Auxbeam Switch Panels | The best way to control your electrical accessories
Fog lights, light bars, camp lights, compressor, fridge, inverter... these days every adventure-equipped vehicle is outfitted with many electrical accessories to enhance the adventure experience. Whether it's a rock crawler or a mall crawler, ATV/UTV or RV, adding electrical accessories is a must. Mounting the accessories is usually the easy part,but where will you mount the switches to control your devices? Modern vehicle interiors don't provide many places for adding a single switch, and forget finding the space to add multiple switches. And what about the wiring? Let's say you've got 6 or 8 electrical accessories and maybe you've found a place in the cab for that many switches, but now you've got to run power into the cab and to each switch, and from each switch to the accessory - that's a lot of power wires to run and hide.
Multi-gang switch panels are the answer, and none are better than the ones from Auxbeam. All of the Auxbeam switch panels have a simple to install, one-wire switch panel for either 6 or 8 circuits and a control box you can place anywhere convenient to your vehicle's power source and accessories. Auxbeam offers a wide range of switch panels with different features and this article will help you choose which panel is best for you.
How many devices do you need to control?
Auxbeam offers switch panels to handle either 6 accessories or 8 accessories. Most people these days are choosing to go with one of the 8-gang panels but if you only need to control 6 devices or you have very limited space to mount a switch panel, the 6-gang panel might be for you. Most of the 8-gang units are only slightly larger than the 6-gang units though and the extra circuits will provide for future expansion. This photo shows the relative sizes of the 6-gang and 8-gang compact and XL switch panels.
As you can see, the compact 8-gang panel isn’t much larger than the 6-gang. The 6-gang switch panel is about 3 ½”wide x 2 ½”tall. The compact 8-gang panel is the same height and about 4 ½”wide and the XL panel is about 5 ¼”wide x 3” tall.
There are cases where a larger size might be an advantage and Auxbeam’s RA80 XL is the answer for those situations. Let’s say you’re installing your switch panel in an ATV/UTV that’s going to spend a lot of its time on rough, bouncy trails. Or perhaps a Jeep that’ll be doing the same types of terrain –the RA80 XL panel with its largerswitches could be easier to use when moving in rough environments.
How do these devices need to be controlled?
In addition to simple on/off capabilities, some Auxbeam switch panels offer multiple ways to control your accessories. The AR800 and the RA80 XL offer three ways to control your devices:- On/Off. A device is either on or off just as if the device were controlled by an ordinary switch. Great for things like fog lights or driving.
- Momentary. In this mode, the device will be powered only as long as you hold the switch down, just like pressing the horn button. Adding an accessory horn? This mode is perfect for that.
- Pulsed. In this mode, the device will be pulsed on and off. Press the switch once and the device will flash on/flash off, continuing until the switch is pressed again. This mode is perfect for emergency lights and is also favorite with first responders.
This video demonstrates the three modes:
The AR800 and RA80 XL switch panels have an indicator LED above each switch which shows which mode that switch is set to, you can see the different indicator colors in the video above. LED colors and their indications:
● RED-Toggle, On/Off mode
● BLUE-Momentary, power is on as long as the button is held down
● GREEN-Pulsed, Flash mode
Controlling devices from your smartphone
The AR800 can be controlled and configured from your smartphone through Bluetooth. Why would you want to control your devices from a smartphone when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat with the switch panel right in front of you? Isn’t that redundant? Not really –there are two ways you might use this capability:1. Maybe you don’t want to have the switch panel permanently mounted in your vehicle. If your phone is in a phone holder conveniently located to the driver’s seat, you can use the phone hands-free as a switch panel to control your devices.
2. Imagine your vehicle is at a campsite and you’re sitting around the fire. You’ve got lights mounted on the vehicle to illuminate the campsite, but you don’t feel like getting up from your seat by the cozy campfire to turn the lights off once you get settled. No problem, turn the lights off or on using your smartphone right from your seat by the campfire.
A quick note on pairing with an Android phone –many devices require that the device be paired with the phone before use. The AR800 gets paired through the Auxbeam app, so all you have to do is turn on Bluetooth on the phone and do the pairing in the app.
The AR800 functions can be configured either through Bluetooth as described above or from the keypad as shown in this next illustration. The RA80 XL has the same capabilities for color control and switch functions but instead of Bluetooth, these functions are controlled simply from the large keyboard.
InstallationDetailed instructions with many helpful illustrations are included to make the installation process as easy and trouble-free as possible.
It’s a good idea to read the instructions through from beginningto end before starting your installation to familiarize yourselfwith the entire process. We’ll cover some of the decision points below.
The kits arevery complete and includepretty much everything you’ll need for a
The photo above shows the typical components included with a kit; the details of each kitvary. Pictured is the RA80 XL kitand it includes:
- Top row: switch labels and an Auxbeam decal
- Middle row: control box, switch panel, 60 uamp circuit breaker, mounting hardware
- Bottom row: Zip ties, fuse tap, screwdriver, connection cables and brackets for various mounting situations.
Mounting the Components
The switch panel can be mounted anywhere that’s convenient for use –on the dash, on the center console, perhaps above the windshield as shown in the photo below.
The included mounting brackets should enable you to mount the panel in the best location for your vehicle. An angle adjustable mount and a slim line flush mount are included.
The only real requirement is that the switch panel cable can reach from wherever you mount the switch panel to wherever you mount the control box. Most Auxbeam switch panels come with a 9-foot cable (10-foot for the RA80 XL) so mounting the switch panel in a convenient place in the cab and mounting the control box in a convenient place in the engine compartment should be possible in almost any vehicle.
Finding the right place to mount the control box will depend on your particular vehicleand in some modern crowded engine compartments that could be a challenge, but many people have found that mounting the control box either on top of the air cleaner housing (shown below) or on top of the engine compartment fuse box in a crowded engine compartment is a good way to go.
Once the control unit is mounted, all you really need to do is run power cables from the control box to the battery, run a wire from the control box to a switched accessory circuit (to power up the box only when the ignition switch is in the “on” position), run the switch panel cable to the control box, and connect your accessories. All of this is clearly described in the included instructions.
Most Auxbeam switch panel kits include a control box in which all of the outputs are on one side of the control box, shown in the left photo below. Having the accessory connections all on the same side of the control box is probably the most convenient styleand the easiest to find a proper place in the vehicle to mount the control box, but for special applications (perhaps marine applications where the control box is attached to a bulkhead in an engine room), the BA80 and GA80 units come with a control box with outlets split on two sides as shown in the right photo below.
Once the control box is mounted, accessories can be connected. Wiring is very simple:
Auxbeam has very thoughtfully provided a “bad fuse” LED for each circuit in the 8-gang panels –a bad fuse will immediately be indicated by the LED without having to pull the fuse to inspect it.
Also, they’ve provided spare fuses and a fuse puller on the inside of the control box coverso if a fuse is bad, a light will indicate that and spare fuses and a puller are right there to fix the problem.
In the 8 gang units, the power ratings of the circuits are as follows:
The total power rating of the control unit is 60 amps, so ensure that the total current draw of all of the connected accessories is 60 amps or less if they’re all turned on at once.
Once you’ve decided which accessories to connect to which switches, you can use the provided switch labels to indicate what’s connected to that switch. A wide range of labels for most popular accessories are provided.
Which switch panel is best for you?
Now that you know all about Auxbeam switch panel kits, which one is right for your application? This decision tree should help…
Whichever Auxbeam switch panel you choose, you’ll find them to be easy to install and very reliable. Now get out to your vehicle and power up some accessories!
Article author: Jeff Scherb