Now, I am no electrician. But I wanted to share my electrical system for my van conversion. I first reached out to several people and asked for their help. I did have a reputable business install my dual battery setup and I’ve done a lot of research online to see how best to set up my electrical system.
With that being said, I watch a lot of YouTube videos about this subject. And I’ve noticed a lot of people have a ton of wires. And large gauge wire at that like romex? On mine, I have used between 12 and 16 gauge for my 12-volt system. My battery set up is a little bit more, of course, you need to run the zero for terminal type stuff.
I noticed that even when I installed my goal zero as my main power source. Those cables were not thick as well. The other thing I did not do was, I did not run my electrical inside my walls or inside the insulation. I see these van conversions as a work in progress so you never know what you will need or what changes you might need to make. With that in mind, I installed all my wires in wire loom tubing. Now if I need to fish another wire through I can.
Our 12volt system started with two AGM batteries. They both fit underneath the driver’s seat. There are photos below that will show more of that and how that works. We did have to cut the box, remove the lid, and create a new rubber lid so that we had no exposed terminal showing. This was done by a shop who suggested that I put in a circuit breaker, so right now the second battery is really what the 12-volt system runs on. There are two batteries there. One battery runs the front (Van) and the second battery is for the back. The reason they did this was so that I would never run down my van battery and then not be able to start the van. At the same time, if my first battery was to ever become too low to start I can push a button on the side of my seat and that would actually allow me to use both batteries to start.
So I have kind of the benefit of two batteries but really just one AGM is running things. To tie my 12 volt system together I ran that system into a switch. This boat switch has a three-way on and off so I have a completely off which is really nice just to be able to shut everything down.
I have to rotate the switch forward to engage the AGM batteries and then I can rotate it backward and that is how we connect the Goal Zero, which is nice because it points to the power supple that it’s being used. When we installed the Goal Zero we knew that we had quite a bit of power. So we wanted to have 110v access.
I used extension cords so that I can plug into the goal zero on the one end on the other end it is actually wired into a household receptacle, so now I’m able to plug in other items into those plugins for this. I only have two 110v plugins one that’s on the very back door and then one that is right by the kitchen away from the sink to keep away from any type of splashing. I tried to stay consistent on keeping water on one side and electrical on the other. Remember water and electricity, do not mix.
Now I am able to plug in chargers and air inflators and stuff in the back of the van. The front is really where we use it. I’m able to plug in my induction cooktop, we can plug in a fan or a heater. To keep the Goal Zero charged we added a shore power on the outside allowing me to plug-in from an external source and that actually charges back the Goal Zero then that runs the system. The Goal Zero also is great with solar so I have a plug-in on the side of the van
To access the Goal Zero from inside the van. I installed a cold air return vent. I can open it up and this allows me to access the Goal Zero which sets under our couch. A couple of things about this cold air return. I wanted there to be air circulating in around the Goal Zero, but I also wanted to be able to get into it not have to lift the seat up every time that I needed to access ( photos down below will make more sense).
So now that you know how we have our 110v. To run your 12-volt on the Goal Zero you will need their little dongle or electrical set up. We have a Dometic refrigerator and many refrigerators will do this they have their own fail-safe, so the battery looks like it’s going low it will go into a eco-mode what this does is it actually allowsthe system to run at a constant 15 volts to the 12 volt system.
With that installed the Dometic refrigerator is able to run in the most efficient mode, without having to accommodate a lower voltage. This does include a little bit more cost of the Goal Zero but we feel that $3000 that we spent we got a good product we’ve been able to run it during some pretty warm weather, running the fan and the refrigerator for 3-4 days with no problem. We have cooked with the induction cooktop and saw that it took between five and seven percent of the battery, now it does three thousand. So a 1000 or 1500x that might be quite a bit, but I think you can still get one meal in our travels we don’t do a lot of boondocking where we don’t have a place to plug in or off the grid for long period of time it’s usually two to three days we find the Goal Zero and the batteries are more than sufficient for what we need.
Now future growth, we would like to get us a Domestic air conditioner put that in place of the Maxx air fan. This may be something and we’ll have to see what the pull is on the power supply, we’re not dealing with a large interior area here.
Well, that’s our electrical system. I think we’ve got something that’s really handy but I do like that if I have a blackout at home. I literally can’t pull this out of my vehicle very easily. It does weigh almost 80 pounds for the 3,000 X, but once out I can plug in my refrigerator, they say I have up to like 50 hours if it’s fully charged.
I do have solar panels at the house plugged in I have the 200 watt suitcase setup, it would be a slow charge over a period of days.
I would love to hear your comments or questions if you want other photos or have questions about something that I’ve done I will share with you if I did something extremely wrong, let me know.