I decided to do my own electrics for my van conversion
As this would allow me to not only learn a new skill, but problem solve much easier on the road, as I know how everything worked
Disclaimer; I am not a professional electrician, so please only use this information as a guide and do your own research
Solar, Alternator & Shore Power
One of the big draws to van life for me was the freedom to live off grid and power my home with my own renewable resources. My primary source being solar power, I shall be installing two 175w panel on my roof. The secondary source being alternator power, which recycles excess energy created when driving to charge up my batteries. The third being a shore inlet, which alongside an inverter charger, I am able to plug in and recharge my batteries. This is useful for winter when there is little sun and I'm not driving long distances.
ac vs dc
Both alternate (AC) & direct (DC) current delivers electricity, it just arrives in different ways depending on your appliance, light or electronic. A typical house is run on 210-240v AC, which requires a 3 core cable with a live, neutral and earth. However, for efficiency reasons most van electrical will want to be run on 12-24v DC, that requires a positive red and negative black cable to complete each products circuit.
This is the central base for your electrical system, where all your power sources combine to meet your batteries which will store your power, your fuse boxes which protect your appliances and your inverter (if you have one) which will convert your DC power in AC power for your plugs. Once I've installed my system successfully and everything works, I shall be releasing my electrical diagram, which will include a high spec image, with links to everything I used, plus all the wire sizes I went for, each wire length, the max amperage of every component and the fuse/breaker size of each wire.
dc cable sizing
I used the blue sea systems diagram shown here to find each DC cable size. First I measured the returned length from the fuse box to each appliance, light and electronic, including any switch, etc. Then look at the products manual for its max amperage and entered both numbers into the table. As I'm in the UK, I needed to convert that AWG wire size into mm2 using the chart on the left hand side.
For my AC plugs I decided to go with Radial circuits, which don't return to the breaker box, but have a 3 core wire go from one plug to the next and end at the last plug. This means each circuit has a max amperage of 26amps, which considering each plug socket is 13amps. I had to decided how many plugs I wanted on each circuit, where they would go, what they would most likely be used for and which would be running at the same time. This is to make sure I wasn't overloading the circuits by running multiple plugs on the same circuit at once. I ran my kitchen plug on its own circuit as it will most likely be the heaviest draw, since heat requires the most energy and I shall be running a kettle and induction hob.
All the products I used in my electrical set have been listed and linked on my 'product list' page. This will help you to see exactly what I've used. However, I'm not a professional and don't personally recommend any of the products as I have not had a chance to test them out. So please only use it as a guide and make your own decisions.