My John Deere X500 tractor is great and is always up to any challenge I seem to throw at it. This year I added a John Deere 44″ snowblower to my implement collection and have been very impressed with it. I’ve definitely put it through its paces, getting 38″ of snow in a single day and it did fantastic. While I can’t complain about the functionality of the John Deere X500, the headlights leave a bit to be desired. When using the snowblower at night, it became immediately obvious that the headlights were blocked by the blower and provided no value.
This post will probably help with a variety of John Deere tractors and snowblowers, but in case details are needed, here is what I was working with:
Tractor – 2014 John Deere X500
Snowblower – Model 700M, 44″ Snowblower
I started looking around online and didn’t find a ready-made solution, but did find some people talking in forum posts about how they added lights to their snowblower. I decided to give it a try and this post details what I did.
Note – I do not receive any type of benefit if you buy these items and this is my unbiased review of the equipment I purchased.
- Lights. I decided on a floodlight style LED light that would not draw much power and was sealed for exterior use. I decided on these lights for this project: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IY3YLCI/. For $16.99 these lights are awesome.
- Magnetic Base. I decided up front not to drill any holes in the snowblower itself for the lights because I was worried about it rusting, so I went with heavy-duty magnets for my lights. Made by the same company as the lights, I chose these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0831MG3CM. They are very strong and I’ve used them in several storms now and they haven’t budged at all.
- Wire. If you don’t already have some wire laying around, you will need some for this project. I used this and it worked great: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0814X5W8J
- Heat Shrink Tubing. I like my wiring jobs to be clean and last a long time, so I always use heat shrink for my connections. I bought this kit and used a heat gun (although most any heat source will work): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089D82FLG
- Braided Cable Sleeve. You could use a few different things here, but something is needed to protect the wire that will be exposed. I used braided cable sleeve that can be shrunk with heat: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RZXSJBM
- Cable Management. And finally, some zip ties and anchors to keep everything in place: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08F77YVYB
You may have some of the above already and won’t need to purchase them. I had a few things as well and didn’t need to get them, but I will list them below just in case you don’t have them and will need to get them.
- 10mm wrench
- Butt connectors
- Wire strippers (I use these from Home Depot and they are great: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Southwire-Wire-Stripper-10-AWG-20-AWG-64807940/314660228)
- Crimping plyers (I use these from Home Depot and they are also great: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Channellock-9-1-2-in-Crimping-Pliers-909/202304949)
Unpackage all of the equipment and get it ready. The two LED lights will have wiring connected to them already and you will be adding to these wires in the following steps.
Once you get the equipment above or whatever you are choosing to use, you’ll need to determine where to mount the lights. As I mentioned earlier, I used magnetic mounts, so it is easy to move the lights around if needed (although I have not needed to yet). If you decide to drill holes in the snowblower and permanently mount the lights, you’ll need to figure out your location first. I opted to have the lights near the ends of the snowblower and would recommend that.
Once you have determined where the lights are going to be mounted, attach the LED lights to the magnetic base. The two magnetic bases come ready to attach to the LEDs if you got the lights and base I linked to above.
The LED lights come with a bracket that can be bolted on to the base. Use the hex key that came with the base and mount the bracket. When completed, it should look like the below image.
Inside the box with the LED lights, you will find the mounting hardware. This includes the base which will attach to the bracket you just bolted on to the magnetic base. This base has a bolt coming out of the top which will attach to the LED light itself, and four smaller bolts that connect the base to the bracket. I recommend not making these completely tight just yet, as you will need to adjust the lights after you mount them on the blower for the correct positioning, then tighten them.
Pro tip #1 – If you’re using a wrench or socket, it is 10mm.
Pro tip #2 – In case you’re wondering what order to put the regular washer and lock washer on the bolt, it is lock washer first, followed by the regular washer as shown below.
The finished product should look like below, ready for you to add on the LED light.
Now, attach the LED lights to the brackets and they should look like the picture below.
Place the two lights on the snowblower in the position you want them to be in. This will be important so you can measure how much wiring you will need to connect the lights.
Now that you have the lights on the snowblower and in the position you want them to be in, you will need to wire them together. This is one of the more challenging parts to this project if you’re not used to electrical work. Each light has a small amount of wire coming out of it and it has a black and red wire. Get your electrical wire and determine how much you will need in order to make both lights connect to each other.
Below is a picture of what this will look like when it’s done. I will walk you through this process, but at this point there is one thing I want to point out. I decided to create a quick-connect way of powering my new LED lights so when I’m done with the snowblower for the season, I can simply unplug the wires and take off my snowblower, leaving the LED lights mounted on it for next year. In order to do this, I ran cabling through the grill of the tractor and into some quick connect style connectors just inside of the grill. You may want to do this different, but you should be thinking about how you’ll disconnect the power when it’s time to put the snowblower away for the year.
