Skip to Content

How-To Add Shore Power to a DIY Camper Van Electrical System

Affiliate Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, EXPLORIST.life earns from qualifying purchases.

Need Printable/Downloadable Camper Wiring Diagrams? Click Here
How-To Add Shore Power to a DIY Camper Van Electrical System

Shore power is just the fancy term used to describe plugging your campers electrical system into a 110v plug to either recharge the batteries, or to even power the camper electrical system directly.

Quick note before we get started.  This is just one part of an overarching “How to Install a DIY Camper Van Electrical System” series.  If you’ve just stumbled on this article directly without seeing that, there are likely some things we’ve already covered.  If you want to check out that step by step guide, you can do that here: https://www.explorist.life/diy-campervan-solar

Also, we have interactive solar wiring diagrams that are a complete, A to Z solution for teaching you exactly what parts go where, what size wires to use, fuse size recommendations, wire lug sizes, and all kind of other stuff to help save you time and frustration.  You can check that out here: https://www.explorist.life/solarwiringdiagrams/

I have solar. Why do I need shore power?

Cloudy, rainy weeks happen. Sure, you can charge by the alternator, but if you don’t HAVE to drive around aimlessly to recharge your batteries, you shouldn’t have to.

If you plan on traveling in extreme environments and ever plan on using an air conditioner or electric space heater for climate control, being able to plug in is game-changer. (We use a space heater a LOT in the winter time while parked at campgrounds near ski areas)

Shore power is nice to have when trying to troubleshoot electrical problems and creates another step of redundancy in case one of your other means of charging your batteries fails.

Inverter Chargers

An Inverter Charger will not only invert your 12v battery power to 110v power, but will also charge your 12v batteries from a normal wall outlet AND will run any electrical devices from that 110v normal wall outlet once the batteries are charged. This is nice for power hungry devices like electric space heaters or air conditioners.

Battery Charger

You can get a standalone battery charger to charge your batteries and a transfer switch to run devices from shore power, but honestly, it gets more complicated than it’s worth. Add in the fact that an inverter, battery charger, and transfer switch are typically more expensive than an Inverter/Charger combo unit, it rarely makes sense so we will not be covering that here.

Breakers and Fuses

You don’t need a breaker or a fuse on your shore power line because the plug itself will be protected by a breaker.

Surge Protectors

A surge protector can be added to your shore power line, but that’s ultimately up to you the level of safeties you want to have in your system.

Shore Power Amperage

On a campground power pedestal, you’ll typically see 3 options of plugs: 50 amp, 30 amp, and 15 amp.

50 amp is typically for big class A RV’s running two air conditioners at a time.

15 amp is just your standard household circuit and will run a high powered device like a space heater or a small air conditioner, but only 1 high powered device can be run at a time.

Wiring for a 30 amp plug is my choice as you can run, for the most part, whatever you like in a camper van. You can run a space heater and brew a pot of coffee at the same time. Perhaps you are in a cold environment and want to run a space heater on low in the front AND the garage of your camper van. Basically, you’ve got options.

Wiring Shore Power

From the power pedestal, you’ll want to use a shore power cord. It’s a big, heavy gauge extension cord with incredibly durable sheathing specificially designed for this purpose.

That will plug into a shore power socket you’ll install on the exterior of your camper:

From there, you’ll use 10/2 w/ Ground wire to run to your inverter charger.

This is where you will make the connection into your inverter charger. Please follow the instructions in your specific inverter charger you plan on using, but if you plan on using a Victron Multiplus, you’ll be wiring like this.

Most inverter chargers will be wired VERY similarly though, but just check that owner’s manual.

Another thing that’s handy to keep around is a 15 amp to 30 amp adapter. This is handy for if you are charging from a place that doesn’t have a 30 amp plug.

It’s worth noting though, that you’ll only be able to use 15 amps if you are having to use this, so be aware of your power loads. A space heater on high and trying to brew coffee may trip the 15 amp breaker.

Now that you’ve learned how to add charge your house batteries with shore power, let’s learn yet another method to charge your batteries.  In the next lesson you’ll learn how to charge your camper van batteries with the alternator. Click that out here: https://www.explorist.life/how-to-charge-diy-camper-van-batteries-with-vehicle-alternator/

Everything that you are learning here is put to use in our FREE Interactive Solar Wiring Diagrams.  If you haven’t yet, check them out as they are a complete solution for a camper van electrical system.  Check them out here: https://www.explorist.life/solarwiringdiagrams/

Remember, this is just one part of a full camper van electrical educational series.  To see all of the individual guides, click here: https://www.explorist.life/diy-campervan-solar

Finally, If you found this guide helpful, It’d truly mean the world to us if you’d share it with somebody who can use it, pin it to pinterest for later reference, or share it to a facebook group when somebody has a question about this subject.  Click the bubble in the lower right corner to subscribe to be notified of future updates and as always, leave any questions you’ve got in the comments below.

