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Electricity in motorhomes and caravans: Shore power – but the right way

In Part 1 we introduced you to the basics of power supply on the road, today we focus on shore power. For many travellers in a motorhome or caravan, connecting to shore power at a campsite or pitch is quite normal. This makes it easy to use all 230-volt appliances in the motorhome and also to run the refrigerator on electricity. Few people think about the connection and the issue of safety. This article will therefore explain the topic in detail.

The right cable

Electricity can be dangerous. Touching an uninsulated or wet cable can lead to death through electric shock in the worst case. Damage to the cable can cause it to heat up and even catch fire. Therefore, there are regulations on which cable may be used. DIN VDE 0100-721:2010-02 stipulates that a rubber tube cable of the standard “H07RN-F 3G 2.5 qmm” or better must be used. Blue CEE couplings or plugs must be connected at both ends. The cable may be a maximum of 25 metres long and may not be extended further.

These cables are particularly stable. If the neighbour rolls over your cable with his 7.5 tonne camper van, it will withstand it. The plugs are also splash-proof and can therefore withstand rain. By the way, it doesn’t matter whether the cable is rolled up on a drum or not.

Winding the cable from the drum

During operation, however, the cable should always be completely unwound from the drum. Many articles on the net say that you should do this because of induction, but this is not true.

The cable heats up depending on how much current is flowing through it. If it is coiled, then heat builds up inside, which can cause a fire or damage. Therefore, it is recommended to always unwind the cable completely.

Fuse

Shore power is normally fused on both sides. There are usually two circuit breakers in your motorhome. These “fly out” if something goes wrong. You can simply push them back up after you have fixed the problem. You will find the fuses near the power socket.

On the other side, the connection on the pitch, there should also be a fuse or a so-called residual current circuit breaker (RCD). The fuse on the pitch is 4-16 amps. Sometimes when you arrive you are asked how much you need. 4 amps may be enough for a fridge and TV, but if a computer and a mobile phone are also being charged, the fuse will blow. Fan heaters or air conditioners definitely need higher fuses and also consume more. That’s why more and more campsite and pitch operators are moving away from flat-rate billing to billing according to consumption.

Cables and adapters

The following accessories should be on board for a safe and reliable power supply:

  • A connection cable for shore power in decent quality. This cable is usually available in different lengths, among others at Campingshop 24 or at Amazon.
  • Alternatively, the cable is available on a drum up to 25 metres. As with the cables, please make sure that the drum is robust and suitable for outdoor use!
  • Many places abroad still have Schuko plugs instead of the new CEE plugs. An adapter is good for this, even if it is strictly speaking against the regulations. You can find such an adapter here, for example.
  • To protect the connection, I recommend a safety box for CEE plugs.

If you want to learn more about power supply in motorhomes, you should also take a look here: Power consumption and power saving in the motorhome

Photos: (c) CamperStyle | (c) Sebastian Vogt

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