Supplying Power to Your Caravan

You have many different options when it comes to how you supply power to your caravan, and understanding the electrical systems in your caravan is not always easy.

A few decades ago, nearly all the caravans which were on the roads in Australia had very simple electrical systems: 230V mains supply for a small amount of powerpoints and a simple lighting system. These lights usually had a 12V globe and if you were camping off the beaten track, they were often powered by a by a ‘hot’ wire connected to the tow vehicle’s 12V battery.

Times have definitely changed!

Today, a standard caravan has at least one 12V battery, a mains 12V charger, 12V-only lighting, and a 12V water pump. Many caravans also use solar panels, a 12V/230V inverter, a 12V compressor fridge, a DC-DC charger and 12V/5V USB charger points.

Mains Supply

In Australia it is still the ‘norm’ to refer to mains power voltage in terms of 240V, but since 2000 it has been legally defined as 230V (+10%, -6%), bringing this into line with many European countries.

Generally speaking, most caravans come with a two voltage systems: a 230V mains supply and a 12V battery supply. While it is possible to only have a 12V system, also having 230V is definitely worthwhile for running your bigger appliances such as air-conditioners, microwaves and battery chargers.

Cables

For mains power, all caravans should have a 15A-rated cable, which will have a larger earth pin than what you’ll find on a standard 10A household extension lead.

While it is not a legal requirement in Australia to have power leads ‘tagged and tested’, it is a good safety measure to have them checked once a year. A damaged power lead can be lethal, so even a thorough visual inspection is simple to do and something you should add to your preparation checklist before heading out on the roads. The things to look out for are nicks and cuts or abrasions in the insulation. If you have any concerns, don’t take any chances – replace the lead or have it professionally checked.

Generators

Generators can be a reliable source of 230V mains power and are generally available for caravan use in the ranges of 1kVA to 2.4kVA, as generators of these outputs are quite portable.

When choosing a generator for your caravan, the best choice is an inverter generator, which produces a sine wave that matches mains power and is therefore suitable for electronically sensitive devices.

Keep in mind, though, that there are a number of places where generator use is restricted or banned altogether, so do your research before leaving home if you are considering taking a generator with you.

Solar Power Unit

When you are not staying at a powered campsite, the best way to power your caravan and charge your battery is to utilise a solar power unit, such as the Solar Mat. You can view the Solar Mat we recommend here or you can contact Euro Caravans if you are considering using an alternative solar product.

 

If you have any questions about the power supply to your caravan, check out our FAQs or contact us here.

2 replies
  1. rex mc intyre
    rex mc intyre says:

    my euro hobby has 230 and battery power, however when not connected to 230 the interior lights,fridge light, WC and water points do not work
    these items are listed as 12 volt fittings in the wiring diagram so there must be some form of power supply to make them work when plugged in to the mains supply. is it possible to wire up to free camp (no mains power)and use the lights, water and WC powered from the battery?

    Reply
    • Euro Caravans
      Euro Caravans says:

      Hi Rex,

      The interior lights, fridge light, WC and water points should work off the 12 volt battery.

      So if they are not working, then there is an issue with the 12 volt power supply. The source of that is the battery, and it should be checked to see if it is charged. If the battery falls below 10.8 volts it will not be able to be recharged and will need to be replaced.

      Once the battery power supply is fixed, yes – it is possible to free-camp and use the lights, water and WC powered from the battery.

      Reply

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