Electric hook up in europe

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by solitaire woman, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. solitaire woman

    solitaire woman Read Only Funster

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    Sure this will sound daft to experienced motorhomers,but I'll ask anyway! With regard to electric hook up.
    Am going abroad soon and just realised I havent made any provision for the fact my 3 pin plug wont fit abroad!! Am assuming the normal travel adapter isnt what I need, so what do I need? Also am slightly puzzled by this reverse polarity thing, what is it, how do I check it? Do I need a tester, if so where do I get all these things from?
    Thanks.
     
  2. blackie

    blackie Read Only Funster

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    happy travels

     
  3. andyman

    andyman Read Only Funster

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    Been to France 4 times and the old style Euro sockets are getting less and less. Ona few of the sites that still have the euro style I have been offered the loan of an adaptor.
     
  4. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    Hi Solitaire

    In terms that I can understand - not being an electrician.....

    You are already aware that some European sites use two pin plugs rather than three - the third pin being an earth lead.

    Each English lead contains three wires - a live, a neutral and an earth - all of which must be located in their proper place in order to make the equipment work properly - and that is done by the shape of the plug - it will only fit into a socket in one particular way.

    On a two pin site there is NO earth wire (just a live and a neutral) and that means that it is possible to fit the plug into the socket the 'wrong' way round - hence 'Reverse Polarity' - in theory it could mean that your appliances works backwards.

    Seriously - it actually means that the appliance could still be live even when it is switched off.

    Go to any caravan dealers where they have a spares shop and they will be able to supply a polarity tester and a specially wired cable which fits between your lead and the socket - and corrects the polarity to that which you need.
     
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  5. oldun

    oldun Read Only Funster

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    Most French sites do use a plug with only 2 pins but it does have a hole to accepts the "third" earth pin on the socket.

    So effectively they are still three pin.

    Some older sites have connections with a dodgy earth and this can be lethal.

    The plug-in adaptors that check for an earth do not do the job properly. All they confirm is that a least one minute strand of earth wire is there. This earth wire may fail if asked to carry a significant load.
     
  6. Parcverger

    Parcverger Funster - Campsite Owner

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    There are some sites that use standard "UK caravan site" style plugs, Parc Verger included, but what you should carry for the other sites is a continental adapter so you have a continental-style plug on one end with a UK caravan site style plug on the other. Then you will have no difficulty plugging in your normal lead to this. You can buy them in many caravan dealers, and we can buy them in our local hardware store here in France.

    On reverse polarity, do carry a plug that will check this - it will tell you if there is any potential problem and what it is. As has been said above, reverse polarity can leave your electrical equipment live - not a good idea!

    Best bet - find an experienced english-speaking motorhomer (or go to an english run site) when you get to the continent and ask! Don't be afraid, we all love to help.:BigGrin::BigGrin:

    Bob
     
  7. johnsandywhite

    johnsandywhite Read Only Funster

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    :RollEyes: Myths about reverse Polarity?

    The Microwave will work backwards? WRONG
    The lights will turn off when you turn them on? WRONG
    The TV, Satellite, Fridge etc will not work? WRONG
    The Battery Charger will discharge the batteries? WRONG
    When you go to turn anything on you will get a shock? WRONG

    What reverse polarity can do when it is raining and there IS a BAD earth on the vehicle whereby the Earth becomes Live and you are outside and touch the Motorhome/RV. You MAY get a shock. You most probably may experience a slight tingle on the fingers. IMH&HO. :Wink:
     
  8. oldun

    oldun Read Only Funster

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    I am very worried that this advice is completely misleading.

    I have visited campsites in Europe all (claim to) have an earth.

    The so called two pin plug, especially in France, is actually a three pin plug and has three wires just like any other three pin plug.

    The three pins are arranged differently. two are on the plug and the other (earth pin) is on the socket.

    So when you plug into the socket the live and neutral pins (on the plug) fit into the holes in the socket and the earth pin (on the socket) fits into a hole in the plug - three connections, three pins, no problems.

    If you do come across a site with very old wiring and only two pi connectors then avoid it like the plague.
     
  9. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    Hi DJ

    I am not detracting from anything you say BUT it IS perfectly possible to put a two pin plug into a two pin socket the wrong way round for an English connection - irrespective of what wires are where.

    That was the whole point of the discussion about reverse polarity and how to overcome the problem.
     
  10. JayDee

    JayDee Funster

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    Yep. Did it in Sweden a couple of times. The tester soon put us right though.:thumb:

    The point about the tester not doing a complete job if there's only one stand of the earth (for example) in contact may be true :Sad:, but unless there's a source of electrical knowledge around to carry out more rigorous tests it's really all we've got. And if you leave the tester plugged in while you boil the kettle it'll soon show a fault if loading introduces a fault. :Smile:

    Incidently I carry a reverse polarity correction lead with me (wired it up myself) with the Live and Neutral reversed at the female. Had to use it a couple of times.

