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Electrical System Installation

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We’re very proud to present you the electrical system installation of our Ford Transit DIY camper van conversion!

 

Please note that there is more interesting and educational stuff in our “Campervan Electrical System Design” article:

 

 

TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: ~40 hours

(We honestly don’t know the exact hours; there was so much work performed here and there, some things were completed later, some things were improved, etc. Needless to say, this is an approximation!)

 

TOTAL COST : ~2000$ USD (this excludes the solar panels installation)

 

PRE-REQUISITE

 

CO-REQUISITE

 

WIRING DIAGRAM

You will find the wiring diagram “as installed” here. However, we since revised it. What’s wrong we the “as installed” one? Nothing, it passed the test of time and it works exactly as it should! Then why change it? Here’s why:

We realized many people are just replicating it (which we think is great!), so we wanted to make it

  1. easier to understand (see our new Interactive Diagram AND new tutorial “From Blank Page to Wiring Diagram in 15 Steps”)
  2. easier to install (more intuitive design and less components to install)
  3. easier to use (Plug-and-forget, monitoring via Android or iPhone)
  4. easier to adapt to anyone’s need (many features can be deleted/modified for different needs/budget. See our suggestions.)

It’s the result of the ultimate question: “If you had to start over, what would you change?”. Answer: we deleted some features we never used in the real world and we updated some components because we like to stay up-to-date with the latest technology.

 

Interactive Wiring Diagram (click on products for more info)


Download a high-resolution, printable, pdf file of our wiring diagram. You will get two things:

1- High-Resolution Wiring Diagram (printable pdf):

 

Faroutride Wiring Diagram (V2018, rev A) (800px)

2- “From Blank Page to Wiring Diagram in 15 Steps”. It’s a tutorial we made to help you read and understand our diagram 🙂 :

From-Blank-to-Wiring-Diagram-Animated-GIF

 

NAME YOUR PRICE! Yep, you pay whatever you think our help is worth to you. That means you can get both the wiring diagram and the tutorial for 0$(minimum) or for 100,000,000,000$ (recommended) 😉

 

Name a price of 10$ and up and we’ll send you a free sticker!

Faroutride Sticker (Front and Back with title)

Free sticker!

 

MATERIAL

To replicate the electrical system, click on any product in the wiring diagram above, check out our Amazon Wish List (amazon.com/shop/faroutride), or use the table below:

 

Component Description Quantity Buy Link
MAIN
Lifeline AGM Battery 255Ah – GPL-8DL 255Ah AGM Battery. 1 amzn.to/2qMYxRh
Blue Sea Terminal Fuse 150A or 175A or 200A or 250A (see LOADS 120V on wiring diagram) 1 Fuse: amzn.to/2J81TWc

