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-   -   Installed 12V Power in Truck Bed (How-To & LONG) (

woodtoolguy 08-04-2013 06:33 PM

Installed 12V Power in Truck Bed (How-To & LONG)
I installed a 12V outlet in the bed of my truck this weekend. The wife & I wanted a constant-hot outlet in the truck bed to run a cooler while camping. We have GoalZero solar panels and a charge-controller to keep the battery from draining while out in the woods.

I recommend this mod ONLY if you have a tonneau cover or other means to keep the outlet away from the elements.

For those interested, here's how I did it. It's not the ONLY way to go, but here are the steps I took:

Here are the parts (partially assembled). A Marine-Grade 12V outlet with water-resistant cover, in-line fuse holder with water-resistant cover, ground pigtail wire and supply wire to reach the battery. I used all 12ga stranded wire with a 15amp fuse.

**EDIT** THE LOCATION SHOWN FOR THE FUSE IS NOT THE BEST CHOICE. If doing this yourself, place the fuse as close as possible to the battery, not the outlet. If the insulation on the supply wire gets damaged or worn, the fuse will interrupt the current flow and prevent a short, or worse a fire.

After deciding where to put the outlet, I removed the right tail light to give me access.

Be careful with the attachment clips. The top clip has a red lock that you must slide with a fingernail before removing. The bottom clip has a lock you press while removing.

Here's the 1 1/8" hole in the bed for the outlet. It's wet from cleaning the cutting fluid and chips. I used a step style drill bit.

Here's the hole from the inside. You can also see the small hole for the ground wire, with the paint sanded away to assure a good ground.

Here's a shot of the outlet installed (from inside the tail light pocket). The ground wire is attached and I have easy access to the fuse holder. I can reach the back of the outlet to attach the ring that locks it in place (VERY IMPORTANT). The wiring and fuse holder tuck inside with plenty of room and the supply wire is secured to the tail light leads.

The supply wire follows the tail light leads all the way back to the battery. It is secured with zip-ties every 1-2 feet to prevent rubbing and damage to the insulation jacket.

The supply wire is attached to the + terminal on the battery, supplying a constant-hot lead. The outlet is powered whether the engine is on or not.

Here's the outlet as viewed from the truck bed.

I used a small bit of RTV sealant on the threads of the outlet to keep it in place and prevent the locking ring from vibrating loose over time. I also dabbed some touch-up paint on the bare steel around the hole to prevent rust. The cover built into the outlet is made from soft rubber and forms a gasket on the outside.

I liked the low-profile install look, so I did not use the rectangular cover plate. Also, I did not want to drill additional holes in my truck.

Thanks for looking!


PappaJohnRam 08-04-2013 07:15 PM

Very nice mod and install!

Grubrunner 08-04-2013 07:17 PM

Great job.

Points for dat.

Asur 08-04-2013 07:36 PM

very nice, reps for sharing your project with us.

Joekrooz 08-04-2013 08:31 PM

Very cool mod. I would like to do this on my truck also. And here I thought I was done modding for awhile. Ha! Thanks for the idea.

012RAMbo 08-04-2013 09:11 PM

Very nice write up and installation! Rep points for you!

Thebestestdrummer 08-04-2013 09:45 PM

That looks great!
But I am curious though, aren't fuse holder typically supposed to go as close to the battery as possible? Obviously not like AT the terminal, but pretty close to it.

will36 08-05-2013 12:50 AM

Thats cool you going to add a light?

woodtoolguy 08-05-2013 12:15 PM


Originally Posted by Thebestestdrummer (Post 1167777)
That looks great!
But I am curious though, aren't fuse holder typically supposed to go as close to the battery as possible? Obviously not like AT the terminal, but pretty close to it.

Yeah, I think you are right. I may go back and make that change. That way the wire is protected in the event there is a short between the battery & outlet. I only considered the fuse for the outlet and not in the event the wire insulation gets worn-away and contacts the vehicle.

I'm a Chemical Engineer, obviously not an Electrical Engineer!


DRX350 08-05-2013 12:40 PM

For my truck, I ran 10g wire from the powered seat fuse (no power seats in truck), to similar type outlet in the bed, but I also wired in the light for the camper shell.

That fuse is 20 amps, with the resistance of the wire at that length, I am running on the safe side of 15 amps, which is still enough to run a 400w inverter. I may change it later on to 6g wire if I decide to buy a true camper so I can install a second battery aft...

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