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How to choose your Towbar Electric Socket

Choosing the electrics for your towbar can be confusing. It's important that you make the right choice when booking to have a towbar fitted, as it can be a time consuming and expensive job to convert them later.

This guide explains the different socket styles that are available. You also need to decide how you would like your towbar wiring to be installed.

You can learn about the different types of wiring here.

Find your towbar

Towbar Socket Types

The type of electric socket you need is completely dependent on what you are towing, which is why making sure you get the correct electrics is paramount to your towing experience.

There are 3 different types of towing electrics that are used in the UK; Single 7 pin electrics, Twin 7 pin electrics and Single 13 pin electrics.

It is a legal requirement to have lights on the most rear point of your vehicle, as generally these are covered by your towing apparatus. Even if you are never going to tow anything, and are simply using a cycle carrier, you still need to have electrics to power a light board over the bikes in case they obscure the lights on your car. This is why we always include the standard 7 pin socket with our towbar installations.

Single 7 Pin Electrics

Single 7 Pin (12N) Towbar Electric Socket Single 7 Pin (12N) Towbar Electric Socket

Sometimes known as 12(N), are the most basic and is fitted as standard with any of our towbar installations, and are included in the price as standard. This is a black socket with 7 pins inside. We never fit towbars with no electrics at all as your towbar wouldn't be legal to use.

They provide the power to the lights on either a caravan, trailer or cycle carrier. If this is all you require from your towbar this is the perfect electrics for you.

You are able to tow a caravan with single 7 pin electrics, however none of your interior appliances would have any power supplied to them and therefore wouldn't work, the caravan battery wouldn't be charged either.

7 pin electrics also don't provide power for the reversing lights on a caravan or cycle carrier, the power for the reverse light comes from the caravan side of things, so it's only provided in twin or 13 pin electrics.

Pin number Function Standard Wire Colour
1 Left Indicator Yellow
2 Fog Light Blue
3 Earth White
4 Right Indicator Green
5 Right Tail/Side Light Brown
6 Brake Light Red
7 Left Tail/Side Light Black

If you are towing a caravan you would normally need twin or 13 pin electrics. However, some people do still use the 7 pin option if they only ever tow their caravan to site that has mains power provided.

Twin 7 Pin Electrics

Twin (12S) Towbar Electric Socket Twin (12S) Towbar Electric Socket

Sometimes known as 12(S), are fitted in addition to the single 7 pin electrics, and are used for towing caravans built before 2008. These caravans have 2 powers leads coming from them (One black and one grey.).

This is an extra grey socket which is fitted in addition to the standard Black 7 pin socket above.

It is used to provide power to the reverse lights, and all the interior functions of a caravan. For example it will provide power to the fridge, the leisure battery, and the interior lights. This socket will charge the battery whilst you are towing.

Pin Number Function Standard Wire Colour
1 Reverse Light Yellow
2 Switched Live for Battery Charging Blue
3 Earth White
4 Constant 12 volt Live Green
5 Spare Brown
6 Switched Live for Fridge Red
7 Earth for Fridge Black

13 Pin Electrics

13 Pin Towbar Electric Socket 13 Pin Towbar Electric Socket

For caravans built since 2008 the twin electrics have been replaced with the new 13 pin standard socket, which is most commonly known as the European plug.

13 Pin Electrics has been used in most European companies for some time. This style of electric was introduced to the UK in 2008 when all new caravans start being built with 13 pin electrics instead of twin. The 13 pin electrics is basically the twin sockets merged into one.

13 pin electrics are also needed when you intend to use a larger cycle carrier which has a reverse light built in, although it isn't a legal requirement to power the reverse light on a cycle carrier.

Pin Number Function Standard Wire Colour
1 Left Indicator Yellow
2 Rear Fog Lamp Blue
3 Earth White
4 Right Indicator Green
5 Right Tail/Side Light Brown
6 Brake Light Red
7 Left Tail/Side Light Black
8 Reverse Light Pink
9 Permanent 12 Volt Supply Orange
10 Switched Live for Fridge Grey
11 Earth for Fridge White/Black
12 Spare
13 Earth White/Red

Detachable Towbars with Twin Electrics

On a detachable towbar the electric socket often folds up behind the bumper for neatness when the neck is removed.

A problem with this is that there isn't enough room for twin sockets to fold up, so there are 2 options;

The first is to simply fix the twin sockets at the lower edge of the bumper so they no longer fold up and are visible all the time.

If you don't want this and would prefer the electrics to be invisible once the towbar neck is removed then you can have 13 pin electrics fitted instead of twin sockets so that the single socket will fold out of sight.

You can then use a 13 pin to twin electrics adapter so that the electrics are suitable for your caravan.

We stock a full range of towbar electric adapters here: http://www.towbarexpress.co.uk/accessories/towing-electrical-adapters/

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