Holder: amzn.to/2vyADhS

Blue Sea Battery Switch This is to isolate the battery from the system. Mandatory! For safety and if you have some work to do on the system. 1 amzn.to/2vry15e
Blue Sea Bus Bar This is to make multiple connections to the battery positive and negative. 250 Amps Max. 2 amzn.to/2qGvMWj
Blue Sea Fuse Blocks This is to connect all the 12V loads to the system with appropriate fuse. 1 amzn.to/2HLQNGU
Fuse Assortment Fuse kit (2A 3A 5A 7.5A 10A 15A 20A 25A 30A 35A). 1 amzn.to/2J5348W
Blue Sea 40A Breaker 1 amzn.to/2JU8Knw
    SYSTEM MONITORING
Victron BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor with built-in Bluetooth Note: shunt is included. 1 amzn.to/2J3N0Ez
    SOLAR CHARGING
Renogy 160W Solar Panel To harvest the sun! 2 amzn.to/2EXu1cq
Victron SmartSolar MPPT Solar Charge Controller 100V 30A with built-in Bluetooth Solar Battery Charger. 1 amzn.to/2J4Z7kK
15′ Extension Cable with MC4 Connectors Solar Panel cables are not long enough to reach the charge controller 1 amzn.to/2Hj4y2Y
Right Angle Cable Glands To route the solar panels wire through the roof. 1 amzn.to/2HesyAt
Blue Sea 40A Breaker To isolate and protect the solar controller. Useful during the system installation and after for reworks.  2 amzn.to/2JU8Knw
ALTERNATOR CHARGING    
Sterling 1260 B2B Charger, 12V, 60A Battery-to-battery charger. 1 amzn.to/2EXvHme
Blue Sea 70A Fuse As per Sterling manual. 2 amzn.to/2HcQIek
Blue Sea Fuse Block To hold the fuse. 2 amzn.to/2J6tQxD
SHORE CHARGING    
Samlex Solar SEC-1250UL Battery Charger 50A Smart Battery Charger. 1 amzn.to/2vt0FmC
Blue Sea 60A Breaker 1 amzn.to/2K02lY9
120V LOADS  
Samlex Solar PST-1500-12 Pure Sine Inverter, 1500W To convert 12V DC to 120V AC.  1 amzn.to/2JVp6fD
12V LOADS    
Maxxair 6200K Roof Fan  faroutride.com/fan-installation/  1 amzn.to/2qJCbA1
LED Ceiling Lights  faroutride.com/led/  2 or 3 pack amzn.to/2vpyyVs
Blue Sea 12V Socket We installed 12V sockets because it’s a “neutral” standard; it won’t change with time (as opposed to USB standard) and we can charge any device with it. To charge our phones, we use this: amzn.to/2EXgktX 4 amzn.to/2JVPypv
Shurflo Revolution Water Pump, 3 GPM faroutride.com/pressurized-water-system/ 1 amzn.to/2J9NqZQ
Webasto Air Top 2000 STC Gasoline Heater faroutride.com/air-heater-installation/  Choose one (Fuel or Propane)  Gasoline Model or Diesel Model
Propex HS2000 Propane Heater faroutride.com/propex-install/ Buy from ebay
Novakool R5810 Fridge, 12V only We recommend a fridge that have a Danfoss compressor. They’re the most efficient. 1 We went for a front-loading Novakool R5810, but some people prefer top-loading.
Sirocco ii Gimbal Fan, 12V A sweet wall fan mounted on a 3D gimbal! faroutride.com/sirocco-fan-review/ 1 amzn.to/2HKy7HR
Nature’s Head Composting Toilet There’s an exhaust fan that pulls a tiny amount of current (0.01A). 1 amzn.to/2qJOsEA
MISC    
Note: wires, connectors, etc. varies a lot with each system, so it’s not possible to make an exhaustive list of all the material and quantities…
Ancor Marine Grade Duplex Wire amzn.to/2BS42le
Ancor Marine Grade Heat Shrink Terminal Rings amzn.to/2gGZ3Ju
Ancor  Marine Grade Heat Shrink Butt Connectors amzn.to/2J4trfh
Ancor Marine Grade Heat Shrink Disconnects (male and female) amzn.to/2JXwN56
Ancor Marine Grade Heat Shrink Adhesive Tubing amzn.to/2HBYJwS

 

 

Let’s get to work!

First of all, the location of every major component was determined to minimize the space occupied by the installation. The 3D model layout was very handy for this task.
Electrical System Installation Van Conversion CAD 3D Model

Interactive 3D CAD layout here.

 

 

There are just too many steps and details to cover everything, so what follows is some pictures of the installation process.
(Click on the picture to enlarge)

 

electrical-system-installation-van-conversion-3

Fitting the 210 AGM Rolls Battery. This thing is HEAVY!

 

electrical-system-installation-van-conversion-5

Getting the major components in

 

electrical-system-installation-van-conversion-6

We tried to keep the cables length to the minimum

 

electrical-system-installation-van-conversion-9

Isabelle doing all the work

 

 

electrical-system-installation-van-conversion-10

Connecting the solar charge controller

 

Electrical System Installation Van Conversion (2)

Crimping party

 

electrical-system-installation-van-conversion-16

View from the top of the cabinet

 

Electrical-System-Installation-Van-Conversion-(Heat-Management)

Passive heat management: cool air enter the side of the cabinet (from the “garage” side), then escape through a large gap behind the drawers and through an opening we left on the side of the cabinet.

 

electrical-system-installation-van-conversion-15

Removing the drawers will give us the access to the electrical system

 

Inverter Van Battery Positive

The inverter is connected to the auxiliary positive terminal under the driver seat. It is protected with a 200A Class-T fuse.

 

Van Batteries Cover

The inverter connection is contained within the batteries cover. Nice & Clean.

 

electrical-system-installation-van-conversion-1

We did that!

 

 

 

ON SECOND THOUGHT…

  • We added a remote to the inverter, because sometimes (alright, most of the time) we forget to turn it on before driving to charge the battery. Here is the remote: http://amzn.to/2hLJBjU
samlex-inverter-remote

Remote for 1000W Samlex inverter. Buy from Amazon

 

  • We decided to minimize the electrical cables length, so we don’t have a sexy distribution panel to display our switches. The switches are a bit hard to access, it might irritate us in the future. We’ll see.

