Given that caravanning has a high rate of natural risks, observing electrical safety makes it high priority.
Fundamentally, modern caravans like the Galaxy Off Road Caravans – Nemesis are equipped with three electrical systems with System 1 for lights, System 2 for battery and System 3 for sockets (plus electrical hook-ups).
A caravan, by definition, is mobile. In due course, vibration from movement will cause the caravan’s parts, casings and electrical connections to become loose. The same is why caravans need regular inspections to ensure that the electrical system and everything else is in working order.
Caravan Electrical Troubleshooting Tips
Check the Wiring Insulation
All caravans including luxury caravans are designed to withstand severe road conditions. Nevertheless, the casing and the cable can wear out through normal use. Being a mobile house, a caravan’s exterior takes most of the damage from normal wear and tear.
To prevent electrical system failure on the road, check that the wiring insulation is intact with no signs of discolouration.
Keep Earth Leakage Surges in Check
Also known as ground power, whenever a caravan is connected to an electrical hook up, it tends to leak some power.
Use an ELCB or Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker to detect if dangerous leakage voltage is reached and break the circuit before any damage is caused to your system. Earth leakage can damage your entire electrical system if left unchecked.
Circuit breakers switch off the system immediately when power overloading is detected. These modern fuses, often seen as miniature circuit breaker (MCB) or residual current device RSD), cuts the circuit before the power surge has had the chance to damage sensitive wirings.
Circuit isolation is yet another innovative way to protect your caravan’s electrical system from overloading. It works by disconnecting secondary systems when the primary systems need a boost of power.
How do you alter your wiring?
Most caravanners are also DIYers. If you’re thinking of modifying your electrical system, try to avoid drilling into sensitive parts or wirings. It’s always a good idea to refer to your manual before beginning your experiments.
Most caravan wirings are fixed through ceilings, floors or inside hidden cabinets. When fitting a new rack or shelf, for example, keep clear of any electrical wirings to avoid shock.
Reversed polarity creates a potential shock hazard. It occurs whenever the connected current enters your rig via the neutral instead of the live wiring. Use a polarity tester to check whether the polarity of your electrical system is correct.
When using an unfamiliar hookup, check that your sockets, cables and hookups have the right polarity.
Childproofing Your Electrical System
Create a childproof electrical system by tucking your wiring neatly in circuit boxes. In addition, you must keep cable leads out of your kid’s reach, at all times.
Actively discouraging your child from playing with supply cables while connected and otherwise will keep danger out of the way too.
Dos and don’ts of electrical safety
Disasters happen without a warning. Faulty electrical connections can even lead to explosions and fire. Self-wiring is certainly not discouraged, but for safety’s sake have your work checked afterwards by a certified electrician.
Follow the tips below to ensure safety and that your electrical system is correctly configured.
Do Check for Overloaded Circuitry
A common problem for many caravanners, it is advised that you check your circuitry for overloading every 3 years.
Do not use the heater for drying clothes
You should never dry the clothes in or around the caravan heater because it blocks the airway. Covering the ventilation slots located above the heater can quickly lead to overheating and then fire.
Do Know Your Electrical System’s Load Limit
Working under the maximum load limit of your system helps to prevent electrical faults.
Use this formula to calculate for your maximum load limit.
V x I= 240 x 16 = 3840 Watts, where V is the voltage – 240 V and I is the maximum current – 16 A;
As an experiment, calculate the maximum load in watts for a power source of 220 V and 12 A (current).
Do Not Use Double Adapters
Whenever connecting to an electrical hookup on a new campsite, avoid connecting two adaptors at once from your supply leads.
Also known as socket-outlet adaptors, connecting several of these devices is likely to cause system overload.
Do Check the Amperage Before Plugging In
A common caravan electrical error is mismatched amperage between the caravan’s socket and the electrical hookup at the campsite.
Campsite power supply differences range from 6 A to 10 A and 16 A while most rigs need 16 A. Hence, before plugging in, check that the source has the same amperage supply as your rig.
Do Not Use Substandard Adapters
Parts of caravan electrical need to be extra resistant than that of a car or a house, owing to its higher rate of damage. Hence, stocking on cheap adapters will only render more damage than benefit.
Not only do the cheap ones Substandard electrical adapters lead to poor circuit conduction, power leaks and fire hazards are also common with the same.
Do Keep Your Leads in Good Condition
Keeping your leads free from dirt and grime is tough for a touring caravan. The best way to keep your leads in good shape is to uncoil them before using as well as cleaning them regularly.
Tips for Extending the Life of Your Caravan’s Electrical System
Apart from regular maintenance, proper usage of your electrical system will help reduce maintenance problems and greatly extend its life. When connecting your rig to electrical hookups in remote areas, you must observe and follow rules to keep you and your rig safe.
From keeping your hitch clean to moisture- free, you can learn many tips for enhancing the performance and extending the life of your electrical system.
Where are the Supply Bollards on a Campsite?
At every pitch, there are electrical hookups at a distance of 20m each. Most sites use plugs of the supply cable that are the push-type, some also use push and twist types. Read the instructions at the socket before plugging in your caravan lead.
Required Cable Length
Campsites generally advise a distance of 25m from the bollard. This is for your safety when connecting to a power source. Using one straight length of wire without any joints or broken ends are also recommended.
Furthermore, the leads you use must be between 3 and 15m.
What to do During a Power Failure
When power shuts down immediately after plugging in, report it to campsite authorities right away. Overloading and misuse of the sockets often lead to power failure. And the sooner you report the incident, the sooner the problem can get fixed. Additionally, most campsites levy a small fee to cover the damage.
Correct RCD Position When Arriving and Exiting
RCD helps to protect your vulnerable wirings and casings from overloading and current fluctuations. When connecting to the campsite hookup at first, keep the RCD at the off position.
When you’re about to leave the site, switch off the RCD before disconnecting.
What is the Status of Your Caravan’s Electrical Fitness?
To keep your caravan’s electrical system in great shape, have it inspected and certified by a licensed caravan electrician every 3-4 years.
Replacing a light bulb
When replacing a light bulb, disconnect the mains from your bollard first. This is because, even at the off position, the wiring remains live.
Control Panel Placement in a Caravan
Control panel lists the mains, lights, battery and pump. Typically, batteries are installed next to the caravan door.
A remarkable way to increase the longevity of batteries is by removing them when your caravan is not in use. The battery condition is generally indicated in the control panel.
If you ever experience a mild shock from your rig, it is a sign that your system is leaking electricity. It’s a warning sign that your electrical system is due for a checkup.
Use RCD for appliances in the caravan
When running an electrical appliance from your awnings, separate from the toad, use a gadget to isolate power such as an isolating transformer or an RCD. Ensure that the RCD is working properly before connecting the appliance.
Replacing sockets in a caravan
When replacing sockets and plugs in your caravan, make sure the terminals are clean and tightened to avoid loose connection. Additionally, always use double poled sockets in your caravan.
It may not always be practical to have all electrical works carried out by a certified caravan electrician. However, by following the tips outlined in this article, you should be able deal with minor electrical problems yourself.
G’day and happy caravanning!
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