Doing your own electrical systems for your homemade camper isn't as difficult as it might sound -- especially if you commit to keeping it extremely simple!
You can think of an RV or camper electrical system as made up of just three components:
- The Battery (a.k.a. the "House Battery", as distinguished from your "starting battery"
- The DC Circuits (direct current)
- The AC Circuits (alternating current)
Keeping things simple...
I'm sure you know what a lead-acid car battery is, right? OK! You'll need one of those. (There are matters of the best battery type for a camper, but that can wait...)
The DC circuits are those wired to run 12V devices that can run off a car battery, i.e. from your car's cigarette lighter. These circuits are connected directly to the battery, just as your cigarette lighter is wired directly to the battery.
The AC circuits are those wired to run standard household plug-in devices. If it has a standard plug, then it is an AC device, and it requires an "Inverter" to be placed between it and the battery. The inverter turns standard "flat" direct current into the special"rippling" AC current that household appliances require.
Camper electricity revolves around Battery Powered DC Wiring. While it's in many ways easier for a beginner to implement, it's different enough from standard household wiring that it can be very confusing at first, even for electrical engineers! To help wrap your head around it, a crucial point to "get" is that...
An Inverter Is A DC Device!
(That is used to run AC Devices)
It might be easiest to think of camper wiring as implemented in layers:
First you have DC layer, which at it's simplest is a lot like wiring your speaker system together, or more accurately, like wiring a high-end car audio system.
- You first connect a set of cables from the battery to a hub, i.e. set of "distribution blocks."
- From there you branch off wires to DC devices like DC fans, LED lights, cigarette lighter outlets for plugging in your phone, AND... an Inverter.
Once you have an inverter connected (to a branch of the DC circuit), you can then plug your AC household appliances (portable fan, clock, heater, coffee maker, mini-refrigerator, etc.) into the inverter. Simple right?
That's really as complicated as it gets, ie. not very complicated at all!