What Is A Campsite Electrical Hookup?

Campsite Electrical Hookup Explained

Most Campsites and Aires in the UK and Europe offer Campsite Electrical Hookup. If you book into pretty much any modern Campsite, your pitch will undoubtedly have a power outlet box containing circuit breakers with a Socket that has a Blue, spring loaded dust cap on it.

This box is a Campsite Electrical Hookup Outlet.

Why Do People Use Campsite Electrical Hookup?

People use Campsite Electrical Hookups for a number of reasons, such as:

  • To Fully Recharge their Leisure Batteries
  • To use higher Wattage Appliances such as Kettles, Aircon and Hairdryers
  • To use high powered heaters when the weather is cold to keep warm
  • To carry out maintenance on their Campervans using power tools
  • To take a break from Boondocking for a while

How Many Amps Does A Campervan Hookup Provide?

What Is A Campsite Electrical Hookup - 16A Outlet

Most modern Campsites will provide a 16 Amp Electrical Supply. This should be more than enough for a campervan or a Tent’s demands.

However, just because you have access to 16 Amps doesn’t mean that you should switch on every electrical appliance at the same time to see what happens.

Invariably, if you do this, and overload the system, you will trip your supply and probably that of your neighbours too, making yourself pretty unpopular, especially if it is in the middle of the night during a rainstorm.

How Do I Connect My Campervan To The Campsite Electrical Hookup Outlet?

In order for you to connect to the Campsite Electrical System you are going to need a Hookup Cable. This will need to have a male connector at one end, and a female connector at the other.

These Hookup Cables can either be purchased ready made, or constructed yourself. I always make my own, as it will be better quality then the tatty shop bought ones, and I can choose the length that I want.

The connectors at each end are known as 16 Amp, 3 Pin Connectors. The male connector is open and the female connector has a dust cap to prevent water or ingress getting into the pin holes and causing problems.

How Do I Safely Disconnect My Campervan From the Campsite Electrical Hookup System?

What Is A Campsite Electrical Hookup - Campervan Electrical Cut Off Switch

It is best practice to turn off both the Electrical Isolator Switch in your Campervan and the Isolator Switch/RCD/Circuit Breaker (depending which it has) on the Campsite Electrical Hookup Outlet before removing the Hookup Cable that connects you to the Campsite’s Power System.

This may sound like a belt and braces overkill, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to electricity on wet and windy Campsites.

What Is An RCD?

What Is A Campsite Electrical Hookup - Campervan RCD

An RCD is a Residual Current Device. You will almost certainly find one on any modern Campsite Electrical Hookup Outlet.

An RCD constantly monitors the electric current flowing through one or more circuits it is used to protect. If it detects electricity flowing down an unintended path, such as through a person who has touched a live part, the RCD will switch the circuit off very quickly, significantly reducing the risk of death or serious injury.

You can read more about RCDs here…

What Is A Campervan Inverter?

What Is A Campsite Electrical Hookup - Campervan Inverter

A Campervan Inverter is a device for stepping up 12V DC Electricity supplied from either your vehicle batteries, your Leisure Batteries or your Solar Panels to 230V AC Electricity so that it can be used on your normal domestic appliances when you are in your Campervan and Boondocking.

The Inverter will not be required when you are attached by cable to the Campsite Electrical Hookup System.

How Do Campervan Leisure Batteries Work?

What Is A Camper Van Inverter - LifePO 4 Battery

A Campervan’s Leisure Batteries charge up from either, or a combination of, the vehicle’s alternator when driving, solar panels or mains hookup.

They work by supplying power to the Campervan’s 12V system and also to an Inverter so that it can step it up to 230V for use on domestic appliances when you are boondocking and not connected to the mains.

A Campervan’s Leisure Batteries are what is known as Deep Cycle Batteries and can provide power for hours on end. They are not affected by being discharged to a very low power limit.

The best Deep Cycle leisure Batteries, known as LiFePO4 can be incredibly expensive, but they provide an immense amount of power and there performance is exceptional.

If you can afford to have LiFePO4 Leisure Batteries, the higher initial investment will certainly be worth it in the long run.

Will The Campsite Electrical Hookup Charge My Leisure Batteries?

Yes, modern Campervans have a built in battery charger in the electrical system which will charge your leisure batteries whenever you are connected to the Campsite Electrical Hookup.

You should be able to recharge your leisure batteries fully in around 3 hours of being connecter to the Campsite Electrical Hookup.

How Much Power Does My Campervan Draw?

As a rough guide a typical Campervan will draw between 10A and 12A of current during normal everyday use.

However, if you were to experiment and turn on every electrical appliance at the same time when connected to the Hookup, you could draw up to 20A, which at over 4.5 kW through their 230V system would be more than enough to trip the Campsite Electrical Hookup, and in the process make you look silly and be unpopular, so don’t do it.

Here’s a link to a simple but effective Amps to Watts Calculator to help you with your power calculations

What Is Reverse Polarity and Do I Need To Worry About It?

What Is A Campsite Electrical Hookup - What Is Reverse Polarity
Reverse Polarity Detector

Reverse polarity is when the Live and Neutral Cables are connected in reverse. This can create situations where people get electrocuted by using simple domestic appliances such as kettles. Reverse polarity can easily be rectified by switching the Cables to their correct positions.

Yes, you do need to worry about Reverse Polarity as it is a danger to both you and to your Campervan. When we lived in Spain Reverse Polarity was commonplace, so I suggest that if you are in Continental Europe, or even on Campsites in the UK, you have a means of checking and rectifying the polarity of Campsite Electrical Hookups.

You will need to purchase a Reverse Polarity Detector, which is a simple plugin, and you can either make yourself, or buy a reverse polarity adapter lead that you can use to switch the polarity to it’s correct position before connecting it to your Campervan.

What Is A Campsite Electrical Hookup - Reverse Polarity Adapter
Reverse Polarity Adapter

What Do I Do If I Trip The Campsite Electrical Hookup?

If you trip the Campsite Electrical Hookup by accident, don’t worry about it, these things happen.

  • Firstly check that it isn’t a trip in your Campervan and your RCD is down
  • Next, check the RCD on the Hookup Box. If it is down, reset it
  • If you reset that, and power doesn’t return, you will have to find the Campsite Manager and ask them to reset it for you, which can be embarrassing, unfortunately!

Electrical Trips, especially on Campsites where things get driven over, bumped and full of rain, are unfortunately an occupational hazard and should be expected.

Make sure you take care of your own electrical hookup cables, sockets and adapters at all times to minimise the chances of he problem being down to your equipment.

Campsite Electrical Hookup – Summary

Hopefully we’ve covered everything there is to know about Campsite Electrical Hookups. To recap, we’ve looked at:

  • What a Campsite Electrical Hookup is
  • Why we use them
  • How many Amps they usually provide
  • How to connect to a Hookup
  • How to safely disconnect from a Hookup
  • What an RCD is
  • What an Inverter is
  • How Campervan Leisure Batteries work
  • How Leisure Batteries are charged
  • How much Power a Campervan Draws
  • What Reverse Polarity is and how to rectify it
  • What to do if you trip the Campsite Electrical Hookup

You should now be fully prepared to connect your Campervan safely and with confidence to a Campsite’s Electrical Hookup.