Site.Seven Blog

The Basics Series - Volume 1 - ELECTRICAL BASICS


Let's start a conversation about the basics. The basics seem straightforward and well, basic because that is just what they are. Electricity, water, solar, sound deadening, insulation all basics that we want to unpack.

First up is Electricity: Without electricity you are looking at a long dark, cold night which we are pretty cool with but let's be real electricity is nice. 


The electrical system in your van should be designed to be straight forward, robust, and worry free. 12v electricity from your vehicles alternator charges your house batteries when the vehicle is running via a charge relay. The charge relay monitors your batteries voltage and links the house battery bank with the vehicles when voltage is over a certain point, below that point the house battery bank and the vehicle battery bank are disconnected. This allows you to operate all the electrical components in your build without compromising your starting battery. 

Circuit breakers are located down stream of the charge relay and upstream of the house batteries. This protects the systems in case of an electrical short. Another breaker is located between the house batteries and your 12v fuse box. Your 12v fuse box feeds power to all the 12v electrical components in your van.... lights, heater, water pump, roof vents, etc.... The same fuse box also has a negative bus, which grounds all those same electrical components. 

If you have 110v components in your vehicle they work on a completely separate system.


If your van has 110v power it can come from three places: and inverter, a generator, or shore power. 

  • An inverter takes the 12v power and converts it to 110v power using magic (kidding,) witchcraft (also kidding,) science...(lets go with this.) The converter is "on demand" meaning that you have to manually turn it on to take advantage of its "science..." This will allow you to use the 110v outlet in your van to power appropriately sized appliances, blenders, computer chargers, etc. The amount of time the 110v  system can operate depends of the components of your build and what you are attempting to run. 
  • A generator consumes fuel and produces electricity. Because of the temperamental nature of these machines, and their size, we here at Site Seven have decided to not install them in our builds... However that doesn't mean that they are not a good option for 110v power... Portable generators are relatively cheap and can be extremely reliable. They do add a layer of complexity, however they can act as a shore power source that gives you the ability to run 110v appliances including an AC. 
  • Shore power is a term that means you are connected to "the grid" and not self contained. Many camp sites offer power hookups and these allow you to bypass the 12v system in your van and run your electrical components.

That was a lot of information, but you get the point. If you want to run the electrical on your own you need to do some research and make sure the materials you are using will provide the outcome you want. We are happy to consult on any van questions you may have. Hit us up in the contacts section or at 

For the love of dirt - j

justin shipp