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Old 07-12-2013, 04:35 PM   #1
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Simple way to plug in?

My bus doesn't have an RV type electrical system; up until now I've just run an extension cord out the window for the few things I have that need power, like a lamp, fan, single burner hot plate. I've been working on putting in more of a real kitchen and want to get a mini fridge, one of those little dorm size cube things. I was thinking I could just plug it in to the same power strip I've been using, but then I read that a fridge uses more amps, should only be used with an appliance or air conditioner extension cord that's not very long, and shouldn't be plugged into the same outlet as other stuff. An RV extension cord could handle the amps of the fridge, but I don't have something on the bus end to plug that into. Also sometimes I need to plug it in to an ordinary grounded outlet in the house.

I was planning to put a hole in the floor for running a cord in and just use a power strip, but it doesn't look like that's an option if a fridge is included. I don't know a lot about electrical and want to keep it as simple as possible. Any suggestions?
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:02 PM   #2
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

Well I might get chastised for this, but...

In my bus I currently have my fridge - apartment sized, and coffee maker all running through a power strip. Even when the coffee pot is brewing and the fridge is running I don't have any issues.

I only have it like that temporarily as I haven't had a chance to run a new outlet yet.

I think you would be fine running the dorm fridge through the power strip if you had a decent sized extension cord powering it. The breaker might trip on the power strip but it hasn't on mine. Heat could be an issue but it isn't on mine.

This is only my opinion not advice - disclaimer
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:02 PM   #3
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

I have a full electrical system in my bus but I actually have the fridge plugged into a power strip that also powers my small microwave. I have a dorm size fridge as well and it uses around 2 amps as I recall. Your hot plate draws a lot more than any mini fridge you could find. Just make sure both your power strip and extension cord are rated for 15 amps.
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:53 PM   #4
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

Just a thought for you:

Yes I am wired for 50 amp service

At my house I am plugged into a 20 amp breaker with house freezer mind you.

I can have both 5000btu ac's and a saw going while fridge is plugged in for cold beverags and even have a stereo blasting.

I am not useing the full 20amps or a breaker will pop in house first.

Remember if you have a power strip rated for say 20/30 amps you be fine
12gage wire is good for 20 amps a 120v with lengths needed in a full size bus
Now I also have a 10 gage ext cord I use to go from house to bus and at bus it drops to 12gage in the panel(my 50 amp power cord is 6 gage


i tripped breaker once when I turned microwave on with ac and such going,just too much
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:10 PM   #5
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

Have you actually looked at a power post? Typically there is a 50amp outlet and/or 30 amp outlet. There has always been a 20 amp and a 15 amp outlet. So you have at least two outlests that you can use. I often plugged the popup into the 30amp to power the window ac unit or the wall heater. I had one of those nifty adapters. Gotta love adapters. I used the adapter on my 25 ft long uber heavy duty extension cords. We are running the rear 5050 btu air conditioner on one of those cords. Its plugged directly into the power pole.
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Old 07-12-2013, 10:05 PM   #6
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

It sounds like it's not that huge of a deal after all if you guys have used power strips. I googled things like "can you use a power strip with a mini fridge" and "can you use an extension cord with a mini fridge" and the majority of the answers said it might fritz out the fridge or start a fire.

In a couple weeks I'm going to my brother's house in northern Michigan and was hoping to be able to plug in to an outlet in his house. I wouldn't want to run more than one extension cord across the yard there, although I wouldn't mind doing that at a campground. I really want to see how this works, but I don't want to mess up anything in my brother's house or wreck a brand new fridge. Most household outlets are 15 amp, right?

Someday in a few years, I hope to buy some land up north where I can live in my bus at least half the year. Since I have a lot of time to tweak things before that, I want to try to living in it for short periods of time when I go up to my brother's place, to figure out what else I need to do to make it full time livable.
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Old 07-13-2013, 12:11 AM   #7
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

*Scratches neck* Ya should be able to use an extension cord, so long as it ain't one of the cheapie ones. I had my entire 30AMP system plugged into one of the yellow heavy-duty cords with the tri-plug attached to a 20AMP tele-pole. Worked out fine so long as I didn't run the microwave while the Mini-fridge and Mini-Freezer (a Hier and Avanti compact fridge and freezer, respectively) were cycling. I also ran three lengths of heat-tape for the waterhose at the same time and yes that was a pain in the tukuss to set up (I had to piggyback them in order to get it long enough to reach all the way under the house and to the other side where I was parked, that company doesn't make 80-foot heat tape). Was glad when I dismantled it.

Currently I'm lacking a microwave as I burned it out when I accidentally set up the power as 220volt rather than 110volt at the last backyard I was in (I'd put in a new set of breakers and plugged into that rather than a pole). I seem to be doing okay without it, since I have an electric kettle for hot tea and it's too hot here to warm up leftovers anyhow. I do miss having a bloody CLOCK right above the sink, though.