Previous
How-to Choose an Inverter for a DIY Camper Van Electrical System
Next
Solar Panels - Series vs Parallel


GPsWildRide

Monday 22nd of March 2021

Good article, still very confused but I know this much that thing is spendy!! It also looks very big. Now, I'm second guessing if I want or need that. I'll have 2-100 watt solar panels in series, 2 100 amp hr lithium batteries. I want to charge via alternator, solar, and shore power when there is no sun or I'm at a campground with hookups. I also want the option of adding 1 or 2 more solar panels in parallel in the future. So, one of my questions is what size inverter charger should I get? Also, I'm guessing I will still need an MPPT, DC to DC charger, Battery monitor and converter??? Thanks for any help you can give this old lady!!

Tina W

Thursday 11th of March 2021

Hello. Do you know if alternators can be installed on any van? We have a Nissan NV 2500. If you have an article or link to an article explaining how to do this, that would be even better. Thank you!!

Nate Yarbrough

Saturday 13th of March 2021

I don't have any information yet for adding 2nd alternators, but most vans do indeed have the capability to add a 2nd alternator: https://www.nationsstarteralternator.com/Dual-Alternator-Kits-s/209.htm

Jesse

Friday 12th of February 2021

Also, just to clarify on my previous comment, I'm wondering about grounding to the vehicles chassis? Or do i just gound to the negative bus bar? Thanks again!

Jesse

Friday 12th of February 2021

Hey Nate! Thanks so much for all of this info! I've been using your site/videos a ton while trying to navigate the electrical system for our van and it's all been a total lifesaver! I was wondering if you had thoughts about grounding inverter/chargers? We have a 2000W Renogy inverter charger and although I've been scouring the internet, I feel like I haven't found too much info out there and there isn't anything in our inverter/charger owners manual. I'm a total newbie with all of this and just trying to take my time to learn and do it right, so I just wanted to double check on this before I move forward with anything! I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have a chance! Thanks so much either way!

Deborah Albert

Sunday 7th of February 2021

I am using a Bluetti AC200 and will be charging it mainly by shore power although I have two suitcase 120W solar panels as well. We are mainly warm weather campers and like to travel for 4-6 weeks at a time. We will mainly stay at campsites with power but want the option of boondocking. Our 12V load includes MaxxAire Fan, small Sirocco fan, 2 reading lights, 8 led puck lights, Indel TB51A fridge, 3 USB outlets and a water pump. Our 110V load is 4 outlets for laptops, induction burner and very rarely a space heater. We will only use the heater and induction burner when plugged into shore power. I want to hardwire most items (except fridge,heater and induction burner). I have purchased WFCO AC-DC Distribution Panel and think I understand the 12V side pretty well. I am using 12AWG stranded marine-grade wire to connect all the 12V appliances to the fuse box except for the puck lights where I am using 14AWG. I am planning on using the 12V/25A aviation plug/cord and cut off the ends of the XT60 cord to connect to the DC side of the distribution panel. I’ve installed a shore power inlet Marinco Power Inlet and attached Ancor Marine Grade 10 AWG, Triplex to it. I have a 30amp shore power cord with a 15amp adaptor.

My questions concern how to hook up the Bluetti to shore power and to the AC side of the distribution panel. According to this article, shore power comes into the van and powers the inverter. The inverter powers the Distribution Panel/Breaker box and the Distribution panel powers the 110V outlets. I don’t have a separate inverter but I am assuming the shore power has to come in and plug into the Bluetti. Then wire the Bluetti to the AC side of the distribution panel. Is that correct?

How do I connect incoming shore power to the Bluetti? Do I connect the 10/3AWG wire to a female plug then simply plug the Bluetti AC charging brick in?

What size and how many breakers do I need? I have 30A shore power coming in and then will have 4 110V outlets (2 for laptops, 1 for space heater, 1 for induction burner) Links to products would be helpful. I am thinking one 20 AMP circuit breaker for the space heater, one 20 AMP circuit breaker for the induction burner and two 15 AMP circuit breakers for the laptops. Is this correct? (I am using 10/3 AWG wire).

I have researched the electrical extensively but these are a few of the questions I have not seen answers to. I want to go the extra mile (and dollar) to ensure safety. I just keep getting muddled! Thanks so much for any assistance!

Deborah Albert

Sunday 14th of February 2021

@Nate Yarbrough, Thank you!

Nate Yarbrough

Monday 8th of February 2021

Honestly, I can't recommend what you are trying to do. Although possible, the way it would have to be done to work properly gets ver messy very quickly in terms of wire routing and planning (as you are finding out). I would recommend a system with individual components. Even a setup like this would be worlds better than trying to integrate the bluetti into a partially hardwired system: https://www.explorist.life/2000w-520w-60a-budget-friendly-camper-wiring-diagram/