Installing Shore Power Inlet for a Conversion Van

Taylor and I recently bought a 2015 Mercedes 170” Cargo Sprinter Van, with plans to convert it into a home on wheels. Our goal is to take this van all over North America eventually reaching Alaska. To help inspire others, we are documenting our journey and each step of our van build, creating video tutorials on youtube along the way.

This is the 8th episode of our van build series, which covers how to install a shore power inlet to a sprinter van (or transit, Promaster, or another vehicle). We wanted the ability to connect to shore power to create a 3rd energy source for our van. If we ever run into a situation where we need to power, but we do not want to run the engine and it’s too cloudy for our solar panels to generate energy, then connecting to shore power will do the trick.


Tools Needed to Install a Shore Power Inlet

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tools needed to install a shore power inlet for a van or rv

Before we get into each step of the shore power inlet install, below are the tools used during the installation on our Sprinter van. We got our inlet off Amazon but it did not come with screws to secure it in place.

Step by Step Tutorial: Shore Power Inlet

Below is a step by step guide on how to install a shore power inlet to your Mercedes Sprinter Van.

If you prefer to learn from a video instead of reading, then check out the video below!

Now on with the steps to get this installed…

Step 1: Determine the best location

To start, you will want to determine the best location for your shore power inlet. You want to find a spot that is a flat surface as well as a spot that will give you plenty of space to tighten your wiring without having any metal framing in the way. For us, this was on the passenger side beyond the wheel well of the van.

Step 2: Prep your cut with tape

taping off and prepping our cut for the sprinter van

Once you know where you’re going to install the shore power inlet it’s time to prep the cut. The first thing you want to do is tape around the area leaving some of the adhesive exposed to catch the shredded metal from the van’s body.

Make sure you do this on the inside and outside of the van!

Step 3: Drill a pilot hole

Before you drill with your hole saw I recommend drilling a small pilot hole first to ensure you’re drilling into the right spot. Check both on the inside and outside of the van to confirm it’s ready to go.

Step 4: Use a hole saw to make your hole

van build shore power inlet outlet drilling hole

Now that you have the pilot hole and confirmed your location is correct, make your hole in the van with a hole saw. If you’re using the same inlet I used, then use a 2 and 1/8th’s hole saw.

Step 5: Smooth out the edges of your cut

Once you have your hole cut out in the van, use a metal filer to smooth out the edges.

Step 6: Paint the raw metal

After the edges are buffed and smoothed out, use an oil-based paint (we use rust-oleum) to cover any exposed raw metal. This will help prevent rust and keep your vehicle safe and clean.

Step 7: Run your 10/2 wire to the back of the inlet.

If you watched the video on youtube, you know that I installed the inlet to the van before wiring. If I were to do this project over again I would have connected the wires to the back of the inlet then fed the wires through the hole of the van.

Connecting the wires to our shore power inlet for our van

Make sure your wire is long enough to reach your battery bank!

Installing shore power inlet to our sprinter van

If you have any extra water sealing gasket, you can apply it to the round edge of the inlet. I did that because I had leftover butyl tape and to provide us a little more mental security knowing that our inlet is watertight.

Once you apply your butyl tape or another water sealant, insert the back of the shore power inlet to the van. If you connected the wires to it prior to inserting it into the van, then run your wires through the hole as you insert it.

Step 8: Drill 4 holes into the van

drilling the 4 pilot holes into the van to secure the shore power inlet in place

Once you have your inlet inserted into your van it’s time to secure it in place. To do so, first make sure your inlet is level and lined up exactly how you want it. Then drill 4 holes for your screws, into the van through the 4 holes of your inlet. Try to use a drill bit that is the same width as your screws for the best grip.

Step 9: Bolt down your screws

Once your holes are in place it’s time to tighten the inlet down using screws. Here you need two people, one to hold the screw in place from the outside and the other to tighten the bolt from the inside.

lining out the shore power inlet for our sprinter van

Once everything is tightened up you’re all set! If you have your battery bank and inverter already set up, then you would connect your 10/2 cable to your inverter, otherwise, make sure you have a long enough wire for when it’s time to install your electrical unit.

Step 10: Secure the wire with the backing plate

shore power inlet connected and wired

Almost done! The last step is to secure the wire to the inlet using the backing plate! Use the clamp on the backing plate to slide the wire through and screw it down tight to secure it in place.


Summary

Overall this project is quick and easy especially if you are just starting your van build, or have a cargo van that’s not full to the brim with insulation. It took me about an hour from start to finish 2 hours if you take in account the time capturing the content on camera.

Don’t forget to check out our van build journey where we document everything we build!

Thinking of buying a van?

Before we decided to buy our own van we rented one to test the waters! This helped us realize it’s something we really want to do since buying a van and converting it is a lot of money and a lot of effort! We rented a van in Portugal and absolutely fell in love with van life!

A heads up: This blog post is a review of the van we rented, not really a van life video.

If you have any questions about how to install a shore power inlet to your van, drop a comment below!

If you’re interested, check out our youtube channel for more youtube van build videos!

As always, thank you for reading/watching our content!

About The Author

Kevin Mathers

A washed-up hockey player, surfer, and husband currently working towards financial freedom and showing you how we do it as a couple. I started this blog initially as a personal finance blog but after getting married, Taylor (my wife and best friend) and I decided to switch gears into the travel world sharing our experiences with you along the way.

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