extension-cord-installed

Soon after purchasing my Vanagon we installed the GoWesty Auxiliary Battery Kit. Along with the kit, we installed a Battery Tender charger under the driver’s seat to keep the auxiliary battery topped off after prolonged use. We ran the charger’s cable out the front of the driver’s seat battery compartment, then attached an extension cord each time we wanted to charge the battery. The extension cable would have to run out one of the windows which meant bugs could get in the van. It became clear we needed another solution. Click through to see how we installed a retractable extension cord reel.

My brother suggested we install a retractable extension cord under the van that was attached to the charger. We purchased a 30 foot retractable extension cord reel but never got around to installing it. Several years went by before I met my friend Joel. When I told him of the extension cord hack, he immediately knew how he wanted to do it.

extension-cord-reel

After measuring the height we needed under the van, we installed stainless steel mounts on the reel.

extension-cord-mount

We drilled 4 holes in the floor, and mounted the reel under the van. We used stainless steel hardware, lock washers, and thread locker. We cut the plugs off the cord because we needed the male end to be outside the van, with the female inside to connect to the charger. You can see the cord coming up through the floor. We placed a female plug on that end and ran it into the battery compartment.

extension-cord-sound-proofing-mod

To accommodate the bolts, we modified the fiberglass sound proofing material to make it sit flush.

extension-cord-reel-under

The reel sits under the van, and the cord is routed through an existing decorative hole in the body kit. We still need to figure out a way to add a handle of some sort that sits in the hole, but it works as it is.

extension-cord-plug

It’s dark, but you can see the plug sitting in there.

extension-cord-indicator-solder

The last piece of the puzzle was to install an LED indicator light to remind me that I’m plugged in. We soldered the leads to the female plug in the van.

extension-cord-led-indicator

We installed the LED indicator light in the cluster. It looks great! Whenever the van is plugged into 120v power, the light illuminates.

extension-cord-installed

This is by far the best hack we have done on the Vanagon yet. It makes charging the batteries so much easier. No more messing with extension cords or external chargers. I just pull up to an outlet, whip out the plug, and plug in! When I’m done charging the cable retracts back into the reel below the van. It is completely secure and has good clearance. There are no downsides to this installation and I have 30 feet of cord available.

What do you think? Could we have done better? Let me know in the comments.


  • Anthony Staal

    I like the idea. I was considering a similar option, but instead decided to wire a charger/inverter into the system. Now I just plug the shore power in and have topped off battery as well as full time power to the plugs

  • VHacks

    Right. This hack is only for the non-camper Vanagons. We don’t have the shore power plug so this was the best option.

  • Perry Wales

    Im pretty sure the “decorative” hole is the right rear car jack point… Otherwise, cool mod, thinking how I could do this on a Westy model!






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