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jaeisber

Add Bed Light Switch to Truck Bed

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Posted (edited)

This is a mod that I did on my Canyon a few years ago before I traded it in for my new 2018 Silverado.  When I added it to my Canyon, I knew I would like it, but it quickly became one of my favorite mods.  It makes the bed light much more functional since I usually need the light in my bed when my truck is parked.  Having to go into the cab to turn the bed lights on is inconvenient.  Having a switch in the bed to turn the bed lights on is a must-have for me on any truck going forward.  This mod does not impact the functionality of the cargo light switch in the cab, it merely adds the ability to turn the lights on from the bed in addition to the in-cab switch.

 

Needed parts:

 

**DISCLAIMER** This is performed at your own risk, I am not liable for any damage caused by attempting this mod...yada yada yada  **DISCLAIMER**

 

Process (Note, this assumes you already have the factory bed lights installed, if not, you will need to procure a factory pig-tail for the bed lights to use as an alternate power to turn the bed lights on with the in-cab switch):

  1. Remove driver side tail light by removing bolts in the tailgate area.  Taillight will pull straight out.  There are retention clips, but pull straight out and the light will come free. Once the taillight is free, remove the bulbs from the light and set the tail light aside.
  2. You will now need to run 4 wires (3 black and 1 white, or whatever color scheme you prefer to work with) from the tail light area, down under the truck.  I recommend labeling each end of the black wires so you know where you have connected them.  Under the truck near the driver side of the spare tire, there is a plug area for wiring and powering a number of things at the rear of the truck (namely, the plug controlling the cargo and bed lights).  This is the plug shown in the picture, it is the furthest towards the driver's side and only has 2 wires.  This is where we will tap in to wire in an additional power source as well as splice into the neutral for our secondary power source. 
  3. Remove the cargo light plug, this will make it easier to work with. Find the red wire coming out of the plug.  You will cut this wire.  Give yourself a few inches of wire back from the plug so you have some room to work with.  
  4. Using heat shrink butt connectors, connect 2 of the black wires, one to each of the cut ends of the red wire out of the plug.
  5. Using a t-tap, connect the white wire to the black wire coming out of the cargo light plug.
  6. Now find the wiring going to your 7-pin trailer hookup.  I found that lowering the spare tire gave me more room to work here.  I didn't remove the tire, I just dropped it down and gave enough slack to slide it out of the way while I was working.  You will be looking for the large 12v always on lead, it was red with a green stripe on my truck.  It is one of 2 larger gauge wires in the harness.  Use a t-tap and connect the remaining black wire.  This will be your secondary power source allowing you to turn the lights on without having to use the in-cab switch.
  7. Route all 4 wires up and out through the stake hole pocket so you can connect them up to the switch pigtail.
  8. Connect the wires up as follows:
    1. Black Wire out from cargo light plug > Green (NC)
    2. Black wire to t-tap on hitch harness > Blue (NO)
    3. White wire to t-tap on the black wire in cargo light plug > Black (-)
    4. Black wire out to lights (other end of cut red wire) > Red (+) and White (C) - These are tied together in same butt connector
  9. Insert the switch into the small round hole on rear driver's side of the bed.  There is a silver nut that should be removed before inserting the switch.
  10. From inside the stake pocket, get the silver nut threaded on by one or 2 spins, but not all of the way as you will need to be able to maneuver the switch.
  11. Pull wiring down through the holes in the tail light area to remove excess slack from the wiring and pigtail.  Install pigtail on to the switch. 
    1. This was a bit difficult due to the size of the stake pocket, but using some pliers and patience, you can get it on.
  12. Once the pigtail is installed, screw the silver nut tight to hold the switch in place.
  13. At this point, I put some silicone caulk around the pigtail connection point to help keep water out, but I also have stake pocket covers that keeps water out as well.
  14. Run wires through wire loom and use electric tape to secure all t-taps, butt connections, and any harnesses you had to cut open to access wires.
  15. Plug in the cargo light plug (if still unplugged) and raise the spare tire (if dropped).

 

I still have some work to do on my wiring, as you can see from the pictures.  I thought I had some loom leftover from when I did this on my canyon, but I must have thrown it away.  It's in the mail though.

