Review: Auxbeam 8-switch accessory power panel

jscherb

Expedition Leader
From time to time companies contact me and ask me to test or review their products. Auxbeam recently sent me a switch panel to review; I'm pretty impressed with it so I decided to do a thorough writeup.

Ths is one of their advertising images:



Here's what's in the box:



All of the components seem to be high quality. The switch panel case, for example, is aluminum instead of plastic. Brackets are provided for mounting the power box in the engine compartment, but I found that they weren't needed for installation in a '13 JK. For other vehicles the bracket may be useful. Cables are good lengths, especially the cable that runs from the power box in the engine compartment to the switch panel - it's 10' long, which should reach anywhere you're likely to put it within reach of the driver. Fifty different switch labels are provided:



The switch panel comes with a flat mounting base and an angle mount, depending on where you decide to mount it you may only need the flat base, you might need the angle mount as well, or you might need to do something custom. There are good places to mount it in a later model JK that only require the supplied parts.

The power box mounts under the hood, preferably near the battery. The cables provided are plenty long enough for several locations under the hood of the '13. The power box cover has spare fuses, as well as a fuse puller. Very thoughtful. Inside the box there are fuses for each of the 8 circuits; connections are with simple screw terminals. Another thoughtful touch - there's an LED for each circuit, they're just barely visible in this photo, between each fuse and its terminals - these LEDs light up if that fuse is blown to make it easy to check the fuse without pulling it.

A 100-amp circuit breaker with terminal insulators and a plastic cover is provided. The power box is rated for 60 amps, I'll explain why it's a 100-amp breaker when I explain the circuit capacity in more detail.



This is a look in the engine compartment of a '13 JK. The two main components can mount easily - the circuit breaker can mount on the shield between the battery and the engine, and the power box can mount to the Jeep's fuse panel cover or to the air cleaner housing. The supplied power box mounting brackets are not required for either of these locations. The power box control wiring will need to be connected inside the Jeep's fuse panel, so these locations for the power box are very convenient.



The cable for the switch panel connects to the power box and needs to be run into the interior; Jeep has thoughtfully provided a pass-through hole in the firewall just behind the battery. It's hidden behind the large wiring loom and some firewall shielding in the location pointed to in the photo above.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Wiring

I've covered a lot of the wiring in the photos already, but I'll recap that here and provide a little more detail.

The power box gets connected to the battery using the heavy-gauge wires provided. There's a short red wire to go from the battery to the 100-amp circuit breaker, a longer red wire to go from the circuit breaker to the power box, and a long black wire to go from the battery to the power box.

A short set of wires with a 3-circuit plug on the end plugs into the matching pins in the power box. The three wires are:

- Red. Provides control power to the power box. Probably it's best to connect this to a switched circuit in the Jeep's fuse panel, unless you want the switches to be active when the Jeep is off, in which case it can be connects to unswitched 12v in the fuse panel. Connections inside the fuse panel can be made with fuse taps like these, which are available most everywhere auto parts are sold:



Be aware that if you connect the red wire to unswitched power, there will always be a small current draw by the control box so if the Jeep isn't run for a long time, this could drain the battery.

Yellow wire. This powers the backlighting of the switch panel. This should be connected either to switched power (backlighting on whenever the Jeep is running) or to the dash light circuit (backlighting on whenever the dash lights are on).

White wire. Brightness control for the backlights. When the backlighting first comes on it's a full intensity. Eash time 12v is applied to the white wire, the brightness goes down a level. I think there are 4 levels. Running at night, almost certainly you'd want the backlighting to be dimmed, so to put this under control you would connect a momentary pushbuttom switch between the white wire and 12v. There is an issue with how the dimming feature works, more on that coming up.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
The switch panel cable connects to the other set of pins inside the power box, and will have to run from the engine compartment into the cabin so the switch panel can be placed within the driver's reach. The photo of the engine compartment I posted earler shows where there's a pass-through hole. The switch panel cable is 10' long, so it should reach to anywhere within reach of the driver that you might want to install the switch panel.

Here are a few photo showing where the switch panel might be mounted in a '13 JK.





The last photo showing the switch panel on the front of the center console facing forward is a place you'd only want to use if you only accessed the switches while not in motion, looking down there while driving would be dangerous.

