Introduction: Adding "Shore Power" to a VW Camper Van

My project before we go on an extended trip was to add 110 "shore power" to our 2002 VW Westphalia Weekender.  I've always been jealous of my neighbor's older Westy with original equipment shore power, so I figured it was time to get my own.

DISCLAIMER:  Working with electricity is DANGEROUS.  If you don't know how to work with 110 electricity, don't try to learn with this project.  Also, please refer to a guidebook to check any of the things I say in the post.

Step 1: Parts

Step 2: Install Power Inlet

I chose to put the inlet on the driver's side rear quarter panel because of easy access through the jack cubby and I wanted the outlets on that side.  Use a 1-7/8" hole saw to drill the hole.  You only want to put ONE hole in your van, so make sure you have the right location and tools - and double check.  Connect one end of the romex and install the inlet per the instructions on the package.  YES, IN THIS STEP YOU ARE TAKING A HOLE SAW TO THE BODY OF YOUR CAR - BE CAREFUL!

Step 3: Cut the Hole for the Outlet

I removed the original ashtray below the rear drink holder and enlarged that hole to fit the outlet box.  This is about the only location in the van that I thought would be both convenient and have enough room to install it.  

Step 4: Run the Wire

A "fish tape" comes in handy for this, but you can probably to it with a coat hanger if you don't have one.  I found that removing the rear speaker made it a lot easier also.  Don't remove any of the panels, just fish the wire through the space between the panel and the body.  I ran a second piece of wire from the outlet box to the front seat so that I can also install a battery charger for the RV battery - that is next week’s project.

Step 5: Modify the Outlet Box

My chosen location for the outlet has a body contour behind the panel (first picture, where the duct-tape is.  To install the box, I need to cut out a chunk.  (This makes the volume of the box smaller, which might make it a little harder to wire.  If you are a stickler for following housing building code in your van modification, you would have to measure the remaining volume to make sure it it still big enough.)  The Dremel saw and liberal use of JB-Weld took care of the required modification.  I used an "old-work" box because it has installation tabs that snug up against the panel and keep the box secure.

Step 6: Install the Outlets

Install the outlets just like you would in a house - make sure the GFI outlet is the 1st to be connected or the other outlet won't be protected.  The GFI outlet gives you protection if there is anything wrong with the power you are plugging into, or if a short occurs anywhere in the system.

Step 7: Install the Wallplate and Test!