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Old 08-28-2019, 11:55 AM   #21
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Name: Stephen
Trailer: On the hunt
British Columbia
Posts: 10
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Originally Posted by Raspy View Post
Normal household plugs are on 20 amp circuits.
Unless you are Canadian, 15 amps is the norm up north.

I've run my stick built no problem on 15 amps. The breaker would pop if I tried to run A/C while the batteries were charging and the fridge was on (I think the A/C was borderline 15 or more surge on startup). I've camped with only 15 amp service (15 amp and water supply but no sewer) since it's often available last minute when the prime 30 and 50 amp spots have been taken.

When on 15 amp I run the fridge on propane so I can run the A/C. My batteries tend to be fully charged when I arrive and so there isn't a lot of DC draw (so the charger isn't going full bore).

I have yet to pop a breaker at camp running that way. Thought I did once, but it was some kids playing with the breakers.

A few tips:
  • If you can't plug the dogbone directly into the 15/20amp outlet, get a good extension cable, shorter is better. I'd go with 12 gauge minimum depending on length. If you have a 20 amp breaker you might even want to go 10 gauge. There are charts online and most cables should have a rating right on them. Lower gauge number is thicker wire and can handle more current per ft/meter.
  • If running at home, try to choose an outlet that doesn't have other draws on that circuit. An exterior outlet on a house should be on an AFCI breaker (well.. local code, ymmv), but there may be other exterior outlets on that circuit since it's cheaper and you generally don't run loads on a bunch of exterior outlets at once. Depending on how your house was wired (and who did it) there could be pretty much anything on that circuit (maybe it was tied into the basement lights, maybe your chest freezer is on the same circuit). Last thing you want is for the circuit to break middle of the night and discover warm food in the morning.

The most dangerous part (assuming the house is to code) is the extension cable. Most people don't understand the importance of a proper cable and are happy to daisy chain whatever they have to get the power from one place to another. A wire that isn't thick enough will have too much resistance at high current. So it will heat up (fire risk) but also the resistance causes voltage drop. Voltage drop compounds the problem by requiring more current for the same amount of power.

E.g. you are trying to run a 1200 watt microwave. At 120V that's a 10 amp draw. If your voltage sags to 100V due to resistance in the cable, it's now a 12 amp draw to run that 1200W appliance (assuming it's as efficient at a lower voltage, it could draw even more, or it might not run, or it may get damaged) then there's the power that's going into heating the wire..

Anyhow, it's always safer to choose a higher rated cable. You can save a few bucks by getting something that is right and not overkill, which is fine, but it takes a bit more thought and care.
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Old 08-28-2019, 12:01 PM   #22
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I've been using this adapter on my '06 Casita 17 for years. I connect to a 15A 110V circuit and I can run A/C and charge batteries at the same time, with no problem. The only thing I can't do is run the electric hot water heater and the A/C at the same time. That trips the breaker. I don't have a microwave.
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:09 PM   #23
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Name: Harold
Trailer: 1975 Scamp, 13-foot
Redding, California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raspy View Post
Normal household plugs are on 20 amp circuits.
Here in California my house, built in 1987, has 15 amp circuits in all but one, which is a 20 amp. The 20 amp circuit is in the garage and would be for something like a freezer. I have my air compressor plugged into it.

It's important to be aware that one circuit breaker often serves more than one wall outlet, which may be in different rooms, so if you have more than one appliance plugged into a circuit, even if they are in different rooms, it's possible to exceed the circuit's rating and blow the circuit breaker or fuse if you have fuses.

Harold
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:37 PM   #24
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Name: John
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Smith Valley, Nevada
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I'm surprised a couple of you have tried to correct me on "20 amps is normal for plug circuits". Even if some of you only have 15 amps per circuit, it certainly does not mean that 20 amps is unusual. It's common, or even required. That is why plug circuits are wired with #12 wire. As common as it is, is reflected in code discussions about the use of 15 amp rated plugs, and why or where that is OK, given the circuits are 20 amps. Code for my new house was 20 amps for plug circuits, my previous house, built in 1978 was all 20 amp on the plugs, and all the houses I've worked on over the years were 20 amps. Lighting circuits are commonly wired with #14 wire and use 15 amp breakers. When sorting out the circuits in an electrical box, it's easy to start with all the 20 amp circuits, knowing they are for the plugs. Separate 20 amp plug circuits are specifically required at the sink for the dishwasher and disposal.

Code recognizes a discrepancy in putting 15 amp receptacles on a 20 amp circuit, but apparently says its OK if there is more than one receptacle on that circuit. That is why we see mostly 15 amp receptacles. They are cheaper and allowed in groups. And inspectors certainly have no problem with it. I even specifically asked my inspector why that was Ok and he just mumbled something about that's what we allow. There is no set number of plugs per circuit, as I understand it, but 7-12 is not uncommon, with different circuits for different rooms.

Either way, it's easy to max out the circuit with a 30 amp trailer.