On the meh side, I shocked hell outta myself twice messing with the breaker box (once was on accident, the other on purpose) and I'll be dogged if electric shock therapy would ever work on me! I barely felt a gottdanged thing!

ETA: Gah, forgot to mention! I've not managed to burn out a fridge by plugging it into an extension cord. What I have managed to burn out was the 12volt Coleman coolers. By plugging them into their hotbox adapters and plugging it into a wall outlet. Melted the cord. Ye Dog. Scary.
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Old 07-13-2013, 05:03 AM   #8
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

That disclaimer about ext. Cords is because if you use a 10 foot long .99 dollar store type you can burn up the cord and "underpower"(not enuf juice can get thru/too high resistance) unit and damage it
Make sure cord is good for 20 or 30 amps and you will be fine anything over 25 feet consider 10 ga wire(I made my own 50 ft,buy buying V STABLE romex and 2 ends at lowes/home depot.
It doesn't store small because off stiff wire
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:11 AM   #9
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

(no, there isn't a simple way)

once you get your head around it.... electric is not that hard. it looks intimidating but its pretty easy.

i'd 2nd Bansil's post,..... mostly. Instead of a wire and 2 plug ends, only get one and hook up a small sub panel in your bus to start the AC wiring in there. the sub panel will be the start of your AC power distribution system in the bus. Safer than running lots of loads off of a power strip. it will make wiring in a genny easier in the future too.

at some point you will have too, so money spent doing it temporary is wasted.... imo
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:47 PM   #10
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

I agree with the others that smaller cords will work but they really are a waste of money. Your best bet was said.... buy some bulk 10ga wire and put ends on it. If you have ever felt a wire (regardless of type) that is pulling too much you will know why its better to go too big that not big enough.

Yes electrical is not hard once you get your head around it. Not a place to just throw things together though. Think it out and do it once... do it right.
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Old 07-14-2013, 09:13 PM   #11
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathy WI
Most household outlets are 15 amp, right?
Yes, most outlets are the 15-amp style, though they are often fed by 20-amp wiring and circuit breakers. Any type of heating appliance running on AC will have a multi-amp draw. The hot plate, a coffee pot, or a hair dryer is more of a concern than the fridge. Our home Energy Star chest freezer draws less than an amp after start-up.

The cheap outdoor extension cords in the hardware store and home center bargain bins are typically made of 16 gauge wire for the budget seekers. You have to look through the bins to find the heavier cords with 14 gauge or 12 gauge wire. They probably do not commonly carry any 10 gauge cords due to the cost and low demand. If you are using a hot plate, I would use a 14 gauge shore line up to about 50 feet, and switch to 12 gauge for runs of 100 feet.

In my experience, most people in houses (not counting cheapo mobile homes) have 20-amp circuits, but use receptacles keyed for a 15-amp plug. 15-amp plugs have the hot and neutral blades parallel to each other. Plugs coded for use only in 20-amp circuits have one blade turned perpendicular to the other. Outlets made for 20-amp building wiring designed to take either type of plug will have one slot and one T-shaped opening, plus the U-ground, so either style plug will fit.

In my current camper, all appliances work on either 12-volts or propane. The only AC on board is the battery charger ("converter"). So I have no problem with using a 16 gauge cord for trips where we will not be boondocking.

I have ditched the heavy 30-amp cord that the manufacturer provided, and put in a piece of 12-gauge wire just long enough to reach from the breaker panel to an extension cord. I used a heavy-duty version of the common 15-amp style plug, so there will be no problem plugging into common extension cords or receptacles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bansil
. . .I made my own 50 ft,buy buying V STABLE romex and 2 ends at lowes/home depot.
It doesn't store small because off stiff wire
Romex non-metallic cable (NM) is not a good choice for making shorelines. The advantage is that it is easy to find, and the price is lower because people use so much of it. It is designed to be nailed into walls and stay there. The solid wire conductors will break if they are bent back-and-forth too many times, just like snapping a coat hanger.

Also, the plastic jacket on Romex is not sunlight resistant. An outdoor version of Romex would be underground feeder (UF) type, which can be direct buried, or hung in the sunlight between a house and garage, or a tree with a security light. But this also has solid conductors.

The correct wire to use is called "cord." It will have conductors made of many fine strands of wire. Each conductor will have its own insulation inside the jacket, and there will be added pieces of a kind of cardboard-like paper between each insulated wire to stabilize them and protect them from damage. You will find reels of cord in the home centers and many hardware stores, and the "retail drones" (a term I first heard on Skoolies this week) will cut off a piece priced by the foot to whatever length you want.

Add a plug (male end) and "cap" (female end), and you have a shoreline you can trust, because you made it yourself. You can also repair it yourself if something untoward happens to it.

