Using an Electric Hook Up (EHU) when Camping

June 4, 2022

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 three-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 careful of running devices at the same time.  You may avoid overloading the supply by turning off a heater or when using the kettle, for example.

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 the 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 it is 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 an additional USB charger. 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.

No power? Check the grey switch

Newer electric hook-up points have a grey turn switch above where you plug your lead into.

Photo of the power supply in the off position

See the grey turn switch? When it’s in the off position you can connect or disconnect your tent’s electric hook-up. In the off position, you’ll often see a hole on the side of the switch, as shown in this photo.

Photo with the electricity supply turned on

In this photo, the power is turned on. Notice the little hole has disappeared.
This has now safely locked your power lead to the supply.
Do NOT pull the power lead out without turning the grey switch into the off position.

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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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

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.

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  1. With the huck up at 240 in England
    What size amp ie huck up would it be in france with my 240 cable.
    Any body help me out with this

  2. Hi Debbie, hi all,

    some thoughts from an electrician’s point of view.
    ‘None of our individual ehu points blew’ — I see two odds:
    Firstly, be sure that the main circuit (which supplies your and the neighbours’ sockets) isn’t strong enough to deliver full power to all EHUs at the same time. This is best practice and helps the supplier to save installation effort; it works fine at 99.9% of all time because there’s a very low probability of all users to require maximum power at the same time ….
    …. except when it’s cold outside and everybody is heating!
    Secondly, for contemporary installations (let’s say, after 1990 or like) there’s an insulation monitoring system mandatory, by means of a so-called RCD. That device may be part of the circuit breaker of any EHU or be attached beside of each one in the fuse box — or it may be omitted there but situated singly in the main supply circuit instead. This very well provides full user safety while saving some of the costly devices, but when in any single of the supplied EHUs a flaw is detected ….
    …. all attached ones get shut down at once in response, ouch!
    An insulation fault is rare in domestic environments but is easily promoted by moisture, dust and dirt, both more or less omnipresent in a campground — especially humid air and, as a consequence, condensing moist can’t be fought off even by a perfect housewife (-man). Most domestic appliances aren’t made for hostile environment, thus sensitive to moisture. The cumulative ‘leaking’ of a plenty of equipment (yours and your neighbour’s) — while each single thing being sufficiently well — may convince the responsible RCD to recognise a safety relevant single failure and blow off.

    When blackouts use to happen during episodes of humidity, let’s say in consequence of a downpour, put your bets on a nervous RCD or some insulation issue; try to identify the latter by disconnecting whole branches and later single equipment until the culprit will be isolated.
    When shutdowns occur while all hands are on deck and there’s a cold night, tip on a loading issue: save energy then by bringing warmth closer to the people, using hot water bottles, heating pads or electric underblankets — my personal preference!

    Best regards

    • Reply
      Debbie RichensWeekend Wanderers
      August 11, 2021 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you so much for detailed email!
      I’ll pass it on but I think he is now sorted!
      Many thanks anyway!

  3. 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.

  4. 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,

  5. 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 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:  As always, you’ll need to count up the Amps you are using so that you don’t trip the electric hook-up.

  6. 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

  7. 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?

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