Join Date: May 2005
Location: Mayenne France
My Motorhome: Pilote 733 FJ
Thanked 199 Times in 176 Posts
Jan, the problem you are seeing is effectively a UK one, the way UK electrical wiring and control circuitry is configured relies on the live wire being connected to the live side of the supply and negative / neutral to the neutral side because historically all UK single phase switches are single pole i.e. only switch the live.
In Europe for a very long time all switches have been double pole i.e. they switch (turn on or off) both live and neutral at the same time.
Whilst all of your consumers will work if connected to reverse polarity on a live isolated only system, there is the potential for injury as it is possible for you to think an item is safe as is "switched off" whereas in reality only the neutral side is switched off and the consumer, kettle, toaster etc. will still be live, if you then proceed to touch part of the item that is live you will likely complete the circuit through your body to earth, with nasty consequence.
Most modern European vans will be fitted with an RCD on the incoming supply which is a safety electrical device, RCDs are designed to disconnect the supply (trip) when seeing a fault quickly enough to prevent serious injury.
If your van is equipped with an RCD you really don't need to be concerned by reversed polarity, however for peace of mind swop the live and neutral wires in the plug you are using to connect to your source in the storage shed.
There are different answers if referring to different countries but the above is basically why the Europeans don't get concerned over reverse polarity.
Quick thought as to why you had the previous problem, maybe one part of the system you were trying to connect (van or house) had the earth and neutral crossed.