How to install the Auxbeam AC-1200 Switch Panel  in an ’07-’18 Jeep JK Wrangler?

How to install the Auxbeam AC-1200 Switch Panel in an ’07-’18 Jeep JK Wrangler?

Published on December 01, 2023 Categories: Blog Post

Installing the Auxbeam AC-1200 switch panel involves a number of steps:

1. Mounting the control box

2. Powering the control box

3. Connecting the switch panel to the control box through the firewall

4. Mounting the switch panel in the cockpit

Mounting the Control Box

Unfortunately, the mounting bracket provided with the AC-1200 12-gang switch panel system is just too long to fit in what is probably the only place in the engine compartment that the large control box for that system can be installed. In the photo below you can see that it’s too long – it overhangs the fender and on the other end it interferes with one of the hard A/C lines.

The location shown in the photo above is really the best place to mount the large AC1200 control box in the crowded JK engine compartment and since the mounting bracket that Auxbeam supplies with the kit just doesn’t work in that location, we’ll make our own. Following the plan in the attached document makes this seemingly complex task pretty straightforward. The plan in that document is printed full size, laid on top of a piece of sheet metal, traced onto the sheet metal and the holes are marked. Then the bracket is cut from the sheet, the holes are drilled and two small bends are made easily done in a vise) and you’ve got a custom bracket perfectly fitted to this location:

Powering The Control Box

There are two power connections to the control box – switched power to operate the box, and higher current power to operate any accessories connected to the system.

Auxbeam supplies heavy-gauge cables to connect the control box to the Jeep’s battery to power accessories connected to the system. Unfortunately since the best place to install the control box is further away from the battery than the length of the supplied cables. Longer cables must be used, and they must be of a gauge heavy enough to carry the 100 amps of current that the control box is capable of supplying to accessories.

A good way to make new cables is to start with a set of jumper cables. Stores like Walmart offer relatively inexpensive jumper cables which are an excellent source of the require wire – this set offers 4-gauge wire and retails for less than $20: Those cables are 20 feet long; only about 6 feet will be required to connect the control box to the battery so if you remove one of the clamps from the jumper cables, cut 6’ of wire from the 20’ and reinstall the clamps you will end up with a 14’ set of jumper cables and enough wire to connect the control box.

Also needed will be 4 ring terminals to terminate each end of the 6’ cables. Auto parts stores like AutoZone and many electrical supply stores offer ring terminals like those shown below – the accept 4-gauge wire and have a 3/8” I.D. ring which is perfect for connecting to the control box and the battery.

A completed cable to connect the control box to the battery made from part of a set of jumper cables can look like the one in the photo below. Red heat-shrink tubing has been added to one of the wires to indicate that it is the positive connection; black heat shrink tubing has also been shrunk over the ring terminals to protect them. The heat shrink tubing isn’t strictly necessary but it makes for a more professional looking cable.

There’s a break in the positive side of the cable with terminals on each end of the break, that’s where the circuit breaker will be inserted into the circuit, as shown in the photo at right.

Supplying Operating Power to the Control Box

The kit came with two fairly short wires for connecting power to the control box. One piece has a fuse adapter on it and the other piece has a plug for the control box. The fuse adapter makes it easy to supply switched power to the control box, but additional wire will be required in almost all installations to connect between these two pieces. Wiring option 1:

When I met with Auxbeam at the SEMA Show, they gave me an alternate wiring solution. This one has a ring terminal on one end for direct connection to the battery and an inline fuse, a plug on the other end for the control box, and a switch in the middle for turning power to the control box on or off. The wires are long enough for most installations. This solution might be better for a camping/overlanding vehicle in which accessories might need to be powered at the campsite when the vehicle isn’t running, but one must remember to turn the switch off if the system isn’t to be used when the engine isn’t running. Or, the ring terminal can be removed and that end of the wire can be connected to a switched circuit if the system isn’t to be used when the engine isn’t running. Wiring option 2:

Whichever wiring solution your kit comes with, both wiring solutions have their benefits and drawbacks but either one will work fine in most implementations.

Wiring option 1:

The other power connection required goes to the Jeep’s fuse panel and provides switched power to operate the system. Switched power is power that’s only active when the ignition switch is in the on/run position and is recommended so the system doesn’t draw power when the engine isn’t running, which might drain the battery. In a JK Wrangler, switched power can be sourced in the “TIPM”, which is Jeep’s term for the fuse box in the engine compartment. TIPM stands for Totally Integrated Power Module, and inside it is a lot more than just the fuse panel, but for our purposes for this installation all we care about is the fuse panel. Auxbeam supplies a fuse adapter with the kit; remove the fuse from position M7 in the fuse panel, plug the fuse tap into that position and insert the fuse removed from position M7 into the open slot in the fuse tap and shown in the photo below. Fuse M7 protects the auxiliary power outlet in the Jeep, and since it’s switched power (although this can be overridden to constant power in some models with a dash setting) it’s a good place to provide power to operate the switch panel system. Note: verify that the setting for this circuit is switched power, not constant. Using constant power for the operation of the switch panel system isn’t recommended because it could drain the battery when the engine isn’t running.

