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The electrical system in a DIY Camper Van is a bit pointless if you don’t have anything to power, so let’s learn how to hard-wire plugs, fans, and other accessories into your camper.
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/
12v Distribution Block
We already know that all positive wires need to be protected with a fuse. A 12v Distribution Block makes a nice, organized spot to make all of your accessory runs originate from:
The 12v Distribution Block connects into your busbar and the one I like has enough spaces for 12 circuits and can power a max of 100 amps at a time combined between all the branch, or accessory circuits.
12v Wire Color
Power, Positive, and Hot (these all mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably) wires in 12v setups are typically red. Since you are likely starting this from scratch, I recommend keeping it consistent and going with red for the positive wires.
Negative and neutral (again, same thing) in 12v systems are commonly EITHER black or sometimes yellow. Keep it easy and consistant here and go with black for your negative wires unless you have a really good specific reason to choose otherwise.
Wiring 12v Plugs in a DIY Camper
12v Plugs will power any of your plug in devices such as camera battery chargers, phones, drones, and in some cases: Refrigerators.
On the back of the Standard 12v Plug, there will be 2 pins that you’ll attach your wires to with spade connectors.
Chaining Multiple 12v Outlets
If you want to chain multiple 12v outlets on the same
If you decide to wire multiple 12v outlets in the same circuit, please stay aware of how many total amps you anticipate using in their ENTIRE cicuit and size your fuse and wire size appropriately.
I actually don’t like wiring multiple 12v outlets in series, personally. I prefer running 1 x 12v outlet per fused circuit from the distribution block.
Wiring 12v DIY Camper Van Accessories
Most 12v Accessories can be wired using the exact same methods as described above. Fans, refrigerators, 4g booster, etc..
12v accessory wire
I’m a big fan of 12ga duplex wire for 12v circuits. It’s big enough for 95% of accessory circuits and when installed in lengths consistent with being installed inside a camper stays within the 3% voltage drop range even though, most of the time it isn’t necessary. It’s a red and black wire with high-grade, 105°C insulation contained inside of a white protective sheath
Now that you’ve learned how to wire 12v accessories and a distribution block, it’s time to learn how to wire lights and things that require switches. In this next lesson we are even going to talk about wiring in 2-way switches so don’t miss it. Check that out here:
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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