Getting power safely from a powered campsite

Submitted: Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 16:02
ThreadID: 138614 Views:2037 Replies:8 FollowUps:32
Hi
I am planning a road trip next month and will be staying at Caravan parks where I want to run a 10amp Extension lead (10m long) from the standard 15amp power supply sockets. I plan to buy a portable 10amp power block with RCD protection against leakage so that I can plug in a normal 10amp toaster or 10amp water boil jug to use at my campsite table. We are traveling in a standard tradie van with mattress (ie: no internal wiring for camper van setup)
I know that the 10amp extension lead will work OK plugging into the 15amp power supply socket.
Just wondering if anyone has used this setup before?......and is it safe?


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Reply By: Mikee5 - Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 17:02

Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 17:02
I see it all the time in caravan parks. Just don't use a multi plug power board and don't try to run the jug and toaster at the same time.
AnswerID: 626424

Follow Up By: johnny j - Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 17:10

Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 17:10
Thanks Mikee5
Was also wondering if the 15amp supply might trigger the RCD power block which on some models in Bunnings have 10amp trigger to cut off supply if it leaks or overloads? Was going to check with suppliers of the RCD Units
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Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 17:37

Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 17:37
A 15 amp supply does not push 15 amps through a lead etc. The load is what determines the current flow ie a 2400 watt heater will cause 10 amps to flow through a lead, a 1200 watt item, 5 amps etc. So your 15 amp supply by itself will not cause a 10 amp trigger to operate unless your load is more than 10 amps.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 18:30

Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 18:30
No problem with the 10A lead.
I suspect that your 10A power block is not legal to use outside. Check that.
Safer to restrict yourself to using one appliance at a time, direct into the extension cord.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
AnswerID: 626425

Follow Up By: johnny j - Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 20:06

Friday, Jun 28, 2019 at 20:06
Thanks guys. Yes, most are for indoor use, but I did also see an outdoor RCD power block for sale. (Has waterproof cover over any plugs)
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Monday, Jul 01, 2019 at 09:12

Monday, Jul 01, 2019 at 09:12
(Has waterproof cover over any plugs)

You probably mean 'water resistant' or splash proof. Very unlikely to be waterproof.
You could chuck it in a bucket of water to prove the point :-)
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Follow Up By: johnny j - Monday, Jul 01, 2019 at 09:51

Monday, Jul 01, 2019 at 09:51
Yes I’m sure only water resistant
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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 00:19

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 00:19
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Hi Johnny,

What you wish to do is covered by Australian Standard AS/NZS3001 and these rules are legally enforced in each Australian State.

Note several considerations of these Rules:
1) You are permitted to use a flexible cable to supply "transportable structures" which includes motor vehicles being used for accomodation.
2) This cable is required to be rated at 15A, be of "heavy duty" and not less than 10m long.

I would suggest that you simply plug only one appliance at a time into the extension cable. If you do use a multi-outlet box it is required to be splash resistant (IPX4) and will cost about $100.

The operators of some caravan parks get nervous about connections to their power outlet pillars and accordingly it is best to use an orange-coloured heavy duty extension cable rather than an obvious white domestic cable. Any appliance that is fitted with a 10A plug will not draw more than 10A and can be plugged into the 15A socket of the extension cable.

The power outlet pillars in caravan parks are equipped with RCD earth leakage safety switches but it is acceptable to also use a multi-outlet box that is fitted with an inbuilt RCD. This can be a 10A rated box.








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Allan

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Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 07:27

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 07:27
That’s how my camper works. 15a lead into the side, orange tradies box distributing from there. Works well.
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Follow Up By: Banjo (WA) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 07:39

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 07:39
2) This cable is required to be rated at 15A, be of "heavy duty" and not less than 10m long.

I think that this is a typo and should read 'not MORE then 10 metres'

Paul
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 09:03

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 09:03
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No Paul, the Standard says "10m long". But it is a bit of a "kindergarten clause". See below......
There are also specifications for maximum lengths for particular conductor sizes. But that wasn't of concern here.
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Allan

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Follow Up By: Banjo (WA) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 09:29

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 09:29
Thanks Allan for your prompt reply.

