Normal household 240 volt AC power (household 3 pin connection ) can operate a caravans electrics. You can also operate a caravans electrics via batteries using a DC connection (direct current). Some caravan appliances such as 3 way fridges, can change automatically over to either of these power supplies.
When it comes to connecting your caravan to a power point and use normal electricity there is something you need to know. Now i’m not going to get too technical here and hope to keep it simple so bare with me …..
What to use safely
For a Caravan you’ll need to buy (if you haven’t already) a 15amp extension lead. This extension lead comes with a larger earth terminal than your common 10 amp lead that you have at home. With that 15 amp lead, if you can’t fit it into a power point because one earth terminal on the lead is too big for the hole then you’re trying to connect a 15 amp lead to a 10 amp power point. It’s manufactured that way for a reason. DO NOT modify the 15 amp lead to suit. for a more techie reason read the section on it at the end of this page
What to do if the lead doesn’t fit ?
A 15amp plug has a larger earth pin than a 10amp plug does. Its designed that way for safety reasons. When there is no 15amp outlet available such as some camping spots around Australia or most home/farm stays then you need to connect through a device such as an Ampfibian power connector.
Unfortunately there are many backyarders out there that chop and change electrical plugs when they are not qualified to do so. This allows them to connect a 15amp power cord to a 10 amp outlet but also brings on these issues :
It’s not safe to do so
It’s NOT legal to do so
Potentially you could damage either yourself, your house or your van.
The correct way to connect
The legal way in Australia, is to go through the ampfibian power adapter. It’s designed and rated to meet Australian standards.
The Ampfibian is a Residual Current Device (RCD) and circuit breaker all in one.
What it does is allows you to connect your 15amp lead to a 10amp outlet safely . In the event your caravan decides to draw above 10 amps the circuit breaker will trip well before the 10 amp household power point or wiring goes into melt down which causes a fire or worse, electrocutes someone. It will also prevent a short circuit coming back up the wiring and damaging your caravan equipment.
Air conditioning units in caravans can use between 5 and 10 amps on their own. On a side note they also do not run off DC power. A microwave and the coffee machine run at the same time could also draw the same. So with that in mind it’s not that hard to draw 15 amps. You’re best to play it safe and legal and get the right tools for the job.
The more techie reason behind it.
Modifying a 15 amp power lead to suit a 10 amp outlet is illegal. The subject should really stop there and not need any more clarification but unfortunately there are too many out there that think rules don’t apply to them.
When operating a caravans air con unit , water heater, toaster and microwave you can be drawing above 10 amps easily. Which is why caravan manufacturers design caravans with 15 amp power points. Operating all those things at once is not unrealistic so there is a high potential at some point you will be drawing above 10 amps. To modify a 15 amp lead so it fits in a 10 amp outlet will allow you to supply electricity to your van, but legally it’s not right. For some this modification may work for years because they never actually draw over 10 amps for any great period of time. However there is that potential that one day you will draw over 10 amps and this is what could happen….
Electricity to a 10 amp power outlet is wired accordingly. It will have a cable suited to draw a known 10 amps. It will have a circuit breaker and GPO suited for 10 amps current draw. So although you have a 15 amp lead and your caravan is suited for 15 amps the source of your power supply is not. Therefore what you will do is try to force 15 amps of electricity through the existing cable, breakers and GPO that are all rated and expecting a maximum of 10amps. The result could be overheating of connections or cables causing fire. Alternatively a melt down of the 10amp circuit which causes a short in the circuit and can then injure yourself or someone else or cause a fire that will burn the house down.
So yes there are people out there that have used a modified 15 amp lead from a 10 amp power supply for years and not had a problem… good for them. But for me personally my safety and my wifes safety along with anyone nearby is more important to me than saving a few bucks.
The amphibian has protection built inside it that will trip a circuit breaker if over 10 amps is drawn from the van. It’s legal and insurance companies will tick that box if something ever goes wrong. Therefore protecting the power supply/ house / family members and so forth. Why wouldn’t you do it once do it right ?