Introduction: LED Truck Lights
In this Instructable I will show you a low cost (under $20 depending on what you have laying around) easy DIY for wiring and installing LED strips inside the cab and in the bed of a truck. The information will work with almost all vehicles. I hopes this helps, I will try and answer any questions you have in the comments section. Enjoy
Step 1: Gather Your Parts.
Parts List: Cost: Under $20.00 US Dollar
Led strip. 16' @ $10.99 bought from amazon
Wire, should use black and red for easy identification. (had)
Zip ties. (had)
Adhesive zip tie anchors. (had)
Heat shrink tube. (had)
Spare fuse just incase. or buy an add a fuse kit from the auto parts store. (didn't need)
REED switch. $5.00 bought from amazon
Optional: DC 12v switch for inside the cab.
Tools: Volt meter Wire stripers, soldering iron.
Step 2: Make a Power Plan.
I wanted the LEDs to turn on when the cabin lights came on. (no physical switch). The easy way to this is to first bust out your vehicles owners manual (this things amazing so much information), turn to the page with the fuse layout. You may have more then 1 fuse box, look for the one inside your vehicle. Find a electrical system/option your vehicles not using but is labeled as "Delayed accessory" this means when the vehicles not on there is no power to that system. Pull That fuse, Make sure you have a spare incase this doesn't go well the first time. Cut just enough of the plastic to solder a wire to. After your wire is soldered to your fuse, take a volt meter and figure out what side of the fuse socket is supplying power( Place the black lead to a exposed bolt for Negative). This is important for the fuse to function properly. Reinsert the fuse with the wire NOT on the side providing power. Check your work! with the vehicle off you should not have power, turn the key to ON and you should have 12+ volts. Its normal to have slightly more ~14v dc.
Step 3: Wireing and Stuff.
Measure and cut the LED strip to fit your needs. Then solder your positive and negative lead wires giving you enough wire to get all the way back to the fuse box. The LED strip should have indicators showing which side is Positive & Negative. Use Heat shrink tube to protect the solder points and give it that finished look. I wanted blue light so I raided the kids art supplies and got myself a blue marker. This worked better then I thought it would, however it only works with the coated LED strips exposed circuits it wont.
Step 4: Find a Place to Mount Them.
Using the zip ties and adhesive anchors mount the LED strips. I mounted mine under the dashboard. Run your wires with the strips you may have to find ways to run them behind the plastic trim pieces(mine all snap into place so I popped them off to make it easier).
Step 5: Connect the Wires
Now everything is in place and your wires are run, Cut off any extra length of wire and connect all of your red wires. I soldered mine but you can use common wire connectors. Heat shrink tube was used to keep everything protected and clean. Black wires can be attached to any bare metal part of the vehicles body like a bolt (the body is the negative terminal in a car). I used this bolt because it has a wire clamp built right in! just loosen stick the wire in there and tighten.
Step 6: Is This Thing On? Hows It Look?
So using the delayed accessory fuse position, now your lights turn on when you insert the key. A switch is just as easy, add the switch in between the power and LEDs, and mounting point for the switch.
Step 7: Why Stop There?
You have all the stuff out may as well light the inside of your truck bed too! Same steps as before except I used an always on fuse so I don't need the key in to have power. In the bed I mounted the LEDs to the underside of the rail of my bed cover. I installed a REED switch because there waterproof and automatic. Reed switches use magnets to open and close a circuit. I wired the switch to the inside of the truck bed in the gap between the bed and tailgate running the wire behind the tail light. Then mounted the magnet on the tailgate so no wires needed to be run through the tailgate itself. I also used a plug connection so if I need to remove my bed cover I don't have to cut the wires. I sprayed the switch with flex seal for added protection of the connections. These have been so helpful!
So power goes Fuse>REED switch>Plug connector>LEDs