Does this mean that a 5 metre lead is illegal?

I must be not understanding something.

Paul
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 10:26

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 10:26
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Paul,

The Standard does state that "Any supply lead to be used in CARAVAN PARKS should be not less than 10 m long." and a footnote explains that this is "for the benefit of park designers". Probably for positioning of the sites and power bollards. So don't complain to park management that your 5m lead will not reach! lol
A footnote also states that "In OTHER APPLICATIONS" no minimum length is specified." Presumably they mean for connection of Transportable Structures in work camps or caravans at your home etc.

Although the Standard does not express it, the use of (short) leads less than 10m could result in leads being positioned such as to cause hazard to persons. A further clause does state "Any supply lead shall be arranged so that it will not obstruct persons walking in the vicinity of the transportable structure".

So no, "Use of a 5 metre lead" MAY NOT be "illegal", simply not in accordance with the Standard and Regulations in your use or application.
In any case, used within the 'intent' of the Standard is unlikely to cause problem.
You need a Law Degree as well as an Electrical Qualification to apply these Standards! lol

I understand that some travellers have had difficulty with some caravan park managers in relation to electrical connections. Even if the management was without "electrical qualification", they may be within their rights to invoke their "Conditions of Use' in regard to tenant's electrical equipment. But that is a matter for Consumer Law and thus beyond my knowledge.



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Allan

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Follow Up By: kgarn - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 10:28

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 10:28
Hi Allan,

I note your extract from the Standard uses the word "should" in reference to the supply lead length.

This means that the 10m minimum length is not mandatory but only a recommendation.

The following definition is also copied from the Standard.

"The word ‘shall’ introduces a requirement that is to be followed strictly in order to comply with the Standard.
The word ‘should’ introduces a suggestion or recommendation only."

Ken
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 11:01

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 11:01
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You are quite right Ken. I forgot to apply that Definition. Thanks for reminding me.
So a lead less than 10m is permissible, provided that, as I said, its length does not cause issue with the intent of the Standard.

Perhaps it should also be said that these Australian Standards are not "laws" in themselves. The Regulations for electrical installations in Australia are applied by State Governments under their appropriate "Acts" wherein they usually make reference to particular Australian Standards.



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Allan

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Follow Up By: johnny j - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:20

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:20
Thanks Alan B.
So if I stick to just a 15amp extension lead connected to the 15amp power supply pole with a tradie power box with RCD and overload protection (weather proof type) and running only one appliance at a time I should be OK.
Also are the household 10amp power boards with RCD and overload protection the same as any of the tradie type 10amp power blocks??
I have one of these power boards already and was thinking to only use it inside the van out of the weather
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 13:22

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 13:22
Johnny,

The 3001 Standard allows for the use of Portable Power Outlets (AS 3100) as illustrated below which I think is the type you have. Your proposal should be OK.

What is not allowed is the domestic EPODS type (AS 3105) which is the lightweight plug board used domestically for computers etc.




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Allan

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Reply By: Erad - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 08:57

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 08:57
There are actually 2 separate triggers to trip a power supply. The RCD (Residual Current Device) trips on leakage of current (used to be called Earth Leakage). It measures the difference between the current flowing into an appliance and the current returning to the power source. If the difference is greater than a certain amount (I think it is 30 milliamps), then the device assumes there is a fault and it trips the breaker. This is to protect you from electric shock.

The other trip is an overload (eg when you use the toaster and the electric jug at the same time the current exceeds the limit for the device, and it trips. This stops the lead or power board etc from overloading and burning out.

