DIY reverse flood light installation

By: Michael Borg, Photography by: Matt Fehlberg


This DIY reverse light install will have you braving those dark nights in the bush in no time at all.

LEAD-PIC-DIY-reverse -flood -light -installation

I’m pretty sure the words "pain" and "butt" were invented purely to describe the frustration of trying to reverse a camper trailer in the dark. Yep, if you’ve ever been caught out on a tight track at night you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The funny thing is there are not many camper trailers out there that come standard with reverse flood lights.

Not to worry though; this DIY reverse flood light install is destined to become your all-time favourite mod, especially when it boasts three separate functions; to come on automatically when you reverse, to be switched on manually around camp or to be completely switched off all together. Yep, with this tidy little upgrade there will be no more stopping every half a metre to see what you’ve backed into, and no more reversing into the unknown. Plus, you’d be amazed at just how convenient they can be around camp too.

We’ve elected to run two separate LED lamps for this DIY, and that’s for a few reasons. The first being with two separate lights we’re able to get a nice wide and even spread of lights, and as we plan to use them a fair bit around camp we reckon the lower the current draw is the better. Plus, we didn’t really want one big blinding light in our eyes back at camp either. With that in mind, let’s see how it’s done!

STEP 1. THE PERFECT LOCATION

1_The -perfect -location

When it comes to finding a suitable location for your new lights, it’s best to physically try them in a few spots, and there are definitely a few considerations to make. The first being how the spread of light will project. For the best results try and position the lamp as high as you can, and have them facing towards the edge/corner of the rear for a wider spread of light. Make sure they are free from obstructions too, and take note of how and where the wiring will have to run in order to get to the lights; some spots are definitely easier than others. Oh, and ensure the wiring from the lamp is facing the ground, which reduces the chance of water penetration the housing and allows water to drain out if it does.

STEP 2. MOUNTING THE LAMP

2_Mounting -the -lamp

How you secure the lamp will depend on where it’s going to be mounted, but remember if you’re going to hit the tracks you want it as secure as possible. Using stainless steel bolts with locknuts helps prevent corrosion and the tendency to loose tension over time. Now, it’s time to drill the mounting hole – remember to always check where you’re drilling, or more specifically check what’s behind! Oh, and coat the exposed metal from the new hole with primer to avoid rust too. 

STEP 3. INSTALLING THE SWITCH

3_installing -the -switch

For the on/off switch we’ve chosen the run a 20A rocker switch. It has three positions, which we will utilise in the following way – reverse light (down), flood light (up), off (middle). There’s more to come on that later, for now we just need to find a good spot for it... somewhere out of harm’s way, yet still convenient to access. We’ve elected to mount the switch in the battery box, which keeps it out of the weather. Another spot is to mount it on the outside of the camper close to the light. Just remember to purchase one with a missile switch cover to prevent accidental operation. 

STEP 4. RUNNING THE WIRING

4_running -the -wire

Now for the interesting part – to wire it all up! Obviously you want to keep the wiring as neat and tidy as possible, and one the best ways to do that is to keep the wires in a bunch/harness and run them through the chassis. Now I know you’re probably thinking it’s easier said than done, right? True, but here’s a tip to help make light work of it: try feeding a roll of fencing wire through the chassis or RHS. It’s a bit more rigid so it generally slides through a bit easier. If there’s already some wires there, you can attach the fencing wire securely to one end, and pull it through before attaching the new wiring to the end and pulling that back through to the original position. 

STEP 5. SAFE AND SECURE

5_Safe -and -secure _opt1

To keep your wiring in tip-top shape, make sure you wrap it in good quality corrugated split tubing, and secure the cables in place. It’s also a good idea to wrap the conduit with electrical tape every 40cm or so, and if you want to get real fancy you can actually wrap the cabling with tape and continue to wrap the tubing as well. This will help limit the cable’s internal movement. You can secure the tubing to the camper trailer with either plastic or rubber P-clips, but it is advisable to avoid drilling holes anywhere in the main chassis or drawbar if possible.

STEP 6. PLUG ’ER IN!

6_Plug -er -in

Okay, so you’ve run the power and earth cables from the lights up towards your battery, right? Before you connect it up, install an in-line fuse as close to the battery as possible, or if you’ve got a fuse block nearby you can utilise that. Remove the fuse from the fuse holder while you’re still working on it though, it’ll safeguard against accidental short circuits! Hook the positive wire to the batteries positive terminal and the negative to the batteries negative terminal, then put the fuse in and make sure the light switches on when you flick the switch.

STEP 7. THE REVERSE CIRCUIT

7_the -reverse -circuit

As mentioned previously, the real beauty about this system is you can choose for the lights to be switched on manually, or to come on automatically when you are reversing. So to wire the reverse light side of things you’ll need to crack open the trailer’s 7-pin auxiliary plug. Run a power wire from the reverse terminal/pin all the way back to the lights main ON/OFF/ON toggle switch and connect it up. This basically means when your vehicle is in reverse gear, it powers up the reverse light circuit to the auxiliary plug, which (if you’ve got it all right) powers your new reverse flood lamps!

STEP 8. THE FINAL CHECK

8_The -final -check

To finish the job off just nicely, check that all three functions on the switch are working properly on each mode. So you should be able to switch the light on and off directly from the toggle switch, or select the reverse circuit from the switch so the lights only activate when you’re in reverse and it’s hooked up your vehicle.

Make sure all holes for your wiring are sealed well with a quality sealant like Sikaflex, and double check your connections are all nice and solid.

Oh, and when the sun drops you can position the lights exactly where you need them to be. Now go and grab yourself ice cold beverage… You’ve earned it!

Check out the full feature in issue #113 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.