Piper Arrow Panel Lights Changeout PA28R

mandm

Pattern Altitude
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Display name:
Michael
This was a fun project, thanks to YouTube and a couple POA users I was able to get it done. Thank you!

Before
Difficult to see attitude indicator and manifold pressure, used my handy red flashlight while flying at night. Dome light was sporadically working.

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After
Able to read all of the instruments, very happy with the end result. The Hobbs meter does not have a light, is this normal? Also the master switch, fuel pump landing light etc do not have any light so it’s difficult to see which one is which at night. EGT light is working too, but the view is blocked by the right seat yoke in the image.

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The process
POA has a 10 photo limit otherwise I would have posted more photos. Hope this helps someone else looking to do the same. Remove the panel and twist and turn out the old bulbs, see those silver clips? Those easily fall behind the panel which will result in many %#&$ words trying to get it back in. Use your handy tweezers and take it slow so you don’t lose the bulb housing behind the panel. Luckily all of my panel housing bulbs were changed without issue. The panel plastic is easy to crack and likely you will have an oops, take it slow and be gentle.
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Look at that beauty
, test them before securing the panel back. Now if you loosen some ground wires in the process you might have to put those back first, I’m not sure. Keep a box to put all of your parts in as stuff will start falling everywhere and you’ll discover new screws even while loosing the ones you need.

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The panel bulbs are the easiest. The next part is the bulbs behind the fuel gauges. I removed that wood looking panel, which took a long time, only to discover those instruments cannot be moved and the bulbs have to be accessed invisibly from behind. Move your hand around and use a flashlight (headlamp works best) until you see yourself touching/playing with the bulb, it comes out easily, and the bulb is in pretty tight. You likely won’t be able to see much with your eyes, this is a touch and feel job and here’s an iPhone selfie pic of the bulb.

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This part was pretty easy too, there’s 4 bulbs to replace.

The hard part
The bottom left and right (two sides for double the trouble), and the reason it’s difficult is because of the non-removable landing gear knob, alt air knob (at least I think it’s non-removable), and of course other add-ons over the years that further secure the plastic, I didn’t want to unscrew everything so I tried to make enough room to access the space, while causing a couple cracks, oops, but as long as it’s small enough it will go right back in place.

The lost bulb
Just sitting there not allowing me to read the manifold pressure at night. It probably took me an hour or more to get this bulb back into place as it’s impossible to use your thumb and I had to use two fingers to fit it in.

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Hope this helps! & some questions
I also changed the red dome light which works nicely. I changed the white dome light too, but now I cannot turn it on. Does anyone know why? There are a couple grounding wires that I secured back and it worked while testing it. I’m not sure if both the red light and dome light won’t work at the same time? Also the red light I do not believe it is a red light, rather a white light with a red plate cover, there was also electrical? tape I imagine to prevent light seepage. Does anyone know what kind of tape it is? The red light is the most important for me and would randomly work before so I’m happy it’s working now, during the day I don’t need the white dome light but I would like to address it eventually. I did also notice that the white dome light was considerably bigger than the red dome light, also the white dome light cover is extremely difficult to remove and I cracked a little corner of it but it goes back up just fine.
 
Looks great!
Where did you get the bulbs?
And how do they behave when dimmed? As I know some LED's get kinda finicky when dimmed low.
 
Looks great!
Where did you get the bulbs?
And how do they behave when dimmed? As I know some LED's get kinda finicky when dimmed low.

Full brightness they were not too bright (as I thought they might be) but definitely I could tell my eyes did not fully adapt to night like they normally would. Dimming the lights works but depending upon the placement of the lights and your panel will affect the readability of the panel. On a recent flight I turned them down to about half and that was also ok so they dimmed ok. My main thing was wanting to easily read the attitude indicator as part of my scanning process and the manifold pressure gauge too, those stay bright and clear probably because of the plastic trapping the light better than the panel.
 
Hey mandm.....thanx for the detailed instructions and the great photos. This is the first time I've seen photos of the light bulb locations. All the youtube videos just talk about it with out actually showing the bulbs and their locations. I just bought my arrow and about to do the LED upgrade. Thanx again.

Do you think lining the back of the instrument panel cover with aluminum fail tape would help better distribute the light?
 
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Hey mandm.....thanx for the detailed instructions and the great photos. This is the first time I've seen photos of the light bulb locations. All the youtube videos just talk about it with out actually showing the bulbs and their locations. I just bought my arrow and about to do the LED upgrade. Thanx again.

