Off-roading is a thrilling adventure that demands both skill and preparation. One crucial aspect of outfitting your off-road vehicle with accessories is wiring. Properly wiring your accessories ensures functionality, safety, and a seamless integration into your vehicle. In this article, we will explore the essential steps and considerations for wiring your PROJECT X off-road accessories, from planning and organizing to best practices during the actual installation process.
We’ll also cover how these products integrate directly into our GhostBox Wireless Accessory Control System, creating a simple and effective ecosystem in your rig. Whether you're adding Series X or Series One lights, a Blizzard Box, a portable compressor, or other accessories, mastering the art of wiring will ensure years of optimal performance from your PROJECT X products.
Planning and Preparation
Before diving into the wiring process, it's vital to plan and prepare. Start by making a list of the accessories you want to install, such as auxiliary lights, portable fridges, or an onboard air compressor, and the location of each accessory.
For this article, we will use examples of wiring up our accessories on a 2022 Ford Bronco Badlands. We’ll be installing a roof light bar containing six FF.70 driving lights, a bumper bar containing four HP.70 driving lights, and a 41qt Blizzard Box portable fridge/freezer in the back. All of these accessories will be controlled by our Ghost Box wireless accessory control system.
After planning the layout of your accessories, you’ll want to consider the power requirements and the amperage draw of each product, both of which you can usually find on the manufacturer’s website or in your user manual.
In our example, we will be using four Ghost Box modules to power our different accessories. Each module powers two circuits,one 40 amp and one 20 amp. Since some of our accessories have a higher amperage draw (such as our HP.70 bumper lights), we will need to split up the wiring for these four lights between two modules, utilizing one 40 amp circuit on each module to power two lights. Ghost Box module #1 and #2 will control our bumper lights, module #3 will control our roof lights, and module #4 will control our portable fridge in the back of the vehicle.
If you purchased a Ghost Box system, you can further expand your ecosystem by adding up to 24 modules (controlling up to 48 different accessories), and control them all through the PROJECT X Mobile Command App.
This is also a good time to assess your vehicle's electrical system to determine if any upgrades or modifications are necessary. It may be beneficial to install a secondary battery or upgrade the existing alternator to handle the increased electrical load if many of your accessories will be used at the same time.
Wiring Size and Length:
Wire size and length play a vital roll in successfully wiring your accessories. Smaller gauge wiring will handle less amperage draw accessories while heavy duty accessories (such as our HP.70 lights) require larger gauge wiring due to the higher amp draw. Wiring length is important not only to deliver that power across your vehicle, but to minimize line-loss. Line-loss refers to the drop in voltage that occurs when power is being carried over a long distance through a wire.
There are many online calculators to assist you in determining the proper wire gauge and length for your particular accessory’s power needs. These are important tools to have on hand when building your wiring harnesses.
Planning Your Accessory Wiring Using the Ghost Box
The Ghost Box system makes wiring and controlling your accessories a breeze compared to the traditional way of wiring 12v products. We recommend getting out some colored pencils and paper to draw a diagram of your vehicle and the wiring going to each product before beginning the installation process. This helps visualize the entire system during the installation.
First, we’ll want to plan where we’ll be mounting each of our Ghost Box modules. This will help us in determining the wiring needed to power each module. Modules #1, #2, and #3 will be mounted under the hood, near the battery. This allows us to use a shorter length of 12v power and ground wires to power each module. Each Ghost Box module has a maximum circuit output of 40 amps, so our wiring harness for each module will need to handle 40 amps. This means our power and ground wires going to the roof must be at least 12 gauge.
Now onto building the wiring harnesses from the modules to the accessories. Our Bronco roof light bar consists of six Series One FF.70 driving lights. Each FF.70 draws 3 ampsat full power, so our wiring harness needs to be built to sufficiently handle 18 ampsfrom module #3 under the hood. Using the calculator linked above, the minimum wire size we can use for the whole light bar is 12 gauge.
From here, you’ll need to split your power and ground harness into the six lights. There are several methods of doing this, but for LED lights on a 12v system, they should be wired in parallel, with power and ground wires splitting off the main harness to each light. Since these individual light harnesses are short in length, we can use 16 gauge wire from the main harness to each light. Remember, our lights also have DRLs, which means you’ll need to run an additional 16 gauge wire to each DRL wire if you wish to operate the DRLs independently.
For the bumper bar, since we are using two Ghost Box modules to control four HP.70 lights, the wiring needs to be split to sufficiently power the lights. We recommend using one module to power the inner two lights, and one module to power the outer two. You can split them in this fashion, or into left and right if you wish.