 

(VERY) RELATED ARTICLE

Electrical System Guide for Camper Van Conversion

 

 

 

WANT MORE?

Check out our Build Journal, learn everything about The Van, read our VanLife Guides, or if you’re new to this start by reading The Prologue.

 

 

 

STAY IN TOUCH!

Join 15,000+ followers via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Patreon or e-mail:

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ABOUT US

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

 

 

CONNECT

Join our Facebook group to connect with other passionate DIY campervan builders like you!

 

 

CHEERS!

 

 

 

24 comments

  1. Comment by Brady

    Brady Reply October 14, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Hi guys. Love your site and all the great info you put out for the community. I have a few questions about the actual install here.

    1) Is your battery actual tied down at all or just held in place by gravity, those angle brackets in front, and the wooden “box” lid right on top of the battery? In some of the pictures it looks like there is something else between the battery and the “box” but I can’t tell what.

    2) The battery we have has the exact same “L” terminals as your Rolls and I’m trying to figure out how to best connect the terminal fuses without posts. It’s hard to see in your photos but your wiring diagram shows you have a 250A block fuse on the house battery itself, is that true? Any tips or tricks, or does that fuse just go right onto the battery terminal itself (Nut-Terminal-Fuse-Cable-Bolt), as opposed to the fuse block like you have with the battery under your driver’s seat?

    3) Anything surprising in how you secured the whole cabinet to the van and the floor? I see the Plusnut against the wall, really wondering about whether you just screwed the floor into the subfloor or something else.

    Again, I love your page and thank you both for putting in so much effort – to your build and sharing lessons learned with everyone else. Cheers!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply October 16, 2018 at 9:51 am

      Hi!
      1) You’re correct. The battery is held in place by the wooden box only.
      2) The 250A fuse+block we’re proposing goes right to the battery terminal; it’s designed for that.
      3) Honestly, I don’t recall if we screwed it through the floor or not?! But it could be done for sure as we have plywood under the vinyl floor…

      Good luck!

  2. Comment by Gregory

    Gregory Reply September 19, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    Antoine,

    I purchased the wiring/electrical from you guys and it has been very helpful Thanks.
    Looking at the images on the site, I see two switches being used but in the diagram it only shows one?

    Thanks,

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply September 19, 2018 at 10:34 pm

      In the first iteration of our system, we added the possibility to power the 12V loads directly from the van’s battery. We used that feature ZERO times haha. I wouldn’t recommend it so we changed our diagram. Voilà!
      THANKS for buying our diagram, hope that helps!

  3. Comment by Don Kane

    Don Kane Reply August 1, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    1. Is the Marine Lifeline AGM Battery – GPL-8DL a big lead acid battery? Or some sort of lithium battery.
    2. any thoughts on how well that is tyied down back there. I would wonder what it would do in an accident if coming forward at high velocity.
    3. So I think I remember your front seat having 2 batteries under it. Are those equal, or is one normally for excessories? or are they just wired in parallel for starting the vehicle?
    4. My 59 VW bug had a 6 volt battery under the back seat. When my little but bigger brother would sit there, and went over a bump, we would get sparks and smoke back there. But that doesnt happen in modern vehicles I assume.

  4. Comment by Dara

    Dara Reply July 18, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Your website is incredibly helpful. Thanks for putting so much work into it!
    I had someone at a local RV conversion shop tell me that if I install breakers rather than fuses in a system with a battery isolator, I’m going to regret it. I don’t quite get the logic, because if the breaker flips, I assume that means the fuse would blow if it was rated for the same amperage.

    Anyways, I’m wondering, do you find that your breakers flip often? How have the breakers been for you?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply July 18, 2018 at 11:45 am

      The breakers only flip when we manually flip them… no issues so far! I mean, everyone use them. As long as they’re properly sized, I don’t see the problem…

  5. Comment by Gabriel

    Gabriel Reply June 13, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Hey guys!

    An inspiration as always.

    What did you guys do about exposing your charging inlet to the world (for shore power)? Did you drill a hole in your wall or floor or do you guys just stretch the cable out of the window when you need to?

