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#1 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 12:57 PM
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Drilling hole in my new Rav4

I'm making over my new 2012 Rav4 as a micro-RV, ready for camping. I want to bring 120 volt power inside. I have purchased the 15 Amp Power Inlet shown below and want to mount it on the back left of the vehicle because there is an easy access door in the inside panel that makes it the ideal location.

Mounting the power inlet requires drilling a 1 7/8" hole. Looking inside the rear left inside panel door, I see a white rectangular area that looks like a good place for the mounting hole to come inside.

Does anyone know:

1. Is this an OK place to drill?

2. Is this really the inside of the outside metal surface, or is there a double wall construction at this part of the vehicle?

3. If it is double wall, how thick will the outside-to-inside distance be? The preferred way to mount the inlet is using the inside locking nut that comes with the inlet. I'd like to know in advance if the thickness is to much for the thread depth on the inlet for the locking nut to reach.

4. If there is any experienced advice for drilling to avoid chipping or damaging the paint? I want to make a nice clean edges on the hole, especially on the outside. I already bought the bi-metal 1 7/8" hole saw recommended for drilling the hole. I probably will take the job to a local body shop, but maybe that's unnecessary.

I apologize if I posted this in the wrong section. I couldn't decide if it should be an Exterior or Interior subject, so I posted it in General.

Thanks for your help.

A guy who is a bit nervous about drilling a hole in his new car.
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#2 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 03:26 PM
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I don't think I'd put any holes in even out "old" 2006 RAV4. For the trailer light connector I simply lay the flat wire out an close the tailgate on it. Doesn't pinch it cause of the rubber gasket. Betcha that'd work for 120V in too.

Fred
2006 RAV4 V6 4WD Red Limited - wife's
2006 Accord V6 Hybrid - Dr. Dyno's - quick as the RAV but +8 mpg
2003 Odyssey V6 - handy people & cargo mover
1999 F-250 4X4 Diesel - snow plow, Bully Dog chip
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It's the pedal (or the handgrip) on the right!!
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#3 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 03:39 PM
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I looked at mine and there is a rectangle of fiberglass tape stuck on the inside of the metal. I think that is what you mean. Cutting a hole through the side without damaging the paint will be very difficult. If you must do it put duct tape on the outside painted surface first and drill through that. It will help keep the edges together. It is a single layer of metal, so start with a pilot hole then use a circle cutter the right size cutting slowly and with oil.

IMO this is a terrible place to install the AC inlet. You will have a lot of trouble keeping water from leaking in and you are inviting rust. If you really want to have the power inlet fixture I would try mounting it behind the front grill or anywhere else that is not painted now.

Think very carefully before you do this to your new baby.

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#4 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 03:39 PM
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I agree with Fred. Drilling that sort of hole could void the vehicle's corrosion protection warranty. Car makers often don't need much of an excuse to declare warranties invalid.

Jim
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#5 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 05:49 PM
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Yes, take the drill back before you hurt yourself or your baby with it!

Bob has a good idea, the grill, but why not just route the plug under the hood somewhere so you simply open the hood to connect it. Or let it hang out like a block heater plug. That's what I do with both my trucks.
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#6 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 07:05 PM
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A follow up.

I took the power inlet to my local body shop, one that I know, have used before, and trust. He looked at it and said he could drill the hole easily without ruining the paint, and that considering the design of the inlet and the flatness of the body where I want to drill the hole, it shouldn't leak. The inlet has a gasket and is designed to be used for this purpose. Cost: probably $27.

Also, since it will be located in a location I can easily observe from inside the vehicle, I can monitor if it starts to leak. I will be opening that panel each time I use it.

My primary concern was not damaging the paint or leaks, but avoiding running a 120 volt line either underneath or through the car where I couldn't see any wear or damage from vibration that might cause a short. 120 volt wiring is a lot more dangerous than 12 volt, and cars are not RVs, which have construction more suitable for 120 volt wiring. I had already rejected coming in through the grill or beneath the hood for that reason.

Coming in through the back-left panel, I can connect a short length of extension cord right to the backside of the inlet and store it inside the panel door. I see a place where I can cable-tie the cord for stain relief, and all the "wiring" will be constantly available for safety inspection each time I use it. This back-left location is where I want to bring in AC power anyway for my intended uses.

I thank you all for your concerns and good advice. I appreciate and like knowing all the risks. However, this new RAV4 turns out to be long enough in back for my wife and me to sleep comfortably, and I am on a mission to make it into a micro-RV. We are both avid wildlife photographers, and want to camp nearby our projects. As I get older, I am more concerned with the risk of missing a wonderful day outdoors than the paint or rust on my car.

I am having a lot of fun adapting this vehicle. I've read what others have done with their RAVs and found much inspiration.

In my research, I've discovered a lot of great tips. For example, the distance between the console and the back door is just long enough for a tri-folding futon mattress to fit. Trim a few inches off the sides of the two foam pieces at the foot, and it perfectly fills the space. (BTW, an electric knife, available at Walmart for less than $10, is a great tool for cutting foam.) I removed the back seats and made a platform for a strong, flat, sleeping surface and to provide storage space beneath.

I plan to post more details later about my micro-RV conversion experiment.

Thanks again for your help and suggestions.

Also, think of all the fun I can have when I point to the electric plug-in port on the side of my vehicle and tell friends I converted the car to electric power.

Last edited by Vandermast; 01-23-2013 at 07:23 PM. Reason: added a sentence
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#7 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 09:05 PM
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Have fun. Taking it to a pro to cut the hole is the right idea. I would not want to run a 120v power cord through a closed door.

With the AC outlet where you are putting it, I would mount a 12V power supply in that compartment as well, then feed it to the car accessory outlet system through the socket there in the compartment. There is a relay that connects these outlets to power when the key is on, and it can be bypassed or replaced with a switch so that the car battery powers the outlets when parked, and when AC is hooked up the power supply keeps the accessory circuit charged. Extra lighting, fans, etc. can use existing 12v wiring.

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#8 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 11:30 PM
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Do you know where that relay is located?

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Originally Posted by bob-o View Post
With the AC outlet where you are putting it, I would mount a 12V power supply in that compartment as well, then feed it to the car accessory outlet system through the socket there in the compartment. There is a relay that connects these outlets to power when the key is on, and it can be bypassed or replaced with a switch so that the car battery powers the outlets when parked, and when AC is hooked up the power supply keeps the accessory circuit charged. Extra lighting, fans, etc. can use existing 12v wiring.
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#9 (permalink) Old 01-24-2013, 12:05 AM
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Do you know where that relay is located?
In the panel just above the hood release lever. It's marked power relay in the photo. It only powers the interior console and rear cargo outlets:




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#10 (permalink) Old 01-24-2013, 09:50 AM
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Glad you got help from a pro and it'll be done right. I'm also glad you have the proper respect for 120V. I would ditch the gasket in favor of an all weather sealer and make sure the inlet is one that seals itself well. And yes, get an "EV" sticker for it.

Hopefully you've seen some of the innovative "RV" conversion posts others on the 4.3 forums have done.

Fred
2006 RAV4 V6 4WD Red Limited - wife's
2006 Accord V6 Hybrid - Dr. Dyno's - quick as the RAV but +8 mpg
2003 Odyssey V6 - handy people & cargo mover
1999 F-250 4X4 Diesel - snow plow, Bully Dog chip
2001 F-250 4X4 Diesel - truck camper, TS chip, 20' bike/trike dyno trailer
2004 Suzuki DRZ-400S Dual Sport

It's the pedal (or the handgrip) on the right!!
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