Not all power boards have RCD protection. Plugging a 10 amp lead into a 15 amp socket can cause problems is the load exceeds the capacity of the lead. You may have 12 amps going through the lead which could cause overheating, especially if the lead is coiled up and therefore unable to dissipate the heat. The 15 amp breaker on the power pole will not sense this because the current has not reached the trigger point. Hopefully if you have a power board at the end of the lead, it will trip (if it is fitted with overload protection).
AnswerID: 626434

Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 09:41

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 09:41
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Hi Erad,

What you say is technically correct but the situation should not arise as, in Australia, all power boards are required to have inbuilt overload protection rated at the rating of the plug/socket and supply cable.
That is, if the power board is fitted with 10A sockets and 10A cable, then the inbuilt MCB will be rated at 10A. Similarly for 15A. So it should not be possible to exceed the rated loading even if multiple appliances are in use.

If an extension cable was in use without a power board then only one appliance could be used at a time and Australian regulations limit the consumption of appliances with a standard 10A plug to 10 Amps.

The MCB in the caravan park will be rated at 15 or 16 Amps but plugging a 10A extension cable (although not approved) into that will still be satisfactorily protected because of the reasons above.
Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: RMD - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 10:23

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 10:23
If it isn't a 15 Amp lead from post to your end then it doesn't comply. As mentioned the RCD is not flow current operated, it operates on a mismatch of ins and outs. is, power balance upset. If at a table the end you use must not be in the elements. Just condensation overnight might see you suddenly surprised/shocked when plugging in a device next morning. The lead end inside a vehicle probably safer. Yes, 10 A jug etc will be ok in 15A lead.
AnswerID: 626438

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 11:22

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 11:22
Many of the regulations and views expressed here apply to the connection of a "Transportable building" to external power.
I suggest that the OP in not "connecting a transportable building". His vehicle has no "connection".
He is simply wanting to use power from a 15A power point using a 10A lead. That is quite different.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
AnswerID: 626439

Follow Up By: johnny j - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:11

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:11
Thanks Peter n Margaret
I spoke to a couple of caravan park managers that confirmed it was OK to use a 10amp ext lead connected to the 15amp power pole supply. Not sure if they are aware of any regulations as mentioned by Allan B above in this forum response. I think maybe better to just use a 15amp ext lead in case I get knocked back by any park operators
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:12

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:12
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It is something of a "grey area" Peter but the Standard does apply to the requirements of "...provision of a low voltage supply for transportable structures by a supply lead or detachable connection that can be connected by unskilled persons" and specifies that Transportable Structures include the following: "Vehicles offering accommodation, including caravans, camper vans, motor homes,.... camper trailers....tents for accommodation.
The Standard does not limit its application to structures with installed wiring and a "connection" as you have nominated.

The OP has said that "We are traveling in a standard tradie van with mattress" and "will be staying at Caravan parks". This could well be viewed as a "camper van", especially by the manager of a caravan park.

So there are two considerations... The OP has asked if his proposal is "safe" and there may well be challenges from an authority such as the caravan park management. I would suggest that if the OP follows my references to The Standard then he would be "safe" within the meaning of the Regulations. Furthermore, he would be less likely to have any dispute with the caravan park operators.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:19

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:19
Thanks Allan.
Silly, I know, but it might make a difference if he uses the power inside the vehicle or only outside it?
"The law is sometimes an ass".
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:21

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:21
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Johnny, as a qualified electrical person I am unable to give you advice that is not in accord with the Regulations or Standards even if I considered it "safe" or appropriate to depart from those regulations. To do so could place me in an invidious position with an Authority or with the Law or even the Coroner should an accident occur.

