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Old 07-25-2014, 11:13 AM   #1
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Extension cords for wiring?

I remember someone saying that if you go the stranded wire route, using extension cords can be an inexpensive option. I haven't found and threads where people actually do this. I'd like to, for some stuff anyway. I have extra cords that have been out of commission for a while. Any thoughts? Or links?
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Old 07-25-2014, 11:43 AM   #2
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

I seem to remember Lorna doing that--and writing about it. Why don't you give her a PM, I'm sure she will be able to direct you to her comments.
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Old 07-25-2014, 01:07 PM   #3
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

I have them under my bus to run power to outside outlets. Nice heavy rubber coated ones.
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Old 07-25-2014, 01:47 PM   #4
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

We used to do construction and had a lot of really heavy duty exterior cords that we stretched out from the far away temp power pole and ran table saws, planers, compressors and various other tools (sometimes all at the same time). We invested a lot of money into our extension cords as they were very important to our job and we could not afford the down time from burning out a cord or tool. There are many levels of "heavy duty" cords. After Christmas is a very good time to buy those Christmas exterior heavy duty cords. I used to post on a coach forum where I got a lot of info from some pro coach converters. One of these was Fred Hobe of North Florida Coach Conversion. Back when we had the Eagle 05, I exchanged a lot of PMs with him, asking a lot of newbie questions. He was very generous with his advise.

He wired up his coach (and many others) using 12/3 heavy duty extension cords. We did too. They make a nice neat job of the wiring. We also supplimented with the wiring we salvaged from the Eagle (marine quality). So the Blue Bird has a little Eagle in her. We used good quality crimp on connectors where we wired to the outlets and the panel box. Several here object to how we wired up our bus. I will take the advise of Fred Hobe. I know him, his reputation and his work far better than anyone posting here. Most of the info I have gained comes from adapting what I learned on the coach conversion forums and from our decades in residential construction. It's why we call our bus a Residential Vehicle not a Recreational Vehicle. And there is a difference between the two.

http://users.cwnet.com/thall/fredhobe.htm Lots of good info here. Aimed towards highway coaches in general and MCI's in particular. Most of the info can be adapted to skoolies.
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:17 PM   #5
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

I used 10/3 for the 20amp runs and 14/3 for everything else. 12v and 120v are all wired using extension cords. SUPER easy to work with because of their round shape and flexibility. If you have a local recycling center' go make friends with someone that works there. I paid less than $50 for every wire in my bus.

It's been debated heavily but I feel stranded wiring to be the best in a vehicle that moves and vibrates whilst in motion. Not looking to start an argument, just stating my opinion.
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:12 PM   #6
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

I used stranded residential wiring in mine 'cause I had a bunch of it available, but if I had extension cords available I would have been very comfortable using them instead. Just be sure to size the wire to the load and you'll be fine.

15 amp load - 14 gauge wire minimum
20 amp load - 12 gauge wire min.
30 amp load - 10 gauge wire min.

Wire that is over sized for the load is fine, wire that is undersized for the load is a fire waiting to happen.
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Old 07-25-2014, 09:05 PM   #7
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

Great information. Thank you everyone who shared their knowledge!!
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Old 07-26-2014, 09:32 AM   #8
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

Yea-I remember that last time this came up someone got the knicker is a knot over it--we gotta remember that there are very few MUSTs + GOTTAs in this game. Everyone's bus + ideas are different.
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Old 07-26-2014, 10:53 AM   #9
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwarf36
Yea-I remember that last time this came up someone got the knicker is a knot over it--we gotta remember that there are very few MUSTs + GOTTAs in this game. Everyone's bus + ideas are different.
Except for that you MUST do a solid and safe install of your 110vac wiring! You can easily endanger yourself and everyone around the bus by cutting corners on the electrical system.
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Old 07-26-2014, 11:46 AM   #10
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazty
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwarf36
Yea-I remember that last time this came up someone got the knicker is a knot over it--we gotta remember that there are very few MUSTs + GOTTAs in this game. Everyone's bus + ideas are different.
Except for that you MUST do a solid and safe install of your 110vac wiring! You can easily endanger yourself and everyone around the bus by cutting corners on the electrical system.
This is why we oversized our wiring per runs. All our runs are under 20 amps with the exception of the electric water heater. It's on one of our 10/3 cords (just like the dishwasher connection). The nice thing is we know the blue cord in the breaker panel goes to the water heater, the yellow cord goes to the bathroom, the orange cord goes to the freezer and washing machine, the green one goes to the outlet at the fireplace, etc. Made labeling the panel box easier.
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:34 PM   #11
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

For whatever its worth, I use extension cords ALL over the place. I used them on my bus (back when I had a bus), I use them for trailer wiring, I use them in boats. Extension cords are awesome. They are cheap AND higher quality than a lot of the other wire you can buy. Stranded, double insulated, and covered in materials designed to flex. What are the cons?
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:10 PM   #12
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

My main concern about using extension cords in our busses stems from not knowing anything about the insulation used. How well does it stand up to heat (from whatever cause) and what quality ends have been used? Low quality plugs and recepts can lead to high resistance shorts and cause a fire long before a fuse will blow. Poor heat tolerance in the wire insulation can allow a meltdown, short and cause a fire as well.

