Have you been looking to upgrade your ride with some cool rock lights? Those sweet LED light strips can make your car, truck, or SUV look amazing while also helping to improve visibility. But if the idea of wiring them up yourself sounds daunting, don’t sweat it! Installing rock lights is actually pretty straightforward with some basic know-how.
In this handy guide, I’ll walk you through all the steps for wiring rock lights to a switch so you can enjoy awesome illumination with just the flick of a switch. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right mounting locations to connecting all the wires and making sure those bad boys are ready to rock and roll. Time to get your ride glowing and stand out from the crowd!
Preparing for the Installation
Before we get to the good stuff, it’s important to take some time to prep for the installation. Rushing into wiring without gathering the right gear or taking basic safety steps can turn this into a frustrating mess. Here’s what you’ll want to do first:
Make sure to park your vehicle in a secure area and turn it completely off before getting started. You’ll also want to disconnect the battery to avoid any accidental electrical shorts. Safety has to come first!
Get Your Tools and Materials Ready
You’ll want to have the following on hand before wiring those rock lights:
- The rock lights themselves – get the right amount and length for your vehicle
- Wiring kit with connectors, fuses, switch, etc.
- Electrical tape
- Wire strippers
- Drill and drill bits for mounting holes
- Brackets, screws, and mounts
- Zip ties to secure the wiring
Having all your gear lined up ahead of time will make this job go smoothly.
Pick Your Mounting Locations
Determine exactly where you want to place the rock lights – popular options are in the wheel wells, under the bumpers, below the doors, or along the rocker panels. Think about visibility and aesthetics.
Also decide where you want to mount the switch – easily accessible spots like near the driver’s seat or console work best.
Take out any interior trim pieces or panels where you’ll be routing the wiring. It’s much easier to install the wires with the panels removed rather than trying to fish them through later.
Mounting the Rock Lights
Once you’re prepped, it’s time for the fun part – securing those rock lights in place. With the right locations picked out, let’s get them mounted up.
Finding the Best Mounting Spots
The key is choosing spots that will provide the coverage and visibility you want while also allowing the LEDs to look good. Some top options include:
- Wheel wells – Great for shining light around the sides and undercarriage
- Bumpers – Illuminates the area right around the front and rear
- Rocker panels – Low profile while lighting up the lower sides
- Doors – Highly visible shining down from above
Preparing the Lights
Before mounting them, you’ll need to get the rock lights ready with these steps:
- Take off the protective lens covers if they are removable
- Remove any rubber gaskets or seals to expose the base
- Plan out where you’ll drill holes for wires and mounting hardware
Getting them disassembled will make the installation much easier.
Drilling the Mounting Holes
Bust out your drill and make holes in the marked mounting spots. Use a bit size just slightly larger than your mounting hardware.
You’ll also want to drill a hole leading to the wire routing path you have planned out. This allows tucking the wires neatly out of sight.
Securing the Lights
Now comes the fun part – securing the LED strips into place. You can use several methods depending on your location and mounting surface:
- Self-tapping screws screw directly into metal or plastic fenders
- Nut and bolt combined with brackets or clips
- Heavy duty zip ties for flexible mounting around brackets
The lights often have built-in mounting tabs to help attach them. Just make sure they are anchored firmly and won’t shake loose.
Once mounted, you can put the light housings back together:
- Replace any rubber gaskets or seals
- Reattach the protective lens covers
- Aim the lights and adjust the angle if needed
And that takes care of mounting! The rock lights are now in place and ready to be wired up.
Wiring the Switch
The switch is what controls the power to the rock lights and lets you turn them on with the flick of a finger. Let’s get it hooked up:
Choosing the Right Spot
Pick an easily reachable spot like:
- Next to the steering wheel
- By the gear shift
- On the center console
Avoid any areas that would block your access or view while driving.
Mounting the Housing
- Drill a hole to fit the switch housing snugly
- Connect the wires to the switch terminals
- Screw the housing into place
Make sure it is oriented right side up!
Connecting the Power Wire
The power wire brings juice from the battery to illuminate your rock lights.
