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Electrics and Plumbing

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

Electrics


I should say at the outset that you should seek professional assistance if you are unsure about electrics and plumbing – water and electricity don't like to mix.


If you wish to tackle the electrics yourself there are a lot of videos online and a lot of information, not all of it of the best standard. One person I was confident in was Greg Virgoe who is very well known in vanlife circles – I bought the T-shirt... and the mug! His instructive videos are some of the best. So I won't go into required wire gauges etc. I'll just state what I wanted, the equipment I bought and the sequence in which I installed it.


I worked out where I wanted lights, sockets, power points for both 12v and 240v and where the other pieces of equipment like the oven, fridge, shower fan and Truma boiler were to be located. When installing the insulation I also ran cables to these locations back to the garage where my fuse panel etc were located.


I made a spreadsheet with cable requirements with both length and gauge. I was way under my estimate so expect to order more than you think you need. Also, the cables have to be of specific types suitable for use in automotive applications.


Both MaxAir fans fitted
This was my initial estimate for cables – this didn't include the cables for the batteries.

The cables to connect the batteries together and to the inverter are a whole different class and are similar to those you have on your car battery because the amount of amps that can pass through them.


I made up wiring diagrams for each of the circuits and ran the cables. I wanted to be able to switch the lights off from both the front and bedroom area so that required a slightly different way of wiring the switches but is relatively easy to work out.


I also had the wiring that goes externally to the waste water tank gauge and to the underslung Autogas tank (both to a solenoid to cut the gas and to the gas gauge). This involved drilling holes through the floor and the usual coating of any exposed metal to prevent rust.


There was also some electrical work to be done on the JVC radio. I had to replace the existing radio unit with the JVC because I needed something that would display video from the rear view camera when I hit reverse. So all-in-all quite a bit of work.


I decided to base my solar/inverter system on Victron. A bit more expensive than other systems but hoped with the extra expense it would be reliable. I had to run a communications cable from the garage area to where I would have the Victron battery monitor. All these cables had to be run and in place before the interior units could be installed. The last cable was the cable to control the Truma boiler.


Electrical System
Electrical System


A hole had to be drilled for the 240V electrical shore feed and a connector fitted. The process was the same as the windows and fans. I drew the arrangement for the electrical components on ply to aid fixing them in the right place.


I connected up the lights, switches, sockets the appliances whenever these components were fitted and it worked out fine. Just make sure you have continuity in your circuit wires before you enclose them with the internal build.


Plumbing

The plumbing was much easier. You simply run the hot and cold (red and blue) plastic pipes to their locations, cut where needed and join with snap fittings (John Guest fittings are available. You should also put in cut off valves where necessary. I also fitted a one way valve to the Truma boiler and a drain through the floor from the water container in the garage. There was also a drain and overflow cut through the floor for the Truma. A hole was drilled through the side panel for the filler cap which fed the water tank too.


I installed a water filter before the water pump and an accumulator after to take up any fluctuation in pressure. Once all the pipes were laid I capped the ends and tested for leaks – make sure the connections are well pressed together otherwise you'll have a water show like the Bellagio water fountains.


filter, pump and accumulator
filter, pump and accumulator

I fitted a grey water tank under the van in the void behind the spare wheel and connected it up to the shower and sink.


Next stage: install gas tank


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