Electric hook up in europe (1 Viewer)

solitaire woman

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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?
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blackie

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happy travels

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?
hi solitaire,you can obtain the adaptor that fit into your normal 3 pin connection,it is not expensive.you can get it in argos/any camping store.i bought mine in camp site in france.it is the same as the one you use for plugging into house,only it has 2 pins.most sites abroad will lend you one any way.i never have had any need for mains tester. but can also obtained. regards blackie
 
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Sep 23, 2007
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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.

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moandick

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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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oldun

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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.

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.
 
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Parcverger

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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.::bigsmile:::bigsmile:

Bob

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johnsandywhite

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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. :winky:
 
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oldun

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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.

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.
 
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moandick

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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.

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JayDee

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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.

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.::bigsmile:

Be safe. Be happy

John
 
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JayDee

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JayDee
Would it be possible to show us a diagram?

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

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JayDee

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Well here it is...

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

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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N Luyetund

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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...
 
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oldun

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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.

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

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oldun

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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.

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.
 
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madbluemad

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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

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

Thanks

Jim:Smile:
 
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dazzer

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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:

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madbluemad

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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:

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

Jim :thumb:
 
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Phil

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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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Bulletguy

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Recently been on a few sites through Germany and surprised to find that some had the standard 3 pin blue plug mains sockets on site, so no need even for the adapter...just plug in and switch on!

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oldun

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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.

Most of the so-called reversible two pin plugs are in fact plugs with two pins and a third earthing strip down the side. Many people confuse these plugs with a two wire plug - they are definitely three wire, with live, neutral and earth.

These can easily be fitted so that the polarity is reversed and they can also be easily reversed to correct the polarity. hence the need to carry with you a polarity checking plug.

Also bear in mind that many of the cheap converters allowing our 13 amp plugs to fit continental and USA sockets actually reverse the polarity so using one in conjunction with a UK 13amp plug will give misleading results. Also some of these converters do not have an earth connection as they are primarily designed bed to be used with shavers (etc) which are normally double insulated devices with only two wires.

If anyone has come across a site with a true two wire connection (no earth) then we should be informed so that we can all keep away from this horrendously dangerous situation. This type of site should not exist as they contravene EU legislation.
 
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pappajohn

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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.

yep, totally agree.

arrived on spanish site, site maintainance pluged us in (posts are locked for security), wrong polarity......told him and went to get my reversed lead, too late...he'd already turned the plug round and fixed it.:thumb:
 
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pappajohn

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Recently been on a few sites through Germany and surprised to find that some had the standard 3 pin blue plug mains sockets on site, so no need even for the adapter...just plug in and switch on!

seems to be happening on more and more euro sites (after all it is a "euro plug")

i think they may be doing this at routine maintainance intervals.
probably some EU directive or other.:thumb::thumb:

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I've found that about half of the French sites I've used have the standard blue plug, though occassionally the polarity may be reversed on this. One site near the alps a few years ago had mains where the polarity reversed when the campsite light bollards came on at night. Reversed polarity only becomes a problem if you have a faulty appliance with only a single pole switch as then the casing can become 'live' even when switched off:Eeek:
The reason French sites are laid back about reversed polarity is that their appliances are always fitted with double pole switches or are double insulated. As many of our vans and appliances are of continental origin they will have double pole switches. Any leakage to earth will in any event trigger the ELCB (RCD) on the van or the site bollard so its not really something to get too worried about. Some small French and Dutch sites have horrendous mains wiring which is probably a greater hazard, whether reversed or not, and you don't even need to plug into it:shout:.
 
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johnsandywhite

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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:

:thumb: My OWN thoughts and feelings exactly. Can ANYONE tell us they had problems due to REVERSE POLARITY? PLEASE? PRETTY PLEASE? :shout:
 
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vanessa

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There are some 2-pin plugs that are genuinely 2-pin plugs (shavers for example, or French double-insulated things like hair-dryers - which have 2 "bypass" holes in the plug that clearly "go nowhere"), and it really makes no difference which way round they're plugged in.

ALL "adaptor plugs" will reverse polarity (just look at what way up the plug is when you plug it in"), with no ill effects on either the appliance or the user.

As had been said, the French socket is a 2-hole, 1-pin socket, so the adaptor plug is 2-pin, one-hole to correspond.

On the other hand ...

Reverse polarity IS a problem when wiring-in lights in your house, and this can cause the switch to become live. However, wiring wrongly would also cause the switch to "not work properly", so is likely to be rectified anyway!

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