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Subject Topic: Electric hookup in tents and RCDs
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Message posted by Bob61 on 16/11/2017 at 12:20pm
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I suppose I could buy 20 metres of 2.5 cable and fit it to my unit but then I will have all the leccies on here drawing breath through their teeth and insisting I use a qualified electrician

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Message posted by Bob61 on 16/11/2017 at 5:36pm
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In another thread is mention of a site called Concierge Camping at Chichester. It seems to be offering 16 amp or 32 amp electrics. What EHU cable would I need for 32 amps then? Will 2.5mm suffice or will all campers be at risk of blowing themselves up?

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Message posted by saxo1 on 16/11/2017 at 6:43pm
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As i said earlier the regs don't specifically mention tents, you can use a bit of wet string if you so wish but the normal blue plug won't fit.
Caravans are as below:
Table 7.6 - Cross-sectional areas of flexible cables and cords for supplying caravan connectors
Rated current of plug (A)     Cross-sectional area
16A                                   2.5mm
25A                                   4mm
32A                                   6mm
64A                                   16mm
saxo1

Message posted by Bob61 on 16/11/2017 at 9:57pm
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So a caravanner with the normal 2.5mm hook up cable won't be able to use the 32 amp supply on that particular campsite?

So if tents are not mentioned and the EHU unit I have is made specifically for tent campers it would seem there is actually no problem at all. Myself and my gear inside the tent are protected by the MCB and RCD on the unit and the only thing that may not be fully protected, depending on whether I am connected to a 10 amp supply or a 16 amp supply is the cable, most of which is outside the tent.

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Message posted by Bob61 on 16/11/2017 at 10:41pm
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I have just checked the RoSPA website (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) which seems to be saying that 1.5mm cable is suitable for 16 amps here

I have seen other sites that say 1.5mm cable is rated between 14 and 20 amps and other sites that say 1.5mm cables are only rated to 10 amps so who do you believe?

According to RoSPA a vacuum cleaner only needs a 0.75mm wire and yet you plug that into a household supply protected by something like a 32 amp RCD

My theory is that they wouldn't be allowed to sell EHU units with 1.5mm wiring for camping if they weren't suitable for camping although I accept the comments and advice given...very confusing.

Post last edited on 16/11/2017 23:14:09

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Message posted by Bob61 on 17/11/2017 at 10:13am
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Even RoSPA contradicts itself. It states in this link for extensions that 1.5 cable can be used up to 3000 watts which is only 13 amps

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Message posted by saxo1 on 17/11/2017 at 12:03pm
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There are many factors involved in determining the size of cable required for an appliance,one is the amount of time the appliance would normally be expected to operate continuously carrying the maximum current.
The current rating of a cable is the current it can safely carry continuously without exceeding the temperature rating for the insulation.
UK domestic appliances ie a vacuum cleaner, aren't protected by a 32A mcb they are protected by the plug top fuse.
There is nothing in the regs that requires a vendor to ensure that a hookup for camping is required to meet a given standard, the only advice is that it should follow the guidelines given in BS7671 for hookup cables for caravans.
The length of cable on a lot of camping hookups dont meet the required standard of app 25m as laid down in BS7671,this in itself doesn't pose a safety hazard but it could lead to people using extension cables if their cable isn't long enough, which again isn't permitted under the regs for campsite supplies.
I am lead to believe that the CMC club won't permit the use of extensions, others may, but in the event of an accident the site operators could be prosecuted for allowing their use as they hadn't demonstrated a duty of care toward the site users.
The plugs for 16A and 32A are different so t isn't possible to plug a normal 25mm hookup cable into a 32A socket.
I would agree that provided all the safety equipment is functioning correctly and the RCD is trip tested every time it is plugged in the risks to campers is minimal,the whole debate is about someone saying that 1.5mm is all that is require,it may well operate satisfactorily but it isn;t what is recommended and can lead to people not bothering with other safety features.
The regs have to cover all possible scenarios,the risk in caravans is greater than in tents,apart from the damp conditions,as there is little in the way of fixed electrical appliances.the large majority of appliances campers use are portable double insulated.
To put it into perspective the electrical safety on a campsite,provided all the regs are followed and equipment maintained is probably safer than a large percentage of UK domestic dwellings.
The thing to be aware of is that MCBs and Fuses don't trip at their current rating,that is the current that they are rated to carry continually plus a considerable margin of overload for a specific maximum time.
saxo1

Post last edited on 17/11/2017 12:08:35

Message posted by Bob61 on 17/11/2017 at 2:14pm
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Thanks for all that info, Saxo. The only thing I would query, bearing in mind that much of our electrical equipment comes from abroad in particular china, is that although the sellers of hook ups are not required to ensure they meet a certain standard, surely all electrical equipment has to be passed for use in this country for the intended purpose at some stage during it's import? Otherwise somebody's head would be on the block if they were discovered to be dangerous. As I discovered with wiring on fan heaters, it did not conform to British Standards but did conform to EU standards under certain conditions, hence it was passed for use here.

