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Important 240v Introduction To RVs

Article by Peter Smith - Caravans Plus
Read Time: 3 mins

If you're new to Caravans or Motorhomes, you should read this.

Caravans and Motorhomes have two power circuits - 12 volt for most lights and some 12V appliances, and 240V circuits for your power points like those at home.

But the 240V is not the same as at home because it is not permanently hardwired. In your house every circuit starts from your fuse box. Each circuit has a limited capacity because the wires running through your walls have a limited capacity.

With your RV, the limit starts from where your power cord is connected to the power source e.g. at a caravan park. All RV's accept incoming power through a 15amp extension cord. One cord provides power for one circuit within your RV. In many cases 15amp's will not be enough, so a second and sometimes even a third circuit is required.

15amp extension cord

Above: The 15amp extension cord allows 1.5 times the current that a standard household 10amp cord can handle. Heavy duty 10amp cords are not the same and cannot be used to bring power to your RV. 15amp sockets and plugs have a larger earth. The larger pin is not there to provide a greater earth, but it is there to prevent you connecting a 10amp extension lead to a 15amp plug.

preventing you from connecting a 10amp extension lead to a 15amp plug

Rather than having just one really long extension lead that will suit every location, why not also carry a shorter one as well, for convenience. It is now illegal to join two cables to your RV to give greater length as this may jeopardise the operation of your RCD, the life saving device that will trip if YOU become the earth.

Connecting to a 10amp household power point.

There will be times when a 15amp power point is not available to connect to, like when parking at a friends house or even at home. This has in the past caused dangerous practices and modifications that are no longer necessary.

There are a couple of products that allow you to connect a 15amp power cord to a normal 10amp power point. They are fitted with a circuit breaker to prevent more than 10amps being carried through from the supply power point. The PODSAFE and AMPFIBIAN are weather rated and are specially made for the RV market, while the ELECTUS is made with tradesman in mind and must be kept out of the weather.

Portable RCD with 10amp Plug to 15amp Socket

Portable RCD with 10amp Plug to 15amp Socket

7 In Stock Now.
$86.95
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Ampfibian RV-02MAX, 10amp - 15amp adapter, Overload protection and RCD

Ampfibian RV-02MAX, 10amp - 15amp adapter, Overload protection and RCD

5 In Stock Now.
$234.95
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15amp Extension Leads

Shown below is one size extension lead that we sell.

15 Amp / 240V 12M Extension Lead to Suit RV Use

15 Amp / 240V 12M Extension Lead to Suit RV Use

5 In Stock Now.
$31.95
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Replacing or adding power points or switches.

The 240volt switches and power points used in Recreational Vehicles differs from households in one very important way. All switches and power points must be double pole. This is by law, and for your safety.

All switches and power points must be double pole

This means that the switch breaks the circuit of the Active and the Neutral wires when the switch is set to OFF. In normal household switches and power points, only the Active wire (Red or Brown) is disconnected. This is the reason you cannot use single pole switches or power points.

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27 Comments

  • comment-avatar

    Mervyn

    In your article you state that it is illegal to join two leads together yet you have the Amp-Fibian which has a short lead, so how can it be legal to use it with a long lead to a motorhome?

  • comment-avatar

    Steve - CaravansPlus

    Hi Mervin, the Amp-Fibian and similar devices are legal because they are fitted with a circuit breaker to prevent more than 10amps being carried through from the supply power point. The short leads are necessary and not intended to be for the purpose of extension.

  • comment-avatar

    Mark Boscawen

    The intent of the legislation is to stop two or more caravan power supply leads being connected end to end and exceeding the maximum permissible length of cable for the size of conductor. If the maximum permissible length is exceed then the resistance of the cable will generate heat at high current draw. In turn, this could start an electrical fire. Also, any joins can permit water entry and so are an electrocution risk. While in theory you can safely join two short cables together, the blanket ban of joining leads prevents any confusion by the user and inadvertently creating a dangerous situation. The max length of caravan power supply lead is 25 metres. The additional short length of an amphibian when added to a lead this size is still within limits as the maximum current draw is 'de-rated' to 10 amps.

  • comment-avatar

    Ralph

    The input cable length is limited & set by Aus Standards that applies to adapters As an adapter, it should be connected first in line.[ direct to the power supply socket]

  • comment-avatar

    Stuart

    Mervin Read it again he states that it is now legal to join 2 cords not illegal.

