If you store your caravan/motorhome at home there is a range of reasons why you may want to or should connect up to your houses electrical supply. For instance, while the caravan is in winter storage you may want to plug the caravan into your house electrics to keep your leisure battery topped up. You may even have a guest or family member spending some time in the caravan and they want access to mains power. With this post, I’ll discuss a couple of options you have for connecting your caravan to your houses electrical supply. I’ll discuss best practice to follow on how to connect up the caravan to your houses mains and how not to do it due to potential safety implications. There is more to it than simply purchasing a 13A Plug to 16A adapter socket.
While a 13A Plug to 16A Socket is an essential bit of kit to connect your caravan or motorhome to your home electrical supply there are actually more things to consider for safety reasons: Image – Amazon.co.uk
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The Benefits of Connecting up Your Caravan to Your Houses Mains Electrical Supply
As I briefly mentioned above, while your caravan is sat on your drive over winter you may want to connect up your caravan to the house mains connection to keep your leisure battery in good health. Most traditional lead acid based leisure batteries need to be topped up to stay in good health. If they are left in a depleted state of charge (below 50%) for prolonged periods this can seriously damage the battery. Now you could take the leisure battery out of your caravan over winter and keep it topped up with a portable leisure battery charger. However, if you have an alarm system or tracker on your caravan the leisure battery is the reserve power source for these systems. Hence, if you remove your leisure battery the alarm/tracker may not be operational. This could actually invalidate your insurance if the caravan was stolen.
Another benefit of having mains power from your house to your caravan is when it comes to cleaning. While caravan vacuum cleaners are ‘ok’ for cleaning on your holiday they are generally not as powerful as your home vacuum cleaner. Hence, with mains power to your caravan, you can use a ‘proper’ vacuum cleaner. Over the damp winter months when the caravan is not in use some people also choose to use a dehumidifier. There is split camp around the pros and cons of using a dehumidifier in a caravan or motorhome. Does it help to reduce damp problems or encourage them? There are valid arguments on both sides. But my point being, if you have mains power from the house if you choose to you could power a dehumidifier.
How to Safely Connect up Your Caravan or Motorhome to Your Homes Mains Electrical Supply
Ok, so at the start of this post, the first obvious bit of kit you need is a 13A plug to 16A adapter socket. But the real question is should you use your standard 16A mains extension lead? My point is many people have a long mains extension lead for their caravan or motorhome of around 25m. The reason being on some sites unlike ours the connection point can be a considerable distance away from the caravan. Hence, if you have a long 25m mains extension cable you are set for either short or long connection distances. However, you should never leave your mains extension cable coiled up when in use. Under high load a coiled up cable can build up heat which can damage the cable, potentially even resulting in a fire.
Its not particularly safe or practical to connect your caravan or motorhome to your houses electrical supply with a 25m mains extension cable: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Now in most instances, a caravan stored on a driveway is not anywhere close to 25m away from the house. As you shouldn’t have a mains power cable coiled up when in use its impractical to have lots of excess cable spread over the floor of your drive or garage. The cable would be a tripping hazard and if you drove over the cable with your car that would likely lead to cable damage. Therefore you ideally want to have a shorter mains power cable to connect up to your house.
In most instances, a 10m mains extension cable is going to be a safer and more practical option to connect up your caravan or motorhome to your houses mains electrical supply: Image – Amazon.co.uk
RCD Plug Adapters for Additional Safety
Typically, mainly people will connect their 13A plug to 16A adapter socket to a mains point in their garage. However, for an additional bit of safety, I would also advise the use of a single socket RCD. An RCD (Residual Current Device) is designed to trip the electrical supply if it detects an earth leakage. Hence if a cable is cut/damaged RCDs prevent electric shocks.
The mains consumer unit in your home is fitted with an RCD. However, with the scenario of connecting up your caravan or motorhome through a long extension cable, you have significantly increased the distance to the RCD. Hence, the time it takes for the RCD in your homes main consumer unit to react and trip has been increased. To reduce the tripping time and hence increase safety I would encourage you to use an RCD plug adapter such as the one below.
Using a single socket RCD adapter such as this before the mains extension cable to your caravan is hooked up to your home is best practice: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Having an External Mains Socket Installed for Your Caravan or Motorhome
So the last thing I wanted to discuss in the post is the option of having an external power socket installed on your home for your caravan or motorhome. If you are reliant on an internal socket connection this can be impractical, a safety hazard and a security risk. For instance, if you have the mains extension cable plugged into your garage, having the cable running under the door is not ideal. However, I know that some of our guests pass the cable through a window. This is obviously also not ideal, due to when it rains and furthermore its a security risk.
Now, you are not legally allowed under UK electrical regulations to install a new socket yourself. However, you might want to consider asking your local electrician to install a new weatherproof external socket to connect up to your caravan or motorhome. Furthermore, you can get external weatherproof sockets with build in RCDs such as the one below.
Your electrician could install you an external weatherproof socket such as this to connect up your caravan or motorhome to your house electrical supply: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Conclusions on How to Connect a Caravan/Motorhome to Your Houses Electrical Supply
I hope my comments above have made it clear that there are more things to consider when connecting up your caravan or motorhome to your houses mains connection than a simple 13A Plug to 16A adapter socket. You need to consider the length of mains extension cable you are going to use, the location of the power socket and additional RCD protection to maximize safety.
Something that is also worth remembering is your home is only going to provide a maximum of 13A to your caravan or motorhome. Not the 16A typically found on many caravan sites such as Horton Common. Therefore, if a friend or family member is staying in your caravan while its on your drive, they won’t have quite as much power to run all the facilities in the caravan. For instance, if they are using a domestic kettle instead of a caravan kettle, that’s likely to end up tripping your homes RCD.
Anyway, I hope you found this post useful/interesting. I also hope at some point in the future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common in the near future to experience our fully serviced pitches. 🙂