Mains Hook-up Cable Considerations and your Charger.

With multiple battery banks of up to 440Ah now becoming more common in Motorhomes the Battery Charger is  a significant consumer of the 240v supply current. It is therefore important to maximise every amp you take from the site bollard, and you might be surprised what part the Hook-up cable plays.

We recently purchased a 25metre Caravan mains hook-up that was described as 16amp Caravan/Motorhome cable. The cable is 16amp cable but it has 1.5mm cores, not the 2.5mm (25amp) specified by BS7671 so is not suitable for Motorhomes/Caravans.

If the cable is further poorly assembled with loose or poor connections, the impact this will have (apart from it breaching safety regulations!) is that the voltage/current drop down a 25metre cable will be significant, meaning that 16amps taken from the bollard might only be 14amps in the Motorhome. Conversely that 16amps you have carefully calculated you can draw is actually 18amps at the bollard, and that's why it is tripping out and annoying the Warden.

If the charger is a high power 30Amp output unit (about 6 amps in 240v terms) in full flow, subtract it's 6 amps from the 14amps available to leave just enough power for the Fridge and zero for the space heater, let alone the other 240v items.

If you happen to be at a site with only 8/10amp available, you might find that the charger takes so much that the site bollard trips out when you switch on a 240v 60w lamp!

If you do have a high capacity charger it might be worthwhile turning it off when you require the amps for other things then back on at night.

 

To maximise the current in the Vehicle use the shortest, fattest cable you can. If you can get close enough to a site bollard, then use a 10metre lead.

 

The correct cable assembly should use 16A connectors with 25Amp, 2.5mm cable. The higher resistance in a 16amp, 1.5mm cable will cause significantly higher heat build up, hence the point of the regulations.

British Standard 7671, 2001 for Caravan/Motorhome Mains Hook-up Cable :

"To connect the caravan to the Site socket outlet, a connecting cable is required. This cable must be 3 core 2.5mm², PVC/PVC, flexible cable and 25 metres (+/- 2 metres) in length". 

 

The below Caravan Club document covers the regulations very well :  

We can supply a Voltmeter that plugs into any 13A socket at home or in the Motorhome that will tell you a lot about the 240v Power supply, your electrics and the hook-up cable.

The photo below shows it in use at my house, at one site we stayed at it displayed 206v. 

We recommend these if you use an inverter, you would be surprised how much the voltage varies between models and load. One Motorhome owner was getting issues and the meter showed his Inverter putting out 278v on a light load which dropped to about 258v on high load.

Don't assume your inverter is putting out 240v because it says that on the label. Even more useful if you run a Generator.