As for the outlet strip, check the wire size from the plug to the strip. It should be stamped into the plastic cord jacket. Now that you have made your own shoreline, you may want to tackle putting a higher-capacity cord on the strip, if it needs it. But that may involve soldering. It doesn't hurt to pull the screws out and check. If you don't feel like soldering to replace under-sized wire, then shorten it. Get another 15-amp plug from the hardware store, cut the strip's cord down to 6 inches, and put the replacement cord on the strip. Plug it into your new faithful shoreline close to the strip.
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Old 07-15-2013, 07:05 PM   #12
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

Regarding the circuit breakers and popping or not: you may be surprised to learn that a breaker may not immediately pop if current is too high. As a point of reference, consider the characteristics for some Square D circuit breakers I randomly (via google) selected. The first graph, on page 2, is applicable to the thermal-magnetic style commonly used in residential service. It shows that for a current 2x the rated level it may actually take 30-100 seconds to break. In other words, you might run the A/C full-time and warm something for a minute in the microwave, pulling as much as 40 amps on a 20 amp breaker, without tripping it. To clear in 1 second you'd have to be pulling as much as 9-20x the rated current!

Anyway.. I guess my point is that "breaker didn't immediately pop" does not imply that the current is actually reasonable at any instant. A breaker might allow a load of 25 amps indefinitely, for example, but there will still be heating in the conductors and in the plugs/receptacles. Keep an eye on those; they can get hot!
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:07 AM   #13
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

How about something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Milspec-Direct-12 ... uctDetails

Would it be better to use a heavy extension cord like this with multiple outlets, or to use a single plug extension cord with a power strip?
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:17 AM   #14
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

I ran 100ft worth of the orange outdoor 10/3 wiring. When I moved I rolled it back up and am keeping it for later uses for the Camper. Also have a 50ft length of the same stuff not currently being used, will probably add ends to it same as Bansil, if I don't use it to wire up a shed for three outlets (I'm a dreadful pseudo-architect, I have 'houseplans' and floor plans for everything).

Of your two options you're thinking about, I'd probably go with option 2, at least until you get comfortable enough to run wires to the places you need to.
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:16 PM   #15
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

i agree it's not the best way, it works and yes it will break eventually

I made the one cord 13 years ago or so and it has been outside on the ground eversence

I original made it as an "extension cord" for my welder, the guy at box store said I couldn't it was too long of a run for the 20/25 amps i then said why do you sell it in 250 foot rolls?

His answer was "you could use that much as you wire a run in a house"

I said "thats not too far of a pull?"

he said "no Sir"

I said "it's longer than the 75 ft I'm doing"

his responce was "your making an extension cord"

I bought it and left and havent had an issue yet
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Old 07-16-2013, 07:06 PM   #16
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathy WI
How about something like this: AMAZON LINK

Would it be better to use a heavy extension cord like this with multiple outlets, or to use a single plug extension cord with a power strip?
If the power strip is hefty and has a good amp rating, "you pays your money and you makes your choice." If the power strip is for lower amps, then the multi-outlet cable would provide more power, and eliminate one connection. If the power strip is heavy-duty, it may add the benefits of an on-off switch and easy-to-access circuit breaker. Plus, hard plastic may hold the contact pins snugly for more years than molded rubber or whatever.

Note: I think I read that in Kalifornistan it is illegal to plug two cords together to reach an RV, the cable connected to the pedestal must connect to the RV. Just a note for folks affected to find out for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bansil
i agree it's not the best way, it works and yes it will break eventually . . .
I wasn't trying to dump on you, I'm sure it works, and I have done some questionable things in my life and times, like creating one or two (gasp) bootleg grounds. I just wanted to point out that there is another option that would pass inspection and take more abuse . . .

Of course, the best thing is to befriend a stick-n-staples pilot with bad ends on his $450 factory cord, and intercept them on the way to the dumpster after they buy another factory-new assembly.
Just buy a new end or two and you have a cord that handles plenty of power!
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Old 07-16-2013, 08:15 PM   #17
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

No worries :cheers:

I normally use my 6 gage frikin anaconda.....for real,wrestling that thing out 50 foot 50 amp cord,its when I have to then throw the 30 adapter and then its like okay the plugin for my fridge is where? Then the 10ga solid gets dumped on the ground so beer stays cold and pizza stay frozen withe meat....

I do take my cord apart every year check connectors replace and trim ends if needed and I do my best to keep up on the broken ground/nuetral testin

Now the whole BLG thing it is like saying smile for. The camera.....CHEESE!....and an elephant shiats on your head its hard to grasp
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:13 AM   #18
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Re: Simple way to plug in?

OK, I'll 'fess up on the BLG - the one I do remember was for radio remote control. The county highway and engineering offices had all these remotes that ran a shared radio in the attic by putting up to 150 VDC across the audio line when talking. There were so many of them that the TX was delayed by charging all the parallel DC blocking capacitors in the other remotes. So the boss sent me to change the operation for all units to put DC between the audio and ground instead. One of the outlets in a drafting office had a three-prong outlet with no ground wire inside. The modified remote would not TX until a little wire somehow showed up inside the box . . . .
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