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How to Wire 120V AC Circuits in a DIY Camper Van

This blog post will teach you everything you need to know to hard-wire 120V AC outlets and appliances into your camper van.

What is an AC Outlet?

An AC (Alternating Current) outlet is the standard household outlet that you will find around nearly every house in the world. It supplies power to your various household appliances and gets it’s power from a breaker box. The breaker box in a camper gets its power from the Inverter by means of either the batteries or shore power.

What is the Difference Between a 110V and 120V AC Circuits?

The terms 120V and 110V in regards to an AC outlet are pretty much the same and can, for our purposes be used interchangeably. In houses, power is delivered to the house at 120V plus/minus about 5% depending on transmission losses in the wires on the power poles. By the time the power actually ends up at the plug, it could be as low as 110 volts depending on the aforementioned losses as well as various voltage drop. But… for our purposes… the terms 110V and 120V can be used interchangeably and understanding the difference is not that important.

How to Wire a 120V Outlet

When looking at the front of the outlet, there are two screws on the right and 3 screws on the left.

  • The 2 gold screws on the right are for the ‘hot’ wires (black).
  • The 2 silver screws on the left are for the ‘neutral’ wires (white).
  • The 1 green screw on the left is for the ‘ground’ wires (green or bare copper).

How to Wire Multiple 120V Outlets on the Same Circuit

Wiring multiple 120V outlets on the same circuit is as simple as wiring the outlets in parallel.

  • Connect incoming ‘hot’ wire (black) to one of the ‘hot’ screws (gold screw on the right).
  • Connect outgoing ‘hot’ wire (black) to the other ‘hot’ screw (gold screw on the right).
  • Connect incoming ‘neutral’ wire (white) to one of the ‘neutral’ screws (silver screw on the left).
  • Connect outgoing ‘neutral’ wire (white) to the other ‘neutral’ screw (silver screw on the left).
  • Connect the incoming, outgoing, and short jumper of ground wire with a lever nut ( and connect the jumper wire to the ground screw (green) on the bottom left.
  • *optional* Since stranded wire is recommended on mobile applications, ring or spade terminals to connect wires to screws are permitted.

How Many 120V Outlets can be on the Same Circuit?

There can be as many outlets as you like on a single circuit. The number of outlets does not matter. What matters is the total wattage of devices plugged into ALL of the outlets on the circuit.

Think of this like your house. In your bedroom, all of your outlets are very likely on one circuit. If you plug your phone into one, your TV into one, an air purifier into one, and a computer into another, everything is likely going to work just fine. BUT… if you plugged a space heater into two seperate outlets and turned them both on high; it will very likely trip the breaker in your breaker box. This is because you overloaded the circuit. This is, for the most part, the EXACT same concept in a camper van.

How Many 120V Circuits Can Be Installed In a DIY Camper Van


There can be as many 120V circuits in your camper as your breaker box allows. If you are using the breaker box that is in the wiring diagrams here on, you can have up to 6 individual branch circuits. Typically, I’ll see individual branch circuits planned like this (just as an example):

What Size of Wire is Needed for 120v outlets?

Unlike with 12V DC wiring runs, voltage drop is less of an issue and circuit amperage is limited to a max of 20A for the most part; so a full-on wire sizing calculator is generally not necessary.If a wire size is recommended by the manufacturer of a particular item (common for hot water heaters and air conditioners) use the manufacturer recommended wire and breaker size. Otherwise: use 12 gauge wire (12/3 Wire: ) protected by a 20A breaker.


ALL wire in a camper must be stranded wire. This includes circuits for 120V outlets. Wires in a camper must be stranded wire (Like this: because solid core wire (like the Romex used in the walls of your house) will, when subjected to the vibrations of rattling down the road, will work harden and break over time. For this reason, solid core wire like Romex is EXPLICITLY forbidden in marine applications (boats) by ABYC E-11.

How to Wire 120V Outlets to the Camper Van Breaker Box

The 120V outlets in your camper van need to get their power from a breaker box. Here is how to wire the 120V circuits to the camper breaker box:

  • Connect the ‘Hot’ (Black) wire to the breaker
  • Connect the ‘Neutral’ (White) wire to the Neutral Busbar
  • Connect the ‘Ground’ (Green) wire to the Ground Busbar.

This concept is covered in much greater depth in the following blog post and video:

Mark kalisz

Sunday 31st of July 2022

My daughter and son-in-law just bought a pro master 2022 van they are change it to an RV they are using Renogy I’m gonna help them with wire solar set up question I have to you is for 4 100 solar panel/charge controller MPPT charger a 300 W inverter and it’s 60 to 60 DC to 60 DC charger there is a uplift in the pillar and it’s connected to 70 amp amp fuse at the battery is that a high enough wattage fuse and should I run a four gauge wire welding cable also wire the solar plane 2 in parallel and the series Thank you Mark k I read a lot of your Articles I got it


Thursday 2nd of June 2022

I haven't been able to find Triplex at my local big box store and I don't see any lengths shorter than 50 ft on Amazon. What I did find was Southwire 12/3 sjeoow power cable. Is that safe for use in wiring a 110v system in my trailer, wiring from a 30 amp box with a 15 amp and a 20 amp breaker?


Monday 23rd of May 2022

Are there any specific requirements for ring and spade terminals used in 120V applications (versus 12V)?


Thursday 19th of May 2022

Hi Nate, Thank you so much for your amazing content! Just a quick question - I have a small plastic distribution box that holds 4 breakers for my 110V side of my vanbuild (running from inverter to breaker box, breaker box to 110V outlets). The distribution box has internal neutral and ground bus bars within it. From my reading since purchasing this box, I see that these are not approved by some regulating bodies etc, but I'd still like to give it a try as I have all components/breakers compatible with this now. My question is, do I need to ground the bus bar within the box? If so, would it be appropriate to run a 10g wire from the negative bus within the box to my common negative bus bar that I use for my 12V system? Any help would be greatly appreciated! And thank you again, Nate!!


Monday 9th of May 2022

Hi Nate - Great blog, thanks. Any thoughts on GFCI receptacles on a van build?

Nate Yarbrough

Sunday 15th of May 2022

I think they are a great idea in wet areas.