Ac­cord­ing to the rules...

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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

(in am­père).

That’s enough!

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.


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.


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.

CUR­RENT AF­FAIRS. The 420 V read­ing on the sock at Melanie’s stand is way too high, if you look at the guide­lines of the au­thor­i­ties. WA­TER­PROOF? Ev­ery power point must be wa­ter­proof, re­gard­less which type of socket it is.

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