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How To Install A Power Inverter In A Camper Van (With Diagrams)

Looking to wire an inverter in your own camper? We'll discuss everything you need to know to get 120v AC power flowing through your van. Keep reading below!

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Looking for information on how to wire and install an inverter in a camper van? If yes, then you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll show you how to build your own inverter setup in a van.

Specifically, this post will teach you how to connect an inverter to:

We will discuss how to build the very same inverter wiring system that you see in the diagram below.

Inverter Wiring Diagram

Inverter Wiring Diagram For Camper Vans & RVs (Complete)
Complete inverter wiring diagram

So if you’re ready, let’s get to it!

Table of Contents
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    Not what you need? Check out our “Electrical System” category page for more similar content.

    But First...

    Anatomy Of An Inverter

    Before beginning the installation process, it’s critical to know all the connection points of an inverter. This helps when you begin wiring everything together.

    Different inverters will look slightly different when you check their connection points. But no matter what, the vast majority of inverters have the following connection points.

    Let’s look at two popular examples.

    Example 1: Victron Multiplus

    We use a Victron 2000VA Multiplus inverter/charger. Below you can see the 4 connection areas.

    Victron Inverter Installation Image

    Example 2: Aims Inverter/Charger

    The Aims inverter/charger is another popular inverter model for camper vans & RVs. You can see they also have the same four connection points, although they look slightly different. But the concept remains the same.

    AIMS Inverter Installation Image

    Now, let’s wire the whole inverter system together.

    Download our electrical eBook (with diagrams) to learn how to wire an electrical system in a camper van.

    Step 1:

    Connecting Inverter To Batteries

    The first step when installing an inverter in a camper van is to connect the inverter to the house batteries.

    Technically Speaking…
    We won’t be wiring the inverter directly to the batteries. Instead, we will be wiring the inverter to bus bars, which in turn will be wired to the batteries.

    In this section, we will discuss how to connect the inverter to the bus bars. To learn more about how to connect the batteries to the bus bars, check out our post on 12v wiring for camper vans.

    Wiring Inverter To Batteries

    Connecting An Inverter To Camper Van Batteries
    Connecting inverter to batteries

    Materials & Tools List

    Product

    Purpose

    Where To Buy

    Inverter / Charger

    Converts 12v power to 120v.

    2/0 AWG Wire

    Connects inverter to bus bars.

    Bus Bars

    Power distribution point.

    3/8" Wire Lugs

    Used to connect 2/0 wire to bus bars.

    Heat Shrink Tubing

    Protects connection between 2/0 wire and 3/8" lugs.

    Helpful Tools

    2/0 Wire Cutters

    Cuts 2/0 wires down to size.

    Utility Knife

    Strips 2/0 wire jacket.

    Hammer Lug Crimper

    Crimps 3/8" lugs onto 2/0 wire ends.

    Heat Gun

    Activates heat shrink tubing.

    Installation Instructions

    After activating the heat shrink on your 2/0 wire ends, the final result should look similar to the image below.

    00 Wire End With 3/8" Ring Connector

    Following the above process, your inverter should now be connected to your bus bars.

    For information how to connect the bus bars to the batteries, check out our 12v wiring installation guide.

    Step 2:

    Wiring Inverter To Shore Power

    In this section, we talk about how to connect an inverter to shore power. This is only required if you specifically purchased an ‘inverter/charger’ model that is capable of charging batteries, like our Victron Multiplus.

    Note: If you opted for a non-Inverter/Charger model, you can skip this step and go straight to step 3.

    Inverter To Shore Power

    Inverter Wiring System For Camper Vans & RVs (Part 2 Connecting Inverter To Shore Power)

    Materials & Tools List

    Product

    Purpose

    Where To Buy

    12 AWG Wire

    Connects inverter to power inlet.

    125v Power Inlet

    Extension cord connects here to charge inverter.

    Helpful Tools

    Wire Stripper Tool

    Strips 12 AWG wire.

    High Quality Extension Cord

    Connects inverter to shore power.

    Installation Instructions

    Note 1: Not every inverter/charger has exactly the same connection point naming system. But they will all be similar.

    Following the above process, your inverter/charger should now ready to connect to shore power to charge your house batteries.

    Good To Know
    Get a high-quality 12AWG extension cord. Cheap cords come with thinner wire strands, which may not be safe to support large wattages for long periods of time.

    Step 3:

    Wiring Inverter To Power Outlets

    In this section, we show you how to connect your inverter to power outlets so that you can plug in your 120v devices.

    Good To Know
    Our tutorial discusses how to utilize standard household wall sockets in your camper/RV. But many inverters already have built-in sockets, which is much simpler and cost-effective.