Here's a short video showing the system in operation on the workbench. The system is already powered up at the start of the video and the first thing I do is connect the yellow wire to 12v to turn on the backlights. I haden't installed any of the switch labels when I shot this video so you're seeing the undecorated panel.

After turning on the backlights, I dim them by touching the white wire to 12v several times. Then I turn some switches on, showing how a red light comes on above each one to let you know it's on. A second press on a switch turns that circuit off, and a press on the red "On/Off" button in the center of the panel turns all circuit off at once.


The one negative comment I have about this system is the operation of the backlighting - when you turn a switch on, the backlighting immediately goes to full brightness, and stays at that level until the system is powered off. If you've connected red wire to switched power, that will be when the Jeep is switched off and back on again. I've sent the company an email about his issue and they say a corrected version is coming.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Wiring accessories to the system.

Connecting accessories to the system is easy - in the power box there are two screw terminals (clearly marked for 12v and ground) for each circuit so connecting something is requires inserting the wires for that accessory in the terminals for the circuit you want to use and tightening the screw terminals.

Connecting them is easy, but the instructions are a bit unclear about the current capacity of the system and each circuit, so here's a little more explanation.

The system is advertised to have a total current capacity of 60 amps, but out of the box the 8 circuits are fused for 30, 30, 20, 20, 10, 10, 5 and 5, going from circuit/switch 1 to circuit 8. The instructions say that circuits 1 and 2 are capable of handling 30 amps and circuits 3-8 are capabile of handling 20 amps. No matter how you add up those two sets of numbers, the total is more than 60 amps. Also, the supplied circuit breaker is 100 amp, so why is that when the maximum capacity of the system is 60 amps?

The maximum surge current of the system is 100 amps, so the circuit breaker protects against that. Surges can happen if multiple accessories were turned on at once, or if the motor of a motor-powered accessory stalled, or in other ways, so if a surge over 100 amps should happen, the breaker will pop to protect the system. That's the first level of protection.

The second level of protection is the fuses for each circuit. As per the specs, the 30 amp fuses provided for circuits 1 and 2 protect the maximum current for those circuits, and the 20 amp or less fuses for circuits 3-8 protect each of those at 20 amps or less.

The third level of protection is for thermal overload - assume the accessories currently turned on draw over 60 amps in total, what will happen is when the electronics in the device reaches a certain temperature the thermal protection will trigger and shut the system down until the electronics cool.

With these 3 levels of protection it should be impossible to damage the device through overload or short circuits.

But since it is possible to connect a bunch of accessories to the system that could draw more than 60 amps in total, a little planning is necessary. Add up the total current draw specified for each of the accessories you plan to connect to see if the total for your use of the accessories would exceed 60 amps. I say "your use" because if there are several high current accessories you would never use at the same time, you can connect them all even though turning them all on at the same time would exceed the maximum system current. So when doing your math, account for things that will never be turned on at the same time.

If you have accessories that require more than 20 amps but less than 30, those must be connected to circuits 1 or 2. Anything that requires less than 20 amps can be connected to circuits 3-8. And if you have an accessory that requires more than 30 amps, or if you plan to simultaneously use multiple accessories that in total would draw more than 60 amps, some of those high-powered accessories should be powered by a relay driven by one of the circuits.

Here's how a relay would be added for a high-current accessory:



The accessory also needs to be grounded, that connection isn't shown in this drawing.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Summary

Overall I'm impressed with this product. It's well made and the parts are high quality. Other than the dimming of the backlighting, it works as expected. It's easy to install and connect to accessories. And it's reasonably priced - it's available on Amazon for $159.99, which is a fraction of some of the other electronically-controlled switch panels on the market: https://www.amazon.com/Auxbeam-Cont...id=SYVEDGZCWOPP&keywords=auxbeam+switch+panel

The product on the Auxbeam web site: https://www.auxbeam.com/qp002198

Full discolosure: I am not an employee of Auxbeam and I was not compensated for this review although Auxbeam did provide the product to me at no charge. If after reviewing it I thought the product wasn't very good I would have told them that, offered to return it and not posted this review.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Honest reviews are appreciated by most consumers. If a company sends you an inferior product, why wouldn't you share that info?
Before posting this review, I emailed the company about the trouble I was having with the backlight dimming function. They looked into it and told me to post the review with my negative comments about the dimming included. If they had instead said something like "We're working on a solution to that, please wait until we fix it to post a review" I would have waited until they sent me a unit with the backlight working and then posted the review. I give the company credit for telling me to go ahead and post the review with the negative bit about the dimming included, but I also would have given them time to make corrections if that's what they wanted to do.
 

