In partnership with Ampfibian.
At first glance, the plug on a caravan lead might look like any other plug you find at home. But there’s a small difference, and a big reason why it’s there.
The difference is the earth pin – that’s the one at the bottom of the plug. On a caravan lead, it’s much bigger than the normal extension cord you’d have at home.
It’s not bigger because your caravan needs more ‘earthing’, it’s there to physically stop you from plugging it into a home socket.
Why are they different?
The power points in your home are designed to supply 10 amps of electricity. All home appliances use less than that and power boards have built-in overload protection, so everything is fine. If an appliance develops a fault, the circuit breaker trips and shuts off the power.
Your caravan or motorhome is designed to use more power (up to 15 amps) so you can run all your appliances (toaster, kettle, air conditioner, hairdryer, etc.) without tripping the circuit breaker. That’s why caravan power leads are rated at the higher 15-amp current, and hence why caravan parks supply 15 amps.
If you could plug your caravan into a household socket, it could draw in more current than the 10-amp power point is designed to supply, heating it up until it melts and catches fire.
What about the circuit breaker (fuse) that protects the power point? Here is the rub: that fuse protects multiple power points, so it’s rated at 16 amps or 20 amps, higher than any individual power point!
It’s your van’s ability to draw more than 10 amps but less than 16 amps or 20 amps through a single power point that causes the power point to overheat.
How do you plug your caravan in at home?
You’ve got two legal options. One option is to get an electrician to install a dedicated 15-amp power outlet at your house that has a single, 15-amp outlet and is protected by its own 15-amp fuse – just like an electric hot water system or electric stove. There’s obviously a decent cost associated with that, and you won’t be able to take it with you if you ever want to plug in at your mate’s house, or anywhere else you might want to charge up.
The other legal option is to get an Ampfibian adaptor. These adaptors act like a limiting switch, keeping the maximum amount of power running through it to 10 amps and simply flicking off if an overload occurs. They also feature an integrated residual current device (RCD), which protects you from electrocution due to faulty appliances and dodgy wiring.
Plus, it’s portable, so you can take it on the road to allow you to connect wherever 15-amp power isn’t available.
If you want to charge up safely and legally, get an Ampfibian adaptor. To find out more, check out www.ampfibian.com.au.