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Should You Consider LED Interior Lights?

Bright LED interior lights on a car. Replacing your car's interior lights with new LEDs is a great way to brighten things up.

A lot of new cars are showing up with LED interior lights instead of incandescent bulbs. Should you upgrade your existing vehicles’ interior lighting?
LED interior lights
Retrofitting certain components is a great way to bring an older vehicle into the modern age. And the fewer things you envy in newer vehicles, the less likely you are to give in to that envy and start committing to a new round of car payments. So spiffing up what you already have makes economic sense beyond the upgrade itself.

It’s Up to You!

For some, this is going to be strictly a matter of personal taste and it will come down to that cool yet intense bluish light that LEDs give. If you love the look and just have to have it, good news! It’s an easy upgrade. If you prefer the warmer, more yellowish light from incandescent bulbs, also good news! You don’t have to change.

That leaves you — on the fence. You could go either way. You don’t hate either type. You don’t love either type. You’re practical. In fact, you’d like some facts to back up all of this emotion.

Again, good news! We just happen to have some.

LEDs vs. Incandescent Bulbs

The biggest advantage of LED interior lights is a long life. Some studies show LEDs last as much as 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. It’s a myth that they don’t dim over time as incandescent bulbs do, but that happens a lot further down the road — we’re measuring that in decades.

Since we’re talking about the long term here, this is a good time to note that, yes, LEDs cost more than incandescent bulbs do. But remember — they last up to 25 times longer. Especially if you plan on keeping your car for a long time, LEDs are less expensive in the long run.

Compared to other types of bulbs, LEDs are efficient. As much as 90% of the energy an incandescent bulb uses is wasted as heat. The vast majority of the energy fed into an LED produces just one thing — light. That’s because, in an LED, electrons flow to create photons and very little heat is generated by photons.

And LEDs are configurable. Don’t like that bright, bluish light? The very nature of LEDs makes it possible to change the type of light they emit. So you can buy LEDs that will reproduce the warmer light you’re used to from incandescent bulbs, if that’s what you want — or a virtually limitless range of colors and intensities (which can be great for accent and ambient lighting in your car).

A Modern Touch

If it sounds like the facts stack up in favor of LEDs, it helps to remember that the incandescent bulb is a 140-year-old technology. It took a while to top it, but LEDs have. Changing out your old incandescent courtesy bulb for an LED one will go a long way to not only making things brighter on the inside, but also giving your old car a modern feel.

Check out all the electrical system products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on LED interior lights, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Mike Hagerty View All

Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and Previous outlets have included KFBK and in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and

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