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Cc Practical Caravanning Course


mack100
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I completed the course this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. At the Q&A session at the end the question of reversed polarity on Continental sites came up. One of the instructors said how dangerous it was and how easy it was, for example, to "touch your kettle and get a nasty shock".

He then advised constructing a connector suitably adapted for this and testing for reversed polarity when arriving at the site.

I offered the view that I personally wouldn't want to build my own cable connection when they can be bought commercially.

The problem came when I suggested that it didn't really matter unless you took your electrical appliance apart while plugged in to a turned off socket and poked around inside.

I got a look from the instructor which seemed to suggest that if I wanted my certificate I should shut up and as he seemed a nice guy I didn't venture any further.

However, there was a general buzz of anxiety around the room. I know that the CC does advise never to use use a reversed polarity connection in Europe but the confusion as to its real danger in a modern caravan still exists.

 

Sorry to open the can of worms again!

Now a Swift motorhome owner.

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I completed the course this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. At the Q&A session at the end the question of reversed polarity on Continental sites came up. One of the instructors said how dangerous it was and how easy it was, for example, to "touch your kettle and get a nasty shock".

He then advised constructing a connector suitably adapted for this and testing for reversed polarity when arriving at the site.

I offered the view that I personally wouldn't want to build my own cable connection when they can be bought commercially.

The problem came when I suggested that it didn't really matter unless you took your electrical appliance apart while plugged in to a turned off socket and poked around inside.

I got a look from the instructor which seemed to suggest that if I wanted my certificate I should shut up and as he seemed a nice guy I didn't venture any further.

However, there was a general buzz of anxiety around the room. I know that the CC does advise never to use use a reversed polarity connection in Europe but the confusion as to its real danger in a modern caravan still exists.

 

Sorry to open the can of worms again!

Hi mack,

 

As I understand it, the problem is with the live and neutral being connected the wrong way abroad.

 

You can buy a small gizmo that you plug into a mains socket in the caravan which has neons or LED's (not sure which) that tells you if the L is connected to the live and if the N is connected to the neutral. If they are the wrong way round, I know that some caravaners have re-wired a short caravan lead with the live and neutral reversed at one end specifically for this purpose.

 

I am sure someone else will be along to expand on this.

 

GPS

 

 

 

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I think the main problem is the fact that the Continental system uses double pole switching. The circuit is broken in both the live and neutral connections when the switch is turned off so it isn't really necessary for the fixed wiring circuits to be polarity conscious.

 

In the UK the switch only operates on the positive side so correct polarity is more important.

 

Basically, if you plug a UK appliance into your caravan connected to a reversed polarity continental hook up when you "switch it off" at the wall socket it will still have current to it.

Reverse polarity will not affect the operation of the kettle or toaster etc because mains electricity is alternating current (AC).

If you notice, continental domestic plugs do not appear to contain a fuse whilst UK ones have a fuse fitted to the positive side. I suspect this has something to do with the single pole switching.

 

I also believe that the use of the terms "live & neutral" or "positive & negative" are misleading as AC is exactly what it says, the current flows through the circuit one way then reverses direction and flows the other way at a frequency of 50 times a second.

 

Personally, whilst I have poked around inside various appliances I would never advise doing so whilst they are plugged in irrespective of the switch position so I don't think reversed polarity would make a huge difference to the average person.

 

Then again!

 

 

Maybe a proper sparky could clarify the situation better.

 

P. S when I bought my last house I found out (the hard way) that one of the bedroom lights had been wired with reversed polarity.

The opinions posted in this forum are not necessarily those of the author, they may have been influenced by the voices in my head.

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aaman - part right and part wrong

 

Spot on the fact it does not worry our European friends is that they use double pole switching and therefore the appliance is completely isolated - a far safer solution to the UK

 

The wrong part is that it is the live that alternates between being positive and negative hence AC whilst the neutral should be at zero volts. Basically mains volage is derived from a "Star" oe "Delta" wired source see http://www. reuk. co. uk/Star-Delta-Wiring-for-Alternators. htm for an explanation of this - It is why we have single and three phase mains wiring. The neutral either comes from the centre tap "Star" or is derived if using "Delta".

 

In the old days when you use to get electrical interference on your telly it was normally because the Neutral line had been lifted, whilst theoretically it should be at zero volts it can rise by up to 50volts with respect to earth if you have a phase imbalance.

 

Most modern appliance to not care whether they are connected the wrong way round as they have transformers in them which isolates them from this problem - however some appliances can get upset.

 

Back to the original question with a UK spec van ie single isolated - yes you should check the polarity and correct if wrong, as to whether you buy or make a lead is down to individual choice, as I had all the relevant bits laying around and deem myself competent I made my own however for those not happy with playing with Mains Electrics then it would make more sense to buy a cable

Bailey Pageant Bretagne Series 6 - LR Discovery Td5 Auto

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I am under the impression that you cannot buy a made up cable with live and neutral swapped over at one end as this would be illegal to sell in the UK.

Burstner Nexxo T685 55 Edition

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I am under the impression that you cannot buy a made up cable with live and neutral swapped over at one end as this would be illegal to sell in the UK.

A quick search on the internet says you are correct, there are loads of links to caravaning websites showing how to DIY a cable yourself.

