If you plan on installing a bunch of creature comforts like a sink or a heater, a big consideration when developing your layout, will be where and how the van systems will be installed. Deciding what features you want to include will depend up your priorities and available space. Cardboard mock-ups and SketchUp models will be invaluable for this.
Check out our Features page for a run-down on all the conveniences we built into our van. Making a wish-list of features is a good starting point. For all the details on how to design your systems, be sure to check out our pages on the three main systems – Electrical, Heating and Water System. But first, here are some general things to keep in mind as you work on your overall systems layout.
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. We earn commission if you click on a product link and make a purchase.
- Safety first! No, seriously.
- If in doubt about anything safety critical – such as propane or electrical – consult an expert.
- Consider installing a fire extinguisher that’s easily accessibly from the outside of your camper. It’s cheap insurance in case something goes wrong.
- If using any type of heater, consider installing a carbon monoxide / propane leak alarm.
- Ensure that your electrical components and connections are well shielded from your water system connections. If there’s a leak in your water system, you don’t want water spraying on your electrical system.
- The biggest thing to keep in mind while deciding how you’re going to package your systems components, is that the major components should be easily accessible, should they need to be serviced.
- Things like the heater, propane regulator, fuse box, water pump etc. should not be buried behind other components to the point where you’d have to rip things apart to get to them – remember that components can and will fail.
- Propane fittings especially, should be positioned such that you can do regular leak tests easily.
- When it comes to plumbing for your water or propane systems, it’s important to try and keep things simple. The fewer joints there are, the better.
- For the electrical system, a centrally located battery and fuse box will reduce the amount of wiring you’ll have to install (and will result in fewer electrical losses that could drain your battery faster).
- Drawing out some basic schematics will help you with your system design. Your schematics don’t need to be super detailed, but just enough to make sure you think through all the details of your system.
- Paper sketches are great for electrical circuit layouts, and SketchUp models are the best for working through the packaging layout.