    Inverter To Power Outlets

    Connecting Inverter To Power Outlets

    Materials & Tools List

    Product

    Purpose

    Where To Buy

    12 AWG Wire

    Connects inverter to power outlets and to shore power.

    Circuit Breaker Box

    Houses the circuit breaker.

    15amp Circuit Breaker

    Protects 120v devices from surges.

    125v Power Outlets

    Lets you plug in your 120v devices.

    Helpful Tools

    Wire Stripper Tool

    Strips 12 AWG wire.

    Installation Instructions

    Note 1: Not every inverter has exactly the same connection point naming system. But they will all be similar.

    Please note: You will need to install the gang box to the backside of your camper van walls and thread the 12 AWG wires through before putting your walls up.

    Download our electrical eBook (with diagrams) to learn how to wire an electrical system in a camper van.

    Step 4:

    Wiring The Inverter To A Ground Point

    In the final step, we will connect the inverter to a ground point. But because we are installing this power inverter system in a camper van, we don’t have the same traditional ‘ground’ point as in a house. Instead, we can attach the ground wire to a designated point on our vehicle’s chassis.

    We explain how to find these ground points further below in this section. But first, we will explain how to do the wiring, as shown in the wiring diagram below.

    Inverter To A Ground Point

    Connecting Inverter To Ground Point
    Connecting inverter to a ground point

    Materials & Tools List

    Product

    Purpose

    Where To Buy

    12 AWG Wire

    Connects inverter to ground point

    M10 Ring Connectors

    Connects 12 AWG to ground point

    Helpful Tools

    Wire Stripper Tool

    Strips 12 AWG wire.

    Installation Instructions

    How To Locate Your Vehicle's Ground Points

    You can find your vehicle’s designated ground points either in the van’s handbook or by doing a quick search online.

    Below is an image we found online with all the designated ground points for our Ford Transit van. We grounded our inverter by connecting to point #31 in the diagram below.

    Ford Transit ground points on the chassis

    Were Our Inverter Diagrams Useful? There are more electrical diagrams in our eBook.

    Alternatives To Heavy-Duty Inverters

    To be honest, installing a large inverter in your camper is a big decision. Inverters aren’t cheap, they take up valuable space in your van, and they can take time to wire everything correctly.

    Not to mention, the wiring process is somewhat tricky.

    For some people, a large inverter is clearly the way to go. Perhaps they want to run a hot water heater or an induction stove. But for other people, having a large inverter may not be worth the effort.

    If your only reason for installing an inverter in your camper is to simply power a laptop or other similarly low-wattage devices, getting a heavy-duty inverter may not be so wise.

    If that’s the case, there are several great, portable alternatives available on the market today.

    Space Saving, Simpler Inverter Alternatives

    On Amazon, Bestek provides a series of great quality, portable inverters that are perfect for camper vans.

    Our large Victron inverter was pulling too much power to be left on all day to power our laptops so we ended up buying a 300w Bestek inverter and we now use this small inverter much more frequently.

    Best of all, when we’re not using our portable inverter, we simply store it away.

    Portable Inverter Models

    300W Inverter

    500W Inverter

    1000W Inverter

    • Plugs into standard 12v socket.

      We own this model.

    • Plugs into standard 12v socket.

      OR onto battery terminal (or bus bar) posts.

    • Plugs into standard 12v socket.

      OR onto battery terminal (or bus bar) posts.

    What We Like

    1. No wiring needed: Simply plug in or clamp to your batteries (or bus bars) and it’s good to go.
    2. Portability: Simply pack the inverter away when you’re not using it. No wires, no fuss.
    3. Price point: Significantly less expensive than a larger inverter.
    4. Pure sine technology: Safe for your more expensive devices, like laptops & cameras.

    What We Don't Like

    1. Cannot charge batteries: Meaning you cannot connect these inverters to shore power to charge your 12v batteries.
    2. Power limitation: Not suitable for anything above 1000-1200W.

    If the above portable inverters aren’t for you, then keep reading. We detail how to install a formal power inverter/charger in a camper van below.

    Was This Article Helpful? We have more useful articles to help you build your van Electrical System!

    Conclusion: Installing An Inverter Is Just One Piece Of The Electrical Puzzle

    If you’ve gotten this far then congratulations on successfully installing an inverter in your camper van!

    If you did it while also installing sockets into your van walls then that’s a fantastic achievement. The whole inverter installation process took us more than a week to complete and wasn’t easy!

    But setting up the inverter is just one piece of the puzzle when putting together your camper van electrical system. For more, check out our other posts below.

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