Precautions when plugging in to mains electricity

Discussion in 'Motorhome Help for the Beginner' started by popotla, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. popotla

    popotla Funster

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    I feel a bit dumb about this but here goes ................

    For many years we (wife and I) travelled in our Land Rover Defender but now have our first motorhome. We have never used electrical plug-in for on-site electricity and although we have one of these

    https://kalledaskabel.de/CEE-Verlaengerung-KALLE-Blue-SIGNAL-25mm-Winkel-25-Meter

    don't know something key - super-important, I believe - about plugging it in. It's necessary, isn't it, in order to protect the vehicle electrical system, to first switch something in the vehicle OFF before plugging into the mains?

    What are the precautions to be aware of? We expect to be using sites in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Scandinavia.
     
  2. DBK

    DBK Funster

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    I would always turn off the heating if we had it on the electric setting before uncoupling the EHU. Ditto the fridge. This would prevent any arcing at the pins which over time will degrade them. But otherwise I wouldn't bother on the initial connection. The mains charger will connect automatically whatever you do, or at least it does on ours.

    The only thing I can think of you might be referring to is the vehicle mounted RCD but I would never turn that off before connecting the EHU and I've never seen this recommended. :)
     
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  3. RogerThat

    RogerThat Funster Life Member

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    I've never switched power off on any of my vans.

    My only safety tip would be to plug the van end in first, then connect the mains end to the bollard.

    I often see people connecting to the bollard first, then unwinding the now-live mains cable out towards their van, by hand.

    If that cable has a nick in it from their last trip, it may have got snagged on a fence, a field mouse may have taken a fancy to it, anything really - but they may find out their cable is damaged the hard way.... :(
     
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  4. Nasher

    Nasher Funster

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    Yep, just plug it in - van first then bollard
     
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  5. gus-lopez

    gus-lopez Funster

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    But it does give them an instant health & heart strength check for free(y)
     
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  6. Solwaybuggier

    Solwaybuggier Funster

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    The Caravan & Motorhome Club do produce an advice leaflet -https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/uk-holidays/useful-information/hooking-up-to-the-mains/ - which appears to advise this. But to be honest it feels like overkill and we’ve never done it.
     
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  7. Jaws

    Jaws Funster Life Member

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    To some extent it depends on the motorhome you have.
    We have an Autotrail with a Sargent system fitted.
    In the owners manual it does say the Sargent unit must be switched off before using hook up.By switching it off, it turns the whole 240v system off, so no worries about checking the heating etc.
    Knowing how flaky the Sargent box's can be I have always followed the instructions
    Other vans will have a different procedure, but basically try to make sure things are off before plugging in
     
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  8. TheBig1

    TheBig1 Funster Life Member

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    ALWAYS check your lead before use. Plug into the van first and always fully unwind the cable. Then plug into the bollard and remember some bollards require you put the plug in and turn it to switch on the electricity
     
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  9. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    And beware of reversed polarity.... Live and neutral wired the wrong way round.

    Harmless, but always runs to page after page of pointless forum posts to keep the masses entertained.
    Almost as entertaining and pointless as Gassing threads
     
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  10. daveandsan

    daveandsan Funster

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    Are you fishing @pappajohn :reel:
     
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  11. two

    two Funster

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    You are right to be cautious, especially with mains electricity. Heed the advice given above, but it may not be that critical. There will be many who are ignorant of such advice but there seems to be little evidence of there being many accidents as a result.
     
  12. popotla

    popotla Funster

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    (Jaws) To some extent it depends on the motorhome you have.

    Our motorhome is a Burow Oman, as shown in the photo below. It's a new vehicle but there is no owners' handbook. I don't know why.

    We have an 80 Ah AGM starter batter, two Lithium-Ion 100 Ah on-board batteries and 2 x 110 W solar. These are linked together via a Votronic Power Control unit.

    The Caravan and Motorhome Club guidelines recommend that the Isolating Switch is at "OFF"; it was this that I was getting at in my original post. "Isolating Switch"? I don't know that there is one in the Oman. In our Land Rover there were two isolating switches in the circuitry, manual ones (twist one way or twist the other).

    (pappajohn) beware of reversed polarity.... Live and neutral wired the wrong way round ...... [but it's] harmless.

    According to https://caravanchronicles.com/guides/understanding-reverse-polarity/

    ...... 99% of the time, this (RP) is not a problem…. until that is, someone decides to put their fingers into the toaster for what ever reason…. they can touch a live element. So the toaster doesn’t even need to have a fault with it. It can still be potentially dangerous.

    The same site also says (their emphasis):

    If it (a socket tester) indicates anything that is not “normal”, switch off your van’s master switch and unplug from the bollard.
     

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  13. rod_vw

    rod_vw Funster

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    I always consider it as important if not more so to check the full length of the cable for damage when I disconnect it. To do this I always run the cable through a wipe in the middle of my hand thus detecting any cuts, snags etc. and have it clean for stowing.

    I'm reminded of the morning that I found a squirrel 'nibble' in a cable, not easily noticeable but potentially dangerous!

    As for isolating the interior, I never do but there again I only have very simple consumers on board.
     
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  14. movan

    movan Funster Life Member

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    And vice versa when leaving.
     
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  15. SpeedyDux

    SpeedyDux Funster

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    If your MH is an import that still has 230v 2 pin continental sockets inside, my lazy solution for reverse polarity was to turn the 2 pin to UK 3 pin adapter upside down so that the UK 230v polarity became the right way round. Having said that, there might still be a risk due to a missing earth connection but I'm not sure.

    I also made up a short length of EHU cable with a reverse wired blue socket that could be inserted between the long EHU cable and the bollard, to correct reverse polarity. That DIY fix was based on an article in a MH magazine a while back.
     
  16. buttons

    buttons Funster

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    Make sure the cable is unrolled completely...:coffee:
     
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  17. autorouter

    autorouter Funster

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    No need to take any precautions, just plug in. I always plug into the EHU post first, then unwind the cable so that the excess is under the MH. Not recommended according to some, but I can't see the problem.

    There is an RCD in the EHU post that will trip to prevent electric shock in the very unlikely event of a problem. For nearly all problems it will trip as soon as you plug it in.

    On some of the aires and more remote camp sites in southern Europe I wouldn't be quite so cavalier, having seen their more creative approach to electrical installation. Especially if it's raining and everything is wet. Best to plug in the MH end first, then plug in the EHU post.

    If you have a fan heater, make sure that's off, or turned in a safe direction, as it could have moved while travelling. And make sure it has an automatic cutoff if it falls over. Other than that, I don't bother switching anything off.
     
  18. Landy Andy

    Landy Andy Funster

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    I make sure my boiler is off when I plug in, or unplug, and when unplugging, I turn the boiler off and give it a few minutes to settle before pulling the plug out of the van.

    The point of connecting to the van then going to ehu point is that you at not handling a live cable, that could potentially be damaged.
     
  19. Khizzie

    Khizzie Funster

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    The amount of seasoned caravanners and motorhomers that totally disregard this is amazing. I was on a site at Devizes recently and every caravan that pulled in on my side plugged onto the mains first and also 2motorhomes opposite me did the same And these were not newbies
     
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  20. autorouter

    autorouter Funster

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    If it's wired to comply with the regulations, there will be a Residual Current Device (RCD) controlling all the mains input, near where it comes into the MH. An RCD is an automatic trip switch with a 'test button', and you're supposed to test it every few months to check it's still working. Therefore it should have been positioned where you can access it easily. You need to find this switch, because if it trips unexpectedly as they occasionally do, you will need to know how to reset it.
     

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