Electrical Sockets and Circuits.

Apart from the mains sockets, all the habitation electrics in our vans have been on the 12v circuits. Both vans have had an isolator switch to turn the 12v habitation circuits off completely. In the Autoquest it was near the habitation door and could be caught with a shopping bag (or similar). So, if the 12v circuits don't work check that switch first. In the Autoquest the habitation 12v circuits were also isolated when the engine was running (not so in the Burstner).

The Autoquest had a single 12v socket which was of the two pin variety where the pins are of different sizes to avoid polarity mix-ups. Of course, most 12v appliances in the UK come with a cigar lighter plug (or, increasingly, require power through a USB lead). It is possible to buy an adapter lead with a 2 pin plug at one end and a cigar socket at the other but we sometimes had a requirement to power more than one appliance (TV and satellite box for instance). I took the cigar plug off a multi-socket adapter and replaced it with a 2 pin plug, remembering that the positive on a cigar socket is the end terminal and the negative is the side clips. Lidl and Aldi sometimes have well-built multi-socket adapters (some with USB sockets as well) as part of their specials and they are even available at pound shops these days (in addition to other outlets). As with any electrical circuit the trick is not to overload its capacity.

The Burstner has a number of 12v sockets but, being German, these are of the Hella or Euro plug pattern rather than cigar lighter ones (not a bad thing at all because they are a more secure fitting). Again, adapters are available but I bought some Euro plugs (on eBay) and changed the originals on multi-socket adapters as I had with the 2 pin plug.

The Autoquest had a single mains socket at the kitchen end (which we used for a kettle when on hook-up) and a single one in the dinette area. To power both TV and satellite box we used a multi-socket bar, again being careful not to overload capacity. Avoiding overload is also an important consideration when using several sockets together. Plug in too much and either the internal circuit breaker will trip or the one on the site supply bollard will go (and probably have to be reset by the warden, something definitely to be avoided during off-duty hours). It's worth remembering that site supplies are usually no more than 16 amps and often enough, on smaller sites, as low as 6 amps.

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Last updated: 26 May 2016