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Campervan Wiring: Best Wire Sizes For A Camper Van Conversion

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Electrical-Wiring-for-Campervan

Which wire sizes should you be using in your camper van? With over 15 different wire sizes, it can be confusing to know which sizes you need to build your van’s electric system. Choosing too thin of a wire can be a fire hazard, but selecting too thick of a wire is a waste of money.

In this post, we recommend the best wire sizes for each section of a camper van’s electric system. The wiring sections we’ll go over are:

Best Quality Wires: All our wire recommendations are pure copper, stranded wires. We ignore the cheap copper-clad aluminum (CCA) wires and go straight for pure copper. This ensures your wires can safely handle the correct amount of electrical current.

So if you’re ready, let’s get to it!

Confused where to start with DIY electrics? Check out our comprehensive camper van electrical system guide to start from the very beginning.

Camper Van Wire Size Summary

Unsurprisingly, different sections of a van’s electric system requires different size wires. That’s because different sections of your electrical system will have different amounts of current (A) running through the wires.

Below is a summary list to help you locate the best wire size for each section.

Section

Wire Size

Where To Buy

Combining batteries

2/0 AWG Wire

Battery to bus bars

2/0 AWG Wire

Battery to inverter

2/0 AWG Wire

Battery to 12V panel

2/0 AWG Wire

Charge while driving

6AWG

Solar 'PV' System

10AWG*

Inverter to sockets

12AWG

12V panel to devices

14AWG

*10AWG will most likely be the size you need for your solar PV system. But read our solar wire size guide to double check.

Check out this handy chart for more on the official amp ratings for each wire size.

Free Ebooks To Learn More: To better understand how all these different wires come together to make a single electrical system, we recommend downloading our electrical wiring eBooks. You can download them below and they're completely free.

Camper van electrical wiring diagram
Completed electrical wiring diagram

Download our electrical eBook to visualize which wire sizes you need.

Section 1:

Combining Batteries: 2/0 AWG

2/0 AWG wire to connect batteries together
2/0 AWG wire to connect batteries together

If you are connecting multiple batteries together – either in series or in parallel – 2/0 AWG is the ideal wire size to use. This wire thickness will easily handle your entire electrical load and is perfect for an inverter rated up to 3000W.

We recommended the 2/0 AWG wires from EWCS [Amazon] because of their unmatched flexibility for their thickness. This wire is made up of hundreds of tiny copper strands, making it easy to bend the wire to connect all your components in a tight space.

The wire jackets are also water, oil, & corrosion resistant, making them ideal for use in a camper van.

2/0 AWG Wire Size For Camper Van Conversion
2/0 AWG Stranded Copper Wire

We will be using 2/0 AWG wire for other connections below, so we recommend getting at least 10-15′ of red and black wire.

These wires are also made in the USA, which we love.

Recommended 2/0 AWG Wire Accessories

Product

Purpose

Where To Buy

Wire Cutter

Cuts through 2/0 stranded wires.

Blade

Strips thick 2/0 wire jacket.

3/8" Lugs

Attaches to 2/0 wire ends for easy connections.

Hydraulic Lug Crimper

Crimps lugs onto 2/0 wires

Heat Gun

Activates heat shrink on 2/0 wires.

Related Reading

Section 2:

Batteries To Bus Bars: 2/0 AWG

2/0 AWG wires to connect battery to bus bars
2/0 AWG wires to connect batteries to the bus bars

Next, you will want to connect your batteries to the bus bars (power distribution/collection centers). And along the way, you may want to include a fuse, master switch, and a battery monitor.

In this section, we still recommend 2/0 AWG [Amazon] to connect these components together in order to safely handle the large amounts of current that will pass through.

2/0 AWG Wire Size For Camper Van Conversion
2/0 AWG Stranded Copper Wire

Section 3:

Bus Bars To Inverter: 2/0 AWG

2/0 AWG wire size to connect bus bars to inverter
2/0 AWG for connecting bus bars to inverter

Of all the devices in your camper, the inverter will likely draw the most current from the batteries. And if you have an inverter/charger model, this device will be taking large amounts of current from shore power and putting them back into your batteries.

That is why we still recommend using 2/0 AWG [Amazon] wire here.

