Leisure electrics 230v

Discussion in 'How To' started by matty, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. Following on from 12v leisure electrics thread

    You have you now have a leisure battery but you need more power for those essential hair straighteners.
    Taking the decision to install mains electrics into a camper is not to be taken lightly Do you really need it? unless you are parked up on site for more than 4days or you have lots of power hungry equipment your battery should cope.

    So you still want mains electric
    Most commercial campsite offer electric hook-ups and provide a RCD protected 230V supply (I would not rely on their RCD as on sites I have tested I have had 50% fail), which can power most of the appliances you might use at home.

    Campsites tend to have restricted supplies (they are generally rated at 16A or 10A, sometimes as low as 5A on campsites abroad), so you need to be careful what you use to avoid ‘tripping out’ the system.
    Tripping the electrical supply can make you unpopular on site. The least you will need to do is contact the site manager to ask him to reset the system. In some cases you will also have stopped the electricity supply to your neighbours’ pitches and on a cold winter’s night this will not go down well…

    So what can you use.
    Remembering your ohms law Amps = watts/voltage
    so a small 2kw fan heater is 2000/230 = 9amp

    So what are the dangers and what do the regulations say.

    Installing electrics is not about making it work its about making it safe to use and if that fails that there is protection is in place.
    Anyone can install 230v in to a van but if something goes wrong you will have to demonstrate that you are competent.

    Campers are particularly vulnerable and as such have there own section in the electrical regulations along with swimming pools and saunas.

    Your van is a metal box insulated on each corner (tyres) if a fault occurs the metal work may become live and you won’t know until you step onto the damp grass while still holding the van BANG !!

    The van metal parts must be earthed within the van
    The leads with a socket and RCD on a lead and passed through the window DONOT comply as if there is a fault the metal could become live and still not trigger the RCD and are for tents and awanings.

    A RCD rated at 30ms must be provided that disconnects both live and neutral poles and the test button must be tested each time you hook up.

    Each circuit is to have a correctly rated MCB that also disconnects both line and neutral .
    This issue comes up a lot as most kits sold do not comply so i will quote direct from the regs
    Bs 7671 17th iee wiring regs. Special location 721 electrical installations in caravans and motor caravans

    Reg 721.43.1 Final circuits
    The final circuit should be protected by overcurrent protective device which disconnects all live conductors of the circuit.

    From the same book
    Part 2 definitions
    Final circuit
    The circuit connected directly to current using equipment or to a socket outlet or socket outlets or other outlet points for the connection of such equipment
    Live part
    The conductor or conduct of part intended to be energised in normal use including a neutral conductor

    The internal cable for the individel circuits used must be flexible type rated correctly at least 1.5mm 3 core flex (not the gray flat cable used in your house).

    Cable must be protected from vibration and mechanical damage ( Where it passes through metal use a grommet or bush, the cable needs securing at least every 25cm)

    Cables should not be run in the gas locker.

    All lighting should be fixed or if pendants should be secured for travelling.

    The inlet should be instead no heigher than 1.8m above the ground and be accessible (some people put it in the engine bay but you run the risk of the lid damaging the cable so protect it or put it some where else I put it by the rear jacking point if you dont want to cut a hole in the side of the van)

    The metal work of the van must be earth bonded to the main earth terminal using a cable with a min cross-sectional area of 4mm2

    The inlet plug and socket must be of the blue round 3 pin 16amp type.

    The hook up cable and the cable to the main box must be 3 core 2.5mm and 25m long.

    So whats the best way to fit a mains system
    Get a electrician (although a lot wont want to touch a van as its out of there comfort zone)
    Buy a kit like this and do it yourselves but I would recommend that you get a electrician to test the RCD yearly)

    A good kit that i have used
    Or a all in one unit like a PMS3 or sargent

    I have tryed to keep it simple but feel free to ask questions
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2016
    Lasty, PanZer, ginger ninja and 5 others like this.
  2. Honky

    Honky Administrator

    Why must the cable be the flexible type? Does it offer more protection?

    Do you know why the hook up lead must be 25m long?
  3. I have US spec hook up on my van. Can I just change all the sockets to 3 Pin and use the original wiring or do I have to replace everything?
  4. Flexible type will cope with the vibrations and bends and has thicker insulation.
    The regs state 25m for the cable as this is the max distance allowed between camp site hook up points.

    US spec is based on 110v and will be nearly 40years old so i would replace it all but if the cables show no damage you could just replace the bits on the end.
  5. i was thinking of replacing the fuse box in my us spec 74 westie and all the bits on the ends as you put and using the existing as a guide
    has anyone seen a uk "blue plug" that could replace the original us plug but still useing the original outside box on the outside of the van confusing i know
  6. Diddymen

    Diddymen Moderator

    so I'm guessing I couldnt use my tumble drier and 3kW hair drier at the same time O0

    .....on a serious note, a great post from a man who knows what he's talking about,

    please dont cut corners when wiring up your bus and heed Matty's safety and installation advice

    I personally wouldnt trust 40yr old electrics US or UK in a bus and I certainly wouldnt use any of the conversion plugs you can get to hook up your 40yr old US wiring to UK mains, but that is just personal opinion.

    K+ for posting
  9. Diddymen

    Diddymen Moderator

  11. Diddymen

    Diddymen Moderator

    If you find one be sure to post it up as there will be others who will find it usefull :thumbsup:
  13. Diddymen

    Diddymen Moderator

    Your bus should be earthed by the earth conductor in your hook up lead back to the consumer unit - and like Matty said, your body work should be conected to the earth of your 'mains' wiring in your bus,

    so the earth rod shouldnt be needed,
  14. yeah the old fusebox is earthed to the body thats why i ve left it all in for now so i can copy and replace as i go along :)
  15. I would leave the US socket for show and mount a new one somewhere out of sight i put them on the side of the rear jacking point.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
  16. right a little update i ve got a consumer unit coming which i intend to fit under the rnr bed i am going to keep the ordinal us westie inlet on the side of the van and get a adaptor with cable to suit
    i am obviously going to rewire the inlet with new jaffa cable back to the consumer unit
    now in some of these kits that have all you need it shows jaffa cable and some white cable
    do i need the white cable or can i do the the lot with jaffa cable would that be better ?i am only intending on one twin socket
    plus maybe in time the addition of a lb charger ? :thinking:
  17. Diddymen

    Diddymen Moderator

    The colour of the cable doesnt really mean much, its the physical sice of the conductors (cores) of the cable that matter.

    the regs state that all cables should be a minimum of 1.5mm squared CSA (cross sectional area) - which is the size of the conductor

    as long as your cores are no smaller than that and they are of the flexible type cable them dont worry about the colour of the outer insulation.

    If you get 2 different sizes of cables with a kit then you are best off wiring from the inlet to your consumer unit in the bigger cable (probably the jaffa one) and use the white one between the consumer unit and socket outlets.
  18. It's just because I am buying the bits myself and not in a kit
    And I think it's been said the jaffa cable is more flexible I was just going get a extra metre or so to go for the cabling to the sockets

Share This Page