Rigid E-Series Light Wiring on Gobi Stealth Rack
4 Rigid E-Series Lights to a single Air-On-Board switch via Shrockworks Distribution Module & Bussman RTMR Relay Mounted on Gobi Stealth
Article by Jeff from Minnesota – See his build here: 2013 MGM 4Runner Trail
Off-road lighting for better visualization of trail hazards, as well as light-duty use for camping, has become a big industry in recent years. While the classic look of four big halogen lamps mounted atop an insanely lifted rig still appears in our minds, technology has caught up with many 5th Gen 4Runner owners and off-road enthusiasts, alike. With a litany of very bright, very low energy LED lights mounted to the top of your 4Runner, you will be able to light up just about any trail, dark back roads and any other use you can think of.
Choosing the Right LED lights for your 5th Gen 4Runner
LEDs have to be selected carefully, as shoddy construction can allow moisture into the housing, creating a nearly worthless paperweight in no time. Likewise, many ill constructed housings fall victim to early breakage from rocks, limbs, or trail debris if they are being used as they are truly intended.
There are many great brands out there for lighting, just research carefully, go with an established brand, and beware bargain basement buys on ebay or amazon. You can still get high-quality LEDs from Amazon, just beware of the no-name brands that are manufactured in China. These lights have poor construction, terrible wiring (often too short or too long), worthless warranties, and virtually no customer service.
Lighting is one of the most important installs you can perform on your rack. Whether you are installing lights on a Gobi Roof Rack or Baja Roof Rack, you need to select your lighting carefully. Next to cutting your body to mount a front or rear bumper, one wrong move and many problems can arise from a simple mistake. In all seriousness, please purchase a name brand LED lighting kit from a reputable source that will back their products.
Types of Lighting Options and When to Use Them
As far as what type of lights to get and when to use them, there are a few general rules.
LED Lights and State Laws
Though some laws vary from state to state, it is essentially universal that off-road LEDs should not be turned ON while driving on paved roads and especially on the freeway. It is very much a Busch League maneuver to turn your blinding trail lights on while on a drive around town, showing them off. It is dangerous for oncoming traffic, illegal, and incredibly annoying.
LED Light Color Options
LEDs come in two flavors, amber and white as well as a combination of both. Amber is good for snow, dust, and fog; white for general driving.
LED Light Patterns
Different light patterns exist for lights. In general, spot patterns are long and narrow, flood patterns are shorter and wider, driving patterns are similar to flood but wider still, and diffused patterns are very wide and less intense.
LED Lights – Shapes and Sizes
LEDs come in many shapes and sizes, with large 40” light bars gaining popularity for many trucks including our 5th Gen 4Runners. It is up to you whether you like the new look of a large light bar (some of which are even curved to assist light pattern), or whether you like the classic look of several lights.
Rigid 6” E-Series Combo Spot/Floods 5th Gen 4Runner
For my build (2013 MGM 4Runner Trail), I chose to go with 4 Rigid 6” E-Series Combo Spot/Floods, marrying new technology with the traditional 4×4 look. No matter whether you choose four lights or just one light bar, you will be left with the crucial question: “How the hell do I get this to the battery and get the switch in the cab?”
Option 1: Run Wiring Down the Back
Your choices are to run them to the back of the vehicle and pierce the grommet that houses the electrical items for the rear hatch (then run everything up front). This will allow you to try and sneak things in around the shark fin for the satellite radio, to drill your roof and run things down the A-frame.
Option 2: Run Wiring Down the Windshield
The second and most common option is to run the wiring along the windshield, in between the weather stripping. To make things easier on myself and to prevent water damage I chose to run things down the windshield of the 4Runner.
Rigid 6” E-Series Combo Spot/Floods Install on The Gobi Rack
I am not an electrician, I am a 4Runner enthusiast and a do-it-yourselfer. You accept the responsibility of this install, I do not. Please read all instructions that come with your equipment and accept those terms.
- Wire cutters/strippers
- Soldering iron
- Heat Gun
- Waterproof heat shrink tubing (with sealant)
- 12ga wiring
- Appropriately Fused Relay (in this demonstration I will use the Bussman)
- Zip Ties
- Screen tool (like for fixing a screen door)
- Caulking gun
- Wire splicers for 14-16ga wires
Pro Tip – If you don’t know how to solder, learn. It is very easy to build skill quickly with internet videos, proper equipment, and spare wire.
Using Heat Shrink – Be sure to slide some appropriately sized heat shrink tubing over one of the wires that you are soldering together, solder the wires, then slide the heat shrink over after cooling and shrink the tubing with the heat gun to protect yourself from electric shock and to keep the circuit from shorting. Do this for every solder in this post.
- 3-4 hours
- Prepare your 4Runner, Rigid Industries E-Series lights, Relay, and Wiring Harnesses
Rigid E-Series Step #1: Disconnect the positive terminal of your battery
If you don’t do it now you will forget later. Getting shocked with direct current from a car battery is not fun. Here is a diagram of what we are going to do.
