LED Light Rod Installation: Easier than Saving Money on Car Insurance!
Awesome! Your new light rods just showed up and you can't wait to install them. LED light rod installation is fairly simple and straight-forward but there are a couple of tricks I would like to share. I am not an expert; I have installed two light rods on two different Jeeps. Both of them I installed differently for different reasons. Putting your light rods on may be easier than saving money on car insurance, even if it does take you longer than 15 minutes!
My first suggestion is to go out to your UTV, ATV, or Jeep and stare at it. Most rig owners I know are excellent at this part--staring at their rig in the garage or shop. Have a beer and think about where you want your light rod. Most people want them on the back half of their rig, so start there. Which side? How high? What can the light hit on your rig? What about trees and other obstructions that could hit your light rod? Is there power close to it? How are you going to get power to it? Warning: this thinking and staring portion can take a couple of beers to work, but know that all of your hard work won't be in vain when you start the actual installation. A little pre-planning goes a long ways.
Location, Location, Location
As you are considering where to mount your light rod or rods, keep in mind they are on a spring. They are on a spring so they can hit branches and other obstructions and move without breaking. Think about if they are going to spring back against spare tires, the body, or roll cages. Think about if the location is going to obstruct its movement.
Originally, I mounted a light rod in the center of my spare tire carrier, between the soft top and spare tire. Through trial and error, I learned this spot had two drawbacks: one, it didn't allow the spring to bend over the tire when it hit branches. Two, once I wired it, I didn't think about opening my spare tire carrier. The first time I opened it, I ripped the wires out. If I had thought about it a little more, I would have picked a better spot first.
Remember that these light rods are on a spring and will move some. Make sure you plan for enough slack in the wire to move without causing you problems.
Currently, I have both Jeeps' light rods mounted off the driver rear quarter panel. This spot works well for me for several reasons.
First, you need one of these quick-disconnect mounts from Whip It. These products are slick and make it a breeze to disconnect the light rod when pulling your rig into the garage or trailer. The light rods have an electrical quick disconnect, too, so in 10 seconds you can have your light rod pulled and out of the way.
A great option for mounting your light rod is one of these roll cage mounts from Whip It. These can be used in multiple configurations for multiple types of rigs.
Since I am going to be installing new crusher corner guards on my red Jeep, I just used a pre-existing hole in the body that I drilled out to 5/8" and mounted the disconnect to it. Since this Jeep primarily runs rocks and never has a top on it, this was another attempt to keep the mount and light rod out of the rocks and trees.
One of the decisions you need to make before installation is how do you want your LED powered. Do you want it to have the ability to be on all the time by itself? Do you want it wired into your taillights? Do you want it wired to an external switch that you can turn on and off? Do you already have a hot wire close that you can tap into for power? On newer UTVs, are there already power ports in the cab with wiring? There are lots of electrical choices to be made about wiring your light rod and what works for me might not work for you. Think about your desires before wiring.
One of the other reasons I chose the driver-side rear quarter panel of my red Jeep is because of wiring. Originally, that Jeep had a factory hardtop. The factory pigtail for the windshield wiper was still there, with power. A couple of cuts and connectors and I had all-the-time power for my light rod.
I wanted to be able to turn on my light rod independent of any other lights and circuits, which is why I didn't want to tap into my tail lights. My windshield wiper wire is always on, so as soon as I plug my light rod in, it's on. However, whether you have the remote control or Bluetooth model, you can turn the Power button off and turn the light rod off.
On my other Jeep, I also wanted to be able to turn on light rods without any other circuit. However, I did not have an easy wire to tap into. I solved this problem by running a fused wire from an external fuse box on the firewall of my Jeep, inside along the body line, to the back driver quarter panel. A couple of zip ties along the factory wiring loom and it was clean and easy to get power where I wanted it.
This was my second install on this Jeep and if I had planned it more at the beginning, maybe I wouldn't have had to do everything twice.
As with all wiring, make sure you use fuses. I have seen far too many rigs on fire because of power wired directly off the battery with no fuses. LEDs don't take much power, so you won't need more than a 10 amp fuse.
Installing a new Whip It Light Rod is so easy, I did the first one in about 30 minutes in my slippers and sweats in the garage. Take some time, have a beer, stare at your rig a while, plan it out, and then go light up the night in style with your new Whip It Light Rod!