This wire is the perfect size for any inverter rated up to 3000W.

2/0 AWG Wire Size For Camper Van Conversion
2/0 AWG Stranded Copper Wire

Warning: A lot of cheap inverters on Amazon come included with their own wires. But these wires are often cheap copper-clad aluminum (CCA). CCA wires are rated for less current than pure copper wires and can overheat if used incorrectly. That's why we still recommend to use pure copper wires from EWCS instead.

Related Reading

Section 4:

Batteries To 12V Panel: 2/0 AWG

2/0 AWG wire to connect bus bars to 12V panel
2/0 AWG wires to connect bus bars to 12V panel

The wire size you use to connect the bus bars to the 12V panel depends entirely on the total load of your 12V system. However, to keep things simple (and because you will likely still have 2/0 wire left over), we recommend using 2/0 AWG [Amazon] wire to make this connection.

2/0 AWG Wire Size For Camper Van Conversion
2/0 AWG Stranded Copper Wire

Related Reading

Section 5:

Charge Batteries While Driving: 8 AWG

Wiring diagram showing how to charger camper batteries while driving
Charge while driving wiring diagram

6 AWG is the recommended wire size when building a system to charge your camper batteries while driving. This assumes you are using a proper DC-DC battery charger, like the Victron Orion [Amazon]. Be sure to get a spool of red and a spool of black wire.

6AWG wire (red)
6AWG wire (red)

Recommended 6 AWG Wire Accessories

Product

Purpose

Where To Buy

DC-DC Charger

Manages charging between vehicle and camper batteries.

50A Fuse

Protects wires and devices from surges.

3/8" Ring Terminals

Connects 6AWG wire to 50A fuse and bus bars.

Section 6:

Solar 'PV' System: 10 AWG

10 AWG wire for solar PV system
10 AWG wire to connect solar system to bus bars

In most cases, 10 AWG [Amazon] wire is the ideal size to build a solar system in a camper van. This includes wiring the solar panels to the charge controller and then from the controller to the bus bars.

However, the exact size of the solar wires depends on the total size of your solar array and how the panels are connected (series vs. parallel). That’s why we recommend reading our solar wire size guide for a complete wire size breakdown so that you get the wiring size right.

10AWG size wire (marine grade) for van conversion
10AWG Marine-Grade Stranded Wire

But whichever wire size you need (10 AWG or otherwise), the marine-grade Ancor wires are some of the best for solar installation.

That’s because we’ve found that their tough wire jackets do a great job at protecting the copper wires from the outside elements, like rain and UV light.

Is ‘Marine Grade Worth It?’
Our solar wires take quite a beating on our van’s roof. Though the wires that came included with our solar panels are faded (from UV exposure), our marine-grade cables still look like new. So we think these wires are worth the extra cost.

Recommended Solar Wire Accessories

Product

Purpose

Where To Buy

Wire Cutter & Stripper

Cuts, strips, and crimps thinner electric wires.

MC4 Connectors

Critical connectors when building a solar system.

Solar Wire Entry Gland

Protects solar wires when transferred through the van's roof.

M6 Ring Connector

Connects solar wire to circuit breaker.

M10 Ring Connector

Connects solar wire to bus bars.

Solar Charge Controller

Controls solar charging process to the batteries.

40A Circuit Breaker

Protects wires and solar system from surges.

Related Reading

Section 7:

Inverter To Sockets & Shore Power: 12 AWG

12 AWG wire size for connecting inverter to sockets and shore power
12 AWG wire size to connect inverter to sockets and shore power

12AWG is the ideal size when connecting the inverter to power sockets and to shore power (if you have an inverter/charger model).

Make sure you purchase wire that is marked as “12/3 AWG”. This means that there are three individual 12-gauge wires encompassed in a single outer wire jacket. This is useful for keeping the wires neat as well as adding an additional layer of wire protection.

12/3 AWG size wire for camper van wiring
12/3 AWG electric wire

We purchased these 12/3 AWG wires [Amazon] and they’ve worked great for us, no matter what 120v electrical device we’ve used. This is also a very flexible wire, which can come in handy in a cramped camper van.

Recommended 12 AWG Wire Accessories

Product

Purpose

Where To Buy

Circuit Breaker Box

Holds the 15A circuit breaker.

