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Campervans are often known as compact houses on wheels; They have everything most of us need to travel and survive at campsites. However, you might be worried about how you can connect to your favorite devices, charge your gadgets, or use powered amenities. Modern campervans are quite adjusted to modern living standards, though.
Campervans have built-in plug sockets that connect to a main shore power supply, a battery bank, or solar power. Some campervans have solar panels that let you hook the vehicle to the campground’s electrical hookups to conserve electricity. Hire a professional if you want to add extra power outlets.
Throughout this article, we’ll show you whether or not a campervan has the electricity you need to charge and power your items. We’ll also explain a few ways people get energy in their campervans and whether or not they need hookups.
Do Campervans Have Plug Sockets?
Campervans have plug outlets near the bed, kitchen, and sometimes the bathroom. If your campervan is big enough, it’ll likely have plug sockets near the passenger or driver’s door. You can wire additional outlets whenever it’s convenient. Another option is to add an inverter and plug it into the cigarette lighter socket (12V DC power outlet).
Classic Motorhome Owner claims the vast majority of campervans have plug sockets because they’re classified as motorhomes. All motorhomes are supposed to have usable electricity. Some of them run off of a separate battery bank, while others use solar power, shore power, or electricity from a generator.
It’s best to ask the owner or dealership where all of the outlets are located before buying it. You don’t want to end up with malfunctioning or misplaced sockets!
How Do You Get Electricity in a Campervan?
To get electricity in a campervan, try these suggestions:
- Get solar power for your campervan. If you don’t have a solar setup on your campervan, you can install the Renogy 100W 12V Starter Kit. It comes with a 100W panel, a charge controller, and everything you need to mount and wire it. This panel lets you charge phones, laptops, watches, and more on the road.
- Consider using a generator for short-term energy needs. Generators are effective when it comes to charging or powering devices for a few hours. Most of them are heavy and require gas. Using an electric generator can help you save money and space, but solar panels are still the better option.
- Make use of shore power at local campgrounds. Parked in Paradise explains that shore power is the energy provided by campgrounds, parking lots, and so on. You can plug your campervan into the shore power to have nearly unlimited electricity while staying at the campground (provided your vehicle has hookups).
- Plug your devices into the campervan’s main battery. Attach an inverter into the 12V socket in your campervan and plug your low-wattage devices into it. This process can quickly drain the vehicle’s battery, so it’s best to keep it running when you’re using it (such as while driving from one campground to another).
These methods are among the most common choices for campers who want to get energy in their campervans. Some of them cost more than others, but solar power is undoubtedly the best selection. Being able to use electricity whenever you need it is only available for those with solar panels.
More info: Check our Electricity and Solar section or check these articles: How many solar panels do I need for my van? Best adhesives for flexible solar panels How many batteries does a campervan need?
Do Campervans Need Electrical Hookups?
Campervans don’t need electrical hookups if they have solar panels, but those without solar power will need external hookups. This is often done with a gadget known as a dog bone that lets you hook your campervan to the shore power of a campground. The overhead lights run off of the vehicle’s main battery, though.
Review these questions to know if your campervan needs electrical hookups:
- Do you want to power any of your devices other than standard vehicle equipment? According to France Motorhome Hire, electrical hookups are great for almost any campervan because they let you use extra gadgets. You can’t charge a laptop, phone, fridge, or other items for too long without depleting your vehicle’s battery.
- Does your campervan have solar power installed? If you have solar panels on your campervan, you might not need electrical hookups. These hookups are designed for shore power. With solar panels, everything comes from the sun. The UV rays go through the panels, convert into usable energy, and are consumed as electricity through the outlets.
- Is your primary electrical source a gas-powered generator? Gas-powered generators are usually loud, require a lot of fuel, and become a nuisance. Instead, choose electrical hookups for a silent and much more reliable form of power. Another option is to get a solar-powered generator.
- Do you camp at places with electrical hookups readily available? You might as well get electrical hookups if everywhere you go offers them. Power is often part of the fee campgrounds charge people to stay there. Since hookups are so common, electricity becomes an integral part of the camping experience.
- How often do you go camping in the campervan? If you only camp once or twice per year, you might not need electrical hookups. Most campervans have 12V DC sockets that let you power your devices from the vehicle’s main battery. You can use it sparingly, but make sure you run the engine occasionally to charge the battery.
If you’re in the market for a campervan, it’s always best to get one with electrical hookups. Even if you don’t intend to use them, they can come in handy down the road. You never know how much you need them until you’re able to keep driving from one campground to another without relying on stores, houses, restaurants, and hotels for electricity!
Now that you know how campervans get electricity, you can decide if you need shore power, solar panels, battery banks, or all of the above. You can also use generators as emergency power supplies. Extension cords make it a lot easier to provide energy to everything in the vehicle without getting new outlets.
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Here are some of my favorite van build tools:
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you build your own campervan. Here are some tools that I use daily while living on the road that made my life easier. I hope you’ll also find them as useful as me. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to purchase any of them, I’ll earn a commission.
But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my closest friends and family.
Electricity: When I first started my van life journey, I was using the Renogy 200W RV Kit, and I’ve recently upgraded my setup to the Renogy 400W RV Kit. I’m fully autonomous regarding power now, thanks to this upgrade. I don’t know why I didn’t choose this option from the beginning.
Quick Fixes: Whenever I need to fix something inside my van, I use my multitool from Victorinox. It’s compact and comes with a leather pouch that lets you store it wherever you want. Whenever I need more tools, I get my Cartmann toolset out.
Power tools: If you’re converting a van, you’ll need some serious tools for the building process. I can assure you, good power tools can make a huge difference. You’ll save time and avoid a lot of frustration while having some professional-looking final results. I personally went big with the full combo set from Dewalt.
To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations about van build, check out this resource that I made for you!