Introduction: Caravan Mains Sockets - External for Awning/barbeque Etc
Having owned a caravan for a few years i got a bit fed up having to run a extension cable through the window to power things in the awning,so on the last caravan i installed a external socket which i clamped onto the A frame(your not supposed to drill it due to weakening the structure)and ran this for several years.When i changed the caravan a couple of months ago i decided i wanted the same again but the one thing i didnt enjoy was scrawling about under the van to plug the extension lead in,so i decided that this time i would put the socket on a extension bracket so it was level with the van side,making it easier to use.This is how i did it-it uses the holes intended for a motor mover so if you have one of these it wont fit.Anyway im not an electrician and im sure someone will point out it breaks all the rules so if you want to copy me you know the disclaimers by now.
First off was to buy a external socket,i got this from the same place as the last one Wilkinsons for just over £10 and heres where its going to fit
Step 1: Making the Bracket
unfortunately my van isnt parked at home but about 20 mins away so this involved a number of visits to measure up,make,revisit,adjust etc and obviously you need a workshop some tools including a welder and grinder and of course the metal,pins, cable etc the first step was to measure up. Initially I was going to mount the socket on a solid bracket and run the cable up thro one of the knockout holes but as I thought about it i figured i could actually mount the socket bracket on a tube and run the cable thro the tube because a/it was neater and b/it offered protection,so i first made the mounting plate(3mm mild steel),in which i drilled the four securing holes,i also considered that being in front of the wheel would it get a lot of spray so decided to add a piece of angle to deflect this
Step 2: The Bracket
the next step was to measure the steel tube(25mm square) and decide where it was going to fit onto the back plate,the normal place would be in the middle to give the best support but after measuring i realized that there needed to be room to put on the wheel clamp and if i wanted to avoid having to dog leg the tube to give clearance and risk weakening it, i had to mount it nearer to one edge to give the necessary clearance.I estimated the square tube length and welded it on,after checking i found it was slightly to long so lobbed a couple of cm off (down to 24.5cm) i also drilled a 12mm hole thro the back plate so i could thread the cable through
Step 3: Bracket Mount for a Frame
now was the time to make the mount for the A frame,i made this as a rough T shape out of 5mm x 40mm mild steel strap,the top piece was 10cm long and the bottom 7.5cm long-as you can see one side of the T is shorter than the other-sorry i forgot to measure them ! i drilled 2 holes 13mm diameter but after trying it on the A frame i slotted the holes oversize so that i could move(and tilt) the whole bracket sideways,A/ to give clearance from the road wheel and B/so i could get the bracket straight.I also drilled another hole so the cable would exit the tube.Next i test mounted it.
Step 4: Wiring It Up
I was now happy the socket would sit level and it was time to cable it up,I had been thinking about how to protect the cable and came across some flexible sheathed cable and realized that this would be ideal not only where the cable passes thro the tube holes where you would normally put grommets but if i secured the screening to one of the mounting pins it would stop the cable being pulled out of the socket,so after spraying the bracket with cold galvanising spray I threaded the cable thro and cut back the insulation and crimped a ring onto the screening(steel zinc plated)and protected it with some heatshrink.Unfortunately this made it to big to go under the socket backbox and i worried about it splitting,so subsequently removed the heat shrink and squashed it down a bit to fit ;0) I fitted the back box and drilled a hole for the cable-I must point out the screening is not used as a earth strap,the cable has a earth wire,it is used for mechanical protection and securing only,while it is earthed through the crimp to the bracket and then to the A frame and the other end is attached via a earth wire,it isn't used as a earth
Step 5: Attaching the Bracket and Wiring to the Caravan Mains
having wired the socket up,i then took it and attached it to the van,i drilled a hole thro a plastic cap and threaded the cable up into the van.I broke into the mains cable feeding another socket with a junction box and wired it in(not shown) and tested everything was ok,the only thing left is to secure the loose cable between A frame and underside of the van which i have temp secured.overall im pleased with it.
Step 6: Upgrade
well after 8 years or so, where (according to the comments) surprisingly no one was electrocuted and although working perfectly the hinges on the front flaps gave up the ghost, so purchased a new one from screwfix and decided to beef up the protection in a nod to the concerns, I removed the bracket and made the 'flap' into a box with water drain holes in the bottom-unfortunately the IP66 socket is quite a bit bigger and the flap needs space above to open properly so I think we can do away with terms like neat and petite -but it works and has better protection and that's what counts to me