Designing the Van Part 13 – Contemplating the electricity hook-up

The philosophy behind the campervan was versatility. We wanted a van that could manage completely off-grid if needed or one which would allow us the luxury of hooking up to the mains grid on a camp site if we were feeling flush.

Going off-grid would leave us without the fridge; it could be run of gas but wouldn’t run for long periods and we wanted the gas for the stove so in truth it was only going to be run on 240v mains hook up at a camp site or on the 12v line when the van was running.

Running the line for a 12v feed was theoretically very simple; find a thick wire from the battery, make sure it’s not a permanent feed as it will flatten the battery if you forget to switch it off and undo a few panels to run it discretely. Simple. In Theory.

I’ll cover that job in another blog, as this is the story of the 240v installation.

I spent a lot of time looking at a plethora of websites in my search for the best way to install a 240v wiring system. Details were sketchy at best but the general gist of was that I needed a connector on the outside of the van, a wiring loom, some sort of fuse array and plug sockets. My high school electrical installation lesson (the one and only) was a long time ago so I had to think hard and get the synapses firing.

I’d actually already bought the hook up connector for the van while at the caravan suppliers near RAF Cosford when I invested in the new water pump, the skylight and the two water tanks, so that was crossed off the list.

I trawled electrical suppliers, asked pertinent questions and generally got nowhere, “Oh I’ve never done work on a van before…” was a stock response and for all its supposed information the internet can be a knowledge desert and I was stuck for ideas.

Inspiration came in the form of a local supermarket who were having a run on camping gear. While mooching for beans and the like I spotted a shiny green box with a picture of a ready-to-go camping plug socket set. I nearly shat with excitement.

It had three plug sockets, a trip switch and a main override in one tidy, if slightly dull looking grey box. Furthermore it had a 30m lead with a hook up plug on the end. Better still is cost £30. Luck was on my side and I was hugely relieved that I wouldn’t have to do a massive wiring installation.

I needed to adapt the thing a little before I could fit it which I’ll explain in the next chapter – Installing the 240v hook up.

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