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Interior Ambient Lighting Kit Upgrade for Tesla Model 3/Y

Ambient lighting can significantly enhance the look of a car’s cabin, but besides adding aesthetic value, it also has psychological and functional benefits. The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y’s minimalist interiors can use a good dose of ambient lighting. However, the last thing you want to do is make your beautiful Tesla look like a Christmas tree on wheels.  

Some aftermarket lighting kits are universal, while others are designed specifically for the Tesla Model Y and Model 3. You can install most lighting kits by tapping the wires to the car’s light switch. Other kits work with a smartphone app, and some come with a separate control box. 

Continue reading if you want to enhance your Tesla’s interior with ambient lighting. This article will cover the benefits of ambient lighting and the different aftermarket options available. You’ll also learn if this is a project you can take on yourself, in case you’re on the fence about installation.

Why You Should Get Ambient Lighting for Your Tesla Model 3/Y

Interior lighting in cars has come a long way from the dome light. These days, ambient lighting is standard on almost every luxury car, and it’s a feature that’s starting to trickle down into more mainstream automobiles.  

Ambient lighting is the subtle illumination of specific areas to equalize light in darker spots or create a particular mood. The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y have illuminated footwells and door pockets, but there are many more areas where you can apply ambient lighting to enhance the look and feel of the interior.

Here are other places in the car’s interior where you can install ambient lights:

  • Across the dashboard
  • The center console
  • Around the cupholders, speakers, and air vents
  • Inside the door handles and door pulls
  • Under the seats
  • Behind the front seats

You can use ambient lighting in many places, but try not to overdo it.  Having too many lights or using too bright lights can be distracting. Maintaining a certain level of contrast also helps the lights stand out more instead of having every square inch of the interior glow. However, if you want to look like fish in an aquarium, that’s up to you.

The Benefits of Ambient Lighting in a Car

When done right, ambient lighting can make even the dullest interior look upscale. But ambient lighting is more than just a fad or a cosmetic upgrade. It actually has many benefits beyond simply showing off to your friends.  

Aesthetic Benefits of Ambient Lighting

We can’t begin discussing the practical benefits of ambient lighting before mentioning its aesthetic appeal. Like with most car upgrades, enhancing the car’s look is enough justification for most people.  

Ambient lights undeniably make any automobile’s interior more attractive and affects the vehicle’s perceived quality.

Functional Benefits of Ambient Lighting

Illuminating certain areas of a car’s interior has many functional benefits. Imagine not fumbling for what’s in the door pockets and center compartment. You won’t need a flashlight if your phone accidentally slips underneath the seats.

Ambient lighting also makes it easier to operate the vehicle and improves user orientation by making controls and levers less challenging to find.

Psychological Benefits of Interior Lighting

The most significant benefit of ambient lighting is how it lessens driver fatigue and increases spatial perception.  

According to cartrade.com, illuminating the car’s interior at night makes it feel bigger and more comfortable. Their article states that “psychologically, ambient lighting helps in giving drivers a sense of orientation and free space in an uptight cabin.”  

A study published by Luca Caberletti of the BMW Group involved exposing 31 participants to 12 different lighting scenarios to see its effect on the subjective perception of the drivers. The study concluded “that the advantages concerning space perception, functionality, and perceived interior quality were clearly stated (by the participants), even at low luminances.”

On the contrary, the study also showed that increasing the brightness did not positively impact perceived quality or functionality. In fact, excessive brightness served as a distraction and increased the chances of discomfort glare. According to the study, it’s best to keep the luminance under 0.1 cd/m2. 

Factors To Consider When Choosing an Ambient Lighting Kit for Your Tesla

Now that you’re convinced to get an interior ambient lighting kit for your Tesla, let’s discuss the factors you need to consider when selecting one.  

What You Want To Illuminate

Knowing which parts of the car’s interior you want to illuminate will determine the type of bulbs and the number of lights you need. Remember, the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y already have interior lights, which you can upgrade by simply replacing the bulbs with something brighter or a color temperature of your choice.

Below are the existing lights you can upgrade in the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y:

  • Footwell lights under the dashboard (passenger and driver side on premium variants only)
  • Door pocket lights
  • Dome lights
  • Puddle lamps under the doors
  • Trunk Light
  • Glove box light

Some aftermarket LED lights provide twice as much illumination as factory lights. However, if you want to take it a step further and add ambient lights to other areas of the car, you will need a separate light for each area, though some light strips can be cut and interconnected.  

There are also different types of lights, which may not suit the area you want to illuminate.

LED Strips

LED strips contain several small bulbs and are generally brighter than other interior lights. The light-emitting diode is not always easy on the eyes, but they do well in illuminating dark areas.  Hence, these lights are more suitable for dark areas like the footwells and underneath the seats.

LED strips should be concealed since they can serve as a distraction. You should merely rely on their glow to provide illumination.  

Optical Fiber

Optical fiber LED lights are not as bright but are more pleasing to the eyes. These lights do not provide as much illumination but can dramatically change the ambiance or mood of your car’s interior. You can install optical fiber lights between the gaps of your dashboard, around door sidings, and speakers.

Do You Want a Custom or OEM Look?

There are many universal ambient lighting kits available for your car. However, you can also opt for a kit made explicitly for your Tesla.  

