Caravan Power: Why Caravans Use 15-Amp Electrical Circuits - And what do I do about it?

Unlike a house, Australian caravans and trailers have a single 240V electrical circuit. You may have noticed that your van has just one 16A residual current device (RCD). Therefore, in order to run more than a few appliances at once – depending on their current draw – a 15A circuit is necessary.

Every electrical appliance draws current, measured in amperage, from about 5A for a typical microwave to 9A for a typical toaster. For example, a caravan air-conditioner might draw 7A, which leaves 8A for other appliances.


Caravan 15Amp Inlet


At any one time, the electrical circuit of a caravan might be running a battery charger, a fridge, charging a computer, and perhaps running an air-conditioner.

If all of that current was running through a single 10A circuit, it would constantly trip to prevent an overload and potential fire.

It is possible to plug a caravan into a domestic 10A supply. However, rigging up your own extension lead, by chopping off the 10A plug and replacing it with a 15A plug so that it fits the van is a recipe for disaster. And illegal in Australia.
Caravan 15Amp Plugs
15Amp Caravan Plug
The safe and legal way to plug a van into a 10A power source is to use an power adaptor (see images below), a device that contains an RCD to prevent an electrical overload. When plugged in, the adaptor will provide 10A to the van. If current exceeds 10A/2400W, the unit will cut the current off.

The Amphibian brand adaptors are available in three variations, from the Mini – which is suitable for use in undercover areas, such as in a carport – to the weatherproof RV Plus and Max. Below are some photos of the Amphibian product which are readily available in hardware and caravan stores in Australia.
Amphibian Mini