I've put those worries to the side (but not out of mind) and used one extension cord in my bus. It is an eight ft run of #10/ 3 wire with outdoor rated insulation servicing one 15 amp 120 volt recept on the kitchen counter top. The cord is supported throughout its run and is completely visible from end to end. Had I not found a really cool 1930's surface mount recept well after the wiring was completed, I'd have thought long and hard about using an extension cord in my wiring. There is absolutely no way I'd use a two wire Xmas tree type extension cord anywhere in my bus--let alone with my xmas tree

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Old 08-06-2014, 11:10 PM   #13
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

I used metal conduit, outlet boxes with stranded wire inside. Never have to worry about it now.
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Old 08-07-2014, 08:50 PM   #14
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ol trunt
...There is absolutely no way I'd use a two wire Xmas tree type extension cord anywhere in my bus--let alone with my xmas tree ...
I'm pretty sure that you did not think that I meant to use those flimsy 16/2 extension cords. But just to clarify things for any other readers...

The Christmas extension cords that I meant are heavy duty exterior 12/3 (three wire)extension cords that the exterior coating is "Christmas Green". You know, the cords that you see while you are perusing the Christmas decor in the store and you say "Hey honey, look at this really nice heavy extension cord! I wouldn't mind having that but it's a shame it's that green colour, I would never find that in the yard"... (BTW, I have actually heard that statement made and it wasn't us). They are gotten in as special buys just for Christmas and the stores never carry them at any other times. So when Christmas is over or almost over, they slash the prices to unload the stuff because they have no place to put them because all the stuff is coming in for the next sales holiday or season. In times past, we have gotten some great buys on the Post-Christmas sales.


Another Christmas/Post Christmas Sale great buy are the fairy lights (those twinkling tiny lights that you hang on the tree and your house). At Christmas time they are called Christmas Lights, other times of the year they are called fairy lights or party lights and you pay more for them. If you get the outside rated steady on ones, you can use them as outside lighting. They put out a pretty decent amount of light while not being harsh. Or buy the light bulb ones that take the same little light bulbs used in nightlights. If you have light bulb night lights (I use them in my sewing machine, among other things), buy the Christmas packaged bulbs for much much cheaper around/after Christmas. I have several 8 packs of the bulbs that I bought around Christmas time that I paid less than the cost of the exact same single bulb in the electrical section of Wal-Mart (and these were also at WalMart... two rows apart).

Christmas/Post Christmas Sale as well as other holiday sales and End-of-summer Sales, are great times to pick up decor items. A little bit of paint or removing a ribbon/greenery makes the item able to be used in your year-round decor. Don't forget that if you buy a galvanized metal item ( a popular medium for the Summer and July 4th seasonal items), if you want to paint it, you need to first prime with an etching primer made for galvanized and/or aluminum metal. Then you can paint it the colour of your choice... like oil rubbed bronze. When you are as cheap/frugal as I am, you know that paint is your friend!
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:08 PM   #15
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

I got some strings of LEDs after Christmas - I should have bought more.

FYI, the previous "animated discussion" was not about using extension cords, but on bundling them together. An electrician was quoting figures from the electrical code about how many wires go into a conduit.

Anyway, the un-educated explanation is that if you bundle ten 12-3 cords, the NEC conservatively assumes they will all draw maximum current at the same time (even the grounds?). So they figure you will be drawing 200+ amps through the whole bundle (off of a 50-amp shoreline?), and as a result the bundle cannot be expected to properly cool itself.

We know when we build a bus for ourselves that we may only use 1 to 3 circuits at a time, especially when the AC is powered by an inverter, a small generator, or a 30-amp shoreline.
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:32 PM   #16
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

Lorna, I suspect that if you had---your bus would have long since burned to the ground. But it is good to get clarification so that we all understand what we are talking about. Thanks Jack
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Old 08-08-2014, 10:12 AM   #17
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbear
I got some strings of LEDs after Christmas - I should have bought more...
I've heard that there will be another Christmas coming up in December. Maybe you can get some more lights then?

The LED fairy lights seem to be getting very popular. The first few years they had them, they didn't seem to sell very well. I guess LED is becoming more accepted as people learn more about them.
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Old 08-08-2014, 10:28 AM   #18
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Re: Extension cords for wiring?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ol trunt
... it is good to get clarification so that we all understand what we are talking about. Thanks Jack
And that is why I clarified. Most of us that have bounced some of these subjects around remember other threads. But the newbies only hit the rehashes and miss out on a lot of info. I think sometimes we need to be a little clearer in what we post as well as remember to include cautions as needed, even though we know the things that we should not do. Newbies may not know these things. Essentially the skoolie.net forum is an online manual on how to convert a school bus or vehicle into recreational or residential vehicles. And with the last bout of spamming, some stuff has disappeared.


BTW, we don't use those lightweight two wire extension cords for anything. Many years ago, I had a new one melt the insulation off that was powering a table lamp with a 60 watt bulb in it (lamp was only short 6" from reaching the plug). Scared me so I tossed the only two I had and bought a 3 ft heavy duty extension cord after testing the outlet to make sure it wasn't the outlet. Those two wire jobbies are dangerous!
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