Electric Hook-Up for Caravans


At the end of a day’s surfing, hiking or simply exploring, it’s natural that your first instinct might be to unwind in your caravan with a chapter of your favourite book or your favourite TV series. However, without electricity in your caravan, reading lamps, televisions and other electronic devices are mostly off limits. While a caravan’s leisure battery can run basic 12v appliances, connecting your caravan to an electric hook-up means that you'll be able to use more electric appliances at the same time, as well as those that have a higher voltage.

Knowing how to use an electric hook-up in a caravan for the first time might seem like a daunting prospect. That’s why we’ve created the following complete guide to electric hook-ups for caravans, including what electric cables to use, how to connect your caravan to mains electricity and activating your electricity, as well as what to do if your electricity overloads.

Caravan pitches with an electric hook-up point

What electric cables do you need for caravan hook up?

Connecting your caravan to an electric hook-up isn’t as simple as using any old cable. However, it doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need is one 25-metre campsite mains hook-up cable (also called an extension lead). They can be purchased from caravan dealers, major retailers, electronic shops and camping or outdoors shops.

How do you identify this cable? It is typically orange in colour so that it will show up well even in the dark and prevent passersby from tripping. One end of the cable, the male end, will have a three-pin connector, which is used to connect your caravan to the electric hook-up point. The other end, the female end, connects to your caravan’s outlet. 

An electric hook-up cable should be rated up to IP44, an international standard that means the cable is effective against condensation, spray, and other forms of moisture. In the UK, an electric hook-up cable should also be compliant with BS EN 60309-2.

What devices can I use with an electric hook-up?

The electronic appliances that are safe to use with an electric hook-up connection will vary depending upon your caravan site’s electric hook-up. It all comes down to how many amps your caravan site supplies. 

For example, if your caravan site supplies 10 amps, you cannot use appliances that use a total of more 10 amps at the same time. How can you tell how many amps your devices use? A voltage is usually listed somewhere on the device and its handbook: as a guide, an appliance that uses 1000W will use around 4.3 amps – this should help you to work out how many devices you can use at any time.

Connecting to electricity

Prepare to stay on a touring caravan pitch with electric hook-up by using the following steps to connect your caravan to the mains electricity safely and swiftly.

1. Turn off all electric appliances and plug switches.

As a safety precaution, you should start by turning off all the electric appliances and plug switches in your caravan. 

2. Turn off the switches in the mains consumer unit, including the caravan isolator switch.

Turn off all the switches in the mains consumer unit, which is usually located somewhere between the battery and the mover control circuit. The caravan isolator switch is the most important switch to turn off here, so double check that it’s off. If you can’t identify it easily, consult your caravan’s handbook to make sure that you have found the correct switch and turned it off.

3. Unwind the electric hook-up cable.

While it might seem obvious, unwinding the hook-up connecting cable is an important step to take. That’s because passing a current through a cable that’s still coiled up could cause the whole cable to overheat and catch fire. 

4. Check the cable for any damage.

While you're uncoiling the cable, examine it to make sure that it is free from any damage and in good working order.

5. Connect the female end of the electric hook-up cable to the caravan mains inlet.

Take the electric hook-up cable and connect it to your caravan using the mains inlet located on the outside of the caravan. To do this, you need to insert the female end of the cable (also called the supply plug) into the inlet.

6. Connect the male end of the cable to the outlet socket on the electric hook-up point.

Making sure that there are no loops that could trip a passerby, take the other (male) end of the hook-up cable and insert it into the socket located on the caravan site’s electric hook-up point. When you do this, you may need to turn the plug clockwise until it locks into place.

7. Tuck any excess cable safely under your caravan.

To prevent anyone from tripping over the cable, including yourself, any excess cable should be safely tucked out of harm’s way underneath your caravan. Avoid leaving any small or tight loops in the cable, as these can overheat and start a fire. 

8. Switch on the caravan isolator switch and all other switches in the mains consumer unit.

At this point, you need to return to all the switches you turned off earlier and turn them back on. This includes the caravan isolator switch and all of the other switches in your mains consumer unit.

9. Perform a safety check on the mains consumer panel.

Your caravan should have a test button in the mains consumer panel. Use this to perform a safety check. When you press the button, the master switch should immediately trip. Then, you’re free to turn all the switches back on again.

10. Use a polarity (mains) tester to identify dangerous cases of incorrect wiring.

The final step before you’re free to use your electric hook-up connection is to use a polarity tester, also called a mains tester. These can be ordered online, and they’re important for catching any cases of reversed polarity. 

Although reversed polarity is unusual, it can happen when the connection has been wired incorrectly (in other words, the neutral and live cables have been switched into the wrong place). This is a safety hazard.

To rule out reversed polarity, insert the polarity tester into any 13-amp plug socket inside your caravan and take a reading. There will be instructions on how to read the result on your polarity tester. It should be negative before you use your connection. Be careful not to leave the polarity tester in the plug sockets after use, as it is a safety hazard if left unattended.

Overloading your electric supply

You’ll know that your mains system has overloaded if your electricity suddenly cuts out. That means that your circuit breaker has kicked in as a result of a surge in electricity. If this happens, all you need to do is contact your caravan site’s team, who will be able to restore the connection. 

With the electric hook-up connection sorted, your touring caravan holiday should be off to a great start – just make sure that you check out everything you need to know about caravan toilets and caravan waste water too. 

Book a caravan pitch with electric hook-up


What appliances can I use with electric hook up?

Appliances that are safe to use with electric hook-up vary depending upon the amps that your caravan site supplies. For example, if your caravan site supplies 10 amps, you cannot use appliances that use a total over 10 amps at the same time. Electric appliances will have voltage on the back of the device: as a guide, an appliance that uses 1000W will use around 4.3 amps.

Do you need electric hook up for caravan?

While it’s possible to stay in a caravan without an electric hook-up and run basic, essential 12-amp electrical devices using the leisure battery, it is more convenient and comfortable to stay on a pitch with electric hook-up.

How do you get electricity in a caravan?

To get electricity in a caravan, you will need to book a pitch with electric hook-up and connect your caravan to the mains electricity using an electric hook-up cable.