This also means you will need to measure how much wiring you will need to supply the lights with power.
Once you have determined how much wiring you need, cut your new wiring and connect the red and black wires of one LED light to your new wiring. It doesn’t matter which LED light you start with, but only connect one side. I used butt connectors and then shrink tubing over each connector to keep them intact and also waterproof.
You should now have one LED connected to your new wire with butt connectors and the connectors nicely protected with shrink tubing. You will now want to feed your new wire through your cable management protection (this is what I used the braided cable management sleeve for that is linked above). You have to do this step before you connect the second LED light, otherwise you can’t get the cable management sleeve on.
One item to note – at this next butt connection, you are going to have one set of wires crimped into one side of the butt connector (your new wiring that is coming from the other LED light) and then two sets of wires crimped in the other side. One set of wires will be the wiring coming from the LED light you have not connected yet and the other is going to be the set of wires that will give the lights power. I mention this because you will need to determine how you want to protect these cables, which depends on what kind of cable management solution you purchased. In my situation, I placed one braided sleeve over the wiring that is connected to the LED light in addition to the braided sleeve I slide over my new wires (mentioned above) that is connected to the other LED light. I had the two sleeves meet each other at the butt connection and overlap slightly, then used a heat gun to shrink them down on each other. If you are using a hard plastic type of cable management solution (like tubing) you could also cut a slit in the tubing for this “T” connection you are going to be making.
Now that you have your cable management sleeve(s) in place, slide on shrink tubing over each wire to prepare for the butt connectors. Crimp on the butt connectors to the opposite side of the wires you just connected to the first LED light. At this point, stop working on the LED lights and move to the tractor for the power supply.
The way I decided to wire my lights was to use the power wires that feed the headlights. This way, if I have my headlights on, my LED lights on the snowblower will also automatically turn on by the same switch. It also eliminates the need to add any switches and is just a clean way of doing it. You could certainly add a switch though, if that was your preference.
To use the headlight switch and wiring, you’ll need to pull back the hood of the tractor. Once you do that, you will see wires leading from the battery area up to the headlights. On my tractor, there was cable tubing protecting the wires and I opened that up to expose the wires inside. Below is a picture of what it looked like before I added my wiring.
The black cable tubing shown in the bottom right of the photo contains the hot and ground wires for the headlights. I decided to cut these wires on the back side (opposed to the grill side) of the white quick-connect plug that can be seen in this photo. Once I cut the two wires, I crimped on a butt connector to the side of the wires headed back to the headlight switch. Now is the time to slide on your heat shrink tubing over these butt connectors so you can slide them over the finished connections when you’re done.
On the other side of the butt connector, I put in the two original wires that feed the headlights as well as my two new wires that will to go the new LED lights on the snowblower. In my scenario, I measured enough wire to go from where I cut the headlight wires to just past the grill of the tractor. Now crimp the butt connectors and slide the heat shrink tubing over them and shrink them.
Pro tip #3 – At this point you should turn the key on your tractor to the headlight position and make sure your existing headlights are still functioning.
Now that your power supply wires are ready and your existing headlights still work, slide your cable management sleeve over the new wires you just added to the headlight wires. Also slide on heat shrink tubing over each of the wires. Next crimp on some quick connect style connectors to each wire, slide the heat shrink tubing over your connectors, and shrink it.
At this point, go back to the LED lights on the snowblower. You should have one LED light connected to your new wiring and the cable management slid over this new wiring. At the end of the wiring, you should also have butt connectors with heat shrink tubing on the wires, ready to be pulled over the butt connectors and heated up.
Now insert the wires from the opposite side LED light AND the wires that will lead from the top of the snowblower to the power supply wiring sitting near the grill of the tractor. Crimp those into the butt connectors, shrink the tubing, and cover everything with your cable management protection.
Next, put your cable management sleeve or tubing over the wires that will go from the top of the snowblower to the grill. After the wires are in the cable management, slide a heat shrink tube over each wire. Crimp on the opposite connector to the end of these wires so it will connect to quick connect connectors you put on the end of the wires at the grill.
You may want to add a bracket or something to these wires so when your snowblower is disconnected, the power supply wires for your LED lights aren’t bouncing around inside the engine compartment. You could either connect the wires to the grill itself, or just inside the grill with a zip tie or an actual bracket.
Next, for the moment of truth…turn on the power to the headlights. You should have both your headlights and new LED lights like this:
If everything is working as expected, use the cable anchors and zip ties to clean everything up and make sure the wires won’t get pulled when snowblowing. Make sure to clean the top of the blower first and rubbing alcohol does a great job. Once the surface is clean and dry, attach the anchors with the tape and they will stay even in severe weather.
This winter has given me several chances to use my new lights and they have been just great. They are very bright, have a great height and width, and have not moved once, even when getting snow thrown on them. I may be adding some lights to the back of the tractor next, so stay tuned.