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A Complete Guide to Caravan Water Inlet Sockets (2024)

A water inlet in the side of your van is a wonderful luxury - it's far easier to fill up with a hose in the side than filling up water containers manually. In this guide I will show you the simple, approach to installing a caravan water inlet socket in your van! We will examine two of the most popular brands: the Truma water inlet housing and the Whale water inlet socket.


I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan,writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!


Now let's jump in and have a look at how to install the Caravan Water Inlet Socket!

How to Install/Replace a Caravan Water Inlet Socket

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click a product link and buy anything from the merchant (Amazon, eBay, etc.) we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not. By using these links, you are helping me to continue writing free educational content!


 

Note: Did you know that you can get a free electrical wiring diagram by signing up to The Van Conversion Newsletter

 
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Supplies List 🛒

Bosch power drill

​Bosch power drill (800W)

For driving and drilling


​Hammerite metal paint

For protecting bare metal from rust

Sikaflex 522

WD-40

​​WD40 oil

For keeping the hole saw lubricated

Hole saw set

​Bosch Bi-metal hole saw set

For cutting circular holes in wood and metal

Water inlet

What is a caravan water inlet socket for?

A caravan water inlet socket is an integral part of your water system. It connects directly to your fresh water tank (usually with PEX piping). Note that a caravan water inlet socket operates by gravity, so the socket must be installed higher than the water tank.

A caravan water socket allows you to will you tank with water from a water filling station (eg. at a campsite). If you have a specialised inlet like the Truma water inlet housing or the Whale water inlet socket you can install a pressurized system whereby you leave your caravan water inlet socket permanently hooked up to a mains water supply.

Campervan water system

Truma water inlet housing

The most popular caravan water inlet socket is the Truma water inlet housing.

It is great for people who spend longer lengths of time at campsites as it allows for a permanent/pressurised water hook up. This means you can keep it connected to the mains water supply indefinitely. If your caravan/campervan is setup to run directly off a caravan water inlet socket, you can run the taps as long as you like!


The Truma water inlet housing is very easy to install and known to be particularly 'leak-proof' due to the pistol grip type and double o-ring fitting.

Whale water inlet socket

Another very popular caravan water inlet socket is the Whale water inlet socket. It is very similar to the Truma water inlet housing. It allows for a pressurized system hook up. It is easy to install and connects particularly well with other Whale products (many of which are used in this campervan water system).


How to use a hole saw

You will need to use a bi-metal (metal cutting) hole saw drill attachment to cut a circular hole for the caravan water inlet socket.

There are a few things you should be aware of when using a bi-metal hole saw;

Oil: Use LOTS of tapping and cutting fluid on the metal you are cutting - you will destroy the hole saw if you don't.

RPM: 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: Pulsate the drill while you are cutting. Use a stop and start motion while drilling, this gives the holesaw a chance to cool down (it gets very hot).

Don’t cheap out: Real bi-metal hole saws cost a bit of cash - the cheap ones you find online may not work as well / at all.

Learn from my mistakes; the first time I used a hole saw, I 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!

How to install a caravan water inlet socket

There are many inlet sockets we may need to install in a campervan, including (but not limited to);

A caravan water inlet socket allows you to fill up your water tank via a hose in the side of your van. In the Roaming Home study, we found that 39% of vans have a permanent water filling inlet installed.

The process of installing a mains hook up socket and water inlet is the exact same. It is very similar to the solar cable entry installation.

Step #1: Choose a bi-metal holesaw

Choose a bi-metal hole saw that fits for the caravan water inlet socket. Check the specific dimensions of the inlet you are using. Choosing the right size hole saw is important.

Step #2: Trace around the hole saw

Place the hole saw on the van and trace around it with a sharpie or pencil.

Step #3: Drill pilot holes

Drill a pilot hole in the middle of the traced circle and two more pilot holes close by on either side.

drilling a pilot hole

Step #4: Tape some plywood

Tape a square piece of plywood to the side of the van to cover the three holes you just drilled. This will act as the backing flange of the caravan water inlet socket.

Taping plywood

Step #5: Secure the plywood

Screw into the piece of plywood from the outside to secure it to the van.

screwing into van

Step #6: Use the hole saw

Attach the hole saw to your drill and cut a hole in the side of the van.

Holesaw in van

Step #7: Apply metal paint to the exposed metal to prevent rust

Ensure you clean all the metal shavings (swarf) before applying the metal paint.

Step #8: Insert the inlet

Place the caravan water inlet socket into the hole you've just cut and mark with a pencil where the screws go in. Then take it out again.

Step #9: Drill pilot holes

Drill four pilot holes on the pencil marks.

Drilling pilot holes for shore power inlet

Step #10: Secure the plywood to the van

The plywood will be the backing flange of the inlet. Secure the plywood to the inside of the van with Sikaflex. Clamp the plywood to the van until the Sikaflex has dried and secured.

Backing flange

Step #11: Attach the caravan water inlet socket

Screw the caravan water inlet socket into the van from the outside.

Step #12: Apply sealant

Run a bead of sealant around the inlet to prevent any leaks!

Installing main inlet

Conclusion

I hope you found this guide to installing a caravan water inlet socket 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 (I'll send you a free wiring diagram when you join).


If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!


Until next time,

Shane ✌️

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