We are currently working on a separate blogpost in which we explain in detail how we installed our full electrical system.
Note: the timing of this step can differ in your plan, depending on where you want to run your wires and place your light switches and sockets.
Preparations for your electricity supply
So where to start to provide yourself with electricity? First you’ll have to determine where you want to lay your electrical wires. Depending on the bodywork of your van, you can either let them run through the bodywork behind the insulation or you can choose to lay everything after you’ve finished insulating. In this way it’s easier to reach it again afterwards.
We decided to run our electrical wiring behind our furniture, but in front of our walls to make it more accessible. The wires for our lighting we placed on top of the ceiling panels while we were placing them. So, the wires for our roof hatch and from the light switch to the lights in the ceiling are the only ones running behind our wall.
To provide yourself with electricity, you can choose to only use your car battery, although this is really inadvisable as you don’t want this battery to run out. We highly recommend you buying a camper battery. You can recharge it in different ways such as shore power with a battery charger, solar panels or a dynamo.
The capacity of your battery depends on your power consumption. But there are many other things to consider when choosing a battery and inverters. Try to calculate how much you’ll need and keep in mind that these kind of batteries should never be fully discharged.
How to calculate your power consumption?
You first note all devices that will require electricity.
Our electrical consumers:
– Lights (8x LED spot, 1x LED strip)
– Water pump
– Gas hob
– Roof hatch
– Charging laptops
– USB ports for charging our phones, cameras and speaker.
Than you note the power consumption of each device and how many hours each day that device will consume. Calculate the daily consumption of each device and add everything to know your daily consumption.
Roof hatch: 36 W x 8 hours a day = 288 Wh
Led spots: 20 W (2,4 W x 8 spots) x 8 hours a day = 192 Wh
Water pump: 10 W x 3 hours a day = 30 Wh
Total daily consumption 288 Wh + 192 Wh + 30 Wh = 510 Wh a day
To convert this to Ah you have to use the next formula; Wh/V = Ah (510 Wh/12 V = 42.5 Ah)
In this example you will consume 510 Wh or 42.5 Ah a day.
In step 2 you’ve already decided where you want to install your electrical outlets, light switches, electrical devices, but also your light bulbs etc… . All these things have to be connected to your power source (battery) which in turn has to be connected to the charging facilities. Your lighting must also be connected to the battery and light switches. And in case you have an electrical roof hatch, don’t forget to connect this one as well. To control our power consumption, we have chosen to install a monitor that tells us how much battery we have left. Also for this we had to provide a connection to the battery.
Note: Make sure you use wires thick enough so they don’t burn through. We used 6mm for all electrical supplies and 1,5mm for the lighting.
Are you a true layman in the field of electricity? Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional or to outsource it completely. One really important note: label all your wires! This way you always know what any cable is for, without having to take everything apart.
This is a simple example of an electric diagram. In general you just have to connect the right colors with each other.
Besides all electrical wires, you also have to think about where you want to place your watertanks and if you need to lay water hoses behind or in front of your walls. We placed our clear watertanks in the back so we had to lay a hose to our sink in front. We let the hose run behind our furniture so we would notice any leakage and be able to fix it asap. Our water pump is placed next to the clear water tanks in the back under our bed.
Electrical wires (6mm & 1,5mm)
Water hose (3/4 inch)
12-way 12v Fuse holder