Mod #73: Central Vacuum System

Mod #73: Central Vacuum System

Submitted on: 02/25/09

     Category: interior
Mod Rating: 12345

(42 ratings)

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Mod Description:

Note: This mod first appeared on the RV Travel Blog and was originally written by Jim Twamley.

Having a central vacuum cleaner system in your RV may seem like overkill to the average RVer. Why not just use a broom? In one word: convenience. If you have an RV that has carpet or is particularly large, like a class A motorhome, then you probably already have a hand-held vacuum. For small jobs they work fine. But instead of getting down on your hands and knees or dragging the stickhouse vacuum in to the RV every time you want to tidy up, make it easy on yourself and mod your RV with a central vacuum system. And it’s a lot easier to do than you might first think.

Mod Difficulty: 

The only central vacuum unit made just for the RV is the Dirt Devil CV950LE. Well, there may be others, but in terms of cost and ease of installation, the Dirt Devil takes the cake. The vacuum system has recently been redesigned to have more suction power and a greater lifespan, likely outlasting your RV! The system comes with 35′ of hose, and various attachments, including a power brush head that works really well for cleaning both carpets and flooring.

This mod details how to install the system in a motorhome. You can follow the same steps if you have a TT or 5th wheel as well. The only difference is that you will likely have more mounting location options in a motorhome. The large compartment in the front of 5th wheel is a good mounting option for the vacuum unit, as well as the front pass-through compartment in a TT if you have one. Other locations include under a dinette bench or storage cabinet. But you must be able to provide some ventilation for the unit so as to not overheat the motor during operation.

Start by locating the unit centrally so that the area to be cleaned can be conveniently reached with the standard 35′ hose. Also locate the unit near a grounded electrical receptacle for easy plug-in connection of the motor cord. Route the supply cord so that it doesn’t rest against sharp edges or pinch points. For the adventurous, you can hardwire the power cord in to the RV power center by adding an extra breaker. Just be sure to properly attach the unit’s ground wire to the ground of the power center. You may also add an extra outlet instead to plug the unit in to if one is not nearby to where you mount the unit.

Once you have decided on a location, you will need to determine best configuration for your installation. Temporarily install the unit for the best inlet valve location. Be sure there is clearance to remove top cover and filter bag. If you are mounting the unit upright, cut a 2 1/4″ wide x 3 3/4″ high opening, 9 7/8″ above the floor, or 1 3/4″ above the floor for horizontal canister position. The rectangular opening is necessary so both the hose attachment point of the inlet door and the wiring terminals will have clearance when securing the inlet door to the mounting surface.

This is only one way to install the unit. You may wish to have multiple inlet valves so the instructions above may not apply. In this case, you can mount the unit where convenient and then plumb the tubing necessary to provide multiple remote inlets, such as when using the VacPan option. This option uses a rectangular floor-level inlet valve that you can sweep debris in to. It’s a nice addition for the kitchen area. Whatever option you choose, locate and cut the appropriate size holes to fit the inlet valve or valves.

Now it’s time to wire the inlet valve. This really simple. The inlet valve serves to activate the vacuum motor when the hose is plugged in to it. It does this by using a metal ring around the hose that contacts metal pins on the inlet valve, completing the low-voltage circuit and telling the motor controller to start the motor. The two wires from the unit connect to the back of the inlet valve. They simply press in to their respective terminal with a firm push. Be sure to route the wiring through the mounting hole first before securing to the inlet valve. Now connect the other ends of the wiring from the inlet valve to the wire leads from the relay, located at the bottom of the unit, with the wire nuts provided.

The next step is install the inlet reducer to the inlet valve and secure the inlet valve to the mounting surface. The reducer should line up with the inlet to the vacuum unit. Make sure this is the case before securing the inlet valve. Now secure the unit with the supplied hardware. This consists of four wood screws that go through the mounting tabs on the unit’s housing. You can choose other mounting hardware to suit your location’s needs, i.e., if you had to bolt the unit through a cabinet wall. The only thing left is to plug the unit in and test it out.

TipImproper connection of the vacuum’s grounding conductor can result in the risk of electrical shock when using the vacuum. Check with a qualified electrician or RV service person if you are in doubt as to whether the outlet is properly grounded. Do not modify the plug to fit a receptacle it was not designed to be used with as well. Install the appropriate outlet instead.

ModMyRV recommends these parts for this mod:
Dirt Devil RV Central Vacuum System

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17 Comments For This Mod

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  1. cccale

    maybe a silly question.. Does this run on AC or DC? We often dry camp in the desert and mountains. It’s impossible to keep the coach clean! I either need to do this mod or the laminate flooring.

