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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.
An Inverter Charger will not only invert your 12v battery power to 110v
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.
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.
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:
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
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