Before you start, please note that I'm not an electrician and learned most of what I know by reading web pages, watching YouTube videos, forum posts, and bugging friends who actually are electrical engineers. Use any of my advice at your own risk.
Battery BoxI didn't like trying to fit the battery and related components in the galley behind the galley module and after reading a few of the posts about the weight of the battery causing the galley flat to crack or delaminate, I decided to put the battery in the tongue box. I built a simple platform from some scrap plywood and mounted a plastic storage box to it. It isn't the prettiest thing but I wanted to get something up and running for the spring season. Hopefully I'll get time to either build a tongue box or buy a diamond plated one that matches the trailer fenders.
Chafon that provides 12v DC and 120v AC. There are a number of these all in one units available now, including some that wrap a lead-acid battery, but I liked this unit because:
- it is really light
- it has reasonable storage for the price (as far as Li-ion goes)
- it has all the charging and inverter components built in (and can be easily daisy chained or connected to solar panels)
- I can take it out and use it around the house when not on the road
On the side of the box I have an AC port plug to allow for charging the battery when power is available.
The lines enter the camper from the bottom by going through an exterior conduit box with two wire glands mounted on it. I originally wanted to put the wire glands directly on the floor of the camper but I couldn't find a reasonably priced solution that would span the 3/4" (or is it 7/8") thick floor because most wire glands are designed to mount to a sheet metal box. I did think about removing a small square in the floor and mounting some 1/4" plywood but then I worried about water proofing it and strength, etc. In the end, I used some weather stripping on the top of the conduit box and drilled a 1" hole through the box and the floor to bring the wires up.
The wires then come up through the floor just behind the galley bulkhead and run up and into the galley. The light strip shown there is an LED nightlight in a right angle channel that runs down either side of the bulkhead pointing toward the back of the camper. They are set to a nice blue color that provides a low level of light in the evening when the cabin lights are too much.
Galley WiringWith the battery in the tongue box, I had a lot more room for wiring behind the galley module. I had an idea of the items I wanted/needed in the system and I didn't like the idea of mounting them all to the galley bulkhead. It's fairly thin material so wood screws need to be really small and I didn't want a bunch more bolts through the bulkhead. To provide a surface for mounting all my electrical components, I built a simple 4 sided box out of some scrap plywood and painted it to match the bottom of the camper (not that you'll ever see it).
- In the center is a 12v fuse box with 6 circuits.
- There are a number of screw terminals just to make splicing a little easier.
- On the left and right are LED RGB controllers that allow me to set a brightness and color for the LED cabin lights.
- In the center on the bottom are two latching relays to allow a 3-way switch like behavior for the cabin lights and night lights.
- On the bottom left is a junction box for the 120v line.
A note of caution, I did put holes in the galley floor for the supply lines and the night light lines. In the event that I spill something in the galley, water will leak through these holes into the cabin. I use a rubber gasket and some caulk so fill the holes but anymore than an 1/8" of water and it will most likely leak. I'm willing to take that chance.
Inside the CabinMoving inside the cabin, the light and fan wires come in just above the shelf in the corner. I used some mesh wire sleeve to hide them a bit before they turn the corner to go up the wall behind the headliner.
- 120v outlet
- 2 x 12v barrel outlet, one with a USB charging insert
- 2 x on/off toggles for a personal fan and reading light
- 2 x momentary toggles for the cabin lights and night lights
- An LED indicator light for 120v power
As to the lighting, I wasn't happy with a lot of the options I could find. They were either ugly, not bright enough, too blindingly bright, or the wrong color temperature. After ordering a few products and returning them, I finally decided to make them myself. Again, I cut a mounting panel out of 1/4" plywood, stained it, and mounted 4 strips of LEDs to it. I used a piece of 32% translucent acrylic to diffuse the light. The panel also serves to mount the personal fan next to the light.
cabinet light and a gooseneck reading light. The under cabinet light is on the same switch as the main cabin light so you get both front and side lighting. I used a small circle of the same acrylic to diffuse these lights as well. The reading light is on a separate switch per side. The reading lights have their own built in dimmer and switch but they remember their state when toggled via the panel switch which is an issue I ran into with some cheaper lights.
I ran the wires down the center of the panel rather than against the door so the headliner could grab on either side of the wires to keep everything in place. Again, this might not be an issue with 20 gauge wire.
Finishing up the GalleyWith all the wiring in place, I installed the galley module which has its own switch panel. Again, a custom panel but left natural to contrast the module face frame.
- 2 x 120v outlets
- 2 x 12v outlets
- 1 on/off switch for the galley lights
Final ThoughtsOverall I'm happy with how it all turned out. I like having the battery in the tongue box for easy access at the cost of some storage space. I saw that some other builders mounted the battery underneath the cabin which is also a good idea. I also like how there is almost no wiring visible other than the few inches from the bulkhead to the headliner.
I hope this gives you some ideas and I'll post updates after I get some more time using the configuration in the great outdoors!