Improved Trunk Lighting

Improved Trunk Lighting

A fun project is adding more LED lighting in the trunk. The project took less than 90 minutes, and cost less than $45 in parts. For detailed step by step instructions and photos:

This shows the before and after views.

jat | February 10, 2013

Nice writeup, thanks.

jat | February 10, 2013

Jeez, @nickniketown, give it a rest. If you don't want the car because it doesn't have door pockets and the lighting isn't as bright as you want, then don't buy it. I am sure the people waiting for their car will be happy to get theirs one car earlier.

rlpm | February 10, 2013

+1 jat | February 10, 2013

Actually, I think the Tesla has better lighting than most cars, including my Lexus. Still that's not saying a lot, since most cars lighting is quite poor.

The Tesla has 3 trunk lights at different directions and if the carpet was white (not a good idea), it would be fairly reasonable. It's really hard to get enough light in any car when the entire trunk area is black.

That said, I've always wanted a nice bright trunk and this project did the trick. I'm sure it's overkill for most, but it's just making a cool car even better.

jat | February 10, 2013

@Frank2 - yeah, my previous cars tended to have just one bulb in a corner of the trunk, which did very little to light up the whole thing. For me, the Model S trunk has plenty of light, thought the frunk is a bit dark.

Brian H | February 10, 2013

"My eyes are dim, I cannot see;
I have not brought my specs with me!"

Us oldies appreciate the extra lumens.

nickjhowe | February 10, 2013

+1 @Frank2. Will try this next weekend.

nickjhowe | February 10, 2013

BTW - I'm not that great at soldering, so shelled out an extra $8 for four LED-to-female DC connectors that just clip to the LED light strip: | February 10, 2013

I also have some of the LED strip connectors, and it's likely they'll work fine (I've used them on other projects at home). I was a bit concerned with the wide temperature ranges the car encounters and vibration that the connector might not make a good connection in the long term. Perhaps the best is to use them, and if it fails sometime later then solder the wires. They are really easy to use!

nickjhowe | February 10, 2013

@Frank2 - you might want to add my Dash Cam install to the modifications list on TeslaTap:

nickjhowe | February 10, 2013

Good points. Not sure how many meters of LEDs I'd melt trying to solder the wires. For me that will be a last resort. :-) | February 11, 2013

Thanks for suggestion of the the dash-cam. I've added the video camera/recorder category to our modifications list, and it's related page has a link back to your installation thread.

strengthcoach4 | February 11, 2013

I like the idea of the connector. What do you plug into the female end? Will the 6' male 2.1mm CCTV cable plug into it?

sthornton | March 12, 2013

I used an inexpensive LED light (
and used velcro to fasten it to the underside of the parcel shelf ledges. It stays put, easy to reach "on" button and creates enough task light for most things. It's also a portable flashlight. (let's see if I can upload a photo....)


Brian H | March 13, 2013

There is no upload. You can insert the URL in this HTML:
<img src="URL" width="600">

JoeH | February 16, 2014

Anyone come up with a way to add lighting for those of us who didn't get the interior lighting and therefore don't have the trunk lights to splice into?

J.T. | February 16, 2014

I use the flashlight on my phone. | February 16, 2014

@mudphud - I'm 95% sure all cars include the truck lights that you can splice into. They were not part of the optional lighting package. Please check and let me know on your car. Two trunk lights are at the bottom on each side.

yamdandd | February 16, 2014

i do this installing lights in my ceiling at home all the time, but this sounds a bit risky playing with electronics on an e-car. So, I'll just opt for a cool motion sensor 8-bulb light strip with double-sided tape mounted discreetly and strategically to the hatch. I certainly don't want to void my warranty playing around. | February 16, 2014

Tesla like most car companies will not void the warranty for additions you make, so long as it doesn't damage something. Even should you damaged something, in those cases, you should only expect to pay for the damaged part and related labor as it still doesn't void the entire warranty. Many of us have added all sort of stuff to the car (as I tend to for any car).

That said, you're motion sensor light module solution should work just fine.

redacted | February 16, 2014

I put Rubbertite floor mats in the frunk and trunk. Bright yellow. Brightens the place considerable.

2050project | February 16, 2014

Looks like an aftermarket DIY kit is being created for trunk (and frunk) lighting too:

JoeH | February 16, 2014

@TeslaTap - there definitely are no lights in the side walls of my trunk. I spent a while in there looking for another way of doing it. I even partially disassembled the lining in the side of the trunk. There is a huge bundle of wires on the passenger side with a couple of smaller bundles going into plugs, but having no idea what those go to, I can't really just tap into them. There is a little access panel on the driver side that goes to a very heavy gauge wire that is probably hooked into main battery pack instead of the 12 v system so that didn't seem feasible. There is a single LED in the door of the trunk immediately adjacent to the manual release for the trunk but I could not figure out how to get that open. I considered hooking into the rear dome lights but that would have required taking apart most of the interior roof lining. I did peak behind the lining at those lights and the wiring going into the rear dome lights are very tight. Would have a hard time accessing enough wire to put on a quick splice connector.

diegoPasadena | March 15, 2014

I bought the LEDs you mentioned and installed an LED strip following your instructions (thanks, BTW!).
However, it got so hot within a few minutes that the glue melted and the strip fell off. How did you avoid that? I think the LEDs are supposed to run at 12V and the car's voltage is over 14V - which probably accounts for the heat. Any ideas? | March 15, 2014

@mudphud - I went over to the factory showroom last weekend and confirmed that the lower two rear LED trunk lights only are included with the optional premium lighting package. You can even feel and see the punch-outs if you look carefully on each side where the lights would go if they were present. Prior to about August 2013, they were on all cars.

