not allowed to turn either one of them on when we were aboard.

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We were walking through Ikea recently, and they have warm-white LED strip lighting for around $15, with an included transformer that output 12v DC — exactly what house batteries provide. So I bought a few packages.

Over the weekend I hacked together the LEDs in the existing fixtures. The end result is great, and provides a nice light in the cabin. Much nicer than the stark, industrial fluorescent lighting.  On the 2nd fixture, I documented the process through photos, and I’ll share it here.

By simply removing the plastic diffuser cover on the fixture, you are left with a blank fixture with a cover over the electronics. We will simply be mounting the LED strips onto this cover, so remove it and bring it over to the work table.

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On the work table, open the package of LED strip lights, and cut the power lead as close to the switch as possible:

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This particular set of strip lights had built in resistors, so I did not need to worry about that. I can see that a voltage regulator could be a helpful addition to this project, but I simply directly wired the power lead to the wires in the fixture, plugged it in and turned it on (Make sure you have the correct polarity – it matters with LEDs). Success! Afterwards I soldered the connections and covered it in heat-shrink tubing.

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Back at the work table, I laid out the three strips on the cover in a way to get decent light coverage.

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Then I drilled and screwed in the plastic clips that came in the package to hold the strips:

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Then I soldered wire between each strip. There were two different connections, but if you are careful and take your time, both are relatively easy to do. Once they were soldered, I added a dot of hot-glue on the wires  entering the strip to help provide mechanical assistance at the attachment point:

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Lastly, I tacked down the wires to keep them where I wanted on the fixture cover:

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And then I re-assembled the fixture, with new LED lights!

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It was a very simple project, completed in just a couple hours.

And best of all, now I’m allowed to turn on the lights!

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