Electrical 240 Volt System


My Dutch friends have taught me many useful things over the years, for instance when you are staying at a camp ground with electrical hook-ups, make full use of the electricity - after all you have already paid for it.

It is vital that you have a safe connection to the site power supply, so here are a few rules and some information on the IP44 splash proof connectors we all use:


The first digit is a hardware protection rating between 0 (no protection) and 6 (full protection against dust sized particles), and a rating of 4 means that objects greater than 1mm - such as a fine wire - cannot find their way into contact with hazardous parts.

The second digit is a water ingress protection rating between 0 (no protection) and 7 (full protection - submersed and under pressure). A rating of 4 gives protection against water splashes from all directions and in case you were wondering, a rating of 5 is fully jet washer proof.

The plugs, connectors and socket bodies are manufactured from high impact, self-extinguishing durable plastics.

IP44 is adequate protection providing you understand that the protection offered only applies when the connectors are fully mated and locked.


Connecting to Site Power

240 volts and wet grass do not mix, so this is the recommended safe procedure for connecting up to site power:

  • Working from caravan to site power mast
  • Plug the IP44 cable plug into the Eriba wall socket
  • Now work your way towards the site power mast, unwinding the cable as you go
  • Make sure all of the cable is removed from the reel - loops of cable wrapped around a reel have overheated in the past
  • Connect to site power socket - some sockets are live, some require a clockwise quarter turn to switch on the power


Disconnecting from Site Power

Work in reverse, disconnect from site power first and then work back towards the caravan.


European Plugs and Sockets

Throughout most of mainland Europe, the same CEE standard plugs and sockets are used - well almost the same and unfortunately the differences can be quite maddening.

France and Belgium versus Germany and The Netherlands

Both groups of countries use the same CEE standard for the plug live and neutral pins, namely two 4.8mm round contacts on 19mm centres, but France and Belgium use a polarised plug with an offset earth receptacle, whilst Germany and Holland use grounding clips in the socket to make contact with the side of the plug body.

Site Adapter for France

If you are traveling to France, then before you leave, it is a good idea to buy an adapter from a UK camping shop that will allow you to plug your blue IP44 caravan cable into a standard French power socket. Why? Because many French camp sites use the French / Belgian socket for site power.

When you buy the adapter, check that the plug looks looks like the CEE 7/7 plug in the image below. I believe that all camp sites in Holland and Germany use the IP44 connector, but at least you are covered if you are unlucky.


Mains Power Polarity Reversal in Europe

Caravan owners who travel to Europe often discuss the subject of reversed polarity, and how you can correct this.

Our recommended Reverse Polarity Kit comprises three cables and a polarity tester:

Cable A - is the standard electric hook up cable you use in the UK, a 25 metre length of 16 amp 240 volt cable with the blue ISO water resistant plug and socket.

Cable B - is a 1 metre length of identical electric hook up cable and the blue ISO plug and socket. But with the live and neutral wires crossed. This is the polarity reversing cable.

Cable C - is a 1 metre "continental adapter" as sold in caravan shops. It allows you to hook up at those European sites that have a CEE 7/7 socket rather than the blue ISO socket.

Use Cable A or Cable A+C (as appropriate) to connect your Eriba to the site power, and check polarity with the tester. If the polarity is reversed, unplug and include Cable B. Reconnect and retest, everything should be OK.

Why is the polarity reversed?

All electrical appliances and installations in Europe are required to switch both the live and the neutral supply wires, effectively totally disconnecting the appliance when you switch off - and it is not necessary to worry about which wire is live. So plugs and sockets are randomly wired - the appliance doesn't care which way the power flows.

Note: All Eriba Touring caravans have double switched MCB and RCD devices in the power panel - so if the supply trips - both wires are safe.

In the UK (and other countries that use the 13 amp 3 pin socket) only the live wire is switched, leaving the neutral permanently connected. Compared to the European system this is less safe.

But when you take your Eriba caravan to Europe, and connect up, then 50% of the time the neutral wire is actually the live. This is OK, the appliance doesn't care, and nor will you until it develops a fault.

But if you are using UK electrical appliances, which only switch the live wire, then it may matter.

If your UK appliance develops a fault and the plug fuse blows, then with normal polarity it will cut off the power in the plug. If the fuse blows with the polarity reversed, it will still cut off power, but now on the way out of the appliance. If you start poking about inside the appliance and haven't pulled the plug out of the socket, this is potentially fatal.

So if you take your caravan to Europe, you need to take a reversed polarity kit with you. Or do as we do, we asked for our Eriba to be supplied with CEE 7/7 sockets, and we use European appliances in the caravan - so we don't need to worry about polarity reversal.


Updated July 2006


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