    In a nutshell, it doesn't cost a fortune to be safe and you don't need an A level in Electrics to check that you are, just a few basic bits of info that any qualified person can give you.:BigGrin:

    Be safe. Be happy

    John
     
  11. Galway

    Galway Read Only Funster

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    JayDee
    Would it be possible to show us a diagram?
     
  12. JayDee

    JayDee Funster

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    Easy to do a diagram, not so easy to post it - I'm just getting my head around using Linux and I've not yet worked out all the differences. So it may take some time:RollEyes:

    John
     
  13. JayDee

    JayDee Funster

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    Well here it is...

    I'm not very good at this sort of thing, :Sad: but I hope you can make sense of it.

    Had the devil's own job getting the document from Open Office Drawing format into something that would be recognised and would fit - but here it is.:thumb:

    John
     

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  14. N Luyetund

    N Luyetund Deleted User

    That's very clear and understandable John :thumb:
    ... maybe Jim should make it a sticky somewhere as it often comes up...

    Picked up a male and female 16A plug/socket at a show (thanks for the pointer Jim) for only £1.50 each...
     
  15. oldun

    oldun Read Only Funster

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    I spend over two months each year travelling around France inspecting sites for a campsite guide and I have NEVER found a site with a two pin connection and hence no earth. can anyone name a site they have found with just a two pin, no earth connection. if so this site contravenes local and EU laws and should be shut down.

    The standard French plug does have only two pins, one each for the live and neutral. However it does have a female socket to receive the earthing pin fitted to the socket. So though these plus look like a two pin connection they are a three pin connection.

    The problem with reversed polarity is very common in France and on any particular campsite you may find some sockets are OK and others have reversed polarity. This is because the French do not worry about reversed polarity. What you need is a blue plug and blue socket connected with a short cable wired so that live on the plug is connected to neutral on the socket and visa-versa. You can then place this adapter between your motorhome and the normal hook-up lead correcting the reversed polarity.

    In countries such as Germany they use the Schuko plug which again only has two pins for live and neutral but it also has two side terminals for the earth - again giving a three wire connection. If reversed polarity is experienced this plug can be taken out, turned 180 degrees and put back in thus correcting the polarity.

    You should by a polarity checker from shops such as B&Q as they do give some idea of the state of the connection.

    Finally you should never use the standard holiday-type travel adapter that fits onto our 3-pin plug for the following reasons.

    1. They are usually only designed for low amperage
    2. They are not intended for use out doors and are not waterproof
    3. Many do not have an earth connection as they are intended for e4lectric razors, tooth brushes and battery chargers which nearly always only use a two wire connection.
    4. Almost all reverse the polarity
     
  16. oldun

    oldun Read Only Funster

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    The Schuko plug, used in Germany and other countries, has earth connectors on the side and can be plug in with reversed polarity but this is easily remedied by taking it out, rotating 180 degrees and refitting.

    As I stated i was talking about the electrics in France which us a plug that has two pins and one (earth) "hole". This type of plug is often referred, misleadingly, to as two pin but in reality there are three pins, two on the plug and the other on the socket. This type of plug can only be inserted one way. If there is reversed polarity then, either the plug must be rewired or an adapter lead must be used.

    Some travel adapters sold for use in France sometimes have the earth connection missing so that when used a true two pin (no earth) connection will be made. This type of adapter is intended for low amperage use with such things as electric razors These are double insulated and only have two wires.
     
  17. madbluemad

    madbluemad

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    Hi, Nobody has mentioned Spain, were off there in a few weeks, what do I need to look out for.

    Thanks

    Jim:Smile:
     
  18. dazzer

    dazzer Read Only Funster

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    The 1 thing not mentioned on here is that in 99.9% of cases reverse polarity will have no effects at all on your motorhome or stuff inside.

    The only time it MAY become a problem is if there is a fault on a very old electrical installation with no earths.:cry:

    I know a fellow RVer who has an earth spike :Eeek: that they knock into the ground and is connected to the distribution board to be extra safe.

    If anyone has had any equipment failures/problems due to rev pol can they let us know as I have never heard of any problems because of it.:thumb:
     
  19. madbluemad

    madbluemad

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    Thats comforting Dazz, I was getting a bit worried by all of the adverse comments

    Jim :thumb:
     
  20. Phil

    Phil Read Only Funster

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    It's not unusual ( Tom Jones ?? ) to find that the built-in battery charger will not work if live and neutral are reversed.

    Phil.
     
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