Phase one of the campervan wiring is now complete – hurrah! There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Actually there’s not because lighting is part of phase two, but at least the fridge is whirring away nicely.
What follows is a very simplified description of how we got to this point. If you have any more detailed questions, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post!
<Disclaimer> Now, I am (clearly) not an electrician and neither, for that matter, is Paul. All the works described below are still to be certified by a licensed electrician to ensure we’re in no danger of electrocution down the track.
Okay. We have two main circuits: One that will plug into a 240v power source at a campsite, and one that is powered by a 12v battery for when we’re travelling off-piste.
Here’s an overall view:
240v power circuit
- Paul cut a small hole in the shell of the van and attached a 240 socket so we can run a cable to an external power supply.
- From the other side of the socket, a 2.5mm cable runs through a conduit (to protect from any sharp metal) along the inside of the campervan to a 16 amp fuse.
- The fuse clips onto a small metal bracket, which is screwed to the van. The yellow and green cable shown above connects to the metal shell of the van (we had to scrape a small patch of paint off the interior) to provide the earth.
- Three cables then run from this fuse. The first runs to a power socket for the battery charger – ours is a CTEK Multi XS 150000. The charger will eventually be hard-wired to the battery.
- The second cable runs around the front of the living area, under the doorway (in the lower of two conduits) to the power point for the fridge.
- The third cable will run to an additional socket. Perhaps for a hair straightener.
12v battery circuit
There are two circuits from the battery.
- The first solely powers the fridge when we’re not connected to external power. The fridge will automatically recognise when we disconnect from the 240v, and will switch to battery power.
The cable runs from the battery to a 15 amp fuse, then through an isolation switch, around the front of the living area, through the top conduit in the doorway and to the fridge.
We used an 8mm diameter cable to prevent any voltage drop between the battery and fridge and it seemed to do the trick; even with a 4.5m cable, we’re getting a consistent 12volts to the fridge. In fact, we seem to have gained a few…
In this case, the van’s metal shell provides the negative connection to the battery. Very handy.
2. The second battery circuit will power all other elements, which we’ll install in phase two: the water pump, lights and extractor fans.
The cable runs from the battery to a 40 amp fuse, then through an isolation switch, around the front of the living area to the control panel. Each switch in the control panel has its own fuse, ranging from 10-15 amps.
We’ll use the control panel to switch on the lights, fans and water pump. The water pump sits to the left of the fridge, so the cable runs around the fire extinguisher above, through the top conduit in the doorway and past the fridge to the pump.
Running the cables through an isolation switch means we can manually switch the circuit off if necessary. We have also installed a dual-battery isolator; the car’s alternator will charge our 12v battery while we’re driving, but the isolator prevents our battery taking power from the car’s battery.
So that’s it! We bought everything from Bunnings (surprise, surprise), Supercheap Auto and a local electrical shop. Phase two is to install the lighting and fans, which involves cutting a hole in the roof, yikes.