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A recent answer said:

Any mains electric (100-240V) going to a tent needs to be GFCI-protected (Europe: RCD) since you will be mixing electricity and water in close quarters. Source

I know I have been camping since before GFCI/RCD have been required in houses. I got wondering what percentage of camp sites actually have these. I have previous experience with campground electrical issues Personally I don't have a lot of confidence campground power supplies.

Are there any countries or regions where GFCI/RCD are required to be installed on new AND existing power supplies?

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Presumably you won't be plugging your tent into any of these common North American RV dock connectors:

  • 240V/50A on a NEMA 14-50
  • 240V/30A on a NEMA 14-30 or
  • 120V/30A on a "TT30"

In those cases, they provide a ground wire, and that is tied to the vehicle frame. AFCI/GFCI is provided via branch circuit breakers inside the RV's own distribution panel, at the discretion of the RVer. If the RV campsite didn't have ground, they wouldn't be allowed to install the above outlets, and RVs couldn't plug into them. Ground is not hard to get at a campsite, in fact if the electrical connections are made via underground metal conduit, practical grounding is a done deal.

On a tent, presumably you will be using the common electrical outlet that is universal in North America, our old friend NEMA 5-15. Any outdoor NEMA 5-15 (or compatible NEMA 5-20) must be GFCI protected. NEC 210.18 in the US.

In residential, there is a long tradition of grandfathering previous work that was done to code at the time it was installed. This is merely to prevent every homeowner from having to hire an electrician every 3 years, and the concomitant "boom and bust" cycle which would be very bad for the profession.

However, enforcement is up to local authorities, and they apply a sensible view on grandfathering. Grandfathering is less allowed for a commercial operation -- more for sites with internal electricians like auto assembly plants, and less for public-facing operations. And far less where the urgency:cost ratio is fairly high. Slapping a $20 GFCI receptacle at a campsite stand isn't a big ask.

So I would certainly expect any campsite that is inspected to have them 100%. When is the last time you've seen a public bathroom without GFCI on the receptacles? (test/reset buttons, or sticker).

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In the UK this has been required for some years. I'm not saying you'll never find an old installation that isn't, but I haven't seen one since converting my campervan nearly 10 years ago. Usually when electrical regulations change here, an immediate refit isn't required, but systems have to be brought up to standard when significant work is being done.

My understanding is that the requirement actually comes from adopting European regulations into UK law. Most campsites in France now have RCDs on the sockets, but not all. In fact some still use Schuko sockets instead of CEE-form, and many of these aren't very waterproof.

Nuisance tripping is an issue when RCDs have been retrofitted to old installations that are prone to getting damp, or if another customer on the same RCD (they're often shared between pitches/sockets) has a fault. Sometimes it's easy to reset them, sometimes they're locked away. Our electrical hardware is generally quite robust, so other faults are rare and tend to result in complete loss of power, but I use a socket tester to check the earth connection and polarity when I arrive on site.

Cables sold for running to a tent (and converting to a household 13A socket) have an RCD built in, as do caravan connection panels.

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