In a previous post, I discussed how to add LED lights to a 44″ John Deere snowblower after realizing that the headlamps on the tractor were not sufficient while blowing snow at night. After adding the front lights to the snowblower, my next project was to add some LED lighting to the rear of the tractor, so backing up and night would be easier and safer.
This post details how I added two LED lights to the rear of my John Deere X500.
This post will probably help with a variety of John Deere tractors, but in case details are needed, here is what I was working with:
Tractor – 2014 John Deere X500
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 $17.99 these lights are excellent.
- 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
- Switch. A switch for the dash will be needed and I chose a switch with a waterproof cap: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078KBC5VH
- Quick splice wire terminals: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CP987BN
- 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
- Wire conduit. There are a few options here too, but I chose this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QQNW699
- 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 pliers (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)
- Drill and 1/2″ drill bit
In addition to the step-by-step instructions below, I also put together a video to explain some of the steps in greater detail.
Unpackage all of the equipment and get it ready. The two LED lights have wiring connected to them already and additional wire will need to be connected to them as part of this project.
After purchasing the supplies listed above or using something else, the rear of the tractor will need to be prepared. Just behind the seat of my X500 there are two holes already in the body of the tractor, designed to be used for an enclosed cab accessory. Because I don’t have plans on using the enclosure and I’d prefer not to make new holes in my tractor, I decided to use these for my lights.
Prepare the lights to be mounted on the tractor by installing the brackets that are included. I was able to use the brackets, bolts, and nuts that came with the lights and did not need to purchase any other hardware.
The holes on the rear of the tractor behind the seat have two holes on either side. I chose to use one hole for the light mount and the other for the wire. Below is a picture from the underside showing the wiring and bolt coming through the hole.
Pro tip #1 – If 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.
Another benefit of mounting the lights this way is that they can swivel back and forth and up and down, allowing them to be easily adjusted based on the work you are doing. Below is a picture showing the topside of the tractor with the light mounted.
The lights have a very small profile, below is a picture showing what the lights look like from the side of the tractor.
The next step is to mount the second light in the same manner as the first. Below are a few pictures of how the lights should look once mounted.
Mounting the lights is the easiest part of this project. Now that the lights are installed, the next part is wiring them to a power source. I decided to run my wiring from the battery and along the underside of the right side of the tractor. To do this, I roughly measured the distance between the front of the tractor (near the underside of the dashboard) and the rear of the tractor and cut a length of wiring. Next, I placed that wiring within the 1/2″ flex conduit to protect the wires. Once the wiring was inside the conduit, I found a channel that I could run it along the underside of the right side of the tractor that wouldn’t be impinged by any movement, pedals, etc.
On the front of the tractor, I had the conduit come out along the right side, just under the battery and fed it to the top of the battery. As a reminder, the red wire will connect to the switch we will eventually install and the black will connect directly to the ground wire of the battery. I did not connect the wiring to any power source yet, so I didn’t have to worry about working with any hot wires as I made my connections on the rear of the tractor. With the power supply wires at the rear of the tractor now, it’s time to connect the two rear LED lights together and to the power source.
The first step is to measure the distance between the two lights. Take this measurement from under the tractor and from the wire of one light to the other. Once you have this measurement, cut a length of braided cable sheathing and have this ready. Now, get two yellow butt connectors and your crimping tool. Next, get one heat shrink tube that is large enough to go over two butt connectors. With everything ready, slide the braided cable sheathing over the left light wire and push it up the wiring so it’s out of your way. Now slide the shrink tubing over the wiring and crimp on the yellow butt connectors to the red and black wires respectively. A picture is below showing what this should look like at this point.
Now that the left side is ready, the right side of the butt connector will have both the right LED wires going into it as well as the power supply wires from the battery. Once you have the two red and two black wires inserted into the right side of the butt connectors, crimp those as shown below.
With the wires all connected and shrink tubing heated and completed, the braided wire sheath that had been slid over the left wire and held this entire time can be released and pushed over the entire wiring as shown below.
With this done, zip ties can be added and the wiring pulled tight toward the front of the tractor. This ensures everything is well out of the way of the tires or anything else (note – you will see an additional cable that isn’t part of this project, for just these lights look at the wires within the cable sheath).
At this point, the rear of the tractor is done and the focus will move to the dash and battery. I decided to install a switch on my dash for the rear lights and found a spot that was easily accessible under the dash that had room for a switch. The switch I chose is one that has a waterproof covering on it. In addition to the switch, two crimp on connectors will be needed for the wires (hot wire from the battery and red wire to the rear lights).
I first drilled a small pilot hole in my dash, then using a 1/2″ drill bit, I drilled the hole for my new switch. After drilling the hole, I installed the switch as shown below.
For the next step, cut the red and black wires from the rear lights to length – the black wire will be shorter because it only needs to go near the battery, and the red wire will need to extend to the bottom of the new switch just installed. Use a splice connector to clamp on to a ground wire from the battery if one exists, otherwise clamp on a ring tongue connector to connect to the negative post of the battery. A picture below shows the splice connector I used for ground (note the red arrow).
With the ground wire connected to the rear lights, the red wire from the rear lights needs to be connected to one end of the new switch. A new wire needs to be created (red) that goes from the positive side of the battery to the new switch in order to provide it power. I used a splice connector for the new red wire leading to the switch just like I used for the ground wire. The below picture shows the splice connector on a red wire leading from the battery and also the wire I created that is coming from the switch on the dash. After the picture was taken, I connected these two.
Once that red wire is connected from the switch to the battery, try the switch and make sure both lights turn on.
After confirming everything works, clean up the wiring under the hood and dash by using zip ties. Below is a picture of what the red wires looked like when I was done with the project.
These lights have been great and made a huge difference.