  2. ModMyRV

    This unit runs on 120 VAC. You could run it off an inverter but that would require about a 1500 watts. Of course, that would be short term use so it wouldn’t kill your battery bank. I have run a residential 12 amp vacuum off my 1800 watt Xantrex inverter with no problems. Used for about 3 minutes so no appreciable drain on the 4 6-volt batteries I have.

    And you need to do both mods. No excuses! ;)

  3. jmt

    Seriously central vacuuming?

  4. ModMyRV

    Sure! Why not? If you have a large motorhome with a lot of carpet and a bunch of kids, I’m pretty sure you’re going to need to do some vacuuming! ;)

  5. jmt

    Yeah I suppose. We just bust our our our dirt devil and it works great. Guess I have something to look forward to when I get a huge motorhome. (Maybe retirement)

  6. cccale

    mix one part outdoors, one part kids, one part dog and you’re guaranteed a dirty RV! Even being out for only a weekend. I admit this maybe over the top, but I’d be in if we camped with full hook ups and money wasn’t a factor.

  7. jmt

    I hear that…if I had a money tree I’d do this mod for sure. Maybe even get one of those robot vacuums that goes all over the floor on its own. Then I can watch it pick stuff up.

  8. Travis

    Can you just wire it right to your 110v panel? Cut off the plug and wire it to the panel and install a circuit breaker. I have open slots on my panel, I could use one of those…right?

  9. ModMyRV

    @Travis - Sure you can wire the power cord directly to your AC circuit panel. Just remember, you must provide a way to turn the power to the vacuum on and off in addition to the circuit breaker. Otherwise, it would be a bit of a hassle to turn the breaker on and off each time you use the vacuum.

  10. Sam

    I also thought these were overkill, until my new trailer came with one. These are way cool and make clean up easier and quicker.


  11. chili7

    Anyone that is used to having central vac around the stick house needs this in their RV. My DW is one and even though my rig is only about 30′, with two kids and two dogs, we can vac the rig in under 10 minutes.

  12. Andy

    As an option, there is similiar unit that is made in the USA, the InterVac, with several advantages over the dirt devil. The Intervac comes with a 40′ hose, can be installed with a remote start or plug the hose into the front of the unit and use the built in switch, and doesn’t have to be hardwired. You can order the unit with a cord to plug in if you have an existing receptacle box nearby. Better warranty (6 years), Made in the USA, more mounting options, and it still costs less.

  13. chili7


    Very cool design. Do you have any experience or info as to their performance?

  14. Andy

    Yes, the Intervac central vacuum has a 12 Amp motor and 100″ of water lift which is pretty much the same as the dirt devil. The big advantages are the mounting options, smaller size (yet same size hepa bag)slightly longer stretch hose, it’s made in the USA, and has twice as long of a warranty. You can call their toll free number 1-888-499-1925 and a real person answers the phone to give you help.

  15. maxzd

    Just got a new 5th Wheel and decided to install one of these units, bought it at Camping World. I had a spot picked out, the wall facing the basement storage. Only trouble I ran into was thinking the interior wall paneling was the same piece as the basement. Turns out there was a panel on each side and a 4″ wall cavity. Made it a little tricky to fit the metal faceplace through and line two holes up. I cut an opening the size of the faceplate in the basement and fished it through. I have another hidden false panel that screwed back up to hide the cut, water lines, electrical, ducting etc.

    So by the time I was done, I was probably 2 hours into it. It wasn’t a race to the finish line for me, Now I probably could do it in under an hour on the same unit.

    Straight-forward Modification. It’s a nice to have not a need to have. Like any accessory, it’s then when we need it.

  16. riggsp

    Installed the Dirt Devil shortly after we bought our 2009 Outback 5th wheel…it really makes clean-up after a trip easy. I installed the power unit in a basement compartment, ran a new dedicated 110v circuit from the convertor to run it, and put the hose outlet and the sweep outlet in the face of the step going up to the bedroom…took a total of about 2 hours to install and wire it…sorry I don’t have pics from when I did the install, but it was relatively easy.

  17. Jim

    There is also the InterVac system. I’ve had the RMG120 in my 5th wheel for three years. Did an ok job but could be stronger suction and bags fill up quickly and are very expensive. It just quit. Being an electrician…I tested the 12V and 120V…no 12volt. To my surprise, the plastic housing is welded shut with no access. Calling InterVac, they internationally build them so they cannot be serviced and have to be returned to the mamufacturer. Avoid would be my thoughts. I purchased a powerful shop vac type and connected it to the port. About a third of the cost to have InterVac repair… and far better performance. A tad bit louder…but who cares. Rather than replace or repair, this may be an option folks.

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