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.


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.


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


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.


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


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


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:


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


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!