Updated: Jun 1
Hey Im back as promised with my simple upgrades for your minimalist 12v system.
If you are reading this post there is a good chance you have clicked on it from one of my 12v minimalist set up posts and your looking for something a little extra, if you haven't read them yet you can check them out by following these links.
In the Minimalist posts I include a Six way blade fuse box but by the end of the install you will have three spare spaces so if you wanted to you could add three more accessories. I will also include links if you want to go for a bigger system with more power and more accessories.
You can use it as a quick guide to what you will need, for estimating your costs, for ordering stuff hassle free and as usual for my personal recommendations on brands and specific items.
I hope you all enjoy
ADD MORE POWER STORAGE
As I said in my12v minimalist set up posts both both solar and charging from your starter battery both have limitations. Solar is only really efficient in the summer months when we have longer days and shorter nights and Split charging and B2B chargers are only good if you are not parked up in the same place for longer than a couple of days so a good thing to do is add more power storage.
The way to do this is to add another battery (or more) and wire it (or them) in parallel to your original leisure battery. There are two things you should know before you do this...
The first is that you should always use the same AH battery so if your original leisure battery was 110AH then you should get another 110AH battery. You should also buy all of the batteries that you are going to wire in parallel at the same time so they are in the same condition from the start.
The Next thing is they should both be at the exact level of charge when you connect them together. As mentioned above ideally you will buy them all together. If you are adding an old one to a new one make sure the old one is holding its full charge, it's the same make and AH and both have a full charge.
So with that in mind and because I recommended this exact same battery in my other posts thats what i am recommending in this post. Don't forget if you are reading this before you have started you electrics order all of your batteries at the same time. As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases
12V 110AH SuperBatt
For some better quality awesome AGM battery options please check out our new blog post...
You also need 2 x Cables for each battery you want to add. To wire batteries in parallel you simply join positive to positive & negative to negative.
You should try and keep your cables as short as possible so there is enough cable here to join a few batteries together
Pure Copper Flexible Wire 4 AWG
You will also need another set of battery terminals per battery you want to add. Unlike in my other posts where I recommended a different set of battery terminals (https://amzn.to/35coehQ) that are good for attaching fuse box's, solar charge controllers, inverters etc these are good for joining batteries together and are cheaper.
KKmoon 1 Pair Car Battery Terminal Clamp Clip Connector
UPGRADE OR ADD MORE SOCKETS
You might want to add some more sockets to your up if you have a few bits and pieces that need charging at the same time. You can go nice and simple with something like this that includes everything you need to attach it to the fuse box (if its really close to it)
12V Car Cigarette Lighter Socket Dual USB Power Adapter Charger Plug Splitter UK
If you have any modern devices like phones, cameras, drones etc that are compatible with with quick charge these are really good and will charge your device a lot quicker than a standard 2.1A socket. This particular socket comes with a built in voltmeter so you can keep an eye on your batteries condition.
Quick Charge 3.0 Car Charger Socket
Better still a lot of new devices now like some laptops allow you to charge them via USB C and to be fair USB C is a lot better but for some people this little socket will eradicate the need for a power hungry Inverter. It is also Quick charge like the socket above and it has a normal QC 3.0 usb socket. What more you could you want?
PD Type C Car USB Socket QC 3.0
***NEW ADDITIONS 2021***
A 30 amp lighter socket is your only real option if you want to use something that heats up for example a 12v hair dryer or if you have one of those 300w inverters with a lighter socket on the end of it.
300w ÷ 12v = 25 amps
Although 12v hair dryers and the small inverters are 12v and come with a 12v cigarette lighter plug on them if you tried to plug them into a 10 amp or15 amp socket or even your vans lighter socket it will blow the fuse straight away as most 12v hair dryers require about 18 or 19 amps constantly.
[DIY Series] YCIND Female Cigarette Lighter Socket Power Outlet Heavy Duty 30A Fuse 12V 12AWG Cord 10Ft Car Truck Boat Marine RV Mobile DIY Kit
WIRE DIRECTLY TO BATTERY
If you want a few options for sockets then why not get yourself a multi socket panel or make one yourself that suits your needs with some of the awesome sockets above...
Campervan 12v 24v Housing Plate Surface Mount For Usb Socket Cigarette Voltmeter
Campervan Boat Surface Mount Panel Housing Plate For 12v Sockets Usb Cig Volt
4 in 1 12V Toggle Switch Panel ON/OFF Waterproof 4.2A Dual USB Charger Port Rocker Panel
4 in 1 USB Socket Charger Panel
If you like to stand out from the crowd a little bit we have also found these bits and pieces...
