Dumb electric question - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-07-2003, 11:56 AM   #1
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Dumb electric question

I've been studying battery stuff and going nuts over the cold - 6 inches of snow last night. Been taking friends out to sit in my freezing new little club house and last night the lights dimmed a bit so I'm finally going to have to bite the bullet and plug into the house. Is there anything I should check besides making sure all appliances are off before doing this? Also, is my regular outdoor extension cord enough to use? It's a standard outdoor cord I use for weedwacking, etc. Should I get a larger one? Going out now to check furnace amps and battery size.....
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Old 02-07-2003, 12:22 PM   #2
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Electric Question

It depends.

It depends on how far from the house the trailer is and what you intend to run. For example, a 30A DC convert/charger needs about 3A 120v at full charge. Your lights and an onboard furnace all probably come out of the 30 amps DC the charger/converter makes. While the lights and furnace are on, a modest amount of the the 30A DC is diverted away from the the battery charging ciruits. (Maybe, that is, if all the 30A is available for charging. One train of thought on this board suggests that of the 30A DC the converter makes, only 14 A DC go to the battery leaving the rest for other DC loads.) Maybe your converter is 20A DC, or even 45A DC.

If you plan to run a small 120v AC cube heater while showing off your trailer, then that's all AC and it can consume up to 12A AC. I feel 12A AC is pretty much the most a run of the mill extension cord should see. Personally, I'd like to see a minimum of a 14gauge extension cord, especially if you're running it more than 25 feet or so. The run of the mill extension cord is often 16 gauge (16 is smaller than 14 gauge).

I'll be interested in hearing others opinion on this as well.
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Old 02-08-2003, 10:24 AM   #3
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Extension Cords

I run my camper off a 50 foot 16 gauge extension cord year-round. I've had no problems with running a 1500 watt electric heater or the roof air conditioner with this cord.

I've also converted my cable hatch into a power "inlet", and can now only run up to 15 amps in the trailer. See my web site under modifications and repairs for details.

-- Dan Meyer

P.S. I used to use a cube heater, but found it was almost as noisy as the furnace :sad . I bought an almost silent 1500 watt radiant heater for under $20 which works just as well as a cube heater, but without all the noise :thumb .
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Old 02-08-2003, 10:36 AM   #4
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Hi Susan!

Fiberglassrv'er Morgan is a retired electrical engineer ... so hopefully he'll answer your question from a technical standpoint.

From my standpoint, I felt the garden-variety extension cord everyone uses for hedge clipping, etc, wouldn't be heavy-duty enough to use with the trailer.

Besides, at times, I was going to have to be outside in the rain, plugging and unplugging, so I figured I'd buy a contractor grade extension cord.

Any home improvement store sells what contractors call a Yellow Jacket, made by Woods Electric. It uses heavier wire than a regular extension cord ... yet remains flexible enough to wind up.

Now, more than using to plug in the rig in at home, make sure you take the heavy duty extension cord on the road with you. Occasionally, not often, but occasionally, you will want to park your little fiberglass wonder at the far end of a campsite, and come up short with the trailer electrical cord, and need a heavy duty extension cord.

This happens to us where we go in Florida each year. And since we're going to be running the heater and microwave in the morning, and the a/c and microwave and tv and hair dryer in the afternoon, well, you see why you need a heavy duty cord ... heavier than your garden variety extension cord.
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Old 02-08-2003, 10:38 AM   #5
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Hi Dan!

Hi Dan! Good to see you here! Is that fresh snow on the Scamp?
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Old 02-08-2003, 02:10 PM   #6
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Electrical

Susian,

Your electrical extension cord is fine to charge the battery or a small heater. But I agree with the above statment about getting a heavy duty one. Wal-Mart and Home Depot both have an extra heavy duty one for under $25. They are heavy enough that you won't have to worry about using everything in the trailer. Home Depot has one with 10 gauge wire. Wal-Mart's is in the RV section.