  • comment-avatar

    Fly

    Sorry He clearly states its now ILLEGAL to join to cables. According to the same sentence that MUST include things like the amphibian wether it has its own breaker or not is mute. IF legislation states not to connect 2 power bales they will take the literal english period. While Government flings ill thought out laws around it should stipuate that any Park providing power MUST make said power withing say 10M. Its easier to regulate a park than millions of users.

  • comment-avatar

    All set out in the Aus Standards As/Nzs 3001 "Transportable Structures& their power supplies. Clearly states 'Extension LEADS shal not be joined" Good sound tecnical reasons for that" Rule"

  • comment-avatar

    Jenny long

    Stuart, you need to go back and read it the word is "illegal". I copy and pasted it from the Post.

  • comment-avatar

    Peter

    is it safe to plug a powerboard (with no switches) into a double pole socket to get more outlets

  • comment-avatar

    Colin

    I have been on the internet for 2 days trying to find this out to no avail. To my thinking it must be illegal but there doesn’t seem to be a double pole power board available so every caravanner may be illegal in using single pole boards .

  • comment-avatar

    Peter

    Mate, I haven't found an answer either, however,, in my logic there are two scenarios; 1. every appliance using the powerboard will come under the dual pole switch the board is plugged into. 2. make up your own board with a 4 plug duel pole power outlet.

  • comment-avatar

    Colin

    That’s fine but while the power point is turned on if the active and neutral will be crossed and the power board switch will be switching the neutral leaving a live active at the appliance has to be illegal I would think.

  • comment-avatar

    Gerald

    Is it alright to use a short 10 amp extension inside to connect a fridge inside the van?

  • comment-avatar

    Yes , from a van power outlet.

  • comment-avatar

    Deb

    How can you use 15 amp power at a caravan park when camping to power a 10 amp normal powerboards? Do you need anything special?

  • comment-avatar

    Jai

    Is it legal to install a 10amp inlet on a camp trailer that is wired to a 240v charger located inside camper that originally came with a 10amp plug no other 240 power is used within trailer ie:no sockets or equipment

  • comment-avatar

    Gabby

    Can I replace my caravan batteries with a 240v lead? I want to get rid of my batteries to save space and install lead (15A) to the leftover wires. I have a power point in my boot and wish to plug my van into that for power. Any DIY tips would be appreciated. Thanks

  • comment-avatar

    or Such Work can only be carried out by a liscensed electrician.

  • comment-avatar

    Dave

    Can I use a 25 meter 10 amp cord from the house to the amp-fibian and then hook this up to the caravan or does the the 25 metre power cord need to be 15 amp ?

  • comment-avatar

    The Ampfibian" as an adapter" shall only be used plugged directly into the mains power supply socket. then

  • comment-avatar

    The Amp fibian is classed as an adapter & must be first in line [plugged directy into the power supply socket] & lenght of it's the input lead is limited under Aus Stanards.

  • comment-avatar

    Daveanni

    I am very stupid when it comes to this. Do I take it that when using 240v at CC sites, I can use existing 12v sockets with 240 v appliances? Newbie GN about to embark on the lap. Cheers

  • comment-avatar

    No , How would you plug them in?? Or are you asking if you can use you 12v battery or charger supplied 12v sockets ? for 12v devices If that is the question, then Yes, that is why they are there The only way you can use 240v devices of 12v is via an inverter

  • comment-avatar

    You definately cannot connect 12V ratedappliances or devices to 240v @any time . How would you that?? But you can use your 12V devices off your batterries[12v systems]

  • comment-avatar

    Peter

    Hi I’m new to camping. My camper trailer has a redarc 30 fitted the mains charge point has a 10amp plug do I need a 15amp lead to charge batteries read the redarc book that came with it but can’t find any mention of the charging process? Cheers pete

  • comment-avatar

    An appliance, factory fitted with a 10A plug can be safely plugged into a 15A socket, but the reverse cannot be done or attempted [even by changing the plug[which no liscensed electrician would do if he values his license Changing plugs , or repairing is liscensed work in Australia

  • comment-avatar

    Peter

    hi, can i use a 10amp double GPO with built in RCD with 15amp wiring thank you

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