DIY Truck Camper Wiring Tips & Information

by Eli Laurens

Truck camper wiring is typically split into two subsystems: the 110-volt appliance system and the 12-volt chassis system. The 110-volt system is designed to power the air conditioning and other high-drain appliances such as televisions or microwave ovens. The 12-volt system is connected to the vehicle and serves the taillights and interior lighting. The wiring standards for these systems are different from one another, with different colored wires designating a black or white negative ground.

Junction Box

Locate the junction box on the camper. Truck campers, as with most other recreational vehicles, have a power junction box that contains a fuse panel and power connections. This panel will have two parts: an interior fuse block and an exterior 110-volt connection box with a cable. Most panels will have integrated inverter units for converting the 110-volt power to 12 volt when the cable is connected to "shore" electricity.

Fuse Panel

Check all fuses and problem connections by removing the fuse panel's cover. The fuse panel will resemble a home's fuse block, with colored switches or screw-type fuses, contained within a flat panel that can be unscrewed counterclockwise. Any debris or refuse in the rear of this block can blow fuses and cause electrical problems.

Color-Coded Wires

Determine which system is having issues by observing the colored wires. Twelve-volt systems will have an automotive red and black polar wiring design, while 110-volt systems will have a white/green/black tri-wire design, much like in an average home. This allows the use of small home appliances by simply wiring or plugging them into the camper. The fuse block and outside shore power junction will retain these wiring codes, and the two systems should only connect at these junctions. Wiring the systems together at any other point could cause severe damage and injury.

Vehicle Power

Ensure a solid connection to the truck by testing the wires at the trailer hitch connection. This 12-volt connection is used for powering or recharging the camper's lighting and batteries, when shore power is not available. It typically connects to the truck through the towing trailer electrical wiring harness, located in the rear of the vehicle. This connection also serves to power the brake and running lights when the truck is in motion.

About the Author

Eli Laurens is a ninth-grade physics teacher as well as a computer programmer and writer. He studied electrical engineering and architecture at Southern Polytechnic University in Marietta, Ga., and now lives in Colorado.