I think that the decision you expressed to Peter is good.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: johnny j - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:29

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 12:29
Thank you to all for your advice. Much appreciated ??
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Follow Up By: Rangiephil - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 14:12

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 14:12
My understanding is that it is illegal to join 2 short 15 amp leads to reach a van or whatever.
https://www.caravansplus.com.au/guides/important-240v-introduction-to-rvs-a-2.html
A quote
It is now illegal to join two cables to your RV to give greater length as this may jeopardise the operation of your RCD, the life saving device that will trip if YOU become the earth.
I have a 15 metre lead as I have been to caravan parks with power poles only every 2-4 sites . Weipa is one .
However , tongue in cheek, just ask the manager if you need a longer lead as they usually have plenty from "drive aways".
Regards Philip A


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Follow Up By: johnny j - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 15:14

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 15:14
Thanks Rangiephil.
Was planning 15 or 20m long lead (15amp)
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 15:15

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 15:15
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Yes Philip, AS/NZS 3001 does require that the supply lead be in one unbroken length. But it is NOT because it "may jeopardise the operation of your RCD".
It would have no effect on the proper operation of an RCD. The linked article is incorrect on that matter.

The reason for the prohibition is not spelled out in the Standard but is likely to be to avoid having an interconnecting plug/socket exposed to the elements along the cable.

The above does not preclude connecting the supply (extension) cable to the short cable attached to a Portable Power Outlet as we have been discussing as this device is an "appliance" and does not constitute an 'extension cable'. The interconnection point is within the structure, not halfway along the supply cable in an exposed location.



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Allan

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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 14:03

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 14:03
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Well there you go.... 800 Views and 24 responses in 20 hours!
There is no doubt that "electricity" drives this forum.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: RMD - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 15:59

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 15:59
G'day Allan
Yes, I was shocked to see it too.
Now for a good, 12v to 240AC inverter question!
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Follow Up By: Member - nickb "boab" - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 19:44

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 19:44
ExplorOZ ...We are Australia's most popular publisher of maps, apps, and online travel information for 4WD and caravan tourists in Australia ......
And now including all your electrical enquiries LOL :-))))
sorry couldn't stop myself ...
Cheers Nick b
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Wish the missus was as dirty as the tailgate

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Reply By: qldcamper - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 18:46

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 18:46
Just to ad to your question,

Do caravan parks require leads used on their sites be tagged?
AnswerID: 626450

Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 19:24

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 19:24
I’ve been in a few parks over the last couple of weeks. No mention has been made of tags. Mine isn’t.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 19:44

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 19:44
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Leads used by campers in caravan parks are not required to be Test&Tagged.
Leads and appliances used by the park operators must be Test&Tagged as they are operating as a commercial business.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 20:00

Saturday, Jun 29, 2019 at 20:00
But, it is not a bad idea to get them tested in any case!

The cost might put some off, but the tag will be valid for a few years (at least) and the cost is minimal compared with the hassle of having to go find another lead.

FWIW, the "test & tag" course is of value and well worth the investment in time and money.
Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.

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Follow Up By: Genny - Sunday, Jun 30, 2019 at 12:06

Sunday, Jun 30, 2019 at 12:06
Off topic, I know.

A carpenter mate of mine had an extension lead that didn't work. The electrician was due to come around while they were on lunch to test and tag their gear.
When they got back, the non-functional lead was still non-functional, but freshly tagged.
My mate confronted the electrician about it, who shrugged and said "I don't test that it works, I just test for an earth leakage."
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Jun 30, 2019 at 12:45

Sunday, Jun 30, 2019 at 12:45
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Ah Genny, the world is full of Extreme Specialists these days!
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Sunday, Jun 30, 2019 at 13:36

Sunday, Jun 30, 2019 at 13:36
I have a test and tag license. God only knows how. It was a while ago.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2019 at 21:07

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2019 at 21:07
I have a rental property and put a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen.

One time the council health department came around for an inspection and said that they had to be tagged and tested every year. He said he would come back to check them a couple of weeks later which he did.

It cost me $25 each to get the $20 extinguisher and the $5 blanket tested. When he came back I complained that it was ridiculous. The council inspector suggested that I just removed them, as they were not mandatory. But If I supplied them, Tag and Testing IS necessary. Next inspection time I gave up and just removed them.

Lucky the system is working to make things safer for everyone huh?



Tony
200 with 2012 Tvan Canning.
Happiness >= your perception of the events in your life minus your expectation of how life should be.

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