 

I had this mod on my Canyon for 3 years and never had an issue.  My next steps are to add additional LED lights near the rear of the bed so that I have light all the way back.  It will be as simple as tapping the wires to the existing LED lights.

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Edited by jaeisber
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Very nice. I like the fact that this switch has an NC terminal to route the existing circuit through so it still functions with the cargo switch and lamp circuit, much like a 5 pin relay. 

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Thanks for the good information!   Looks like it was always there.  I find the evolution of automotive wiring fascinating.  At one time you'd simply have installed a pair of three-way switches to be able to operate box lights from two locations. This was popular when camping in the back of your truck.  (Much more comfortable with an 8' box.)  I think if someone is looking to do this mod, and doesn't already have the optional box lighting,  a pair of three-way toggle switches and a fuse tap may still be the easiest option.

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22 minutes ago, Donstar said:

Thanks for the good information!   Looks like it was always there.  I find the evolution of automotive wiring fascinating.  At one time you'd simply have installed a pair of three-way switches to be able to operate box lights from two locations. This was popular when camping in the back of your truck.  (Much more comfortable with an 8' box.)  I think if someone is looking to do this mod, and doesn't already have the optional box lighting,  a pair of three-way toggle switches and a fuse tap may still be the easiest option.

 

No problem! 

 

A pair of 3-way switches and a fuse tap would work here as well, but you would lose the integrated functionality of using the in-cab cargo light switch.  The nice thing about the way that I did it is I still maintain the use of the switch I already have, while adding a switch to the bed of the truck.  I find this works best for me, but there is no one solution for everyone.

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43 minutes ago, jaeisber said:

 

No problem! 

 

A pair of 3-way switches and a fuse tap would work here as well, but you would lose the integrated functionality of using the in-cab cargo light switch.  The nice thing about the way that I did it is I still maintain the use of the switch I already have, while adding a switch to the bed of the truck.  I find this works best for me, but there is no one solution for everyone.

I would choose your method and wouldn't want to render my stock switch useless.  I have a topper with separate lighting and a switch at the tailgate.  I also have the factory box lighting so I'm covered!

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Thanks for sharing this. Looks like I found another little project to do!

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On 7/10/2019 at 8:43 AM, jaeisber said:

My next steps are to add additional LED lights near the rear of the bed so that I have light all the way back.  It will be as simple as tapping the wires to the existing LED lights.

GREAT writeup - I have been meaning to do this and it is exactly what I needed.

 

And yes, you can just tap off the existing bed lights to add more.  I did this about 3 years ago and it is still working great.  I just bought a factory OEM bed light kit off ebay and used the 2 lights and wiring/loom from the kit.  Just spliced it in right near the existing lights then used the self-tapping screws included with the new lights to mount them under the rail but further forward in the bed.  I now have 4 factory lights with a tonneau cover and it gives me enough light to see what I need.  Not as bright as some people like but enough for me to see and it looks completely stock.

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7 minutes ago, sk said:

GREAT writeup - I have been meaning to do this and it is exactly what I needed.

 

And yes, you can just tap off the existing bed lights to add more.  I did this about 3 years ago and it is still working great.  I just bought a factory OEM bed light kit off ebay and used the 2 lights and wiring/loom from the kit.  Just spliced it in right near the existing lights then used the self-tapping screws included with the new lights to mount them under the rail but further forward in the bed.  I now have 4 factory lights with a tonneau cover and it gives me enough light to see what I need.  Not as bright as some people like but enough for me to see and it looks completely stock.

 

Thanks!  I was surprised this mod didn't have a write-up already so I knew I needed to get it out there for others like myself.

 

I would love to use another set of factory bed lights to add to the set I already have, but I am weird about drilling holes in my bed. I know a ton of people do it....its just not something I've ever been able to do, especially when the truck is only a month and a half old.  I would love to have one of the AMP bed extenders, but I just cannot bring myself to drilling the holes.  I have a set of outdoor LED strips off Amazon that I used on my Canyon that I am going to wire in.  Plenty bright and I can use some 3M heavy-duty double-sided adhesive strips and they will not budge.

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52 minutes ago, jaeisber said:

 

Thanks!  I was surprised this mod didn't have a write-up already so I knew I needed to get it out there for others like myself.

