24/11/2012
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Guide to electric hook ups on the campsite

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The magic of electricity has the power, literally, to transform life on site. At the flick of a switch or two, you can dismiss anxieties about naked flames, carbon monoxide poisoning and, mostly, even fire – if you set up your power properly. That doesn’t mean that you put safety considerations to one side. You still have to be aware of, and tackle, potential problems. Certainly, unless you’re a qualified electrician and really know what you’re doing, then making your own mains hook-up cable is a potential disaster on site.

For a while, I used an old one made up by a friend. It worked but there was always the feeling that we were ‘getting away with it’. Not good. In fact, irresponsible really. Owning, and occasionally using, a ‘proper’ extension cable has been liberating. Freed from anxiety, lights, a tent heater, an induction cooking hob and hair straighteners (not for me) have been used confidently and safely.

So, what does ‘proper’ mean in this context? The key is having safety devices connected professionally. At home, we have fuse boxes with circuit breaking trip switches for safety and we need the same on site with cable for outdoor use linking us to the site supply securely.

Beware! Even small amounts of liquid coming into contact with electrical supply and appliances can result in electrocution or fire.

All tents have condensation accumulating at some point and may leak; proprietary hook-up devices are constructed to cope with the problem of damp but domestic appliances generally are not designed for outdoor use.

Also, it’s easy to trip over leads and topple appliances in the confined space of a tent. Try to keep hook-up devices off the ground or, at least, run around the sides of your tent.

Never leave electrical equipment switched on – or even plugged in – when you leave the tent unoccupied.

As a safety check, test the circuit breakers regularly.

DO use only one appliance per socket. Plug adaptors are a no-no.

DON’T use household extension cables on site. Some of the ‘lash ups’ seen beggar belief.
 
TECH TALK

IP (Ingress/International Protection) ratings are about protecting sockets from water penetration – or little fingers. IP44 is the minimum rating to consider.

Images:

Main image: Busy sites without defined pitches can end up with cables snaking all over the place, making hazards for the unwary.

  1. Simply looping the cable around the supply post can avoid accidentally pulling out the connection.
  2. Electric hook-ups are not only found on busy sites.
  3. Peace of mind in Traynor tents came with purchase of a freestanding, reliable, tested, portable electricity supply source with 3 x 13 amp sockets. The residual current device (RCD), right, protects the connection of power to the supply lead. On the left, is a double miniature circuit breaker for the three sockets.
  4. Covers only offer protection against splashes not immersion in water. A handle is useful.
  5. Tent pitches with electric hook-up are usually clearly marked.
 
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