Even an electric heater and a few incandescent lamps could shut off a 15 amp circuit. Many power tools, would overload one. Electric pots or hair dryers would be too close for comfort. The fridge and he microwave would certainly do it if combined.
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Old 08-28-2019, 05:21 PM   #25
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Name: Stephen
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I'm surprised a couple of you have tried to correct me on "20 amps is normal for plug circuits". Even if some of you only have 15 amps per circuit, it certainly does not mean that 20 amps is unusual. It's common, or even required.
Where you live that may be true. I'm not familiar with NEC (since I'm Canadian and we have our own standards) but it appears the each state adopts NEC standards as they choose. Apparently in Arizona each municipality is free to adopt and amend the NEC (and they range from 1990 to the 2014 versions). Anyhow for all I know the 1990 spec had 20 amp plug circuits. I am not an electrician let alone one in the US.

What I do know is where I am 15 amp is the norm (while 20 amp receptacles/breakers/wiring are allowed, but not the norm). Just had a rewire during a reno (full inspection) and also know people with new builds.

Anyhow, point is no one should assume. They should go check what the breaker is. If the circuit is capable of 20 amps then any extension cord used should also be capable of that (since with a 30 amp trailer you are risking using the full 20 amps and tripping the breaker).
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Old 08-28-2019, 05:25 PM   #26
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Name: Gordon
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North Carolina
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Originally Posted by Raspy View Post
I'm surprised a couple of you have tried to correct me on "20 amps is normal for plug circuits". ..
That is because its not normal in many cases. Older homes for one, and also in many areas where the code as not yet caught up to what I would call "best practice."

And the admonishment about multiple outlets on one 20 or 15 amp breaker is a good one. The roof A/C units I am aware of specify a dedicated 20 amp. I used a dedicated 20 amp outlet at my old house (unplugging the central vac when I wanted to use the dedicated outlet for my camper). And now I have a 30 amp outlet with nothing else on the circuit which is way more than I need for most purposes when the camper is at home.
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Old 08-28-2019, 05:58 PM   #27
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Each state or county adopts the next code revision as they see fit. Then a County or a city can apply a more stringent standard, or interpretation, for their area only.

The code is written in such a way that you cannot just read it and go to work, or refer to it for a local answer. It's not a good idea to decide something is "common", just because it's in your house, or your Country. One city will only allow wiring in conduit, another allows #14 romex on a 20 amp circuit. My area requires that if the GFI trips in the bathroom the light must stay on, but the code didn't say it. That's how they wish to interpret the code. Some won't allow plugs under counter overhangs because appliances could get pulled off by the cord. Some areas allow, or encourage Uffer grounds, and some don't even know what they are.

The same is true for the plumbing code. Some allow PEX and some don't. Some want a 15 PSI gas test and some want 30 PSI. Some require seismic shutoffs, and some don't. Some allow plastic main supply lines and some require copper. Some require silver solder joints under ground, and some don't. City by city, or county by county.

I used miles of PEX through the years and always had to verify that it was OK before starting on radiant heat projects. If it wasn't I would either get them to change the policy in advance, or have higher ups go after them to get the policy changed. It was a fun battle and I always used PEX.

The only extension cord i'll hook up to th etrailer is a #12, if I'm doing any more than running the fridge or charging batteries. But even a #12, which is normally a 20 amp wire, is only rated for 1875 watts. At least the ones I've taken the trouble to read. I think that may be because they are rubber wrapped and can't cool very well. Or it might be because they have a standard 15 amp style plug on the end, instead of the 20 amp cross pin style.
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Old 08-28-2019, 06:16 PM   #28
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Name: Gordon
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Originally Posted by Raspy View Post
....
All good info and you are clearly very knowledgeable on the subject. The problem is semantics..
NORMAL
noun
1. the usual, average, or typical state or condition.
So if the average home has 15 amp outlets, then that is normal. And it seems to still be the case, since most home are not new, or under the latest code.

But semantics aside (please!), I hope everyone pays attention to the important points in this thread - there are many good points made.

Avoid this!

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Old 08-28-2019, 08:38 PM   #29
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Name: Ray
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[QUOTE=Jon in AZ;752893If you try to draw too much current through a household outlet, the breaker will trip in the house, nothing worse (unless you happen to have a loose connection in the outlet, which happened to me once and came close to starting a fire- faulty installation by a professional electrician).

[/QUOTE]

The one caveat here. if you do trip the breaker built immediately reset it. It does mean your wiring was warmed up just a smidge and if you keep resetting it fast enough you can overheat the wiring. To be totally save wait about 10 minutes and then make sure you don't use quite that much power again.
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Old 08-29-2019, 02:12 PM   #30
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I have never had a problem plugging my Casita into a 20 amp household outlet. Check that the outlet has a ground fault detector and use the adapter mentioned above. My AC is 5000 BTU and it runs just fine along with a Dometic 12v fridge/freezer, small microwave, computer and interior lights.
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