Using an Electric Hook Up (EHU) when Camping

Using Electrics in your Tent

Sometimes using electricity in your tent is essential, especially if you want to heat your tent in the cooler months.  There are also times when a kettle, microwave, lights, and a small fridge may be useful on a long camp, as well as a bottle steriliser for babies. (Not to mention a phone charger!)

What electrical appliances can you use at the campsite?

The majority of campsites in the UK will provide a 3 pin connector rated at 16 Amps, which can provide a 230V supply, just like at home.

The campsite EHU with Mini Circuit Breaker
The campsite’s electric supply will be fitted with a miniature circuit breaker (MCB).  The key here is understanding how much you can plug in before the circuit breaker trips.

you not only trip out your tent, but also your neighbour’s
Some campsites will double up on the electric points, which means that if you overload the electrics, you not only trip out your tent but also your neighbour’s, which could make you very unpopular.

there could even be a charge for resetting the electrics
Make sure the campsite shows you how to reset the electrics if they trip. This may be something only the campsite owner can do, which may not be possible between 9 pm and 9 am, or there could even be a charge for resetting the electrics.

Many campsites only provide a 10A supply, and you may even find sites with only 5A (especially in Europe), so don’t assume everything you could run at one site can be used at another.

Working out exactly how much you can plug in and turn on requires an understanding of Ohms law and also taking into account any voltage drop (which can cause a current increase) with long lengths of cable!

The formula is Power (in Watts) = Voltage x current (Amps).

You don’t need to be a mathematical physics genius to work things out
But don’t worry. You don’t need to be a mathematical physics genius to work things out. You can use the table below to see how much power you have available depending on the current available at the campsite.

Site Amps Calculation How Much Power
16A 230V x 16A 3.68kW
10A 230V x 10A 2.3kW
5A 230V x 5A 1.15kW

Different appliances draw different amounts of current.  A domestic kettle is very power hungry, but you can get a low watt camping kettle.  Also be conscious of running devices at the same time.  You may avoid overloading the supply by turning off a heater or cooler when using the kettle.

Here’s some example of appliance power, but of course, check your own devices:

Typical Device Power Consumption
Appliance Typical Power (W) Current (A)
Household Kettle 2000 8.7
Camping Kettle 750 3.3
800W Microwave 1000 4.4
2kw Fan Heater 2000 8.7
1kw Fan Heater 1000 4.4
Low Watt camping fan heater 750 3.3
Toaster 900 3.9
600W Hair Dryer 600 2.6
1.2kw Hair Dryer 1200 5.2

Examples of what appliances you can use when camping

If you are on a campsite with a 10 Amp supply, you will have around 2.3kW available.

That means you could run a low watt camping or travel kettle (around 750 Watts), plus a low watt toaster (900 Watts). But if someone then plugs in a low 600W Hair Dryer you are dangerously close to tripping the electrics.

Of course, not all appliances are the same. Your camping kettle may use 1000W and your low-watt travel toaster may also use 1000W. That won’t give you enough power to run much else at the same time.

If the campsite only has a 5 Amp supply then you will only have around 1.15kW.

That 1000W kettle will be the only thing you can have running.

Of course, if you are on a campsite with a full 16Amps, then you’ll have a full 3.68kW to use.

Just add up all the Watts of the appliances you want to use at the same time, and make sure it stays below the amount of Watts on the campsite’s Electric Hook-Up.

Low-Wattage Appliances for Camping

Below are some examples of low-wattage appliances you can use for camping.

The lower a number of watts you use, the more devices you can run at the same time.

Fizz Stainless Steel Electric Kettle
We have this kettle and it works a treat. Slighter slower to boil than at home.
  • 1000W
  • Capacity 1.7L
Pop Cool Touch 2 Slice Toaster
2 slice toaster with crumb tray.
  • 750W
Diddy Heater
A ceramic heater with two power settings
  • 750W or 1500W
QT1 Compact Microwave Oven
A small microwave oven you can use in your tent or caravan
  • 600W

Connecting to the Electric Supply

So here’s the common sense bit: Electricity is Dangerous.

Always use a proper IP44 rated supply with a Residual Current Device (RCD) built in to connect up to the campsite’s electric supply – do not use a household extension.

A proper camping electric hook-up unit is obtainable for around £50.

You should also keep your unit dry and raise it off the floor.

Although a little more expensive, we recommend the Outwell Mains 3 Way Roller Kit with USB and Light. It’s a nice safe design plus you don’t need additional USB chargers. It also has a night light, which is useful if you have young kids.

P.S. Campsites with Electric Hook Ups

You can find campsites with electric hook-ups and campfires using our campsite finder.  Just remember to tick the box labelled ‘Electric Hook-Up’ or press the button below.
Find Campsites with EHU >>

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Gav Grayston
Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.
Gav Grayston


Family adventures, activities, camping, holidays,days out OS #GetOutSide champions 2017 #DofE brand ambassador @Craghoppers Partnership @campandcarvan @_elddis_
@ExplorerDale Thanks for sharing with us 👍 - 5 hours ago
Gav Grayston
Gav Grayston

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  1. When you say “also taking into account any voltage drop (which can cause a current increase) with long lengths of cable!” surely, a voltage drop ultimately causes a current decrease not increase as you have suggested?

    9:42 am on September 6, 2017
    • No, the post is correct. Power is voltage x current, so it follows that a reduction in voltage due, for example, to a long cable, means that an increase in current will be required to compensate.

      8:42 pm on September 6, 2017
      • So if the voltage is fixed at 240v and the resistance of the long cable is fixed, how exactly would you go about increasing the current as you say to compensate for a long length of cable?

        12:29 am on September 22, 2017

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