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 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.

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.

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).

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.

Reviewed
Kampa
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
  • £24.38 £19.99
  • £24.99
  • £29.99 £25.99
Last updated: 2019-05-25 06:44:47
Kampa
Pop Cool Touch 2 Slice Toaster
2 slice toaster with crumb tray.
  • 750W
  • £19.99 £17.99
  • £20.47 £19.49
Last updated: 2019-05-25 06:44:52
Kampa
Diddy Heater
A ceramic heater with two power settings
  • 750W or 1500W
Last updated: 2019-05-25 06:44:55
Daewoo
QT1 Compact Microwave Oven
A small microwave oven you can use in your tent or caravan
  • 600W
  • £62.78
Last updated: 2019-05-25 06:44:58

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. Click here to read our review of this mains roller kit.


P.S. Campsites with Electric Hook Ups


You can find campsites with electric hook-ups and campfires using our campsite finder.


 

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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.

19 Comments
  1. Hi I have a caravan on a seasonal pitch on a small site of about 50 others! The ehu is 16 amps per pitch and it hasn’t been full at all, but this week there were many power cuts in the inner pitches of which mine is one! There are 4 plugs on each post! The owner will not take responsibility or action and this is causing a huge problem! Two nights ago she said it was because we all had our heating on! Baring in mind it has been jolly cold, and said the wet Alde heating was to blame! Mine is blown air! Last night she said someone used a domestic kettle, which we all have low energy ones! None of our individual ehu points blew, so we are all at a complete loss as to what can be done!
    She said she has paid £1000 for an electrician to check it and everything is ok!
    Well it obviously isn’t, but without any knowledge of electricity I just don’t know what to say or do?
    Please advise?
    Thank you

    • Yes, I can imagine how frustrating it is.  If everyone is within the amps and the electrician has confirmed the EHU can take that many amps concurrently, then my immediate thoughts is perhaps something is shorting the trip on the EHU. If it’s a new trip mechanism then they are very sensitive for safety reasons.

  2. Hi there, first time going in a tent coming up just wondered if a small freezer (just bigger than a cool box) would be okay to be plugged in all the time as I wouldn’t want anything over heating or blowing a fuse, not sure on the power off hand but any rough guidance would be appreciated.
    Many thanks,
    Lauren

  3. Firstly thankyou for answering my last question
    Can you tell me if I can use a tv while camping what size of tv or make would be best
    I am going to invest in the Mensa hook.so it would be connected to this Up you have surgested

    • Hi Angela, Yes, you can. You’ll need to get a camping/caravan TV. These are designed to not use much electricity.  Here’s an example of one on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2OBaR18  As always, you’ll need to count up the Amps you are using so that you don’t trip the electric hook-up.

  4. Firstly thankyou for answering my last question
    Can you tell me if I can use a tv while camping what size of tv
    I am going to invest in the Mensa hook. Up you have surgested

  5. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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?

  6. […] Fortunately we have a guide on using an EHU and what appliances you can use. […]

  7. […] using an Electric Hook Up, powered coolboxes can of course help to keep things cool in your […]

  8. […] Electric cable access points to all bedrooms – ideal for lights or a heater, or charging phones and games consoles (see our guide to Electric Hook Ups). […]

  9. […] Electric cable access point, which is ideal if you need to run a heater (see our guide to Electric Hookup Units). […]

  10. […] Electric cable access points if you need a heater (read our info on Electric Hookups) […]

  11. […] Lamp holder with cable ties if you are using an electric hookup. […]

  12. […] The Outwell Fuji heater comes in two settings, either at 600W or 1500W.  You won’t be able to use it on the full 1500W if the campsite only has a 5A supply, but you’ll be fine on full heat at campsites with a 10A or 16A supply (with obvious care not to run too many power hungry appliances that cause the power to trip – see our guide to Electric Hookups). […]

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