Never ever tap into any orange wires - these are the high-voltage wires! The question of the hour is if Tesla uses the same wiring harness for cars with and without the premium lighting package. I'm guessing there is at least a 50% chance that it is the same, which means there could be the power connector behind the punch-out. To find out, either you'd need to disassemble the side panel (not easy), or perhaps carefully cut out the punch-out and look to see if you can find a two pin connector (black) that is loose. In other areas, I've noticed Tesla tapes the unused connector & wires to the wire bundle, likely to keep it from rattling around (smart). I'm not sure the punch-out hole is large enough to find the connector and wires if they are tapped up. Good luck! | March 15, 2014

@diegoPasadena - The LEDs should not get hot! Something is wrong - either the LED strip is not a 12v strip, the voltage is too high (14 volts should be ok on the 12v strip), or the LED strip itself is manufactured wrong or damaged.

Do all the individual LEDs in the strip light up? If not, it may indicate one of the LEDs is shorted, causing the remaining LEDs within the triad to run far hotter (and they will not last long either). As a note - Every 2" or so has 3 LEDs in series along with a resistor. If two LEDs are significantly brighter, the third may be shorted within that triad.

One last thought, the LED strips I've used on many projects use a 3M adhesive (the pull-away paper shows 3M). If your strip is using a non-3M adhesive, it might not be as effective. I doubt this is the case, but 3M seems to make the best adhesives.

Let us know if you find the cause.

diegoPasadena | March 15, 2014

Thanks for your quick reply.
I used a little more of the strip than you - about 8" = 12 LEDs. They are all equally bright. I used the pre-wired ends of the roll and just cut off a piece from each end. I hooked them up to a 12 V power supply that I ordered with the LEDs, and the 8" strips still got up to about 120˚, but with the 14V they were at 130˚ within a few minutes.
I know that I'm not going to leave the trunk open that long, but this is way too warm for comfort.

The full 5 meter strip, hooked up to the same power supply only became hot on the end where I applied the power, lukewarm in the middle and didn't heat up much at all at the opposite end, even though all LEDs appeared equally bright.
I'm not sure what to make of it.

There is 3M backing on the strip. | March 16, 2014

I didn't have my car to test yesterday (it was being used in a TV show shoot), but it's back and I just checked it. The LED strips run totally cool - about the same temperature as when they are off.

My next guess is LED strip you bought was manufactured wrong - perhaps the wrong resistors were used so that the current is way too high. I've used these strips (different types) in a number of applications, and they always run cool. The fact that part of the length is hot, while the other end is cool sort of indicates there is some problem with the strip.

If you have a meter, I'd check the current against what the manufacturer states (it's usually stated as amperage per foot). I'm almost certain you'll find it way above the stated level.

NKYTA | March 16, 2014

@Tap, ah, so that was you! :-)

Do share the info on when it airs, when you can... | March 16, 2014

Yep, I'm always up for something new. I think the TV show will appear in May, but it's on Brazilian TV (in Portuguese). We don't get the stations here in the USA. I'm hoping to get some stills from the production company, and will create a thread if I get them. | March 16, 2014

@diegoPasadena - I just thought of a more likely reason for the strip to run hot. One or more of the resistors (a tiny black square) is likely placed 90 degrees off, so that it's shorted out. This is a manufacturing assembly defect. It means the LEDs are running at a very high current (and will not last long).

The current measurement I described earlier would confirm this. | March 16, 2014

Also I strongly recommend not using them in your car until it's fixed. The trunk lighting on the Tesla is a switched circuit. I'd be concerned about blowing out the switching circuitry if drawing too much current.

diegoPasadena | March 17, 2014

This has become a fairly specific thread. Should we continue it somewhere else or is it of general interest? | March 17, 2014

Sorry -I'm sure few are interested in the problem. Anyone is welcome to contact me directly to continue this at:

I don't like to publish my email, but I can switch over to email through that contact us link. It all goes to me anyway.

Hans Peter Endal | August 26, 2014

Hi, solution for JoeH:
My P85 was not delivered with the extra lights either - only one in the trunk door. However, the cable connectors for the two extra lights (not mounted) were behind the inner side wall panels. If you demount the trunk door shelter you get access (you press the door shelter upwards - it is only locked with 4 plastic clips). Inside each corner - behind the wall panels is a black connector with two cables: Black (ground) and red/white (+12V). The cables are taped close to the main cable bundle. I took current from theese connectors through a cable behind side wall panel, and mounted a LED strip with 3M glue under the shelf brackets, one each side. This lightened up the whole trunk, and goes on/off together with the light in the trunk door.

akikiki | August 26, 2014

@Hans Peter Endal, The rear truck light is the same lamp as the lamp used on the underside of each door. These are called puddle lights. You can buy them for $12.50 through your Service Center.

And if you pull the factory lamp connectors out from behind the inner side wall panels, you can plug the new puddle lamps in to the rear of your trunk and have the same trunk lights as other cars.

All this is documented in detail on under modifications.

GGinSD | September 8, 2014

Before trying this, I bought a motion sensor LED light on Amazon. $15 and works well. It comes with a self adhesive on one side. I put the rough side of velcro strip on which sticks to the carpeted liner in the trunk. I moved it to different places in the trunk when it was dark to find the best location. Major improvement. Does not come on unless I open the trunk. Option for those who might be nervous about wires tapped. Side benefit is the light pulls off in case you need a flashlight.

Brian H | September 8, 2014

Is it powered by a 18650?

ShawWellPete | September 9, 2014

@GGinSD - that looks great, I'll be getting one when my MS arrives.