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How to Wire a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

In this blog post I am going to teach you how to wire an electrical power distribution panel for a camper van.

I like this solution better than a separate DC Fuse Block and AC Breaker box because it’s a nice, neat, all-in-one package that simply looks good after it’s installed which makes hiding it away in a closet or in the garage of your camper van unnecessary.  All parts considered, it’s about the same price as the alternative as well. So, let’s get started.

Here’s a video walkthrough for this tutorial you may find helpful:

Parts List

2021 Update!! Can’t find this panel in stock? Neither could we… it’s been a rarity for nearly a year at this point so we took matters into our own hands and ordered a few pallets of an alternative solution so we could ensure that these stay in stock for you. Plus… our new panels have 18 spots for DC circuits, slots for 8 AC circuits per leg (16 total for the box) and they are in separate enclosures so you have a little more flexibility when it comes to mounting them. Check them out here: https://shop.explorist.life/product-category/all-products/distribution-panels/

Even though these new panels listed above look similar, but a bit different… they wire up pretty much the exact same.

The Electrical Distribution Panel:

THIS is how you will receive your power distribution panel:

Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel with door closed.

It’s got a black flip-down cover on the front…

Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel with door open.

…and wire access knockouts in the back:

Back of Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Lower the door on the front and you’ll have access to where your AC breakers and DC fuses will be.

Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel with Door Removed

A SLIGHT bend of the door will remove it from the box

Removing door of Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Remove these 4 screws around the corners to remove the trim ring.

This power distribution panel is designed to be mounted in a 12 ¼ x 8 ½ rectangular hole. For this demo, I’m not actually installing this in a van, so what you’re seeing in these pictures is just a mock-up.

The right side of the box is designated for the DC side of your system.  This will be powered directly from your battery or battery busbar.

The left side of the box is designated for the AC side of your system.  This will be powered from the AC output side of your Inverter. Here’s a shot of the final wired product:

If you’ve got a Pinterest Camper Van inspiration board rolling, that picture would be a good one to pin, don’t you think? Okay, So… Let’s start with wiring the DC side of this box.

Wiring the 12V DC Side of the Distribution Panel

DC Side of a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Knock out three or four of the plastic knock-outs on the back of the box with a screwdriver and bring your Positive and Negative wires from the battery into the box.  (Please disconnect power to these wires before working with them).

Battery Power coming into the Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

There are two big screw lugs at the top of this circuit board; your positive wire will go to the left lug.

Attaching Positive battery cable to a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

…and your negative wire will go to the right lug.

Attaching 12v Negative Wire to a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Now, if you were to reconnect power from the battery, you’d have power coming into the DC distribution panel and have power at ALL of these fuse holders.

12v Power attached to a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Now, when you’re ready to start running the wires for your 12v appliances, all you’ll have to do is bring your duplex wire into the box from the back and attach the positive wire to any of these lugs here:

12v Power attached to a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

I recommend starting at the top. Simply strip a quarter inch from your wire, loosen the screw, insert the stripped wire, and re-tighten the screw. Give the wire a little tug to make sure it’s secure.

Attaching a 12v positive branch circuit wire to a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

There is a clip on this board that if you pull it toward the bottom of the box, it will release the circuit board and move it out of the way so you can access the negative busbar easier.

Removing Circuit Board from a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

The negative wires from the duplex wire you just ran will go down to this negative busbar and attach in the same matter under these screws.

12v DC Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel Busbar

Strip a quarter inch from your wire, loosen the screw, insert the stripped wire, and re-tighten the screw. Give the wire a little tug to make sure it’s secure.

Attaching a 12v Negative Branch circuit wire to a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Repeat this process until you’ve added all of the 12v circuits you need and re-clip the circuit board back to the box:

Completely wired 12v DC side of a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Keep track of what wires go to what appliances as there is a label on the distribution panel trim ring where you’ll want to make note of which fuse is which.

Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel DC Fuse Label Sticker

Now you can insert your spade fuses into their respective slots.

Inserting spade fuses into the 12v DC side of a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

On the AC Side of the box, you’ve got 3 different busbars.  The Bottom two are Neutral and ground with the ground in the back and the neutral in the front.  Up top is the positive breaker busbar.

120V AC Side of a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Making sure there is NO power coming from your inverter, bring in the 3 conductor wire from your inverter’s AC out into the distribution box via the knockouts on the back.  Cut the sheath of this wire about 4-6” and strip back a half inch of insulation off of each wire. The Green goes to the Ground busbar

Wiring a ground wire into a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

…and the White goes to the Neutral Busbar.

Wiring a 120V AC Neutral wire into a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

There’s already a 120v plug built into the back of the box and the green and white wires should already be connected up to their respective busbars.

Now you need your AC breaker.  There are a few different types of breakers that will work with this box, but I’m using Square D Home and Square D Home Tandem breakers.

Square D HOM and Square D HOMT (Tandem) Breakers for a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

For the breaker coming from the inverter into the box is the single-pole HOM breaker.  There is a screw on the bottom of it. Loosen that screw, insert the black wire under the washer, and retighten the screw.  Give the wire a tug to make sure it’s secure.