 

I did find a Reverse Polarity Changeover Switch

 

GPS

 

 

 

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This is the Caravan Club advice on reverse polarity http://www. caravanclub. co. uk/NR/rdonlyres/...itycomplete. pdf Interestingly it states that since 1994 all UK caravans have been fitted with double pole switching to their RCD's and MCB's although they point out that manufacturers continued to use single pole switched sockets. My 2004 caravan does not have any switches on the wall sockets. It does beg the question whether, if you have a caravan with double pole switching, is it still necessary to reverse polarity?

 

David

David - Milton Keynes

Bailey Alliance 66-2 Motorhome for holidays and a Kia Venga for home.

 

Caravan Travels

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Hi

 

There are undoubtedly many caravanners who are technically qualified or competent (to varying degrees ) to carry out certain electrical repairs.

 

The C. C. has to give advice for all, and the safest response from them must be to use a polarity tester and if required an adaptor lead.

 

It is unfortunate that made up adaptors cannot be purchased because I wouldn't trust a lot of people I know to make one up even with step by step diagrams and pictures.

 

Scales

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Hi

 

There are undoubtedly many caravanners who are technically qualified or competent (to varying degrees ) to carry out certain electrical repairs.

 

The C. C. has to give advice for all, and the safest response from them must be to use a polarity tester and if required an adaptor lead.

 

It is unfortunate that made up adaptors cannot be purchased because I wouldn't trust a lot of people I know to make one up even with step by step diagrams and pictures.

 

Scales

Sadly we live in PC times and suffer from it.

 

The HSE experts don't recognise that a polarity changer is intended to be used to make a potentially dangerous situation safe - the fact that one misguided person might use one in safe circumstances and create the same potentially dangerous situation is intended to avoid means that more people must be put at risk than those saved from risk.

 

It's also stupid that I can make up my own polarity changer but qualified electricians can't.

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My Coway Folding Camper had a consumer unit that had an indicator showing if you were connected to a 'reversed' polarity hook up. I made up a short converter lead and included an engraved plastic tag around the cable (so it can't come off) with a warning that the live and neutral are reversed. I dare say it doesn't meet electrical regs but seemed a commonj sense answer to a real problem. I have heard of some units that not only detect reverse polarity but automatically correct it. Sadly this was some time ago and I can't remember any more details.

Kia Sorento GT Line

Bailey Unicorn Madrid 2016

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Every time polarity is mentioned I seem to get more confused. After the last thread on this subject, I can't remember if it was this forum or another, I came to the conclusion that reverse polarity was the same as leaving your switch, at the socket, in the on position all the time.

 

Therefore only dangerous if you start taking your electrical appliance to pieces while still plugged in.

 

Yes or no?

 

If no what is the difference?

VW Tiguan R Line Tech and Eccles Topaz SE

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First of all Hi this is my first posting.

 

There are only two issues with reverse polarity of the mains connection.

 

1: Most sockets and/or appliances, for example a lamp, have a single pole ( ie makes breaks 1 wire ) switch.

If the polarity is reversed then if you switch the appliance off using the switch there is still a live present at the appliance and this could present a danger if you were to ( for example ) stick your finger in the light bulb socket ( don't try this ).

 

2: It is possible that a fault already exists on your wiring and/or appliance whereby there is a connection between the neutral and earth which ordinarily has not been a concern, with the reversal of polarity this then becomes a live/earth fault and poses a danger.

 

In a normal household situation none of this would pose any great safety implications.

It is actually quite difficult to kill yourself with ordinary mains low voltage (eg 230v).

You are normally very well protected ( shoes mainly ), remember you need 2 good electrical connections to get a decent shock and although you may touch a live connection you tend to have a very poor connection to earth ( or neutral ) and as such only a small electrical current will flow usually an ouch ! rather than anything else.

 

 

It should be borne in mind however the following.

 

The wiring in a caravan is much more likely to be in a poor state and damp and exposed connections are more likely to be present.

Also in a caravan it is much more likely that the occupant is in a dangerous condition ie bare feet, wet flip flops, overall wetness, damp walls etc much like in a bathroom, from this the occupant is quite likely to have a good electrical connection to earth and in the event of touching a live connection significant current may flow.

 

Therefore from this it is likely that reverse polarity connections do indeed prove a significant risk for caravanners and as such should be avoided.

 

 

 

As a footnote the use of an islolating transformer on the mains input would of course negate any issues with polarity of the mains.

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Every time polarity is mentioned I seem to get more confused. After the last thread on this subject, I can't remember if it was this forum or another, I came to the conclusion that reverse polarity was the same as leaving your switch, at the socket, in the on position all the time.

 

Therefore only dangerous if you start taking your electrical appliance to pieces while still plugged in.

 

Yes or no?

 

If no what is the difference?

If your wiring and all appliances are working perfectly, then it makes no difference - it matters when a fault develops.

 

Given that the problem is specific to UK caravanners, I don't understand why the NCC doesn't just force the use of two-pole switches in caravans. A caravan has 2/3/4 sockets, the total extra cost would be about a tenner.

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On the Continent I now always check with a polarity tester and, if a problem, use the short lead I made up myself to correct it - I am not at all "technical" but had no issues making this lead. To make certain I don't use it when I shoudn't, I bound red tape around it for clear identification.

One other point - it is worth checking if the connections on both sides of the electric tower on site are the same - I have often found that one side is reversed but the other is fine.

Still, I always wonder what happened when I toured Europe many years ago and had never heard of Polarity, never mind testing and correcting it - ignorance is bliss? :D

Bessacarr Cameo 525 towed by SsangYong Rexton 2.2 auto in Brown.

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