With regards to campsite regulations I have only once been asked about my EHU and that was just during a general conversation about electrics when I was asked if I had a proper unit. I have never been asked what the cable is and I suspect most campsite receptionists wouldn't have a clue. I also know of campsites that actually offer extension leads if the allocated pitch is too far from the pillar.

With regards to the vacuum cleaner scenario, yes it is protected by a fuse in the plug but ultimately it is protected by the trip switch on the consumer unit which is a much higher rating. That is exactly the same as me using a fan heater in the tent with a fuse in the plug but also I have the added protection of the trip switches on the EHU socket set...plus the added protection of the trip switches on the campsite pillar which may well, as pointed out, be a higher rating.

So I don't really see why there was an issue with the earlier comment that a 1.5 mm cable is sufficient. It would seem that it is.

Post last edited on 17/11/2017 14:26:49

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Message posted by saxo1 on 17/11/2017 at 3:13pm
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The thing about CE marking is it valid only for products for which EU specifications have been introduced.
If there is no standard then it may not apply to the total assembly,all the individual component parts may conform but the total assembly may not if there is no EU spec for the whole item.
The manufacturer is responsible for declaring that it meets EU standards and the importer is responsible for ensuring that it does,this may be just checking the documentation,they aren't required to carry out further tests to ensure it does comply.
There have been lots of reports of cable imported from China which have subsequently been tested by BASEC and haven't met the standard.
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Message posted by Bob61 on 17/11/2017 at 5:17pm
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Ok...extremely interesting stuff but I am still confused as to whether the 1.5mm cable on my EHU is going to electrocute me and if I should report Outwell to Trading Standards

I tend to feel I would get a similar response from Trading Standards as I did re the heater wire.

Post last edited on 17/11/2017 17:21:55

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Message posted by saxo1 on 17/11/2017 at 7:35pm
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The bone of contention is the use of 1.5mm cable supplied by a 16A MCB possibly being overloaded, overheating and the insulation being compromised,the suggestion that you could be electrocuted by using it was never suggested,however if the insulation were damaged due to the above and you or a member of the public moved it while connected then there could be a risk of electrocution.
Outwell have not broken any laws so unless trading standards obtained one and tested it and discovered it was unsafe then they wouldn't be interested.

You could use a 4 gang extension lead without an MCB or RCD if the campsite allowed you there is no law to say otherwise.

Changing tack slightly a lot of people,especially tent occupiers, do use extension leads so that they have more sockets available for their children for various items.
I wonder how many of them realise that a lot of UK extension leads can be dangerous for chidren as you can insert the plug upside down so that the earth pin opens the safety shutters leaving access possible to the live connections.
saxo1


Message posted by navver on 17/11/2017 at 7:38pm
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If Outwell sell a hookup lead with 1.5mm2 cable and clearly show it is rated for 10Amps that is fine.

If you choose to plug it into a 16Amp socket protected by a 16Amp MCB that is nothing to do with Outwell.

Cable current carrying capacity can be confusing. It is based on the temperature of the conductors and insulation both in continuous load and in short circuit conditions.

In continuous use it is hugely affected by where it is situated and the conditions it is in. For instance a cable buried in a thermally insulated wall or in a loft under the insulation will get hotter than a cable on the surface of a wall for the same current.

When a short circuit happens, the cable will very rapidly get hotter. The fuse or MCB must disconnect it before the insulation is damaged by exceeding a certain temperature lets say 160degC.

If the cable is lightly loaded it will be at say 30 DegC to start with and can heat up to 160, a rise of 130Deg.
If it starts at 60 it can still only heat up to 160 a rise of 100 Deg.

If a cable is smaller, it will have a greater impedance and this will limit the amount of current flowing in a short circuit. The more current flows the quicker the MCB or fuse will act.

So a small cable starts off at a higher temperature so needs a quicker disconnection time but its higher impedance makes the fuse or MCB act slower.

Message posted by Bob61 on 17/11/2017 at 9:51pm
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Right, I think I am beginning to understand. The problem of course is that many campsites these days use 16 amps and probably just as many use 10 amps. It's a bit like Russian Roulette then.

All in all I think I feel safe in the knowledge that if my equipment develops a fault not only is there a fuse in the plug but the MCB or RCD on the EHU sockets will activate. If I have understood correctly the only issue would be if a fault developed on the cable itself and if the campsite MCB failed to operate quick enough the cable may melt. Fortunately most of it is outside.

I would suggest an issue with the cable is very unlikely if it is placed out of harms way behind the tent although I did once have a mad warden on a ride on mower who got so close to my tent I thought he was about to run over the tips of my guy ropes and I had to warn him that my EHU cable was lying across the grass at the rear of the tent.

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