    In my build, I want to try to remain as stealthy as possible so I was thinking about drilling a hole in the side of the wheel well– is this a really stupid idea? I would get a covered/sealed inlet like this one https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009ANV81S/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply June 13, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      We barely use shore, but when we do we just pass an extension cord through the hole in the “D pillar” at the back of the van. Just remove one of the plastic cover shown in this picture:
      d pillar

      It’s basic but it works for our needs 🙂

  6. Comment by Carol

    Carol Reply March 15, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Antoine: We love your webpage and of course your Van. My question: IS your refrigerator Nova Cool AC or AC/DC or 2 way? And if you were building your van again, What kind of refrigerator would you choose? 2 way or D/C. ? Yes, I’m confused with the choices. We are in build out planning phase here on our Ford Transit in Canmore, Alberta. Cheers Carol

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply March 15, 2018 at 8:34 pm

      It’s 12V only, we would not use the 120V anyway… Our system is designed so when we’re plugged to shore power, all the appliances are still using 12V; the difference is that the power comes from the charger/converter in lieu of the battery. Hope that helps!

  7. Comment by Al S

    Al S Reply January 11, 2018 at 3:30 am

    What an amazing job you guys are doing documenting your build, thank you so much! Although it’s too late for the “far out”, try using welding cable instead of battery cable. It’s considerably more flexible and easier to work with. Also, instead of crimping the lug… place the end with the opening straight up on a vice, drop a pre-sized solder pellet into it and heat with a small torch (available at any hardware store). When the solder is melted, remove the heat and just push the wire into the hole and hold till the solder solidifies. Since welding cable only comes in black, you can use red or black adhesive lined heat shrink tubing where the lug and wire connect to denote positive or negative leads. Aside from having a super great connection, this will allow you to do everything next to your vehicle and makes getting the lengths right easier. If I wasn’t clear, there are good U-tubes out there on soldering welding cable. I re-did a 6 battery system on a class “a” motor home using welding cable and life was so much easier.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply January 11, 2018 at 9:43 am

      Thanks!
      On our next van maybe 😛

  8. Comment by Wes Greenwood

    Wes Greenwood Reply October 2, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Hey Antoine,

    Did you have to purchase more wire then you needed? ie a 100 foot roll of tinned 14/2 wire, instead of getting it by the foot somewhere?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply October 2, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      I don’t remember exactly, but I think we went through 100 foot of 14/2.
      We first bought by the foot, then bought an extra roll, i’m pretty sure of that!

      What make you hesitate?

  9. Comment by Jeff

    Jeff Reply July 4, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Hello, I am interested in how you connected your 12 volt lights together. Lots of splices or did you fabricate a “daisy chain”?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply July 5, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      I’m not sure what a daisy chain is…
      But our LED are wired in parallel using 3M ScotchLok Quick Splice with gel: https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories-and-Parts/3M/804C.html
      I don’t think it’s common practice (or recommended) to use this, but if we ever have to troubleshoot or replace one, we have easy access to them by removing a wood panel.

  10. Comment by Terri

    Terri Reply March 19, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Thanks, the kit with many sizes sounds perfect!

  11. Comment by Terri

    Terri Reply March 15, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Do you by any chance remember where you bought the cable clamps that are holding the cables and loom to the plywood?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply March 15, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      We bought them at our local electronics shop, but here is a kit with many sizes on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nGxzY5.

  12. Comment by Terri

    Terri Reply December 24, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Hah! I’m in no position to educate anyone about this. I’m still trying to work out a diagram with all the parts and connections I need and have no hands on experience yet. What I’ve read about grounding the AC side of things has been confusing. It’s funny how easy it is to find good articles about marine wiring that sound like they’re written by electrical engineers explaining well established best practices, but I haven’t come across anything of that sort for RV wiring.

  13. Comment by Terri

    Terri Reply December 23, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Hi, I’m interested in knowing how you wired up the 110 AC ground and neutral of the inverter and the shore power battery charger. Are the AC grounds connected to the vehicle chassis? Does the inverter bond the neutral and ground together internally?

    You’ve created an amazing website here! I love the style, the photos, writeups, graphics, etc. It’s informative AND a treat to look at.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply December 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Terri, i wish you did not brought up that topic 😛 Neutral VS Ground is still confusing for me… but here we go:
      We ran a badass 00 welding cable from the ground point between the driver/passenger seat, back to our negative bus bar of the house battery (there was no nearest “approved” ground point per BEMM). The negative of our inverter is connected to that bus bar.
      We connected the ground of the inverter to a ground point in the back of the van (per BEMM), but i’m not sure why… we did it anyway after reading a few articles here and there…
      The battery charger is not grounded, because the ground is provided by the shore cable (i recall reading this somewhere).

      Please feel free to correct or educate me! 🙂

      And thanks for the compliments! Happy Holidays!

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