More light around the Jeep

LED light bars on the sides and work light on the rear. A overhead console to switch them all

Overnight along Silverfields Road Exploring new territory is what we love to do, that includes spending the nights there. November last year, we camped along Silverfields Road south of Cobalt in Ontario. Sunrise was at 7:13am and Sunset at 4:52pm. We had five hours of darkness before it was time to sleep. Head lamps work great, but we need light for some basic tasks like, choping wood, prepareing food, setup shelter or just relax and have a glass of wine. It was clear that we needed something to light up the whole site.

Lights, heater, fan and recharge our gear all takes electricity. We don't use a portable power station. They will run out eventually. Adding solar panels is not an option either. The setup is not only expensive, but also very bulky.

Site setup with Honda Generator We bought a Honde Generator a few years ago that has a 12 volt car battery charger interface. We already carry gasoline with us, so this is the utlimate solution for our needs, including the camping trailer.
We spent several days on a camp site without electrical hookup. The generator allowed us to charge the trailer battery, our gear including the laptops that only charge on 110 volt. Best of all, we never had to worry that the fan in the trailer, the water pump or the lights would drain our battery. All camp grounds have a generator policy. Please respect the time windows where generators are permitted.

Overhead console
With more lights, we needed a way to turn them on and off. They have to work when the ignition is turned off. The switches have to be reachable from the front seats and from the Sleeping Platform. We decided to add an overhead panel between the front seats.

Overhead Panel To get the project started, we created a prototype with materials we already had in the gararage. The overhead console has six light switches and they are directly wired to the car battery.
We found the switches at SAYAL in Burlington. They carry an amazing inventory of electronic parts and the online ordering system makes it easy to find exactly what you need. All other parts we found in the garage. This project was likely below $20 not including the cables.
This panel holds the CB radio, the Emergency Rescue Knife with Seatbelt Cutter and Window Punch and coins for parking.

Connector The wires are from Princess Auto, they often have them on sale. We used the standard crimp connectors. They are exposed to the rain and need a wiggle every once in a while. We found Waterproof Electrical Connector Plug with cable on AliExpress. We have time and can wait the 8 weeks for delivery. We were not able to find anything even close to this locally.
Until we have all the cables properly installed, they still rattle a bit on the plastic and may poke out.

LED Bars 50cm
Finding 12 volt LED lights from a local vendor was either very expensive or not what we had in mind. We found light bars on DHgate for $2.74. The "5630 Led Bar U Groove Lights, 50cm Waterproof 36LEDs Rigid Strip, DC 12V LED Tube with PC Cover", we bought 10 of them. Most of these parts, toys and gadgets come from China anyway. We don't buy from Amazon as we documented in We Need Stuff.
They are 12 volt and use 4 watt. This is about 0.33 Amps. This is important. A healthy car battery has lots of reserve and can power equipment for several hours. We can draw 5 Amps without a problem. Running one of the LED light strips for 6 hours is 2 Amps (or 2 LED for 3 hours is the same). The basics to this calculation are documented in the Master Plan.

LED on the roof rack
Light bar on roof platform We installed the ARS Pro Rack some years ago, attaching light bars to the frame is actually very simple. We know that the LED bars are exposed to branches and twigs, we have plenty of scratches on the doors already. To protect the bars, they are mounted on a aluminium angle. We hope this keeps them unharmed.

LED lights on the rack, inside above tailgate and the reverse outdoor work light are all on. They light up the area around the Jeep.

LED lights on

LED in the rear cargo area
Better light inside the Jeep is another much needed improvement. A headlamp works great, but sometimes we just need lots of ight to prepare food, get the sleeping gear arranged or read a map. We have plenty of LED bars and one is taped just above the rear entrance. The lights have the milky cover and they are very comfortable on the eyes.
We bought a 3M 5952 Black Acrylic VHB Foam Tape 1/2" that sticks to anything. Our solar panel on the trailer is actually attached with 4 strips, each about 2 inches. The LED bar is now attached with two one-inch strips and it won't go anywhere. The tape is insanely expensive, but man, it is worth it.
We connected the LED bar to the overhead panel. The ground wire is attached to the rear window wiper motor and the 12 volt cable is tucked away in the corner. We tried to feed it inside the hard top with the already existing wires, but gave up after a few failed attempts.

First published on March 27, 2021 Contact Us  Help