Electrical System Installation

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Electrical System Installation

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.

 

24 thoughts on “Electrical System Installation”

  1. 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!

    • 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. 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,

    • 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. 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. 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?

    • 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. 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 🙂

    • 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. 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

    • 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. 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.

  8. 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?

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    • 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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