Electricity and gas overseas

When touring abroad, it’s important to be aware of the differences when using electricity and gas.

Electricity

Adaptors

Approximately 80% of campsites in Europe will have the same three pin CEE17 hook-up that we have here in the UK. If the campsite has two pin hook-ups they are normally able to lend or hire an adaptor, however, they will only have a limited number available.

We would recommend purchasing a continental two pin adaptor before you travel. Most caravan/motorhome accessory suppliers will stock adaptors.

Amps

You will find that European campsites have lower amps that you find in the UK. Caravan Club sites in the UK have an average of 16 amp electricity, the majority of campsites that we work with overseas have three to 10 amp.

If you are staying on a site that has 6 amp hook-ups you would not be able to use all three electrical items at the same time.

Reversed polarity

Reversed polarity can be found on nearly all campsites outside of Ireland and the UK.

What is reversed polarity?

This occurs when electricians on European sites swap the live and neutral wiring around in the bollard where you hook up. Instead of the electricity entering your caravan down the live wiring it enters down the neutral wiring instead.

Does this mean my appliances won’t work?

No, reversed polarity will not stop your appliances from working or damage them, but it does mean that if you switch off your lights, kettle, iron or any appliance in your caravan the wiring behind the socket will still be live.

What can I do about it?

You can buy a polarity tester from most caravan/motorhome accessory shops for under £10.00. You plug the tester into any socket in your caravan once you have hooked up, and it will tell you if you have reversed polarity, if the test is positive there are a couple of options:

  • Try another socket (you could find a hook-up post that has four sockets and only one or two have reversed polarity).
  • Buy a spare connector before leaving home, switch the live and neutral wires around, and mark it clearly as "reversed".
  • You can switch the live and neutral wires around when you arrive on site (very easy to do) just remember to swap them back before you return to the UK.
  • In some cases you can turn the plug the other way up (if you are using a two pin adaptor) and this will sometimes reverse the polarity back to normal.

A lot of caravanners are happy to use their electrical equipment when reversed polarity is present without any concerns, however, you should take note of the following:

  • If you want to replace a light bulb, disconnect from the main bollard beforehand, as even though you have turned the light switch off, the wiring behind the light fitting will still be live.
  • If you switch off electrical sockets the wiring behind the socket will still be live, if you want to do any work on your electrics disconnect from the main bollard first.

Gas

It is not possible to exchange or re-fill Calor gas bottles outside of the UK, so if you are not able to take enough gas for your trip you can either hire or purchase gas locally.

Gas bottles that you hire or purchase overseas will not be exchangeable when you return to the UK.

Campingaz is available and exchangeable in nearly all European Countries (including the UK), but the largest bottle available is only 2.8kg. You can find Campingaz stockists at www.campingaz.com.

We advise all our members to carry a Campingaz adaptor/regulator because if you do run out of gas, you should be able to find a Campingaz supplier where ever you are in Europe.

For help and advice regarding adaptors and regulators please contact www.gaslow.co.uk  or call on 01509 842 365.