Be safe it's not a waste of money.
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Old 02-08-2003, 04:00 PM   #7
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Supply

I agree that in some cases, a heavier extension cord might be useful. However, since almost no one has a 30 amp outlet available at home, any extension cord heavier than 12 gauge is overkill for use at home.

-- Dan Meyer
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Old 02-08-2003, 07:00 PM   #8
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Dumb electric question

Susan C,

The only dumb questions are the ones you don't ask.

Charles was too kind, I'm actually a retired Electronics Engineer, but I'll try to help even with that limitation.

When using an extension cord, there are two problem areas as Dan pointed out. If you use an extension cord capable of carrying 30 amps and plug it into an outlet rated at 15 amps, then you should not use more than 15 amps. If you have a 20 amp outlet and a cord rated for 15 amps, the same limit applies.

If you plan to run anything more than the converter and charger, you will probably need more than 15 amps. That's especially true if you plan to run a 1500 watt heater.

In some newer homes, the outside outlets (and some kitchen and garage outlets) are rated for 20 amps. You need to check that, we can't from here.

If the extension cord still has the little tag on it, it should tell you how many amps it's rated for.

I hope this helps. :winter
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Old 02-08-2003, 08:42 PM   #9
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I don't know if Susan understood, but I got it first read. I'm getting better and better at the electrical stuff. thanks.
I had one of those heavier electrical cords melt the end off because it was one of the 15s at the house point and I was running the AC. I just now realize why it happened. had to do a fast fix-it stop at bubbas before I could leave on a trip.
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Old 02-08-2003, 09:02 PM   #10
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Wow, again! You guys are the best! I'm going to try the converter and the furnace with a 25 ft 16 gauge extension cord plugged into a 15 amp plug with is ground faulted (thank heavens). I will definately buy a larger cord before trying to run any other appliances.Even my funky old house objects to those little cube heaters so I don't think I'll try one. Looked at the battery - I think I'm going to get a new one and use this for back up if it holds a charge - terminals are a mess and it could be original which means it's anybody's guess how well it's been maintained. Everything is iced up or snowed up so I really wasn't eager to take it apart. (You folks up north probably can't imagine what how hard 6 inches can be for southerners!). I seem to learn so much from each and every post - thanks so very, very much everyone. Fortunately, I'm a lot more comfortable with gas and water systems!
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Old 02-09-2003, 03:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
Orginally posted by Thomas and Janifer

I don't know if Susan understood, but I got it first read. I'm getting better and better at the electrical stuff. thanks.
I had one of those heavier electrical cords melt the end off because it was one of the 15s at the house point and I was running the AC. I just now realize why it happened. had to do a fast fix-it stop at bubbas before I could leave on a trip.
Jana Journeycake my friend,

You need to replace that outlet the cord was plugged into when it overheated. The outlet was damaged as the cord was.

It's easy to replace the outlet, just be sure the power is off to that circuit before you take the plate off. Plug in a lamp and turn it on. Turn off the circuit breakers one at a time until the lamp goes off.

You can always call an electrician to do it, but you should do it before you forget. Otherwise you might scorch that beautiful home in a few years when you start your rock and roll band and need to plug in your amps. :wave
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Old 02-09-2003, 03:30 AM   #12
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Susan C,

I notice in your profile your occupation is Engineering. What field are you in?
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Old 02-09-2003, 10:38 AM   #13
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>>You need to replace that outlet the cord was plugged into when it overheated. The outlet was damaged as the cord was<<

I didn't even think of that. the part that melted was the plug on the RV pluged to the end of the extension cord. it was in the sun, so I just thought that caused it. I had used the same cord may times running the AC, but at campgrounds with adequate power. well I can't fix the plug now, I changed houses. :) In this house's garage we had a funny plug put in for my MH RV but changed to a TT with no air. So I'm over powered now. :jump-r
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Old 02-09-2003, 03:09 PM   #14
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I work with natural gas. Actually, right now I do gas availability calculations on pipelines.
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