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Backup Lights

May 2014
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Tags: Lights|Electrical

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I always put backup lights on my RVs. We often leave late Friday after work for a weekend of camping and arrive at the campground after dark. Having backup lights is much better than using flashlights. I also have a switch in my truck so I can turn all the lights on from the truck. If I have to make a tight turn or do a u turn after dark I will turn on the lights so I can see where the tires are on the RV.

I have 5 lights. Two on the bumper and two near the front mounted underneath and aimed at the tires. The last one is mounted on the kingpin pointed at the fifth wheel hitch. I like to double check the hook up.

The standard RV wiring harness and plug has a yellow wire for backup lights. It is energized when the tow vehicle is placed in reverse. You can get access to this wire in the junction box.

You don't want to hook this wire directly to your RV backup lights. That will pull too much current through the tow vehicle. Use a relay in the RV. The yellow wire activates the relay. Hook one side of the relay to the RV battery and the other side to your lights. I also added a switch in the storage area of the RV connected to the battery and light sides of the relay. This allows me to flip the switch and turn on all the lights at night after I have disconnected the tow vehicle. Sometimes I like to do a walk around at night before going to bed. Flipping on the lights allows me to eyeball things.

LED lights are not cheap but they are much cheaper than a few years ago. I purchased two sets from Northern Tool and I am happy with them. They are bright and draw little current.

The yellow backup wire in the junction box.

I drilled a hole above the king pin into the area at the head of the bed in the bedroom. I ran the wire up through this hole, under the bed, through another hole in the storage area at the foot of the bed into the front storage area of the RV. The larger cable is for my generator. I ran both wires the same way.

Wire routed from the foot of the bed back into the storage area at the front of the RV. I then routed the wire under the camper, down the frame rail to all the light locations. The wire is a twin lead wire. I only need one of the wires to feed all the lights because of the low current draw on the LED lights. The other wire is a spare in case I need it in the future. I ran the wire under the coroplast.

I mounted the relay in the front storage area. The white wire is a ground wire. The yellow wire in the junction box is extended to the other side of the relay to energize it when the tow vehicle is in reverse. The other wires connect to the battery, the lights and my manual switch. Remember to add a fuse to the battery feed.

The wire for my manual switch.

My manual switch mounted just inside the door to the storage area on the street side.

Here is the write up I did when adding backup lights to my 2002 Wildcat.


You may be interested in the next article, Generator Wiring and Power Transfer Switch.

The previous article is MorRyde Wet Bolt Kit.

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