Noob full o'questions: PVC or TXL insulation? Loom or cable? Plugs or crimps?


Registered Member
Hey folks -figured I'd ask the folks that do this more than I do.

I'm looking at setting up my new F150 with dual color LED's in amber (for my electrical business) and blue (for fire/EMS response). The new multi-color tech has made this seem achievable, if more expensive than a single-color setup. This is my goal:

F150 with cap and lights trim.png

A quick tally:
Rear Warning Light / TA Bar
Under Bumper Lights (Rear) - 360's
Side Window Mini-Bars
Mid-Body Undercarriage Light (still debating this one)
Interior / Visor Light Bar
High-Mount Grille Lights
Low Mount (License) Lights
Bumper-Mount Lights (360's)

All lights would be Blue/Amber Dual Color capable, not sure if I'll try for white takedowns in the visor bar or not.

I'm still debating having hideaways in the taillights and headlights (probably just go red in the rear and clear in the front for those) and mirror lights (I'm already gonna have to move a lot of interior panels, not sure I wanna crack the doors or not).

Thinking about a Brookings BR-995 (or whatever rebranded version) control panel as the control point; It allows 3 levels of lighting and can control a TA bar. My biggest sticking points are that I want to be able to have more control than simply "ALL/NONE", but I also need to be able to choose Blue, Amber, or Both, and operate the TA bar. (If any of you have suggestions of other boxes, I'll gladly take them)

I've read a fair amount of posts, so while I'm a little upset that my budget had to essentially triple by staying away from Chinesium :eek: :mad:, I figure it's the same principle I apply to body armor and life safety equipment - buy once, cry once - so I'm shopping more Whelen, FedSig, SoS and Feniex than I was before, but trying to do this the right way the first time leaves me with a bunch of questions.

Back in the day I wired basic lights for my Dart and Bronco - 2 PAR 36's in the grille to go with the dash light, and then, when I bought my Taurus I upscaled: Five-O dash light. headlight wig-wags, brake/backup backflash and rear deck light, all on a Unitrol slide switch. While they didn't look bad, and improved with each effort, I think back and cringe about some of the methods I used, so I started researching this project first, studying details and recalling examples I've seen through 30 years on the job with dozens of different manufacturers and upfitters having their hands in our vehicles.

When reviewing the upfitter manual for Fords, they suggest using automotive grade high temp abrasion resistant wire for under body and under hood use - TXL, GXL or SXL - and advise against using PVC, the most common insulation available.

How many of you actually follow that advice? Or do you simply keep your wiring away from direct heat and towards the top of frame members?

They also recommend using the ribbed nylon split looms; I don't have a problem with that per se, but I was debating the time involved in assembling them versus using a multiconductor tray cable assembly, say, 18/6. I know to bush openings and allow for flexing. Do any of you run cables instead of loomed wires?

Last bit. I was thinking of using multiconductor pin and socket plug assemblies like a Molex or Deutsch instead of just crimping the pigtail to whatever wiring system I wind up using. How many of you do that?

I'm planning on keeping this system as long as I have the truck, and I want it to be durable, safe, easily repairable or upgradable, modular and not look like a hayseed DIY job.

MST of queries, but thanks for the chance to pick your brains. Mods, if this needs to be moved, please feel free to di so, and Mea Culpa.


Several part reply -
1) Definitely avoid the unbranded, or 'fake' branded Chinese'll just eventually have to replace it.
2) There are lots of options for dual color, so you're good there...I personally stick with Feniex for the pricing, but used Whelen is also very get-able.
3) For high heat areas, I think loom is a must. You can't just keep it away from hot points - yeah, the wire *might* survive...but it also might not, and then you'll lose the whole vehicle.
4) For the connections - I solder as much as possible, and I rely on 'quick-disconnect' plugs as little as possible - it's just another point to fail. I know guys that build harnesses with plugs every 3 feet - there's nothing good about it unless you remove your lights every night.

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