Universal lighting kits are generally more affordable since they are mass-produced. Lighting kits for the Tesla Model Y and Model 3 are significantly more expensive. Still, you can be sure they will fit where they’re intended to without having to do any workarounds.

If you plan on purchasing a lighting kit specifically for a Model 3 or Model Y, make sure you get one according to your vehicle’s model year and variant to ensure compatibility. The center console of the Model 3 and Model Y was updated in 2021, and not all variants have the working footwell lights that some lighting kits require.  

Controls and Special Features

Many ambient lighting kits work with an app on your smartphone, allowing you to adjust settings for color, brightness, and light modes. Other lighting kits have a separate control module that works like a remote. You can mount the controller on your center console.

The most basic lighting kits are connected to the wiring of the park light switch, so they turn on and off together with your car’s lights.  

Some ambient lighting kits have unique features like a sound sensor or microphone, which allows the lights to change in sync with your music.

Voltage

You should select your interior ambient lighting kit depending on how you plan to connect it to your car’s electrical system. The lights must have the same voltage rating as the power source.  

A 12-volt lighting kit can be plugged into the cigarette lighter socket, while 5-volt lighting kits work with USB ports. Another option would be to have the lights hardwired using an inline fuse power wire, which may require professional help.

Cost

Ambient interior lighting kits are relatively inexpensive, especially for folks who drive a Tesla.  However, prices vary significantly since some kits cost less than twenty dollars while others cost over a hundred.  

The prices may vary due to features and the number of lights included in the kit, but try to avoid those in the lower end of the price bracket since they often have poor build quality and may not be as durable.  

The Best Lighting Kits Available 

At this point, you should have a better idea of what you want in an interior ambient lighting kit.  However, choosing the right one can still be an overwhelming task, given the vast number of options available. 

To help narrow down your search, below is a list of the best lighting kits available based on different categories.

Best Fiber Optic Ambient Lighting Kit

Car Led Interior Strip Light, 16 Million Colors 10 In 1 With 256 Inches Acrylic Fiber Optic, Multicolor Rgb Sound Active Automobile Atmosphere Ambient Lighting Kit Car Ambient Lights
The Aubeu Fiber Optic Lighting Kit (available on Amazon.com) is only one millimeter (0.04 in) thick, allowing you to easily install it between tight gaps throughout your car’s interior without sticking out like a sore thumb.

This lighting kit gives you 64 lighting modes and has a built-in microphone that allows the lights to match your music.  

You can operate this lighting kit through a mobile app or a control box, and it plugs directly into your 12-volt socket for easy installation.  

Best LED Strip Ambient Lighting Kit

Opt7 Aura Pro Car Interior Lighting Kit Bluetooth Smart-Color Led Strip - 4Pc - App Enabled- Ios &Amp; Android
The OPT7 Aura Pro LED Strip Lighting Kit (available on Amazon.com) can be easily operated by a mobile app that allows you to access the different light modes and settings.

This kit has an inline fuse power wire and a 12-volt cigarette power adapter for easy installation. You can also connect this to your car’s door light to illuminate the interior each time you open the door.  

The Aura lighting strips are flexible enough to twist and bend to fit around different panels of your car’s interior.

Best Tesla-Specific Ambient Lighting Kit

Nestour 2021 2022 Tesla Model 3 Y Interior Car Neon Lights (Center Console+Dashboard+Seat Back+4 Foot Lights) With Matching Armrest Organizer, Tesla Ambient Lights, App-Controlled Rgb Led Strip Lights
The Nestour Ambient Lighting Kit (available on Amazon.com) was designed specifically for the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y (2021 and up).

Since this lighting kit was built explicitly for your car, you can rest assured that all the lights will fit accordingly. Knowing that you won’t have to worry about taking measurements and cutting the fiber optics incorrectly is a real bonus.

This kit includes lighting for your center console, dashboard, seat back, and foot space. It also comes with a patented armrest tray that neatly routes the wires and cables while giving your Tesla some added utility.

Installing Ambient Lighting Kits

Most lighting kits will not require professional help to install since they can easily connect to your car’s USB port or 12-volt socket. If you’re worried about how to mount the lights, many kits come with adhesives, cable ties, and prying tools, so you should have everything you need for a successful installation.

Another concern you might have is where to run the wires of the lighting kit.  You’ll be happy to know that it’s not difficult to conceal the cables since they can run beneath the car’s interior’s plastic panels and rubber seals.

Each lighting kit may have a different installation procedure, so it’s best to refer to the installation manual for more specific steps and precautions.  

The video below shows the installation of an ambient interior lighting kit on a Tesla Model 3. It also demonstrates how to operate the lights using an app and what the finished product looks like.

FAQs

Will an Ambient Interior Lighting Kit Upgrade Impact My Driving Range?

Lighting kits use LEDs that don’t require much energy to work. Even if you replace the existing interior lights with brighter LEDs, there will hardly be any impact on your car’s driving range.  

Will an Ambient Interior Lighting Kit Upgrade Void My Warranty?

Installing aftermarket accessories on your car will not automatically void the warranty.  The automaker has to prove the accessory caused a defect should they deny a warranty for such reasons.


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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting evspeedy.com. The goal of this site is to be a helpful resource for Tesla and EV owners as this is where my passion lies. I was a TSLA shareholder before the hype and still am. I also believe in Tesla’s speedy mission to accelerate the world to a sustainable future.