Updated: Sep 6
Shore power in a van allows you to fill up with electricity (mains) at home or at a campsite. In my opinion it is essential if you are using the campervan for extended trips. In this guide I will show you the simple approach to installing an electrical inlet in your campervan, By the end your van will be ready for shore power! I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for many years, I'm the van conversion instructor at Udemy, author of The Van Conversion Newsletter, and the proud owner of a beautiful self-build campervan called Beans. So let's jump in and have a look at how to install the electrical inlet!
These are the supplies you need
(Click on any item to purchase it)
How to install a mains electrical plug inlet in your van
1. Choose a bi-metal holesaw that fits your electrical plug inlet
Choose a hole saw that fits the electrical inlet perfectly (as flush as possible)
You will be cutting a hole in the sidse with this hole saw and its important it doesn't overlap the electrical plug inlet!
2. Place the holesaw on the side and trace it with a pencil
3. Drill a pilot hole in the middle of the traced circle and two more pilot holes close by on either side
4. Tape a piece of scrap wood to the side of the van to cover the three holes you just drilled
5. Screw into the piece of plywood from the outside to secure it to the van.
6. Attach the hole saw to your drill and drill into the van
N.B: We attached the plywood to the van to prevent the holesaw from wandering when we use it - they can be a little tricky to use in thin metal.
7. Apply metal paint to the exposed metal to prevent rust
Ensure you also clean all the metal shavings (swarf) off your van. If you don't you will have a lot of problems with rust in the future - they corrode quickly.
8. Place the electrical plug inlet in the hole you've just cut and mark with a pencil where the screws go in
9. Drill pilot holes on the pencil marks
10. Stick the scrapwood onto the inside of the van with Sikaflex
This will be the backing flange of the mains electrical plug inlet
Clamp the scrapwood to the van until the Sikaflex has dried and secured
11. Screw the electrical plug inlet into the van from the outside!
12. Apply sealant around the inlet to prevent any leaks!
And that's it! There are a few steps, but it's really quite easy.
Beware of the following when using a hole saw (N.B!!):
Use LOTS of oil on the metal you are cutting (WD40 will do) - you will destroy the hole saw if you don't
Use the drill on a low RPM (rotations per minute) - you will destroy the hole saw if you don't. This means that you shouldn't press your finger all the way down on the trigger of the drill
Pulsate the drill while you are cutting - you will destroy the hole saw if you don't. Use a stop and start motion while drilling, this gives the holes saw a chance to cool down (it gets very hot)
Learn from my mistakes; I bought a very expensive bi-metal holesaw and destroyed it within 5 minutes because I didn't follow the advice above.
Careful of the swarf:
When using mechanical tools on metal, a lot of metal shavings are produced ( known as 'swarf'). It is vital that you remove all these shavings from the van when you are finished, if you don't they will very quickly rust and damage your vehicle. They are quite sharp, so be careful when handling them.
Always wear goggle while using mechanical tools on metal; if swarf gets into your eye, it could have very serious consequences. You should also wear earmuffs - these tools are VERY loud!
I hope you found this guide to installing a mains electrical plug inlet useful! You are well on your way to a beautiful self-build campervan! Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion.
If you're converting a van but unsure of how to do it, you could also check out the Van Conversion Course on Udemy. In the course, you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,