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Covid-19 may have cast doubts about holidays abroad this year, but that’s not put people off holidaying at home, with a huge increase in caravan sales. If you’re now part of the caravan club, find out what kitchen gadgets are best to take to create a home-from-home.
Relaxation of restrictions, combined with a rise in the number of people buying caravans, means that many will be caravanning maybe for the very first time this summer.
Some of you like back-to-basics holidays, but if you want to create a more comfortable trip while on the road, you may be tempted to take your favourite gadgets with you. Before you do, you’ll need make sure everything you take is low enough power so it’s safe to use.
We’ve been speaking to The Camping and Caravanning Club to get some expert advice about powering your appliances.
Caravan power supply
Like your home, it’s important to work out how much power you will need for all your creature comforts. If the camping site you’re staying at has a 230V power supply, there shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but some more remote sites may not have this available. A 12V leisure battery can be used instead, but whatever supply you use, you’ll still need to do the sums to make sure you don’t overload your electric supply.
First, you need to know the wattage of all your standalone gadgets, such as your kettle, toaster or slow cooker, then make sure that the total in use at any one time doesn’t exceed the site amperage.
Most sites in the UK provide 16A, but some are limited to 10A or even lower.
The Camping and Caravanning Club has a handy calculation to help you work our your power supply:
Power (in W) = voltage (in V) x current (in A)
For a 10A hook-up: 230V x 10A = 2,300W, meaning 2,300W (2.3kW) of power can be supplied to your unit.
At a site that offers 16A, this rises to 3.68kW.
The club advises owners to be wary of using ordinary domestic appliances, such as kettles that can draw 10A or more on their own, and other appliances, such as microwaves. The club explains that even though the appliances may be advertised as 800W, for example, the input operating power requirement, particularly on startup, may be up to twice this.
And don’t forget about the built-in appliances that are drawing power in the background, such as the lights, the fridge or other high-powered appliances such as hairdryers or electric cool boxes, which could cause your fuse box to trip if you tried to use them all at once.
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Ian Hewlett, technical manager at The Camping and Caravanning Club, said: ‘Campsites are typically found in rural and semi-rural locations where there may be more pressure on local power networks. This means campsites can often only provide a reduced electricity supply. Add to this the limits of the caravan or motorhome unit and the end user may only receive a quarter of the typical electricity supply that comes through to a modern domestic kitchen. In fact, it’s closer to the power a single 13amp socket can supply.
‘It’s really important to consider how you will use the built-in hot water and space heating systems and other electrical appliances when camping and we would recommend you buy low-wattage kettles and similar equipment specifically aimed at camping, which typically takes a bit longer but draws less power.’
Mr Hewlett also warns that connecting standard appliances not designed for use on a low-amp supply can overload campside circuits and trip the power for yourself or even the rest of the campsite.
Despite this, we know that some caravanners still prefer to take their ordinary domestic appliances on holiday with them. Even when using ordinary, but lower-wattage appliances, like those we’ve listed below, it’s vital to familiarise yourself with how to use electricity on a campsite so as not to overload the supply.
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Caravan kitchen gadgets
The team of Which? small appliance experts have picked out some low-wattage kitchen gadgets, below, which could be worth checking out if you do want a few creature comforts while you’re away from home this summer.
Argos Cookworks compact slow cooker, £14.99
Size 1.5 litres
Why we like it This compact slow cooker has a claimed wattage of 120W. Since you’ll normally have the slow cooker on while you’re out doing other things, it won’t have to compete against other gadgets for power. There’s enough cooking space for two portions, and as it’s compact it’s easy to transport and store. It doesn’t weigh much and it’s super simple to use. It won’t break the bank, either.
Read our full test review of the Argos Cookworks 719/4816 slow cooker.
Other slow cookers to try: Crock-Pot CSC046 (120W).
IKEA Tillreda microwave, £49
Why we like it Some caravans have built-in microwaves, but if yours doesn’t and you need one, this fairly low-wattage microwave won’t break the bank. It’s a solo model, so it doesn’t have any fancy features such as a grill or oven, but it’s simple to use, and has defrost and steam features.
Bear in mind that some microwaves can create a surge in power when they’re first switched on, which could pose an issue if you’re using power elsewhere in the caravan – boiling the kettle or drying your hair, for instance.
Read our full test review of the Ikea Tillreda microwave to see how evenly it heats.
Lakeland 13661 travel kettle, £30
Why we like it This compact kettle won’t take up much space and it’s wattage shouldn’t cause any problems when you need to make a brew. Just check you haven’t got anything else running, such as a heater or a hairdryer. It comes with two beakers, spoons, a divided storage container for tea or sugar and a little carry bag. Lakeland say it’s ideal for tea for two in a holiday home or caravan. But is this kettle quick to boil?
Read our Lakeland 13661 travel kettle review to find out.
Other kettles to try: Lloytron E886 travel kettle
Outback charcoal kettle barbecue, £180
Why we like it If you’re worried about overloading your electrics and you have the storage space, this barbecue could be a good way to add extra cooking capacity to your trip. It weighs 14.5kg, which is light for a barbecue. It uses charcoal, so you don’t have to worry about taking a massive gas bottle or adding extra appliances to your electricity requirements. It’s quick and easy to put together, but make sure you have space to store it and can pack it back in to take it home.
Read our full test review of the Outback Charcoal kettle barbecue.
Other barbecues to try: Landman Piccolino (£45)
Swan Nordic coffee machine, £99
Type Ground coffee
Why we like it If you really can’t live without a decent cup of coffee in the morning, then this compact machine could be worth trying. Be warned, though, it’s not low-wattage, but at 1,100W, if you were hooked up to a site’s 10A power supply and didn’t have anything else running at the same time, you could make a brew without plunging your neighbours into darkness. It’s a ground coffee model, so no need to worry about noisy grinding or pods to dispose of, plus it only weighs 3.4kg, so not too heavy. You would need to check your campsite destination’s power supply first, though.
Read our full review of the Swan Nordic coffee machine to see if it’s worth taking it with you.
Other coffee machines to try: Logik L15EXC19 (1,100W)
Prices checked March 2021.