Auxbeam provides a short length of red wire with a two-pin plug on one end, this plug goes into a two-pin location inside the control box. The other end of this red wire must connect to the loose end of the fuse tap installed above, and an extra length of red wire is required because the combination of the fuse tap wire and the control box wire is too short to reach between them. Auto parts stores sell red 16-gauge wire for this purpose.

Wiring option 2:

With the second wiring option, the ring terminal is connected to the positive terminal of the battery, and the wires that connect to the switch get routed through the firewall as will be described below; the switch can be mounted in any convenient place on or under the dash. The switch is used to control power to operate the system and should be switched off when the Jeep isn’t running.

Connecting the Switch Panel to the Control Box through the firewall

Since the control box is in the engine compartment and the switch panel will be in the cockpit, the switch panel cable must be run through the firewall. There are two places on the JK firewall where holes a provided for running wires into the cockpi

Firewall Hole on the Battery Side:

A good place to run the wire that connects the switch panel to the control box through the JK firewall is through a hole that exists in the firewall just behind the battery (marked by the square in the photo below). To access it pull the plastic cable straps (arrows) off the studs in the firewall and pull back cable and the firewall insulation. The hole is covered with a piece of soft black self-stick plastic that can be peeled back.

Once the insulation and self-stick plastic are out of the way, cut a hole in the insulation on the inside of the firewall that’s big enough to push the plug through. The insulation is backed with plastic, so you’ll need to cut a hole through the plastic. There won’t be much room to push the plug through the hole, so it may help to pull out some of the insulation with needle-nose pliers to make more room. When the hole is large enough, push the wire through monitor plug first; when enough has been pushed through you can reach under the dash and pull it through from that side. Pull the wire through until most of the wire is inside the Jeep.

Once the wire is routed through the firewall, press the firewall insulation back into place and replace the cable straps on the studs.

Firewall Hole on the Driver (Left) Side:

This location is best used with the option 2 wiring that has a switch to be installed in the cockpit. The wires for the switch can be run into the cockpit is in the upper left corner, just under the curved part of the fender. The arrow shows the location:

To use this location, begin by removing the trim panel on the side of the dash:

The best way to run wires through this location is to push a coat hanger or other stiff wire into the cockpit from the engine compartment side. From the factory this location has foam in it, so the stiff wire will need to be pushed through the foam. The arrow in the photo at left shows the hole the wires will go through, in the photo at right a coat hanger has been pushed through that hole into the engine compartment.

Once the stiff wire is through, the wires to be run into the cockpit can be taped to the stiff wire and pulled through from the cockpit side. Once in the cockpit the wires can be reattached to the switch and the switch can be mounted in a convenient location.

If you’re using wiring option 2 with the switch, remove the switch from the wires before pulling them through and reattach the switch once the ends of the wires have been pulled into the cockpit. The switch can be mounted on the lower dash panel; this photo shows that panel with some electrical outlets already mounted there; another hole is easily added for mounting the switch.

This next photo shows the wires from the option 2 wiring laying temporarily in place in the engine compartment – the end with the ring terminal and fuse runs over to the battery and the end with the connector for the control box runs to the control box.

The photo above shows the end with the ring terminal routed to the positive terminal of the battery. Alternately, that wire could be connected into the fuse box with a fuse adapter if you wanted the system to be operated on switched power so it turns off when the engine isn’t running.

Installing the Switch Panel

Once the switch panel cable is run into the cockpit, it’s time to decide where to mount the switch panel.

Having 12 oversize switch buttons, it’s a fairly large panel to find a place for within reach of the driver in a JK.

Some people mount it on the trim panel below the instrument panel and steering wheel, but mounted there it can be hard to see and may be a distraction while driving, so that may not be the best location. (A switch panel in this location is shown on page 5 of the AC-1200 instructions.) Two other locations that work in the JK are shown in the photos below – it can be mounted to the dash either in front of or behind the dash-top tray, or it can be mounted just ahead of the shifter on the center console.

There are two other options for controlling accessories connected to the system…

One option is to use the supplied remote control. In this next photo, the remote is sitting in a cell phone holder that’s mounted to the windshield of the TJ with a suction mount. The remote can turn any of the 12 circuits on or off, the only thing you don’t get with this option is the labels on the keys so you will have to remember what each button does. But an additional feature you do get is the ability to control the circuits remotely – say for example you’ve got campsite accessories connected to the Auxbeam system, you can turn them on or off while sitting at the campfire. Perhaps campsite lights attached to the roof rack of the Jeep?

The other option is to use the Auxbeam Switch Panel app from your Android device or iPhone. The app is active in this next photo; the top half of the screen shows the 12 keys and you can configure the keytops on the screen with the same labels you might have put on the physical switch panel. And you can control the system anywhere within range of the Bluetooth connection.