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Old 04-29-2021, 10:12 PM #1
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Cargo Area Red/White Light Mod

The cargo area in our vehicle is dark.



Yes, I put in ArcLight LEDs and it helps a bit, but it's still dark-ish. Also, I often sleep in the back, so I wanted some lights I could turn on and off that would be useful when the rear hatch is closed. Further, I wanted red and white - I've set up my vehicle so that I can have either or on the vehicle exterior (roof rack lights), so I wanted the same inside. Finally, I wanted lights that were always available, regardless of ignition being on or off.

So I used two B Designs rock lights with switches (one red, one white) & some Rago molle panels and things turned out pretty well. (The Rago panels come with a spot to mount the lights, but I am sure you could add a bracket if you had some other brand.



The first thing to figure out was how to run the wiring. @ElectroBoy gave me a bunch of good ideas, but in the end I decided to run power from the engine compartment. I already had a fuse block wired up there with constant power, plus it was a pretty simple setup so if something went wrong later, it would be easy to debug.

Second thing was where to go through the firewall. I've not punched holes in any of the bigger grommets that people often use because I'm trying not to do anything I can't easily reverse. After some time on the forum, I spotted a post where someone figured out that you could run a wire beside the washer fluid line where it enters the cabin on the passenger side. It was pretty simple - take out the door sill plate and the passenger kick plate, then run a coat hanger carefully through beside the washer fluid line ...



... tape on the wire, and pull it back through. Presto.



I used 20 G wire (the BD rock lights have very low draw) and used some sandpaper to round off the end of the coat hanger so that I didn't accidently ding the washer fluid line.

And put on some wire sleeving.



The next step was to figure out how to get the wire to the back of the truck. Like everyone, I ran it along the wire underneath the door sill plates on the passenger side.



But then you run into how to get it up into the back and run to either side of the vehicle. One option is to remove tray on top of the wheel well and fish it through there. But it turned out there was something much easier. You can take the same coat hanger, and just run it up from the passenger door area and it will emerge underneath the carpet just to the side of the plastic that covers the wheel well area. Super direct route, no bumping into or binding on anything.



Tape the wire on, pull it through, and you are done. From there, it's easy to tuck it under the plastic so it's protected / out of the way ...



... and then run it down beside the foam under the carpet.



Note, I had taken the sill plate off in the cargo area off before running the wire to the back. You can see that in the photo above.

When you put the carpet back down, it's nice and safe and well out of the way of anything. Turned out to be much easier than I was worried it would be.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:13 PM #2
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OK, with power run to the back, I had to get the lights wired. I soldiered each light to a long piece of wire, wrappted it in sheathing, and then screwed the light onto the rack. Then I pulled the top trim away from the pillar slightly (you don't need to fully detach it - just the top few clips) and took out the plastic piece where the tail light bulb access is. That allowed me to run the wires from the lights down to the back of the truck where I had taken out the cargo area sill plate.





I then brought the three wires together - power from the front and one light on either side - together in the middle and soldierd them together.







I used some heat shrink tubing over top of the join to ensure that nothign came apart over years of travel.

I then put wire loom over all three wires for the length of the back of the truck.



It turns out that there is a PERFECT corridor where the carpet clips into the frame where the wire loom fit nicely - you can see in the green arrows below - which provides further protection and will keep everything from moving around.



Then it was time to zip tie everything up ...





... run the power wire through a loom against the firewall to keep it safe and out of the way ...



... and run the wire to the fuse block.



Done!

White when you want white ...





... and red when you want red.





I'm quite pleased at how everything turned out, and will be heading on a week-long trip to eastern OR to try it out.

Last edited by rageandlove; 04-29-2021 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:38 PM #3
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just curious. Why red?
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Old 04-29-2021, 11:16 PM #4
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Originally Posted by 1jzgte View Post
just curious. Why red?
I do a fair amount of dispersed camping, so places where there's no light once the sun goes down. I find the red light doesn't mess up my night vision nearly the same way that white light does.
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Old 04-29-2021, 11:21 PM #5
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Red is the way to go. I used some red rock lights for my rear cargo. I have it wired to a switch that works off a fuse panel I ran to the back.



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Old 04-29-2021, 11:51 PM #6
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Very Nice write up! I did something similar but I used two National Luna dimming white/red touch lights. One in the cargo area and one on the hatch door to illuminate outside. The pictures are with both lights on the highest setting



18+12 LED Dual Colour Touch Light (White/Red) - National Luna
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Cargo Area Red/White Light Mod-white-light-jpg  Cargo Area Red/White Light Mod-red-light-jpg 
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Old 04-30-2021, 10:02 AM #7
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Good job! Thatís a nice clean setup.
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Old 04-30-2021, 10:17 AM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rageandlove View Post
I do a fair amount of dispersed camping, so places where there's no light once the sun goes down. I find the red light doesn't mess up my night vision nearly the same way that white light does.

In my 2015 Ford super duty, I changes out the interior bulbs with red LEDís. Alsi did for ease on the eyes at night. Looks great too! Great write up!


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Old 04-30-2021, 10:49 AM #9
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Looks great. Those lights are new to me but look good for the job.

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Very Nice write up! I did something similar but I used two National Luna dimming white/red touch lights. One in the cargo area and one on the hatch door to illuminate outside. The pictures are with both lights on the highest setting
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Old 04-30-2021, 10:54 AM #10
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Looks great. Those lights are new to me but look good for the job.

Yeah they were new to me too, but I really wanted a white and red light in one unit so I gave it a shot. They have worked out really well
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Old 04-30-2021, 01:21 PM #11
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Great detailed photos. I guess red light is less attractive to bugs. Isn't there power already at the OEM hatch light switch. Why not tap the power wire in the harness somewhere? Thanks
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Old 04-30-2021, 01:44 PM #12
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I do a fair amount of dispersed camping, so places where there's no light once the sun goes down. I find the red light doesn't mess up my night vision nearly the same way that white light does.
cool.. makes sense.. thats why i see these "hunter" themed flash lights that come w/ red light as an option
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Old 04-30-2021, 04:24 PM #13
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Great detailed photos. I guess red light is less attractive to bugs. Isn't there power already at the OEM hatch light switch. Why not tap the power wire in the harness somewhere? Thanks
Yeah, a few other options that were suggested were (1) tap a power source in the fuse box and use a ground in the back or (2) tap into a power source in the hatch.

Couple of reasons I went the route I did.

1) As you can see, running power the way I did turned out to be easy and fast once I did a bit of research and thinking. It prob took an hour total including pulling all the panels etc.

2) I don't like tapping into the OEM harness. Worry about long-term issues. May be irrational, but I'm a worrier :-).

3) I already had a properly-done fuse block in the front for exactly this sort of thing (constant power) so it was also easy to just connect to that.

4) This will be easy to troubleshoot if anything ever goes wrong.

5) All the interior parts I touched were easy to take out and replace ... the hatch requires touching the headliner which is harder to put back.

But that's just me. Lots of people have used the hatch for power just fine.
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