Wiring a 120V Hot wire to a Square D HOM breaker in a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Remove this screw and retaining clip and set aside.

Removing breaker retainer clip in a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Clip the bottom of the breaker onto the bottom rail of the box…

Fitting bottom of the 120V AC breaker to the breaker rail in a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

…then tilt (push) the breaker up so that the positive breaker busbar spline goes into the slot of the middle of the back of the breaker.

120V Breaker Busbar Spline where it fits into the back of the Square D HOM Breaker

Now, if you had power to this wire and turned on this breaker,  this whole positive breaker bus bar would be energized:

120V Square D HOM Breaker installed into a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Next, I’m going to show you how to add a breaker so that you can run a wire out to your various 120v AC appliances and outlets.

Bring in your wire that will run to those 120v appliances or outlets.  Strip back 4-6” of sheathing and strip the insulation off the last ½” of wire.  The Green goes to the ground busbar

Wiring a 120V AC ground wire into a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

…and the white goes to the neutral busbar.

Wiring a 120V AC Neutral wire into a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Then you’re going to grab your Square D HOME Tandem Breaker. 

This is a space-saving breaker allowing you to have two (Tandem, right?) circuits on only one breaker busbar space.

Loosen one of the screws on the bottom of this breaker. Insert the black wire under the washer under the screw, and tighten the screw down. Tug on the wire to make sure it’s secure:

Wiring a 120V AC Hot wire to a Square D HOMT (Tandem) Breaker for a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Fix the breaker to the box in the same way you did the last breaker. Clip the bottom of the breaker to the rail and tilt up into place with the breaker busbar spline going into the middle of the back of the breaker:

Repeat this process for as many 120V AC Circuits as you plan on having.

120V AC Wiring in a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

Now you can insert screws into the box to hold it to your cabinet or wherever you are mounting this:

Fastening a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel to the cabinet

Reinstall the trim ring starting with the top 2 screws:

Reattaching the trim ring on a Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel

…and reinstall the door:

Now, if you haven’t done it already, now would also be a good time to label the various fuses and breakers for what they go to.

Camper Van Electrical Distribution Panel 120V AC Labels

Flip on the AC breakers and reconnect your DC wires to your battery and you should have power.  That’s all there is to it!

If you have any questions about this project, leave them in the comments below and I’ll get to them as soon as I can. If you found this helpful, it’d truly mean the world to me if you’d share it with somebody or a group who you think could benefit from it.


Julia Sanchez

Wednesday 29th of June 2022

Hi Nate, I followed your blog and video when booking up my distribution panel. When I got to hook up a GFCI outlet the white wire is beeping as hot as well as the black. I checked my busbars and only white wires are going to the neutral, green to the ground and black to the breakers. I checked the wires going from the inverter to the distribution panel and they are wired correctly. Do you know why else the white wire is running as positive? Also, will I need two Hom D breakers to power both sides of the breaker bar ? Thank you!!!

RW

Saturday 7th of May 2022

Hi Nate

Thx so much in advance for helping us all with our questions!:

Mine are: 1. on the new progressive dynamics 18 slot DC panel that you recommend to replace the old WFCO AC DC panel I notice in the description that it says to use copper wire only. Does this include multi- strand wire (which is what I have used in our van to help make it safer)? 2. Assuming yes, is there a limit to the gauge multi strand wire that the terminals in the panel can take? Eg will it take say 6 down to 14? 3. Is it best to use a ferrule and if so which do you recommend for this progressive panel?

Switching to the separate AC panel: 1. Same questions as above 2. If I am pulling my AC from the 120V output of a GoalZero yeti1500x directly into the panel, do I need to separately ground the ground terminal on the panel to say some bare metal on the van?

Thank-you!

Nate Yarbrough

Sunday 15th of May 2022

1: Yes, stranded copper wire is still perfect. 2: 10 AWG is the biggest it will take. 16 AWG is the smallest you should use for a DC circuit. 3: Ferrules do indeed work well for this panel.

1: Correct 2: We don't have any systems at https://www.explorist.life/solarwiringdiagrams with a Goal Zero unit and I shouldn't advise on a system I didn't design, so I must decline to answer this one.

Michel Bisson

Wednesday 30th of March 2022

Thanks for all that, it's very helpful ! I want to put a 30A breaker between my shore power and my charger/inverter. Could I use the other busbar of the box to put that breaker ? (instead of having another breaker box that would be use for only one breaker ? Thanks in advance

Maria

Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

Hi Nate!

I can't thank you enough for all your videos, they have been incredibly helpful during the build process.

I followed these instructions 100% and have recently come to find that my kill switch does not seem to turn off my DC appliances, even though in the Victron Connect app when the kill switch is turned from the on to off position there is a change in the output to zero. I thought initially maybe the kill switch was bad, but now I'm not so sure where the issue is. Have you ever heard of this?

Also is there any other way to cut power to the DC appliances other than to disconnect the batteries from the system?

Any help would be amazing! Can't thank you enough.

Maria

Jon

Saturday 5th of March 2022

Great how-to page Nate! Following your steps should make things easy and help my confidence. I just received the exact panel from Amazon (about $100) and picked up breakers from Lowes. Ready to install in my short bus, "Halfpint". Cheers!