Car Boat 2 Port USB Charger Cigarette Lighter Socket Waterproof Panel
Orange Splat Funky Control Panel USB 12V Switch Voltage VW T4 Camper Motorhome
One thing that I did not add to my budget system lists but most people can't live without is ventilation. It can get quiet stuffy and smelly in the back of a van and also unventilated vans suffer from a lot of condensation.
There are obvious favourites to go for like the MAXXAIR DELUX that are just amazing but there are cheaper, stealthier ways to ventilate your van if thats what you are looking for.
So if you are looking for the Rolls Royce of roof vents this is what you are looking for...
Maxxair Maxxfan Deluxe 400 × 400 Rooflight Clear Tint Remote Control Rooflight
MAXXAIR MAXXFAN DELUXE MODEL WHITE 350x350 mm. ROOF VENT FANREMOTE CONTROL
If you can't afford the Maxxair fan there are a few cheaper options that work just as well as the Maxxair but unlike the Maxxair they can't be used when it is raining outside.
***NEW ADDITIONS 2021***
KKTECT RV Roof Vent Fan,12V Motorhome vent Fan w/ 3 Speed Intake & Exhaust – Electric Crank Lift & Smoke Lid – Includes Screws & Garnish
Fiamma Turbo Vent Crank Roof Hood Polar Control with Thermostat 40 x 40 cm for Caravans or Camper Vans
This one only extracts air you can't blow fresh air into the van with it unless you reverse the poles on a switch
If your looking for something a bit cheaper or stealthier you could look at getting something like this. They are low profile and are fitted to the side of your van so you don't have to cut holes in your roof.
MASO Air Vent Ventilation for Motorhome Cooling Exhaust Fan 12V
UPGRADE OR ADD MORE LIGHTING
If you have very basic lighting in your van you might want to either upgrade your lights or add some more.
There are a few good choices out there but most people either go for Downlights or LED strip lights.
For downlights the easiest type to install in a van are touch sensitive LED downlights. You just touch each light to turn them on and off so there is no need for light switches and all the extra hassle, cable, connectors, and various other bits that involves. These are cool white but you can also get warm white.
6 X 12V LED TOUCH SENSITIVE ON OFF LIGHT BOAT CARAVAN MOTORHOME BRUSHED COOL
If you are going to go with these lights for simplicity you might want to just add another six way fuse box and wire all your lights to that. Then they are all in the same place and it saves much needed space on your original fuse box. All cables, connectors and fuse box can be found in this post.
If you would prefer to be able to turn the lights on and off with switches then this is the best type to go for. They are slightly cheaper so thats a good thing and you can wire each light up to separate switches or group them all together so they can all be turned on with the same switch. Again these ones are cool white but warm white are also available.
12V LED RECESSED DOWNLIGHT
If brushed chrome isn't your type of thing there are other options but these are quite cheap and will suit a lot of builds too.
Dream Lighting 12V 2W LED Recessed Down Light
LED strip lights are also awesome for vans and they come various forms too. The cheapest is the NON waterproof ones that you can find in my original post below
Then you can get water proof ones that are so much better but a little bit more expensive. they are great though I have put them on the outside of vans, in showers, in footwells etc. They are really robust and can take take quite a bit of a beating as they are covered in some kind or rubber. The non waterproof ones the bulbs are pretty much unprotected so damage easily.
12v 5M WHITE CLEAR LED 5050 SMD STRIP BRIGHT LIGHT WATERPROOF
If you fancy making things a little bit funky you could add some RGB LED strip lights. These the the multi colour/colour changing ones that a lot of people have in their vans. You can pretty much set it any colour you want and it will cleverly match it with its Red, Green & Blue (RGB) bulbs. You can set them to change to music and can even download an app to control them from your phone.
WOWLED 2M USB 5050 RGB 60 LEDs Flexible Smart Strip Light Waterproof Tape Light 5V Alexa iOS Android APP Wireless WiFi IR Remote Control
The lights above are only 2M long so you if you want to join a few together or even have a few run off of the same power supply in a few different places then you will need a kit like this. It even has little clips for attaching your lights
5050 4Pin LED Strip Connector Kit with 2 Way RGB Splitter Cable, 6.6ft RGB Extension Cable, Strip to RGB Controller Jumper, LED Strip to Strip Jumper, L Shape Connectors, Gapless Connectors
I know this isn't strictly an electrical upgrade but thought I should mention it whilst I am mentioning strip lights and its these little channels for housing your strip lights. They help keep everything looking neat, tidy and professional. They are also perfect for attaching your strip lights to anything the sticky back will not stick to like carpeted surfaces and rough wood. Basically you screw them to wherever you want them and stick your lights inside
Barrina LED Aluminum Profile, 3.3ft/100cm Silver U-Shape Aluminum Channel, LED Diffuser with Milky White Cover, End Caps and Mounting Clips Aluminum Extrusion for LED Strip Lights, 10-Pack
Another type of light that is quite popular with van lifers are reading lights. Again there are loads on the market so it all depends on your taste but I like and recommend these ones. They are very simple and have the switches built in so it makes wiring them to your fuse very easy. Again these are cold white but they also do warm white.
