who has ever had a pickup truck with a toolbox, camper-top, or a bed cover has
experience the pain staking task of trying to retrieve something out of the
back after dark. While most trucks now a day have a “Cargo Light” to light up
the bed many toolboxes, camper tops, and bed covers block this light preventing
this area from being lit. Unless you have spent a lot of money on one of these
with a built in light; this project is for you! With this innovation you will
now be able to see these dark areas with the flip of a switch eliminating the
fumbling around and hurting yourself on a nail, screw, hatchet, or any of the
numerous other items you may have. All for under $20.
Step 1: Materials
- ·12 Volt Led Strip ( not to exceed 16. ft / 5 m)
- ·A 12 Volt switch (you can use your existing
cargo lamp switch if desired)
- ·Soldering iron and solder (or other preferred
method of connecting wires)
- ·Wire (I will be using 20 gauge)
- ·12 Volt SPST relay (if wiring two switches)
- ·2sided adhesive tape if not on led strip
- ·Led strip connectors (optional)
- ·“Butt Connectors” and inline wire connectors
- Cleaning supplies (soap, water, rag)
- Drill for mounting switch
- guide wire (I used piece of electric fencing, you can use 20-16 Ga. solid wire)
Step 2: Step 1: Measure and Cut Led Strip Accordingly
Make measurements and cut led strips accordingly
remember to connect wires to the small positive and negative sections on the strip after you cut.
You may need to cut the rubber coating on the strip to access the connections
Step 3: Step 2: Mounting the Strips
Adhere led strips to desired location making sure that the location is flat and clean beforehand
Note: Try out different spots before committing to placing the strips to one spot.
if you have trouble with the tape, just use superglue ontop of the tape
Step 4: Step 3: Wire Strips Togeather
securely wire the led strips together in parallel (red to red and Black to black)
Step 5: Step 4: Run the Wires
Run wire from the location of the switch to the location of
the led strips allowing ample extra wire for making connections and joining
wires together. Cab to bed. I went out the steering column and ran along the frame following wires that go to the tail lights then used a guide wire to get the wire up to the front left corner of the bed. For going from one side to the other I went through the back of the bed.
only the positive wire needs to run from the switch to the led’s because in a
car the frame is the ground location. This means that you can wire the black
wire to the frame of your Truck.
Step 6: Step 5: Installing the Switch
Install your switch (if applicable). This may require using
a screw driver to remove panels and housings. Do this by wedging a flat head
screw driver anywhere you can and pry the panel out. Most should pop right off.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO BREAK THE PLASTIC HOUSING WHEN DRILLING HOLES.
Step 7: Step 6: Wire It All Togeather
Appropriately wire the strips to the switch and relay as
follows. The blue circuit represents a circuit where the lights will turn on
when the cargo lamp is turned on. The red circuit represents a circuit where
the lights turn on individually. If you prefer one or the other, follow that
circuit leaving out the relay. If you prefer both, wire as shown.
Step 8: Step 7: Turn It On
Flip the switch, turn it on and never fumble around in the dark again.
Attached are some before and after photos from this project. Due to weather I was un able to put lights in the toolbox before I took these photos but I will do that soon and upload pictures if possible. I plan to run the wires through one of the mounting screw holes in the toolbox (picture previously shown)
- ·You can mount your lights wherever you want to,
they can be on the side of the bed or on the underside of the side of the bed;
they could even be in the dead middle if you want. For me on the side provided
the most light without the lights being in the way.
- ·A SPDT relay can be used in the absence of a
SPST relay, as long as it is it is a 12V DC Relay
- ·Running wires to different locations is easier if
you run a larger piece of solid wire through the path you want to take (going
from start to end). Tape your electrical wire to your guide wire and pull your
guide wire back in turn pulling your electrical wires back.
- ·Look around your steering column for a location
to run your wire into your vehicle.
- ·Removing your toolbox/ bedcover/ campertop may
be helpful if possible.
- ·Please excuse my messy truck. It’s a work truck.
Step 9: Before and Afters
No Flash was used for any Photos.
If you have enjoyed this, please take time to go vote for it in the Glove box Gadget contest.
Cite/Disclaimer: Pictures of other vehicles were found on google and are included solely to help you visualize what your vehicle could look like after you complete this project. I would take the photos myself but I do not have a camper shell or bed cover.
Runner Up in the
Glovebox Gadget Challenge