 

I would love to use another set of factory bed lights to add to the set I already have, but I am weird about drilling holes in my bed. I know a ton of people do it....its just not something I've ever been able to do, especially when the truck is only a month and a half old.  I would love to have one of the AMP bed extenders, but I just cannot bring myself to drilling the holes.  I have a set of outdoor LED strips off Amazon that I used on my Canyon that I am going to wire in.  Plenty bright and I can use some 3M heavy-duty double-sided adhesive strips and they will not budge.

You don't really need to drill major holes.  You just install the self-tapping screws that come with the light fixtures.  Sure it creates 4 holes but they are small and are up under the bed rails so they are protected by both the bed rails and the light housings (same as the existing bed lights).  If they really bother you then you could back the screws out, throw some paint or primer on, then reinstall the screws after the paint dries.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/10/2019 at 5:43 AM, jaeisber said:

This is a mod that I did on my Canyon a few years ago before I traded it in for my new 2018 Silverado.  When I added it to my Canyon, I knew I would like it, but it quickly became one of my favorite mods.  It makes the bed light much more functional since I usually need the light in my bed when my truck is parked.  Having to go into the cab to turn the bed lights on is inconvenient.  Having a switch in the bed to turn the bed lights on is a must-have for me on any truck going forward.  This mod does not impact the functionality of the cargo light switch in the cab, it merely adds the ability to turn the lights on from the bed in addition to the in-cab switch.

 

Thanks for the right up. I finally completed the mod and couldn't be happier. I did clean up the wiring and added 2 5' LED strips on each side of the bed along with the OEM bed light., just mounted them under the Bakflip side rails, very bright. 

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Edited by jpinoy
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Great idea. I had a hood pin switch on my 06 and 13 so it came on when I dropped the tailgate. I like this idea.

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I finally have all the parts I need to do this, but my tonneau cover clamp uses the hole where you guys installed your switch. I’m thinking of drilling a hole down a couple inches but still within the stake pocket.

I also have three of the 5’ led strips to add for the bed lighting. I am planning on one across the front of the bed. I also have a topper (camper shell) for use during the hunting season when I’ll be hauling dogs and gear. I plan on mounting the other two led strips to the roof of the topper and tapping them into the same wiring so when I want light in there, they all come on with the switch.

When I get them installed, I’ll try to post some pics as well. Thanks for all the great info guys!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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6 hours ago, MrWeller said:

I finally have all the parts I need to do this, but my tonneau cover clamp uses the hole where you guys installed your switch. I’m thinking of drilling a hole down a couple inches but still within the stake pocket.

I also have three of the 5’ led strips to add for the bed lighting. I am planning on one across the front of the bed. I also have a topper (camper shell) for use during the hunting season when I’ll be hauling dogs and gear. I plan on mounting the other two led strips to the roof of the topper and tapping them into the same wiring so when I want light in there, they all come on with the switch.

When I get them installed, I’ll try to post some pics as well. Thanks for all the great info guys!


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If you don't have any tie-downs, you could also modify one of the tie-down hole plugs to take the switch and use that location if you didn't want to drill a new hole.  Would be fairly simple to do, just drill a hole in the plug just large enough for the switch to fit through and run the wiring there instead.  

 

You may have trouble getting the switch installed in a hole you drill below the existing hole in the stake pocket since it is a tight fit to be able to get your hand or pliers in to tighten the nut on the back of the switch to hold it in place.  Might be better off using the tie-down plug or even a SPDT toggle style switch under bed rail.  It would still be easy to get to, easy to wire, and be out of the way.

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Is there any other way to access the stake pocket switch location than from the top? I have a topper on and I had previously installed stake pocket covers prior to having my topper put on. I dont quite remember how it looks in there.

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9 hours ago, mikeyk101 said:

Is there any other way to access the stake pocket switch location than from the top? I have a topper on and I had previously installed stake pocket covers prior to having my topper put on. I dont quite remember how it looks in there.

Unfortunately not.  However, you could do something like I mentioned in the post above yours.  If you are not using your tie-downs, you could modify the plug for the tie-down hole to hold the switch or you could use a SPDT toggle switch installed under the bed rail (where the lights would go).  Either of these would still provide easy access to the switch to give you light when you need it.

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