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Campervan Wiring: Best Wire Sizes For A Camper Van Conversion

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Electrical-Wiring-for-Campervan

Electric wires are in EVERY camper van conversion. But with more than 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 money down the drain.

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

So if you’re ready, let’s get to it!

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    Wire Size Summary Table

    The TL;DR...

    Different parts of a van conversion’s electric system requires different size wires. Below, we put together a helpful summary table help you quickly locate the wire sizes you need.

    Though you can find online calculators to help you find the PERFECT wire size, we like to keep things simple so that you can build your system as quickly and conveniently as possible. These are the sizes we recommend.

    Section

    Wire Size

    Learn More

    12v Wiring

    2/0 AWG Wire

    &

    14 AWG

    Solar Wiring

    10 AWG*

    120v Inverter Wiring

    2/0 AWG

    &

    12 AWG

    Charge While Driving

    8 AWG

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

    In the rest of this post, we list the recommended wire sizes from THICKEST to THINNEST and explain for which part of the electric system to use these wires.

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

    Wiring Batteries, Bus Bars, & Inverters

    2/0 AWG Wire

    2/0 AWG wires is a common wire size to use when building the 12-volt section of a van conversion’s electric system. These wires are be used to wire multiple 12v batteries together, and connect the batteries to the power distribution bus bars and 120v inverter.

    We recommended the 2/0 AWG wires from EWCS because of their unmatched flexibility for their thickness. This wire is made up of hundreds of tiny copper strands and so it is 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

    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.

    Lug Crimper

    Crimps lugs onto 2/0 wires

    Heat Shrink

    Covers exposed wire strands after attaching lugs.

    Heat Gun

    Activates heat shrink on 2/0 wires.

    Related Reading

    Drive While Charging

    8 AWG Wire

    8 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.

    Recommended 8 AWG Wire Accessories

    Product

    Purpose

    Where To Buy

    DC-DC Charger

    Manages charging between vehicle and camper batteries.

    60amp Circuit Breaker

    Protects wires and devices from surges.

    3/8" Ring Terminals

    Connects 8AWG wire to breaker and bus bars.

    8 AWG wire - Black and red
    8 AWG wire: Black & Red

    Solar System Wiring

    10 AWG Wire

    For most people, 10 AWG wire is the ideal size to build a solar system in a camper van. However, we recommend reading our solar wire size guide for a complete information breakdown so that you get the wiring size right.

    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.

    After 3 years, the Ancor wire jackets that are on our roof still look new while the cheaper wire jackets that came with our solar panels are already faded from the sun.

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

    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 10 AWG 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 Inlet

    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.

    30A Circuit Breaker

    Protects wires and solar system from surges.

    Related Reading

    Inverter To 120v Sockets

    12 AWG Wire

    12 AWG wire are the ideal size when building the 120v section of a van conversion’s electric system. This wire thickness is used to connect the power inverter to power outlets and to wire the inverter to a power inlet (if you are using an inverter/charger combo).

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

    We purchased SJOOW 12/3 AWG wires 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.

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

    Recommended 12 AWG Wire Accessories

    Product

    Purpose

    Where To Buy

    Circuit Breaker Box

    Holds the 15amp circuit breaker.

    15amp 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

    Wiring 12v Devices

    14 AWG Wire

    14 AWG wire is perfect for wiring all the 12v devices in a camper van to the 12v distribution panel. 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.

    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 12 AWG Wire Accessories

    Product

    Purpose

    Where To Buy

    Butt Connector

    Connects 14AWG wire to each 12v device

    Twist On Cap

    Splices 14AWG wires into multiple paths.

    12v Distribution Panel

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

    #8 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.

    Tips When Laying Electric Wires In A Van

    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 plays a critical role in protecting the wires.

    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.

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

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

    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 a piece of 12 AWG wire to point #31 in the below image.

    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.

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    ELECTRICAL WIRING GUIDE eBOOK