How to Wire Driving Lights Directly to a Battery

Written by k.k. lowell
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Driving lights greatly enhance driving safety, especially on unlit rural roads. Check state and local laws before installing these lights on your truck or car, as it may be illegal to operate driving lights unless the high-beam headlights are also on. On some occasions you may want to test a driving light before installing it, as when a set of driving lights is purchased used. Testing a light can be accomplished by connecting it to a battery.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Driving lights
  • Test leads with alligator clips on both ends
  • 12 volt battery
  • 14 Gauge automotive wire
  • Solderless Butt connectors
  • Inline fuse holder with 15 amp fuse
  • Solderless ring connectors
  • SPST toggle or rocker switch with screw tabs
  • Bracket for switch
  • #6 self-tapping screws
  • Electric drill with ½ inch bit
  • Ratchet with socket to drive screws
  • Solderless terminal crimping pliers
  • Wrench to fit nuts on mounting bolts

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Clip one end of the first test lead to the stripped end of the pigtail which comes out of the driving light. Connect the alligator clip on the opposite end of this lead to the positive terminal of the 12-volt battery.

  2. 2

    Connect one clip of the second test lead to the negative terminal of the 12-volt battery.

  3. 3

    Touch the other clip of the second test lead to a rust-free metal part of the driving light. The light will light if a good connection has been made with all four alligator clips.

  1. 1

    Select a location to mount the driving lights. Drill a ½ inch hole to mount each light. Be certain to drill where access to the bottom of the hole is possible as you will need to get your hand and a wrench in there to tighten the mounting nut.

  2. 2

    Select a location to mount the switch within easy reach of the driver. Install the bracket for the switch using two #6 self-tapping screws. Do not put the switch in the bracket yet.

  3. 3

    Cut a piece of 14-gauge wire which is long enough to reach from the positive terminal of the vehicle battery to the switch. Cut a second piece of wire long enough to reach from the switch to the passenger-side driving light. Strip ¼ inch of plastic from the ends of both wires. Pull the wires through the hole in the mounting bracket. Connect a small solderless ring terminal to one end of each wire. Attach the wires to the switch and tighten the screws securely. Install the switch in the bracket.

  4. 4

    Connect the wire to the passenger side driving light pigtail using a solderless butt connector.Connect the pigtail from the driver's side driving light to this wire by using a Scotchlok connector

  5. 5

    Using a solderless connector, connect the second wire from the switch to either lead of the inline fuse holder. Attach a ring terminal with a hole large enough to connect to the positive battery clamping bolt to the second lead of the inline fuse holder.Connect the ring terminal-equipped lead of the fuse holder to the positive battery terminal.

Tips and warnings

  • Driving lights should be mounted to a metal part of the vehicle for proper grounding to complete the circuit. If mounting to metal is not possible a wire must be attached to the mounting stud of the light and a metal part of the vehicle. Using a wire with ring terminals on both ends makes accomplishing this easy.
  • Driving lights should properly be installed using a relay. Wiring through a relay makes the installation safer and the lights are slightly brighter.
  • Always disconnect the negative cable from the vehicle battery before doing any electrical work on a vehicle.

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