According to the rules...
Electricity supply at a campsite is not to be taken lightly
The national guidelines for standards in campsites, SANS 10092:2004, has stirred up a lot of debate and campsites will be hard pressed to comply with some of its prescriptions. However, one issue most people agree on is electrical outlets.
Melanie van der Westhuizen, a reader from Kempton Park, encountered a power outlet at a popular resort in the north of the country where the Volt-reading at their stand was 420 V (instead of 220 V). They used it... and their caravan’s wires melted. Melanie and her group could come to an agreement with the resort’s owners in terms of the damage, but a power outlet like that could actually cause a lot more damage than it did.
We spoke to the Western Cape Approved Electrical Inspection Authority ( WCAEIA) to find out what the authorities prescribe for electricity in camping sites. The WCAEIA is accredited to do inspections of electrical installations on behalf of the Department of Labour. Resorts must comply with a set national standards (SANS 10142/1:2003) that clearly spell out what the criteria and requirements of power outlets – among other things – are.
Over, under and around
According to the prescriptions of the SANS 10142 of 2012, electricity can be wired at your stand in two ways: The resort can lay an underground cable (as long as it is buried at least 50 cm underneath the ground), or it can be a overhead power cables – almost like the telephone poles in the vast plains of the Karoo. The condition for this is that the cable must be at least 4 m above ground.
If the cable runs underground, it must be routed in such a way that it runs around the stands and not directly beneath the areas where tents are pitched or caravans are parked. This is ostensibly to prevent a long tent peg from being hammered into a live power cable - imagine that.
Take note, please
There should be a notice at the power point itself, highlighting the following:
the supply (in Volt);
if it’s an alternating or direct current;
the maximum allowed load
Futhermore, the national standard determines that every power point should be furnished with its own circuit breaker. Although some people still refer to, for example, 15 A circuit breakers, they’re not available anymore.
These days, the standard is 16 A (currently, circuit breakers are available in 6 A, 10 A, 16 A, 20 A, 25 A, and so forth). The 16 A is incidentally also the same grading as a standard three-pin plug. But it’s not necessarily the case that you can utilise 16 A at your stand. It’s up to the resort owner how much electricity he wants to supply to campers. In practice, it means that your ice maker, aircon and microwave will maybe work at Camp A, but at Camp B, your kettle might just trip the power.
The blue code
In general, you see a lot more of the
Camping can be fun – as long as you know your way around things like electricity and how to get your Dstv dish up and running. And of course it also helps if you’ve packed everything you need for your holiday, like a fully kitted out tool box.
standard three-pin sockets (like the ones you have at home) at camping sites than the blue caravan type.
Still, according to the SANS directive, the blue ones are the prescribed norm. A household 16 A sock is also legal, as long as it is grouped in a weatherproof box. The box should also be waterproof when your caravan is plugged in.
One for you and one for me According to the regulations, there should be one power outlet for every stand, and there shouldn’t be more than six of them together. Electricity that comes from the distribution board to the power outlet should be connected to an earthleakage circuit breaker of no more than 30 ma.
It used to be 20 ma, and in an ideal world, resort owners should rather install an earth-leakage switch on each power outlet instead of just one distribution board. Come closer It shouldn’t be necessary for you to take along yards and yards of extension cord. The prescription determines that a power point is not allowed to be more than 25 m away from your caravan. The sock where you plug in your caravan’s cable, should also be at least 1 m above the ground.
WHAT ABOUT THE 400 V?
Depending on where in the country the power is generated, the initial current ranges from 32-132 kv. As it is being conducted through the high-tension wire to the resort, the power changes from 11 kv to 400 V in the distribution board. From here, it can be supplied to the power outlet in single-phase power (230 V) or three-phasepower (400 V).
The case of Melanie’s 420 V reading on the blue socket probably had nothing to do with 400 V-three-phase power. The official three-phase plug is red and has four points, as opposed to the three of single-phase. According to Melanie, she was informed afterwards that the specific plug was incorrectly wired.
WHEN DO THINGS CHANGE?
From a legal perspective, there is very little that can be done to resorts who currently do not comply with SANS 10142, because it applies to new installations. All new resorts will have to comply with it, as well as resports who change ownership – since a compliance certificate which uses the current 10142 guideline, must be issued for the resort’s electricity supply.
go! Drive & Camp says If you can choose, rather stick to the blue plug. It’s safe and complies with the authorities’ standards.