Interior Lights - MASO 2x 12V LED Spot Reading Light
***NEW ADDITIONS 2021***
12V LED Lights Campervan, Wall Spot Reading Light Car Caravan Boat Interior Light Motorhome Lamp
12V Flexible Reading Light Warm White - Polished Chrome Acrylic LED with Dimmer Touch
12V LED Reading Light, 3W RV Interior Lighting with Switch or Camper Caravan Van Boat Motorhome(Warm Light)
NEED SOME SWITCHES?
For some of the things I have mentioned already like the fans and some of the stuff I will mention further down you will need to install some switches to turn them on and off. There are loads of options out there but here are some good and simple ones.
To keep everything neat, tidy and looking professional you could get one of these. It has five switches on it and it is really easy to install. I use these in my van I have wired it so each switch turns two lights. You just run the positive cable to your fuse box and the negative cable to a choc block and then to the fuse box. You then attach the the positive cable from whatever you want the switch to turn to the switch and the negative to the choc block (please see below). It's that easy
5 Gang Rocker Switch, Universal 12-24V
If you're on a bit of a tight budget you can buy these switches without the panel for very cheap. They are also perfect if you only have a few things you need a switch for or if you have the panel above and would like more matching switches.
This pack has 4 different colour LED'S but you can find packs that are all the same colour. just make sure they are 3 pin.
Sunerly 8 pcs DC 12V 20A
If you are after something a little bit more heavy duty you could try something like these. Just like the first switch panel it comes with a wiring loom attached to the back making it very easy to wire things to them.
Switch Panel 12V, Waterproof
8 GANG https://amzn.to/35yLCGw
6 GANG https://amzn.to/35oU2Aa
4 GANG https://amzn.to/2KU7EtH
3 GANG https://amzn.to/3dePH5o
2 GANG https://amzn.to/2WoLFQK
ADD A BIGGER OR ANOTHER FUSE BOX
If you are going to be adding quite a few extra accessories or lights to your build then a six way fuse box isn't going to go very far. You need to wire everything in you build to your fuse box (unless it already has an inline fuse) so the bigger the fuse box the more you can add.
In my build I have a six way fuse box to run all of my lights from and then a twelve way fuse box for all of my accessories.
MICTUNING 12 Way Blade Fuse Box with LED Indicator for Car Boat Van
For all the cables and connectors you will need to install this fuse box please take a look at my previous post.
If you have added more power storage (extra batteries), have a way of keeping your batteries charged all year round (preferably a solar & b2b charger combi) and have an empty 12 way fuse box the possibilities are almost endless with all the 12v equipment and accessories on the market.
the next thing you might want to do is add cold running water to your kitchen.
ADD RUNNING COLD WATER TO YOUR KITCHEN OR BUILD
Pretty much everybody needs or wants to have running water in their kitchen. It is pretty hard and expensive to install hot running water to your build and ideally you don't want to use electric to heat it anyway so i'll go into that in another post at a later date.
Adding cold running water could't be much simpler though. When it comes to the electric bit you only really need a couple of things. A 12v pump and a micro switched tap. When you have these two items as soon as you turn the tap on the water pump starts too.
This pump is perfect if you have a water container in your van, you just drop it into the water container and wire it to your tap and battery and you are good to go, please see this photo from one of our newer posts
Whale GP1002 Standard 12V Submersible Electric Pump-White, 10 litres
For a tap with a micro switch I recommend Comet London because they are a decent price and very good quality.
Comet London Cold Water Tap Single Lever 12V With Microswitch
If you have an underslung water tank or have built it somewhere else that you can fill it from the outside you will need a different style pump, for that we recommend the Shurflo trail king 10 then it is wired up exactly the same as above...
Shurflo 2095-403-443 Trail King 10 Water Pump-12V/30psi-Silver, Silver, 30 PSI
ADD SOME ENTERTAINMENT
Most people are going to want to add some kind of entertainment to their vans and nowadays when pretty much every gadget you can buy comes with a USB OR USB C cable to power it its never been easier. There are all sorts of things you can add to keep you entertained. I won't go into any details on them as they are pretty much all self explanatory but these are some of my favourites.