Campervan with electricity

POWERING YOUR CAMPING EXPERIENCE WITH ELECTRICITY

Getting back to basics when camping and touring is not for everyone. If you are like me, you enjoy having all the creature comforts possible. I like having a few electrical appliances during my holiday whether I am staying at a caravan park or I am staying somewhere a little more remote.

Let’s not make any mistake about it. Electricity is dangerous and care must be taken at all times. Essentially, there are 2 main ways you can power electrical devices around your campsite along with some newer alternatives.

LEISURE BATTERIES

Leisure batteries are a very popular way to power electricity when campers don’t have access to a mains connection. Leisure batteries are much like car batteries. Leisure batteries can be used to power a wide range of 12V devices, including camping lights, portable showers, air compressors, portable cookers and any device that runs on 12 volts.

Most caravans, even folding campers, come with a leisure battery already installed and a means to keep it well charged.

CONNECTING TO THE MAINS

The majority or larger commercial caravan and camping sites around Australia offer a mains supply if you are willing to pay for it. Mains supply provides 240V electricity, which can power ordinary devices and appliances from around your home. Nevertheless, it is important you know if the mains supply is restricted. That means there are fewer amps and you will need to be careful what you use so you don’t trip the system. Trip the system once and you will be unpopular, do it twice and you will be extremely unpopular. Simply ask the management about their power supply and what you can use it before you start turning everything on.

When connecting your caravan or camper to the mains, it is important you connect your unit with your camping extension cord first. If you connected the mains to your camping extension cord first, you would be taking a live current to your unit and that can be very dangerous. Never use anything but an extension cord that is designed to be used outdoors. They have better insulation and special weatherproof plugs. It’s always better to have a cable that is too long over one that is too short.

THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE USING

Whether you are using mains power supply, you are using a leisure battery or you are using a generator, keeping your eye on what you are using is always important. For example, kettles can suck a lot of juice out of any electrical system. Smaller kettles designed for camping are simply a smarter way to go.

RESIDUAL CURRENT DEVICES

RCDs are a safety device wired into the circuit of your caravan and campervan unit. They are also available as standalone devices. These devices are designed to cut off the supply of electricity if electricity leaks to the earth. This can happen when someone touches a damp appliance, especially if they are standing on damp ground.

ALWAYS KEEP IT DRY

Camping tents are often damp, especially in the mornings around the entrance. Electricity and moisture don’t mix. Some tents have a small opening for your power cable so that you don’t have to drag it through the entrance. Purpose-designed outdoor extension cords normally have a hook of some type so they can be fixed in place off the ground. You always want to keep your extension cable and any appliances off the ground, especially when using them inside your tent.

SMALL PORTABLE GENERATORS

Petrol-powered portable generators are an excellent way to bring your own mini-power station to wherever you want to camp. Generators are best used in more remote locations because I am yet to come across a petrol-powered generator that doesn’t make a considerable amount of noise. And because of that, many larger camping sites limit their use to within specific hours of the day.

SOLAR POWER AND ALTERNATIVE POWER DEVICES

Individual solar power devices are fast becoming readily available on the market. Some of the simplest are solar powered portable shower bags. Other devices include torches and lamps. What I love about solar shower bags is the fact that they simply use the heat of the sun to warm your water. More sophisticated solar generators are also available. Portable solar generators can be used to charge batteries and some have batteries built in so they can directly power devices.
 


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John Wilkinson
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John is into everything and anything that has an on or off switch. He's a big fan of the outdoors and using tech wherever he can to make it more fun for his son.