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How to determine where to drill a hole in a wall or ceiling of your RV.

Sooner or later, as you go about installing that new electronic gadget, you are going to have to drill through something. So how do you figure out how to do that? Well, i'd be lying if I said it is not difficult... in fact it may be one of the more difficult things to do during project construction. The solution is to do some research.

For my motorhome, the manufacturer has graciously provided a few engineering drawings for the asking. These drawings show the location of the structural members in the exterior walls and roof. If you can get them, this is where you start your research.

To obtain such data, start with the Customer Service department of your motorhome manufacturer, and go from there. It may also require you visiting the factory (if they offer tours, and you are close by). However, if you have an older motorhome, obtaining data may be difficult if not impossible.

Another handy tool is the use of an inspection scope to peek inside of access ways. Here I am using a scope to look in the void between walls to see if I can locate where I should drill through the roof to run wiring for a Solar Panel.

The newer inspection scopes sometimes have removeable SDHC card capability, but my scope is a very basic one - without even rechargeable batteries. But I only paid around $130 for it, and since I don't use it often, it is actually more convenient to just pop in 4 fresh AA Alkaline batteries into it rather than waiting a day for a battery pack to recharge.

A less costly alternative is a "snake" or "endoscope" camera. These devices typically have a USB connection and display the video on a computer. They typically cost under $30, but perhaps their chief advantage is the attachment cable is fairly flexible. In fact, they are cheap enough that you could buy both a dedicated inspection scope like the Milwaukee 2300 and a USB snake camera.

A small compact camera can also be an asset. Look for one that has a macro setting for close up work.

Another technique is to use a small locating magnet to determine where any steel members are located within a wall or ceiling. Some RV manufacturers put steel plates in the walls as backing plates for attaching various items.

Of course, the magnet will only work on ferrous metals (iron and steel), but if your RV has such items, you can locate where they are - and if you also posess drawings of your unit, you can use a steel backing plate as a method of accurately laying out where everything is.

The last thing you want to do is to drill into an A/C or wiring duct, or structural rib.



The popular saying "measure twice, cut once" is sound advice... however, I like to say "think twice, cut once" as this enforces taking time to ensure you are drilling in the right location.



Suggestions for items used in this article.


Last reviewed and/or updated May 10, 2017