Our aftermarket JCR rear bumper assembly came equipped with two round, energy-efficient, LED reverse lights. While we believe they were intended to serve as supplemental reverse lights, they didn’t significantly improve illumination during the act of reversing. They add a nice touch to the design of the bumper, but they don’t add much functionality.
After giving it some thought, I decided that they might make nice camp lights. They’re low-draw LEDs that could be wired to a switched 12V power source and activated anytime, even when the vehicle is off. This would effectively illuminate the area around the rear of the Jeep which might come in extremely handy around the campsite.
To improve upon this concept, install a remotely activated switch that would allow us to turn the lights on and off with a key fob. How helpful would that be if you have to climb out of your tent in the middle of the night to tend to business? We’ve all been there.
Googling for a “12V remote switch” yielded a lot of options, all of which were of questionable quality. I settled for the Logisys RM02 12V 15AMP Relay Kit found on Amazon for around $16 USD.
The one remaining challenge was figuring out how to wire everything while retaining the reverse light functionality. For this, I would need a diode. This prevents the electricity from flowing backwards through the adjacent, alternate circuit.
A useful resource that I found while researching this project was this helpful thread on TacomaWorld. I didn’t duplicate this process exactly, because the folks in this thread didn’t use a remote switch, but it really helped me wrap my head around the technical details.
We’ve used the lights on a few camping trips now, and we’ve found that they are very useful for illuminating the camping area. The key fob remotes have great range, and the ability to turn them on and off from our pocket or from our tent is a great convenience.
The only drawback is the position of the lights themselves. The tailgate of our Jeep Cherokee is a central part of our camping experience, as it contains our fridge, and is the space that we utilize for food preparation. Subsequently, when one approaches the Jeep from behind, the light is more blinding than helpful.
In the future, I may change things around a little; perhaps use downward-facing, tailgate-installed LEDs instead. However, for now, this is a sound proof-of-concept, and effectively enhances the functionality of the supplemental LED reverse lights.