Rigid E-Series Step #2: Check your equipment
Below you can see one of the 4 Rigid Industries 6” E-Series Spot/Flood Combo lights that I am putting on the truck. For all of them, I plugged in the wiring harness, connected them to the battery directly (carefully!), and turned on the switch to make sure they worked. This install chops up the wiring harnesses pretty badly, so you really don’t want to flip the switch in the cab just to see one of them isn’t working right at the end of the install.
Rigid E-Series Step #3: Mount your light(s)
Whether you are sporting a light bar or several Rigid Industries 6” E-Series Spot/Flood Combo lights, it is good idea to mount them first to make sure you like the look, you have all the hardware you need, and to take measurements for trimming any harnesses. During this process I discovered that the supplied brackets for the E-Series lights were too high and caused them to hit the front crossbar on the Gobi Stealth Rack. This required bracket modification to bring the lights down a bit.
Rigid E-Series Step #4: Measure and Cut the wiring harness(s)
So the issue with running wires along the rain gutters of the windshield is that removing the gutters and placing the wires underneath can fracture the plastic and/or cause leaks, whereas placing the smaller wire(s) that come with your lights on top of the gutter can be unwieldy (if you have 4 wires that is 4 bright red positive wires and 4 black negative wires) and apparent (red wires sitting in the gutter will be seen from a mile away).
To circumvent both of the problems, I tested several gauges of wire in the black rain gutters on both sides of the windshield and found that a black 12ga wire squeezes in on top of the gutter nicely, and will be well hidden by virtue of being black (you will see pics of this in a second).
So, whether you have a light bar or 4 lights like me, you now need to cut your wiring harness(es) and solder the all positive wires to a single black 12ga. You will also solder the all negative wires to a single black 12ga, just remember which one is which. After soldering them it is important to use marine grade heat shrink tubing with sealant to make sure the connection is waterproof and protected. It will be sitting in the elements on your roof.
Pro Tip – You can also ground the negative to the roof rack where it bolts to the roof BUT this can sometimes cause issues if you are reusing the relay that came with the wiring harness (the switch and relay need a ground too). I chose to run mine to the engine bay to give it a proper ground.
Run your wires to your relay
Rigid E-Series Step #5: Run the wires to the engine bay
Plug the wiring harnesses into the lights. Zip tie them to the crossbars of your roof rack, bringing one of the 12ga wires (+ or -) to the driver side of the windshield and the other to the passenger side. Push them into the rain gutter using a screen tool and run them under the wiper molding at the base of the windshield into the engine bay.
If everything looks good, back the wires out of the gutter just slightly and apply silicone to the gutters using a caulking gun. Now place the wires back in, pull the slack tight in the engine bay, and run over the 12ga wires with the screen tool once. Take a rag and wipe off any excess silicone.
Rigid E-Series Step #6: Wire up the relay
Now depending on your needs and setup, this step can be quite different. I have several lights and instead of dealing with the clutter under the hood I wired mine to a Bussman RTMR. Shrockworks sells an awesome mounting bracket that fits right behind the factory fusebox (http://www.shrockworks.com/Power-Distribution-Module-pr-16296.html).
This has a great space saving design which still allows access to the firewall for passing these wires to the cab. Many other mounting plates are flatter and wider and do not allow such access. If you are only running the one light bar, or want to run just the roof rack lights off of one switch (and don’t plan on more lights), make sure one of the harnesses you cut is fused correctly and the switch can handle the amp draw, and simply solder things back together (+ to +, – to -) in the engine bay and follow the factory instructions for switch mounting.
If you are going to run many lights on your rig, the Bussman has worked awesome for me, and Shrockworks (no affiliation) sells it pre-wired with 5 switches and 5 constant draws. I simply selected a relay for a switch and soldered the positive 12ga wire to that relay. I then grounded the negative 12ga to a negative bus that I purchased (Blue Sea) and connected to the negative battery terminal.
Mounted Distribution Module with Bussman, Circuit Breaker, Negative Bus and Bracket
Get your trigger wire and power to your switch
Rigid E-Series Step #7: Run the wires you need through the firewall
As I noted before, the behind the fusebox on the driver side there is a rubber grommet that runs through the firewall. In this instance, I ran a light green 12V constant draw wire (to power the switch), a black ground (to keep from having to find chassis to ground to in the cab), and a light blue trigger wire through the firewall. I also pulled all of the other trigger wires for the Bussman through the firewall at the same time for future use and hid them under the driver kick panel in the cab.
Engine Bay Side
Cab Side, under the driver dash
Rigid E-Series Step #8: Wire the switch
I found that the green wire on the party mode button was the backlight power (so the switch will come on at night). I spliced into that with a dark green wire and then wired everything to an Air-On-Board switch. The wires coming from the lights/car are on the left of the pic below, the switch on the right. These were all soldered together.
The wiring went as follows:
- Blue- trigger wire
- Dark Green – backlight
- Black – ground
- Light Green – power supply
- White – trigger for light bar (wired at the same time, ignore for this post)
Rigid E-Series Step #9: Check your work
Make sure you have a fuse in the relay, make sure all of your soldered connections have been covered with heat shrink and insulated. Reconnect the positive terminal for your car battery, and let there be light! I chose to put my switches in the blanks for the heated seats in the center console.
4 Rigid Industries 6” E-Series Spot/Flood Combo lights Mounted on Gobi Stealth Rack