Changing the Color of the HVAC Controls

This was pretty easy. Because I have an EX with manual transmission, I had to follow these steps:
  1. Remove subwoofer cover
  2. Disconnect harness and remove subwoofer
  3. Remove shifter knob:
    • Push boot down to clear key at base of knob collar
    • Unscrew knob
  4. Push out shifter boot bezel from below
  5. Remove radio/HVAC/shifter surround
  6. Disconnect harness and remove HVAC control assembly

On the bench, I removed the control rings by prying at the three points corresponding to the inner attachment clips (Figure 1). The mechanism underneath has a fiberoptic protuberance (Figure 2) that illuminates the red pointer on the ring. This makes it easy to align the ring for reassembly.   
Figure 1
Figure 2

Then I pried off the front covers. The fan speed and outlet selector faces have blue-green filters (Figure 3); the temperature blend control has a blue-and-red filter. I replaced the blue-green filters with rubylith (Figure 4).   
Figure 3
Figure 4

The lower buttons (recirc, AC, rear defog) are removed by prying from behind and below on each side (Figure 5). Behind each button is a blue-green filter (Figure 6). I replaced these with rubylith (Figure 7); in this case, I left the rubylith on its clear carrier.

Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 7

Each control has three light sources (Figure 8): the large incandescent bulb (79629-S3V-A01) that illuminates the front cover [1]; a 0.84W LED used for the "on" indicator [2]; and the small incandescent bulb (9629-SCV-A01) that illuminates the lower control button [3]. The incandescent bulbs are accessed from behind the main circuit board. The LEDs are soldered to the individual controls' sub-boards.

Figure 8

Figure 9 shows the result. This was the last step in my project to change the color of all the displays, including the instruments, radio, and RoadyXT XM receiver.
Figure 9

Thanks to Chubs12385 at Element Owners Club for motivating me to do this job with his how-to in this thread.

HVAC Control Bulbs

There has been considerable discussion on replacing the HVAC control bulbs with colored bulbs or LEDs. I haven't done this, but I think I can shed a little ... information on the problem.

Figure 10: Bulb comparison
  1. 79629-SCV-A01 "Bulb, Neo-Wedge (blue)," lower buttons (recirc, AC, rear defog)
  2. 79629-S3V-A01 "Bulb, Neo-Wedge," front covers (fan speed, temperature blend, outlet selector)
  3. -S3V- bulb removed from socket
  4. #74 instrument bulb
The -SCV- bulb is clear. Its socket post is white. Apparently it is referred to as "blue" because it illuminates the lower control buttons, all of which use blue-green filters.

The -S3V- blub is also clear, but its socket post is made of blue-gray plastic. Don't mistake this for the "blue" in the -SCV- bulb's description when ordering replacements.
Figure 10

Update, December 2008: Reportedly, 79629-SCV-A01 interchanges with a standard 7219 bulb (Radio Shack 272-1092) and 79629-S3V-A01 with an 8640 bulb. Illustrated list of all Element bulbs here.

More Links

Hondaguru04 on replacing HVAC control bulbs with LEDs

Hondaguru04 on installing LEDS in the instrument cluster

Flakita's post at Element Owners Club on replacing instrument bulbs with "Tri Star" LEDs