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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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