Each HP.70 draws a maximum 8.9 amps, so our wiring from the Ghost Box module under the hood to the two lights on the bumper must handle at least 18 amps. Again, using the calculator above, we should be using at least 12 gauge wire for this section.
Once you have the wiring pulled to the bumper, you can split the power and ground wires between the two lights. Using 14 gauge wire here is sufficient, since you’ll be splitting the amperage draw in half.
The Blizzard Box in the back of our vehicle draws far less power than our light bars. At maximum output, the portable fridge draws 5.6 amps, and since we will be mounting the Ghost Box module #4 in the cargo area, we can use a shorter length of wire. For a draw of 5.6 amp,we can use 20 gauge wire to power the fridge.
Now that you understand how the wiring all works, you’ll want to gather all the necessary tools and materials, including wire, connectors, fuses, switches, shrink tubing, and electrical tape. Having everything on hand will streamline the installation process.
Organizing and Routing
Proper organization and routing of the wiring harnesses are crucial for a clean and functional installation. Start by locating suitable paths for running the wires. Avoid sharp edges, hot surfaces, and moving parts. Use existing wire looms or secure the wiring harnesses with zip ties or adhesive mounts.
Separate the wires based on their functions, such as power, ground, and switches. Color-coded wires or labeling can simplify identification and troubleshooting later on. Grouping wires together will also help in preventing tangling and confusion.
Consider the length of the wires and ensure they are long enough to reach each accessory without tension or strain. It's better to have some slack rather than a tight fit, which can cause damage over time.
Once you have all your wires for each harness and your wiring splits laid out, you can begin stripping your wire leads and making all the connections.
Properly connecting the off-road accessories to a power source is vital for their functionality. In our example, we will be wiring all of our accessories to the Ghost Box system, which utilizes modules mounted around your vehicle to create a wireless mesh network to control your accessories. The beauty of the Ghost Box system is reducing the amount of wiring needed around your vehicle, and reducing the number of wires going in and out of the cabin.
Connect the positive wire of each accessory to the power source using the appropriate gauge wire. It's recommended to use marine-grade, tinned copper wire for its durability and resistance to corrosion. Crimp or solder connectors onto the wires and use heat shrink tubing or electrical tape to provide insulation and protection.
When routing the wires, avoid excessive exposure to heat or moving parts. Utilize grommets or protective sleeves when passing through metal surfaces to prevent chafing or fraying.
Proper grounding ensures the safe operation of your off-road accessories and helps prevent electrical issues. Identify suitable grounding points on the vehicle's frame, ensuring they are clean and free of rust or paint. Remove any surface contaminants to establish a good electrical connection. Again, using the Ghost Box system to wire your accessories makes this process much easier than searching for a suitable ground.
Use a similar gauge wire as the power wire and attach it securely to the grounding point. Ensure the connection is tight and protected from moisture or corrosion using dielectric grease and heat shrink tubing.
If you’re installing a Ghost Box system, we recommend wiring the modules and keypad to power and ground before mounting them, ensuring the green LED light is flashing on the module. This means your module is ready to be wired to your accessories. After all the connections are made, you can mount the modules to your vehicle using the included hardware or double-sided adhesive.
Switches and Controls
Incorporating switches and controls into your wiring setup allows you to activate and control each off-road accessory independently. The Ghost Box system provides a centralized wireless keypad inside the cabin to control all your accessories, requiring less wires to pass through the firewall and grouping all your switches into a clean, convenient location in the driver’s reach.
If you’re not using a Ghost Box, consider the location of switches, ensuring they are easily accessible while driving. Install switches in a secure and protected manner to avoid accidental engagement. Connect the switches to the power source using appropriate wiring, and install fuses and relays as necessary to protect the circuitry. Label or mark each switch to indicate the corresponding accessory it controls, enhancing convenience and troubleshooting in the future.
Setting up your Ghost Box switches and functions couldn’t be easier. Just download the PROJECT X Mobile Command app and begin the step-by-step process of configuring your accessories wirelessly from your mobile device. When you have all your accessories assigned to buttons in the app, you can sync them directly to your physical keypad inside the vehicle.
Wiring your PROJECT X accessories is a crucial step in optimizing your vehicle's capabilities for off-road adventures. By planning, organizing, and executing a meticulous wiring setup, you ensure functionality, safety, and longevity of your accessories. Remember to consider power requirements, properly route the wires, establish solid connections, and incorporate suitable switches and controls. With attention to detail and adherence to best practices, you can master the art of wiring and enjoy a seamless integration of your off-road accessories, ensuring your success in your adventures for years to come.