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Adding a two way switch for bed lights

Discussion in 'Repairs, Maintenance, Help' started by Orsalak, Nov 24, 2017.

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  1. Orsalak

    Orsalak Active Member

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    I know nothing when it comes to electrical so bear with me for a moment. Some background I have a 12 Ram 1500 Laramie that I love. I have added some drawers to the bed that I made and put bed rug on top. It looks and works awesome. I have a snug top topper with side opening windows to cover it all up. (I don’t know how to add pictures from my phone or I would upload some)
    I fish, hunt and camp a lot and use the bed of the truck as a bed to sleep from time to time.
    Since I am in the bed a lot at night I would love to add some lights It should be easy enough to wire them into the switch that is in the cab for the stock bed light (the one that is in the third brake light. that light is covered now by the topper).
    Since there are times where I will be staying in the bed of the truck to sleep I was wondering if I could make a two way switch that I could turn on the lights from the cab and turn them off from the bed and vice versa. Any ideas?
     
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  2. Best Answer:
    Post #11 by AllanC, Nov 25, 2017
  3. dana44

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    Since you don't want to turn the key on every time you get in back, locate a hot wire on the back of the fuse block (so it is on a fuse), run the wire to a safe location in the back of the bed(that is convenient to get to), toggle switch, then to the light or lights installed. Run the light through the firewall (should be a rubber grommet to slip the wire through for safety and not make a hole in the firewall to do that), keep the wire tight to the frame or in existing supports to keep it safe.
     
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  4. valiant67

    valiant67 Rich Corinthian Leather
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    There may be a battery saver mode that cuts power to the light circuit after a certain number of minutes if the switch is left on. That may complicate what you want to do.
     
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  5. RalphP

    Level 2 Supporter

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    Check your wiring diagrams in the factory service manual (available as a PDF online, or just buy the dang book.)

    For my 1988 Dakota ... I'm planning to wire a 2P3T Center Off switch to my lights. One way goes to the microswitch I'm wiring up to turn the topper light on and off with the rear door; center will be off; the other way turns the lights on irregardless.

    Would this do what you want? If so, you could wire the current light to the center; one side to the wiring to the current light; the other side to 12V and GND. Center would be off, one way hard one, other one controlled by the current light switch.

    RwP
     
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  6. KOG

    KOG KOG
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    Sounds like you want a switch like you'd use in the house to allow you to control the lights on/off from either the cab or the bed. Is that right?
     
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  7. Orsalak

    Orsalak Active Member

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    Yes that would be right. Like the switch at the bottom of the stairs and the switch at the top to controll th same light.
     
  8. dana44

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    If you want both, it's pretty much the same thing, the remote switch I mentioned ties into the light and directs the light to come on when the switch is turned on (since the power comes from another location) and when it is off the power doesn't go to it or drain the battery. At the same time, the light will come the way it does right now, the two will not interfere with each other in function. It's literally the same way a wire melts and crosses to other circuits to power them (accidentally, of course), but it is a switch so you can control it from elsewhere. Now, if you want to be really easy and have the switch in the cab instead, trace the wire from the light you want, make sure other lights aren't tied into that wire, then tie in a wire off a direct power (no key turned to accessory power location), and run a wire from there, to your switch and to the light wire that is to the normal way the light comes on.
     
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  9. KOG

    KOG KOG
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    That's a problem. You can do that with AC in the house. Doing that with DC just doesn't work. You can wire it like a normal interior light in a car with power to the bulb and ground the other side of the bulb with different switches, but once it's on you can't turn it off from the other location, i.e., if you switch it on from the bed you can't turn it off from the cab, or if you turn it on from the cab you can't turn it off from the bed. But this might serve your purpose.
     
    #8 KOG, Nov 25, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
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  10. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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    I disagree with this statement. The type of circuit path makes no difference with alternating or direct current in regards to the number of locations that control a lamp. See the image below. This shows how a lamp is controlled from 2 different locations. In 110 volt house wiring you use two 3 way switches to control the lamp from 2 different locations. In an automotive application you would use a single throw, double pole rocker switch to serve the same function.

    Now there could be an issue if you use the existing bed lamps and wiring as the engineers have a module that monitors the circuit that disables / powers down the circuit after a few minutes to prevent unnecessary battery drain. But in that case one could add separate lamps with its own wiring (requires additional labor) and leave the factory installed bed lamp wiring unmodified.

    2 rocker switch 3 way lamp control.gif
     
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  11. pt006

    pt006 Active Member

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    There might be a power supply [cigar lighter] inside the console of your truck. On my PT it is always 'on'. I would buy one of those power plugs and use that as my power source. Then buy about 20 feet of 16-3 or 18-3 power tool cord. And [2] three way switches and boxes. The ground wire of the power plug goes directly to the light bulb ground [usually the green wire in the cord]. The hot wire of the power plug goes to the feed/line side of the 3 way switch. The other two wires [red, black?] of the power tool cord come out of the other 3 way switch terminals and go to the other two terminals of the second 3 way switch. Then the load/feed terminal goes to the bulb hot side.

    From Allan's drawing above; the bulb is on. By changing either switch position the bulb goes off, and that switch is now connected to the black wire. So if you're at the other location, by changing that switch's position, the current now flows thru the black wire to the bulb.
     
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  12. AllanC

    AllanC Well-Known Member

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    This lighting switch enhancement might be easier than one would think but it would require access to an accurate electrical schematic. I believe the switch that activates the cargo bed lamps is on the instrument panel / headlamp switch. It is a momentarily activated switch that sends a certain voltage signal to the BCM (body control module). It does not provide power directly to the bed lamps. When the BCM receives this signal it activates the cargo bed lamps. From that point forward the BCM controls and monitors the cargo bed lamps. It will deactivate after a certain time period to prevent battery depletion.

    If you took an identical, momentarily activated instrument panel switch, mounted it in the bed and ran 2 electrical wires to the existing switch in the instrument panel and made the electrical connections in parallel, you would have the switch convenience you desire. This is easier said than done but is doable with minimal wiring and still retains the battery saving feature.
     
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  13. KOG

    KOG KOG
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    I like your wiring. The cab light would have to be disconnected from the existing circuit, but it'll work as you indicated if it's on a separate circuit.
     
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  14. David Eidell

    David Eidell Well-Known Member

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    GOOGLE

    Wire diagram 3 way switch.

    Needed (2) DPDT ON/ON switch available delcity.net.
    Site search on/on switch. The secret is in the traveler wire between the two switches and the fact that one switch is connected to positive the other is connected to negative.
    The traveler is the bulb feed wire. Chop it. You now have two wire ends.
    Connect one to bulb pin power feed the other to bulb base. I prefer to keep pin positive and base negative oriented.
     
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  15. NYBo

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    SPDT switches will do. Refer to @AllanC 's wiring diagram above.
     
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  16. Orsalak

    Orsalak Active Member

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    A0B80037-1633-4F2D-8B03-7215AA131B0F.jpeg 00E0F93F-9D17-4CE8-A89C-D4A9EED6DF92.jpeg BEFE377E-CB15-429D-A4D1-F37E70BCCA56.jpeg
    Sorry just figured this out
     
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