Adding backup lights to TT - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-04-2013, 06:25 PM   #1
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Adding backup lights to TT

So I'm currently planning a rewire of my trailer wiring harness. I plan to add a 7 blade RV receiver on my TV and wire the trailer up with 7 blade RV plug.

I've been doing some research and would like to add some backup lights. (similar to this Navigator Backup Lights : Amazon.com : Automotive)

My plan is to mount one of them to the TV for increased visibility (something I've long wanted to do) and add the second light to the back of the trailer.

I also plan to use the 12v Aux power on the 7 blade to charge the battery in the camper while towing. I will be running that power line on the TV through a relay connected to the ignition on.

I know from my research that the purple line is supposed to be for backup lights. What I'm not sure about is whether that line is just for relay/switching the lights on or if it will have enough power to actually power the backup lights on the trailer. (I haven't installed the new 7-pin on the TV yet; I'm still in the planning phase of this project.)

For those of you who may have installed backup lights on your trailer, how did you wire them in?

Will I need to also tap into the Aux 12v line that I plan to charge the battery with to power the lights? I figure if I have to do that then I'll need another relay on the trailer side so the lights don't stay on and drain the battery.

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Old 03-04-2013, 06:30 PM   #2
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I haven't wired back up lights on a trailer, but I'd tap into the wire going to the TV back up lights and have it control a relay that powers the backup lights off the charge line. Those lights draw 4.5 amps each, which may be too much for the TV backup light circuit.

Use an inline fuse at the relay to protect the smaller wiring.
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Old 03-04-2013, 07:09 PM   #3
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I agree with Tom about wiring and using a relay. I saw in the reviews that someone wired these using a separate switch rather than wiring them into the vehicle back up lights, that's what I probably would do. Good for getting back at tailgaters with their high beams on.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:03 PM   #4
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If you want back-up lights for visibility reasons and not as signal lights, try mounting a single fog/driving light under the rear of the trailer, facing down, instead.
This allows you to see behind the trailer as well as the ground underneath and the tires.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:59 PM   #5
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I don't know what is available in led backups, but they may be efficient enough to get by without a relay. On my jeep wrangler I ditched the factory backups and added better halogens to the rear bumper. I used a relay due to the high current draw. They are toggle switched in lieu of the usual gear selected switch, so I don't blind people when backing out of parking lots etc.
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Old 03-05-2013, 10:39 AM   #6
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You can get away without a relay if the lights are low power. If you want bright lights. Use a relay.

I have had good and bad experiences.

I ran some cheap "low power" back up lights off the backup connector on my boat trailer without a relay. They have work great for eight years. I am stunned they have not crapped out on me. My boat overhangs the trailer at least 6'so backup damage is not an issue. The trailer is used twice a year, 32 miles total, to bring this boat to the hoist and take it home.

In 12 years I have gone through 3 or 4 sets of auxiliary backup lights on my Silverado. None of which lasted more than a few weeks. When they worked I loved them.

I need bright lights as it hard to see out my tinted rear window. My Silverado is 22' long--an extended cab long bed. Turning around means lots of back and forth. If there is snow on the ground I often forget it can be icy and try to plow right through.

I use excellent wiring practices, soldier and heat shrink wrap plus electrical tape, strain relief, tie wraps and wire loom armor. In most cases, follow on inspections show the wiring looks good. One case the ground lead was broken. Another case the wiring looked perfect but did not work with new lamps. I was in the habit of replacing wire when I replace these lights, however I gave up replacing the extra backup lamps, in frustration, until I develop a more permanent solution.

Why do these fail when my trailer lights work so well? it might be for more than one reason.

Perhaps this is just from backing into snow banks--banging up the low hanging lights or wiring.

One set of tractor lights, mounted upside down, filled up with water. While they were sealed beams the connectors were exposed. I tried drilling weeps holes in the next set. They did not last long either. I found a popped fuse and the lamps not working. These were not bright lamps, just cheap tractor lights.

My conclusion was that bright backup lights need a relay as well as armor. I'll guess my tractor lights were just beat up and don't need a relay. I di need a steel frame with a Lexan cover for backup protection for snow and brush.

I thought the Silverado fog lights, which sell for $35 a pair on eBay, would make good backup lights and are adjustable. I may mount a set of headlights in the back and use the low beams for backing. The pin system for mounting is fast and easy to remove and replace.

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Old 03-05-2013, 02:06 PM   #7
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While not inexpensive, you might take a look at LED back up lights if you want to avoid adding a relay. For example, these only draw .5 amps...
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:51 PM   #8
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Thanks for the info and recommendations guys, I'll probably go with the relay, I have an extra one here anyways. I had ordered one to use on the power/charging line on the TV side so that it was only active when the engine was on and decided to add a second in case I found a need for it. So I'll probably go that route.

Since before getting the camper, I've been thinking of adding brighter backup lights for the TV when using it with my boat and utility trailer, the stock ones on the car aren't very bright at all. I had thrown around the idea of mounting just some auxillary lights up high on the back of the vehicle. I was concerned about them being to low under the bumper/hitch and getting busted.

With the camper, I thought it would just be easy to buy a pair of lights and use one on the TV as auxilary backup and one on the back of the camper itself.

I'm thinking more and more about using a separate switch rather than just having them wired to the backup sensor. I think they'll be more useful to have them available when I'm trying to hook up to the trailer too.
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:12 PM   #9
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The tractor style lights like Night Sailor tried are very versatile to mount to bumpers, brackets, or racks. When turned up side down they are easily aimed down and out which is great for backing up. I tried a set of cheap ones, but found the beam too weak to see well with. Mine also filled with water as mentioned above. I replaced mine with The same type swivel-tilt hi powered fog lights. Fog lights are desirable due to the wide beam pattern. Mine are mounted up side down, so the wire entrance needed sealing. They are halogen, so require a relay due to the draw.
New advances in led technology are allowing very bright and efficient lights. The cost is coming down enough to make you consider them. I use a 3 led headlamp for mountain biking that produces 1500 lumens. It runs from a small rechargeable battery pack that allow about 2.5 hours use. I don't know the current draw, but it is way low compared to halogen lamps. They are still expensive, but coming down.
I have not been asked about my rear facing fog lights, but they may be illegal. They don't look different enough to draw attention. If you mount full size headlights rearward you may be in for some scrutiny by the law.
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Old 03-06-2013, 06:01 AM   #10
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How about something like this, win-win-win: Fire and Ice LED Bar Cut to any length between 12" and 60". You could amount it on the top of the window frame... no extra holes in the trailer!
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