Do you think lining the back of the instrument panel cover with aluminum fail tape would help better distribute the light?
It might, just try it with one gauge first to see how you like the results. I’m quite happy with it as is, I think over time maybe one of the lightbulbs was acting funny too, I think I pushed on the panel cover while in flight and then it was ok. You don’t want it too bright at night either as you’ll be looking outside and then at the panel, so you’ll want an easy transition with your scan.
 
You don’t want it too bright at night either as you’ll be looking outside and then at the panel, so you’ll want an easy transition with your scan.
Thanks for your write up and photos. You never did answer where you got the replacement bulbs from.

Over the years, I had thought that many of my panel lights were insufficient, but as you point out, you don’t need or want much light coming from any source for maximizing your nighttime light adaptation. So, turning the bright ones down may in fact be beneficial. Obviously, it you can’t see any particular gage, that has to be addressed.
 
Thanks for your write up and photos. You never did answer where you got the replacement bulbs from.

Over the years, I had thought that many of my panel lights were insufficient, but as you point out, you don’t need or want much light coming from any source for maximizing your nighttime light adaptation. So, turning the bright ones down may in fact be beneficial. Obviously, it you can’t see any particular gage, that has to be addressed.
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Part #: BA9S-W-120-12VAC (Qty: 20)
Bulb grease

As always, make sure this is ok with your mechanic.
 
So how has the white leds workout for you now that you have had time to fly it?
I flew my buddy's arrow out of West Virginia at night a month or 2 ago. The G275 blinded us climbing out, had to cover it with our hands. Once we got clear of the mountains I was able lower the light to almost nothing which was plenty of light.
 
So how has the white leds workout for you now that you have had time to fly it?
I flew my buddy's arrow out of West Virginia at night a month or 2 ago. The G275 blinded us climbing out, had to cover it with our hands. Once we got clear of the mountains I was able lower the light to almost nothing which was plenty of light.
I have a dimmer switch on the lights and it works out great, the maximum setting is a bit bright though.
 
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I have a dimmer switch on the lights and it works out great, the maximum setting it a bit bright though.
Is the dimmer switch stock to the airplane or did you have to get one to work with the LEDs?
 
Is the dimmer switch stock to the airplane or did you have to get one to work with the LEDs?
The dimmer switch is the rheostat that you roll up/down, typical to those in the PA28’s. I just used the one that was already there, which I’m thinking is the original one as I’ve seen it in a few PA28’s already.
 
The dimmer switch is the rheostat that you roll up/down, typical to those in the PA28’s. I just used the one that was already there, which I’m thinking is the original one as I’ve seen it in a few PA28’s already.
That may be the problem with an inability to dim enough with the LEDS. Those POTS were probably designed to function with the resistance of the standard bulbs. I would think extra resistance is needed in the circuit to provide substantial dimming if those original POTS are utilized.

Also, not all LEDS are quiet electronically and could provide interference with various equipment. YMMV
 
That may be the problem with an inability to dim enough with the LEDS. Those POTS were probably designed to function with the resistance of the standard bulbs. I would think extra resistance is needed in the circuit to provide substantial dimming if those original POTS are utilized.

Also, not all LEDS are quiet electronically and could provide interference with various equipment. YMMV
There’s no issue with the rheostat, it dims very low to very bright, I do not set it to full brightness, and it gets very dim so there is a wide range of brightness available under the original rheostat.
 
Also, not all LEDS are quiet electronically and could provide interference with various equipment. YMMV
So what style or brand would not interfere? What I have found with my LED panel lights is that they dim slightly with each flash of the strobes. FYI, my dimmer is designed specifically for LED bulbs.
 
True, I never thought about that. Sometimes I have random radio issues but usually only after flying through rain. Connected to the LED’s? I’m not sure then…
 
I tried installing LEDs. Was unhappy with low light level performance. Re-installed the incandescents. (PA28-181)
 
I tried installing LEDs. Was unhappy with low light level performance. Re-installed the incandescents. (PA28-181)
Same here, was un happy with the light distribution in one application of a led bulb on a cessna. I found a red led that was far superior of that of the original red painted bulbs though for another application.

Right after I had a new panel put in I had un bearable static in my new radio. Took it back across town to the avionics shop and within 5 minutes they found a overhead white led I installed in the interior on the day before. I forgot to turn it off the first night I used it. DOHHH!!

I still kept the led in the overhead white light as it is loads better than the yellow stock one. I only use it for unloading the plane when the engine and panel are off. If I hear static now I know I forgot to turn off the overhead.

The red light for the overhead that lights the panel on a cessna I could never find the the right led for it. The stock bulb works best there IMO.
I have almost zero white light in my face at night, white messes with my night vision. The GPS is the lightest in my cockpit and I turned it down since this pictures was taken.
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