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Hot Rods How do I wire a dome light ?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by J.M., Oct 2, 2014.

  1. J.M.
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 10


    Hi, I want to make a dome light that works off a switch and the door switches. Can any one help. thanks Jim
  2. VANDENPLAS likes this.
  3. bonzo-1
    Joined: Oct 13, 2010
    Posts: 339


    positive path Battery - fuse - light
    Ground path Light- split to door switch Short to ground when door open and toggle to ground
    rockable likes this.
  4. Xtrom
    Joined: Mar 23, 2010
    Posts: 1,018

    from Forman, ND

    Like bonzo said. Two ground wires coming off the light. One to the door switch and one to the switch on the roof/dash.

  5. And the hot wire is hot to the bulb at all times. So make sure that the frame of the light (if it grounds the bulb) is insulated from the car frame. Cuz like the guys said above, the light comes on when the ground connects to the light.
    lothiandon1940 and olscrounger like this.
  6. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 49,795


    helps if you get a dome light from something, which has the two wires going to it, instead of just one.

    connect the red wire to +, connect the white wire to the door jamb switch.


  7. 911 steve
    Joined: Nov 29, 2012
    Posts: 642

    911 steve
    from nebraska

    I need some help also. I have 2 domelamps for a 40 Ford from Bob Drake that has a single wire from them. I have door jamb switches that only have one terminal. There is a power wire from the KwikWire loom marked courtesy light power. So does the power wire connect to the 1-terminal switch and then piggy back to the lamps, one on each "B" pillar?? I am not planning a toggle type switch, only want them to come on when I open the drivers door.
  8. greybeard360
    Joined: Feb 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,810


    You can use a relay for that. Run the hot dome lamp wire to relay, then up to light. Run a power source to the relay to energize it, then run ground thru jamb switch. I keep a bunch of the 5 terminal Bosche relays around for doing things like this.
  9. olscrounger
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 4,365


    The drake 40 lights were designed to come on when a switch was closed to the hot wire--the body is grounded. To use them there are two options.
    replace the bulb receptacle with a two wire contact or install a relay to close by the door (ground switches) I usually use a relay. Greybeard360 beat me to it--do it the sameway.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  10. I need help also. I am rewiring my 53 f100 using EZ wire kit. It has a white wire that goes from the fuse box to the dome light. How do I get the power to the light? I have seen something talking about running ground wires but just don't understand it completely.
  11. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,788

    from kansas

    The hot white wire would go straight to the bulb/light. Then the ground from the bulb/light goes to the door jamb switch.

    When a door is closed, the jamb switch is held open so that the switch is NOT grounded, since the switch isn't grounded no ground contact is made for the light to operate.

    When the door is open the jamb switch moves out and grounds itself to the body and completes the circuit and in doing so grounds the bulb/light in the dome housing allowing the light to come on.

    The bulb is always hot, its the ground to the light that is turned off and on thru the jamb switch allowing the bulb to glow....
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  12. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 3,098


    There is also the option of running the Ford style door jamb switches with two connections and the dome light grounding at the light.
    fauj likes this.
  13. This is an old thread, but thought I'd add a link to a video that explained the Ford vs GM switches fairly well.
    pprather likes this.
  14. 31 Coupe
    Joined: Feb 25, 2008
    Posts: 286

    31 Coupe

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2021
    47chevycoupe likes this.
  15. Country Joe
    Joined: Jan 16, 2018
    Posts: 338

    Country Joe

    I am wiring in a dome light now. I'm using a on-off-on toggle switch. That way the doors turn on the light or I can turn on the light manually. And also have an off position so no light comes on when the door opens. That comes in handy sometimes like at a drive in movie.
    Sporty45 likes this.
  16. Mimilan
    Joined: Jun 13, 2019
    Posts: 940


    Dome lights are wired to be live all the time [from the fuse box], but they ground via the door switch to create a circuit [all ground wires can be parallel as only 1 ground matters]

    You can use a Chevy light switch to also manually operate the dome light [it has a separate dome light to ground terminal]
    But if you want a separate toggle switch [or latching button] simply Tee off one of the ground wires to the switch.
    Then add a ground wire to the other terminal to the switch.

    This method allows any door or the switch to operate the dome light.
  17. The OG one in my '59 Ford was a single wire, the socket body was the ground. The harness kit came with 2 wires, a black and white. The new jamb switches had black and white wires. I bought a new light socket with 2 wires, again, black and white. I wired it up per the harness kit instructions. I had to join the 2 black wires, I went across the bottom of the dash.
  18. d2_willys
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,180

    from Kansas

    Having the door jam switches provide a ground for the dome lights also can double for a "cheap" alarm. Just connect the door jam switch wire to a small toggle switch, then to the horn relay wire coming from the steering column. The toggle switch will enable/disable the alarm. Works great, you can even put a door jam switch to activate when the hood is opened too.
    Country Joe likes this.

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