You've rented a camper, chosen a route and are finally ready to hit the road. But how does it actually work with the power supply in the camper? In our article you will find a short overview that answers all questions about electricity in the camper. At the end of the article, we also show you in our how-to video how to connect the electricity at a campsite.
1. How to power a motorhome?
Actually, the power supply in the motorhome is quite simple. The standard motorhome models have one or two supply or on-board batteries. You can charge these either at a campsite with shore power or while driving through the engine. For the latter, the supply batteries are connected to the alternator.
What is the difference between the on-board battery and the starter battery?
The starter battery is present in every vehicle and ensures that the starter motor works and you can start the engine. The on-board battery is responsible for the power supply in the living area, for example for the lighting. Even if the on-board battery is empty, you can still start your motorhome and drive with it.
2. What kind of electricity does a motorhome have?
There are usually two circuits for the power supply in the motorhome:
The 12-volt circuit is responsible for devices such as the refrigerator, water pump, lamps, and diesel or gas heating. USB sockets are also included here. Normally, 12-volt standard plugs with a diameter of 12 millimeters are found in a camper. You can also use standard plugs via an adapter. Since the 12-volt circuit is fed directly from the on-board battery, the sockets can also be used while driving.
The 230-volt circuit only works if you have connected your motorhome to shore power at home or at the campsite. Then not only will the on-board battery be charged, but you can also use all 230-volt appliances with a normal power connection, such as a coffee maker or a kettle. If you want to use such devices on the road, you also need a so-called inverter.
Since on some campsites the use of coffee machines, etc. often blows the fuse, we recommend devices with low power. It often helps if you do not use the hairdryer and kettle at the same time.
3. How long does the electricity last in the camper?One of the most frequently asked questions about the power supply in a motorhome is how long the power will last. Unfortunately, there is no universal answer, because it depends on the battery model you have and what you do in your camper. If you only use the most necessary devices, the on-board battery will last much longer than if you have TV and co. running all the time.
As a rule, the battery lasts between 12 and 24 hours. If you recharge it regularly while driving, you can even manage for a relatively long time without shore power. The 12-volt circuit can also be deactivated to prevent accidental battery discharge. Many motorhomes also have an electrical control panel that you can use to check the approximate charge level of the batteries.
Charging the battery via the alternator or shore power is the standard procedure. However, there are also models that have been retrofitted with solar panels, a gasoline generator or a fuel cell to provide additional energy.
4. Where can I get electricity for the motorhome?You can usually get electricity for your motorhome at campsites and camping grounds via the power points located there. It is best to find out in advance whether your site has an electricity connection. Most campsites also charge an additional flat rate for electricity.
In order to supply your motorhome with electricity, you first need the right equipment. For most RVs this is already included in the rent, but be sure to check with your rental company in advance. You will need two CEE adapters and a cable drum or an extension cable with CEE connections. Often, the power outlets are not in the immediate vicinity and you will have to extend your cable.
Plug the blue plug into the power socket (usually located on the driver's side) and connect it to the cable drum at the other end. Now unroll the cable to the power column and connect it to the second CEE adapter. Finally, you just have to connect the adapter to the power pole and you're done! As you can see, the power supply in the motorhome is much easier than you think.