How to Install a LED Light on a License Plate |
The use of LEDs is quickly taking over the vehicle lighting replacement aftermarket. Consumers have their pick of many options for rear vehicle brake lights and license plate replacement lighting. The easiest light to upgrade to an LED for a DIY project is the rear license plate lighting. Since the license plate bulb does not directly affect the safety of the vehicle, it is a good place to start for a first-time LED project
Instructions 1 Switch on the vehicle's lights and visually inspect the rear license plate light bulb to verify the wiring is properly working.
2 Turn off the vehicle's lights. Remove the key from the ignition.
3.Remove the existing license plate light bulb.
4 Turn on the vehicle's lights. Place the negative (COM) lead of a digital multimeter in the base of the empty light bulb base. Place the positive lead from the multimeter in the opposite side of the light bulb base. Set the multimeter to test DC voltage and take a reading. Most vehicles are designed with license plate lighting with 12 volts.
5 Turn off the vehicle's lights. Cut the rear license plate light wiring at the light bulb base.
6 Calculate resistor size. The forward voltage and forward current specifications for the LED are needed. Look for these values on the manufacturer's website. Subtract the LED forward voltage from the supply voltage to get the voltage drop. Divide the voltage drop by the LED forward current value. Round up to the nearest standard resistor size.
7 Connect the resistor to the positive lead from the license plate wiring using a crimp connector. Either side of the resistor is acceptable since there is no positive or negative lead on a resistor.
8 Connect the positive lead of the LED to the other side of the resistor using a crimp connector. The LED positive side is the longer lead.
9 Connect the negative lead of the LED to the negative lead from the license plate wiring. The LED negative side is the shorter lead.
10 Place heat shrink wrap or electrical tape around exposed metal in the LED circuit protecting the LED from a short circuit.
11 Place the LED inside the rear license plate light housing. Squeeze some silicone caulk to fill in the opening where the LED wiring enters the light housing.
Tips & Warnings Most small high-intensity LEDs have a forward voltage of approximately 3.4 volts and a forward current specification of 25 mA.
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