- Run it from the switch to the positive terminal on the battery
- Add a fuse within 6 inches of the battery for protection
Hooking Up the Ground Wire
The ground wire gives the system a completed circuit to flow current.
- Attach it to any metal grounding point connected to the chassis or negative battery terminal
Running the Accessory Wire
This wire goes from the output side of the switch to your rock lights:
- Route it from the switch to the first light on your planned path
- Split it using reconnectable splice connectors to feed each light
Testing the Switch
Before moving on, test that power is flowing:
- Reconnect the battery
- Flip the switch to verify one of the lights turns on
Once it checks out, leave the switch off for the rest of the installation.
Connecting the Lights
Alright, now for the fun part – wiring up all of those sweet LEDs! Here’s how to run power from the switch out to each of your rock lights:
Running the Extension Wires
Determine how much length you’ll need to reach each light from the switch/battery:
- Add a few extra feet for a comfortable routing path
- Use loom tubing to bundle and protect the full wire run
- Route it neatly along the chassis, avoiding heat, moving parts, and sharp edges
Splicing into the Light Wires
Once the extensions are run, you can splice into each light:
- Cut the wires to appropriate length
- Strip back about 1/2 inch of insulation from the ends
- Twist the conductor strands together
- Attach a butt splice, crimp connector, or solder joint
- Cover with heat shrink tubing or tape
Repeat at each light for a solid connection.
Following Proper Polarity
To avoid shorts or damaged lights, it’s crucial to match up the polarization:
- Positive wire goes to the red or white stripe connection
- Negative wire connects to the black or blue wire
- Consult the wiring diagram for your specific lights
For multiple lights, use terminal blocks to split from the main power feed:
- Route the positive lead into the input
- Connect output terminals to each light
- Provides a clean power solution for numerous lights
Grounding the System
Grounding creates the safely completed circuit:
- Connect all ground wires from lights together
- Join to common chassis ground point
- Ring terminal secured with chassis bolt is an ideal option
Testing Each Light
Once connected, flip the switch to test:
- Verify each rock light powers on properly
- Check that polarity matches by looking for correct color temperature
- Troubleshoot any issues with connections or wiring
Securing the Wires
Use zip ties to firmly attach the wiring loom:
- prevents loosening,tangling, or disconnecting
- avoids wire damage from vibration
- allows slack for suspension movement and steering
Looking good! With all the lights wired up, we just need to button it all up.
Final Testing and Finishing Touches
We’re on the home stretch now. A few final steps complete the installation:
Reinstalling Interior Panels
If you removed any interior panels during the initial wiring, now is the time to screw them back into place.
Performing a Full System Test
Do a thorough test of all rock lights with the switch:
- Verify bright, consistent illumination from each light
- Check for any loose connections or faulty wires
- Adjust the angle if needed – usually 30-45 degrees down is ideal
Securing Loose Wires
Make sure any excess length is bundled cleanly using zip ties:
- Coil up extra wire and use ties to attach to frame
- Confirm wires are routed properly without risk of tangling or snagging
Checking for Interference
Inspect the path of the wires:
- Ensure no contact with moving parts like suspension or drivetrain
- Watch for wear from sharp brackets or hot exhaust
- Cover with loom or heat shielding if needed
Check your local laws regarding aftermarket lights – some states limit or prohibit certain colors and mounting locations for road use. It’s better to review ahead of time so your hard work doesn’t go to waste!
Admiring Your Work
Start up those rock lights and take a step back to appreciate how amazing your ride looks! Whether cruising the trails or driving across town, you can now enjoy serious illumination and style with the flip of a switch.
Wiring rock lights might seem complicated, but really comes down to a few key steps:
- Choose optimal and legal mounting spots
- Install the lights securely using your preferred method
- Mount the switch in an accessible location
- Run positive, negative, and accessory wires from the battery to switch, and switch to lights
- Properly match polarity when connecting wires to avoid shorts
- Use fuses, grounds, and wire looms for safety and organization
- Test lights thoroughly and troubleshoot any issues
- Secure all wires neatly out of the way
Taking the time to follow basic wiring principles and manufacturers instructions will ensure your rock lights shine on for years to come. Drive safe and light up the night!