OverlandNA

Well-known member
I give the company credit for telling me to go ahead and post the review with the negative bit about the dimming included, but I also would have given them time to make corrections if that's what they wanted to do.
That would be acceptable if a company sent you a product for beta testing. In this case the product is on the market and the company should not have a vote in whether a review is made public or not..
Now I have to ask for full disclosure, are you an affiliate of Amazon and receive compensation by providing the link?
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
That would be acceptable if a company sent you a product for beta testing. In this case the product is on the market and the company should not have a vote in whether a review is made public or not..
Now I have to ask for full disclosure, are you an affiliate of Amazon and receive compensation by providing the link?
I am not an affiliate of Amazon. I didn't even know that Amazon would compensate people who post links until you just posted that.

I received no compensation for doing this review and will receive no compensation for it going forward.

I try to be fair to both the company and to the people who might buy the product. By giving the company a chance to comment on/correct the dimming issue, I believe I was being fair to both. And since there was a possibility that the dimming function actually does work correctly but I was doing something wrong, I needed to ask them if it was me or a product deficiency. People who buy the product now will know that they may get a product in which the dimming function doesn't work as expected (which is fair to the buyer), and since I notified the company about the issue before I posted the review, they had a chance to correct the problem and replace any units that were in the sales channel but not sold yet (which I believe is fair to the company).

If the company gives me any further information about the status of the dimming issue, I will post it.
 

G0to60

Observer
How sealed is the Power Box? Good enough for dust and debris? Moisture proof? Water proof?

I'm not sure why I'm skeptical because it looks well put together and seems to work well. I hesitate because a few of the competitors are 4-5x as expensive and I'm not sure why there's such a difference in price. My worries might be unfounded because I have nothing to base them on and I would love for my concerns to be me just being paranoid.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Here's a photo of the power box and cover. All of the electronics are encapsulated so there's no way for dust or water to affect that. The plastic cover fits well, although there are two fairly large slots for the accessory wires to pass through. Since the box probably would be mounted on top of the TIPM box or air cleaner housing (see earlier photos in this thread) it would be high in the engine compartment and not too likely to get splashed, but it wouldn't be too difficult to seal the wire pass-through better if you were concerned about water entry - I'd use a piece of rubber weatherstrip, slightly larger than the slots so it was a press-fit in the slots would seal the slots. I'd cut a slit in the center of the rubber for the wires to pass through; when the rubber with wires was pushed into the slot it would compress around the wires and should do a pretty good job of sealing. Unless you're doing a lot of high water crossings, it's probably ok without that but is can be improved in that way if you need to.

 

shade

Well-known member
Thanks for the review.
Other than the dimming of the backlighting, it works as expected.
Did they offer a date for when this will be resolved? Ideally, units with this problem could have the firmware updated, or some other workaround would address it.
How sealed is the Power Box? Good enough for dust and debris? Moisture proof? Water proof?
I didn't see an IP code on the website. @jscherb, was there anything more definitive in the product manual?
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Thanks for the review.

Did they offer a date for when this will be resolved? Ideally, units with this problem could have the firmware updated, or some other workaround would address it.
They did not give a date. They said they would send me an updated version when the dimming issue is resolved so I can retest it and update the review.

I didn't see an IP code on the website. @jscherb, was there anything more definitive in the product manual?
There is no mention of an IP code in the instructions.
 

shade

Well-known member
They did not give a date. They said they would send me an updated version when the dimming issue is resolved so I can retest it and update the review.


There is no mention of an IP code in the instructions.
Thanks. If you have further communication with them, please ask if it has an IP rating, or if they're willing to be more specific about environmental conditions.

As swell as similar products may be, I can't see myself spending what they're asking, but the Auxbeam shows promise.
 

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