15A Circuit Breaker

Protects downstream wires and electrical devices.

Power Outlet

Standard 120V socket.

Wall Plate

Socket frame.

Gang Box

Attaches to socket behind the wall.

Wire Splitter

Splits 12 AWG wire into multiple paths.

Related Reading

Section 7:

Wiring 12V Devices: 14 AWG

14 AWG wire to connect 12V panel to 12V devices

14AWG wire is perfect for wiring all the 12v devices in a camper van to the 12v distribution panel [Amazon]. This includes wiring the vent fan, water pump, led lights, and standard 12v sockets.

When shopping for 14 AWG wires, look for “14/2 AWG”. This means that two 14-gauge wires are packed inside an additional outer jacket, like this one from GS Power [Amazon].

14/2 AWG size wire camper vans
14/2 AWG wires

Because of the constant vibration camper van’s experience while driving, protecting the wires with an additional outer jacket is a smart move to prevent short circuits and potential fires.

Recommended 14 AWG Wire Accessories

Product

Purpose

Where To Buy

Butt Connector

Connects 14AWG wire to each 12v device

Wire Connector

Splices 14AWG wires into multiple paths.

12v Distribution Panel

Distributes 12V power from batteries to individual 12v devices.

M8 Ring Connector

Connects 14AWG wire to distribution panel.

12V Switch

On/off switch for LED lights.

Related Reading

Download our electrical eBook (with diagrams) to visualize which wire sizes you need.

Campervan Wiring Tips

1. Decide A Wire Origination Point

Before laying out all your electrical wires, decide where in the camper you will build the center of your electrical system. This will be the location of your batteries, 12v distribution panel, inverter, and all other electrical components. All electrical wires should originate from this region of the camper.

The center of our electric system is located above the passenger-side wheel well. You can see how we had all our electric wires originate from this location.

Camper van wires originating above wheel well in a van conversion
All 14 AWG wires originating from single spot above passenger-side wheel well

2. Use Split Wire Loom To Protect Your Wires

Regretfully, we did not do this. But putting your electric wires in a split wire loom [Amazon] plays a critical role in protecting the wires.

Split wire loom is useful for camper van conversion wiring
Split wire loom

This is important in a camper van because you’ll be creating lots of vibration throughout the vehicle while driving. And if your unprotected wires happen to be resting next to another object, constant vibration can work to cut through the wire’s outer jacket and expose the bare copper wires inside.

This is a fire hazard.

You can also hold these wire looms in place along the van’s metal frame with these 3M adhesive mounts [Amazon].

How To Ground A Camper Electrical System

For safety, you should ground your camper’s electric system. But instead of connecting to an actual ‘ground’ point, you simply connect to a designated spot on your vehicle’s chassis.

For information on your specific vehicle’s chassis ground points it’s best to search for these points either in your vehicle’s handbook or by searching on the Internet.

If you have a Ford Transit, like we do, we’re posting an image of all the chassis ground points below. In our electric build, we grounded our system by connecting to point #31 in the below image. Download our electrical wiring eBook to learn how to ground your camper’s electrical system.

Ford Transit ground points on the chassis

Speed Up Your Electrical Install Process With Our Free Diagrams

Did You Find This Van Life Tip Helpful? We have lots of other useful articles to help you travel better in your camper van or RV. Check out our Electrical System Guide to read more great van life content!

Final Thoughts: Campervan Wiring Is Just The Beginning!

Thank you for making it this far in our campervan wiring post! We hope you learned a thing, or two, about best wire size and placement in your own van conversion.

But buying the right wires and laying them in your van is just the first step. This blog has so many more posts to get your campervan electrics up and running. Check out these posts below for more information.

Thank You For Reading!

We’re Yuko and Eric! We both grew up in Asia ( Japan & Hong Kong ), we left our jobs and homes in 2018 and started traveling full time from Canada to Argentina in our self-converted camper van since end of May 2019. “Asobo” means “Let’s play” in Japanese. We named our site “Asobolife” because the life is always uncertain and we live only once so it’s important to always keep positive, playful mind and enjoy the moment you are in the present. We also want to use this website to share our road trip and van building experiences to inspire our readers. We hope you enjoy!

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