Winter is over. Spring is steadily bringing better weather and more sunshine. In many countries, that signals the start of the camping season. Families and couples are taking off with their tents, caravan or camper to enjoy a lovely weekend or for some, a longer stay.
Many of us look for a place to camp and enjoy some comfort and electricity, but that raises the question of a safe electrical connection. Did we bring along the appropriate plugs and cables? Do we know how to safely handle electricity at the camp site?
Let’s take a look at what you need to take into account so your holiday isn't spoiled.
Of course, we brought along some electrical appliances of our own, such as lighting, mobile phones, tablets, a small TV and a radio. There may even be a satellite dish and receiver. In the caravan or camper there is probably a refrigerator, microwave oven and possibly even heating and air-conditioning. We left the blender at home because we’re not planning on making our own soup.
Electrical connection at the camp site
In most cases, we don’t know what to expect from the electrical connection at the camping place beforehand. Therefore, it is well worth taking the time to ask about the electrical connections while you are at the reception desk. It is important to know the maximum capacity of the connection. In most cases, the answer will not be in Watts (capacity), but in Ampère (electrical current): 6A, 10A, 15A, etc.
Another question you should ask is where the connection points are located. The most convenient would be to have a separate connection at each camp site. Sometimes a single connection must serve two camp sites. It will usually be found near to where the two sites meet. In some cases however, only a central connection box is available for multiple campsites. In that event, you may well require a long or even very long extension cable.
Ensure that you have a secured connection by including a sensitive ground fault interrupter (30mA or less). This will switch off the voltage when parts that are carrying voltage are intentionally or accidentally touched.
Power sockets and plugs
In Europe, you will probably encounter European CEE power plugs and sockets. These are robust and waterproof. They are usually blue in colour when installed in caravans and campers. In that event, an extension cord with both a male and female CEE plug will suffice.
In practice, however, it often occurs that the power sockets are just splash proof rather than waterproof. In that case, you need an additional short extension cord (1m will suffice) with a female CEE plug on one end and a traditional waterproof plug on the other to use with your CEE extension cord.
Depending on the country you’re in, you may also need a travel plug adapter. Many countries have their own type of power socket. UK sockets are very different to those on the continent and beyond! You can find adapters in any good camping store.
And the cable?
Bring along a good rubber insulated cable that is certified to be weatherproof. A wire cross section of 1.5 mm² will suffice. However, we strongly recommend buying one with a wire cross section of 2.5 mm². The heavier cable will be mechanically more robust and offers smaller electrical resistance. This becomes especially important as the length of the cable increases. A wire cross section that is too small will cause the cable to heat up more quickly through electrical resistance. This will result in a voltage reduction at the location where you need the electricity.
It is also wise to ensure that you have a good cable drum on which you can very easily coil your cable when not used. When connecting the cable, always make sure the cable is completely unrolled from the drum. This will prevent coil effect, which can cause a dramatic current increase.
It is always important to handle electricity safely and wisely, whether you are at home or out camping. Never forget that water and electricity can be a life-threatening combination!