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Important 240v Introduction To RVs

Article by Peter Smith - Caravans Plus

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

9 In Stock Now.
$90.95
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Ampfibian RV-02MAX, 10amp - 15amp adapter, Overload protection and RCD

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

7 In Stock Now.
$199.95
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15amp Extension Leads

Shown below is one size extension lead that we sell.

15 Amp / 240V 10M Extension Lead to Suit RV Use

15 Amp / 240V 10M Extension Lead to Suit RV Use

6 In Stock Now.
$27.95
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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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6 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

    Stuart

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

  • comment-avatar

    Peter

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

  • comment-avatar

    Gerald

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

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