Vanagon – interior LED lighting update

In this post I described installing some led strip lighting and dimmer switches. During the install I smoked one of the dimmer switches so I wired both strips to the one controller and lived with it until I ordered another switch. Those dimmer switches were inline units and I spent some time milling out a kind of mounting plate for them. The more I looked at this kludge the less I liked it. It didn’t help that a couple of friends were less than enthusiastic about it, despite my glee at actually being able to make the thing. Looking around I found a better solution, this dimmer switch. All it does (capacitance touch method) is turn light on and off and dim them. The previous switches had additional flashing and flicker settings which really are useless in this application ( I thought perhaps the flicker setting would mimic candle light – ha! was I wrong).

The new switches come with 5.5 mm barrel connectors so I also ordered up some adapters so that I could attach wire pairs. I installed the switches today and I have to say they are a big improvement over the other ones. One touch turns the light on or off (and the light ramps up and down with the on and off touch – a small feature but very cool), and holding your finger on the switch dims down then back up. No moving parts, its all to do with capacitance (David B. needs to explain this to me).

No points for guessing where the makers got their design influence from.


The male and female 5.5 mm barrel to wire adapters.


The wires go here 🙂


Adapters on the switch leads.


The switches come with a small square of 3M adhesive backed Velcro. Makes them dead easy to mount, but not dead easy to get two of them perfectly aligned.


Addendum: I just measured the current draw of the new switches. When turned off my Do Wattson shows 0.00 A. When both main cabin strips turned on the meter shows 670 mA. This is better than the old switches that did consume a little power when off (somewhere under 10 mA) and when switched on the system drew 750 mA.

  1. #1 by famillysyncro on March 29, 2013 - 8:53 pm

    Nice job Alistair

    I like those, they are so small. Adapters looks good too, would be usefull for a lot of stuff as a lot of led strip are coming with plugs and I usually cut them….


    • #2 by albell on March 29, 2013 - 10:37 pm


      they seem to be good switches. The touch effect/action to switch on and off works very well.



  2. #3 by nigel on March 31, 2013 - 7:06 am

    Very cool looking. I keep seeing interior lighting upgrade and it has me chomping at bit to get out there and do something. Problem is so many cool mods keep happening. Question where didvyouvget the dimmers, i am dure i can google them but also where did the funky barrel adspters come from and are they just called that?

  3. #5 by famillysyncro on March 31, 2013 - 2:56 pm

    I am surprised about the 10% gain from those switches, this is nice.
    I should take a measurement from mine with dimmer and without to check the “waste” from those.


    • #6 by albell on March 31, 2013 - 4:16 pm


      I was pleased that the new switches actually switched off too. MInd you the old ones were hardly power hogs. I can recommend the new switches (no long term data though), they look good and they work really well.



  4. #7 by kevin p gilleran on May 26, 2013 - 11:35 pm

    I have a 91 van and unfortunately the dimmer portion of the headlight switch has burned out and I cannot find a replacement headlight switch. I had planned to update all of the instrument panel lights with LED’s and I wonder if I could interrupt the power to the old dimmer and use the
    iTouch as a repair upgrade. Any thoughts?

    • #8 by albell on May 27, 2013 - 7:29 am


      Yes, sure, I bet it would work well. Its a good idea.



      • #9 by kevin p gilleran on May 27, 2013 - 2:42 pm

        What do you think would be the easiest to do? Land a new power wire and ground and then intercept the older dimmer circuit wire after the switch to pick up the cluster and panel lights? if I were to do this would I also need to put a fuse into the power side of the wiring or can I piggy back onto an existing fuse?

      • #10 by albell on May 27, 2013 - 3:52 pm

        I’ll have a look at the wiring diagrams. I know later (90/91?) models had a slightly different wiring set up for dash lights/switch



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