Motorhome Essentials

How to tour Europe in a Motorhome – Electricity connections

I got asked a question on Facebook the other day, by the way do you follow our Facebook page it’s a great way to keep up with us

“What electrical leads do I need for europe”

A million dollar question, so here’s what’s in our box !

(and a chance for me to check I’ve got everything in there for our upcoming trip )

Most, if not all motorhomers and caravanners will be familiar with the traditional campsite hook up post offering a blue coloured adaptor. These blue coloured hook up adaptors are fairly standard throughout Europe. These hook up adaptors are often referred to as a “three pin euro adaptor”. They are also known as C.E.E.

We have two site leads with these plugs, a long one and a short one but as is always the case, the long one is always too long and short one is alway a little short.

But occasionally, when travelling overseas, the hook up posts call for a different set of hook up adaptors.

so here goes …..

This UK “three pin socket” will allow connection of your hook up lead to a UK mains supply.

Standard uk 3 pin plug to CEE 16 amp socket - motorhome essentials

Throughout our travels in the UK, the blue coloured CEE is the main type of connection I have had to use.

However, if you need to connect your motorhome or caravan to the mains hook up whilst at home, then you may wish to  purchase one of the hook up Adaptors.

This three pin type allows you to use a traditional three pin socket in the home or garage. I have also had to use this from time to time when staying on a smaller campsite where hook up is not usually on offer but can be arranged though a shed window or such

This standard uk socket adaptor allows you to effectively create an extension lead out of your site lead.

Cee to standard uk socket - motorhome essentials

Many times I have used this adaptor in conjunction with my mains tester, to see if electricity is functioning on aires and camperstops before trailing our leads across only to find that the power is turned off.

The ‘splitter’ is what I would consider to be the height of good manners.

Caravan splitter lead, double plug - motorhome essentials

Often when electricity is provided free on aires and camperstops their may only be a couple of points, which are allocated on a first come first served basis, if I get one of this connection, I like to share and share alike, so tend to connect our splitter, so someone else can also plug in.

Ok you get limited power usage, but hey it’s free and we all like ‘to pay it forwards’

This two pin adaptor is occasionally used overseas.

2 pin to cee plug - motorhome essentials

Some campsites in Europe, from our experience older sites in France and Spain, a few in Romaina, Bulgaria and Greece also use a two pin adaptor.

In these situations, the hook up post looks a lot more like a power socket that you may have seen when staying in hotels overseas.

These are often sold on the campsites that require these connections, but at a premium! I was shocked so see some continental hook up adaptors on sale at 15 euro each! – good job we already have one

One thing to note with these is that you can insert the plug in either direction, and reserve the live and neutral polarity .

but what is reverse polarity in the first place?

When travelling overseas, the electrical system on the hook up post may be wired differently to that in the UK. Consequently, reverse polarity may occur. The easiest way to determine if your electrical supply is affected by reverse polarity is by the use of a “reverse polarity checker”.

W4 mains tester For checking reverse polarity and missing earth - motorhome essentials

To check for reverse polarity, connect your unit to the mains hook up post on site. Next plug the reverse polarity checker into one of the 230 volt mains sockets within the caravan or motorhome. A series of lights on the reverse polarity checker will tell you if you have a problem. Reverse polarity basically occurs when the live and neutral wires are reversed.

The reverse polarity checker is one of the smallest accessories on board. However, as my old granny used to say – “worth it’s weight in gold”.

but what is reverse polarity in the first place?

reverse polarity occurs when the live and neutral wires are in reverse. The best bit of information I found is available here, from the caravan and motorhome club.

But others would argue that it’s not a problem, after all AC current is just that alternating at around 60times a minutes, so the live and neutral are constantly changing.

And yes our van is wired with switch’s that have no on or off position so in theory if something plugged in it’s on and you should go opening it to works on the insides but as I’m not an electrician I like piece of mind, so for a few quid I created this :-

Should you decide to make your own short electrical lead with the reverse connection, you will require an extra pair of CEE sockets a short length of wire and that’s it –

Reverse polarity change over lead - motorhome essentials

Piece of mind for a fiver…..

The tester also highlights the bigger issue of no earth, which I’ve encountered many times.

I grant anyone you can do nothing about any of this, but it’s safer to know.

Given the relative light weight of the items and also the non bulky nature of the hook up adaptors then I would recommend them all as valuable addition to your collection of on board accessories.


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