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Old 10-02-2018, 02:11 PM   #1
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Romex vs Extension Cord

Seems like I have read of people using both in their busses to wire the 110 from the ac panel. Is there much of a difference? looking 12 gauge
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Old 10-02-2018, 03:40 PM   #2
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Solid wire is NOT recommended for use in vehicles. It is prone to work hardening & breaking due to vibration over time. Make sure to use stranded. And personally, I would seek out some commercial grade SO wire (outdoor rated) rather than an extension cord. At least that way you know what you have.


And it is a good idea to go as large as you can manage. If you can run #10...even better. Less resistance. But either way, definitely check to see what will be required (minimum) for the load as well as the length of the run (the length can make a very big difference). There are lots of charts online. Over doing might cost a couple of bucks more. Under-doing might burn everything down.
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Old 10-02-2018, 05:05 PM   #3
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Interesting, however, when I demoed my camper for parts they used romex. my travel trailer I use to own used romex inside. I was planning on using romex in my bus. sub'd for more responses.
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Old 10-02-2018, 05:16 PM   #4
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Most campers / trailers use romex.. as did I... but I could see the potential for problems down the road. I would think with proper routing and mounting of the romex along with leaving slack in areas needed, it would be fine for a long while... but who knows.


You can get stranded wire at most home improvement stores and its relatively cheap. Should be right next to the romex. Typically used in conduit.
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Old 10-02-2018, 05:24 PM   #5
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I used rome's - 12/3 outdoor rated (for underground wiring) - and placed it in conduit for all my 110V needs.
I don't have a lot running off 110V - my bus is mainly set up to run everything off 12V / solar.
But I do have a 30A outlet for campgrounds - I run fans / heater off it when needed.

I have not had any issue with the Romex outdoor rated - probably could have used regular indoor - since it's airtight in conduit - but I didn't.
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Old 10-02-2018, 08:44 PM   #6
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I would never use a sticks & staples rig as the model for building anything!
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Old 10-02-2018, 08:52 PM   #7
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I would never use a sticks & staples rig as the model for building anything!
This. Romex or other solid wire is absolutely not what you want to be using on a mobile application.

Better than extension cord wire will be a type of stranded wire known as SIS. It's used for controls and low voltage power in machines of all types, and is rated for exactly the type of application that we are using it in for bus conversions. It's not the cheapest stuff around, but it's the right material for the job in this case.
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Old 10-02-2018, 09:11 PM   #8
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Probably best to follow the NEC for ac wiring. Permanent wiring by extension cords is a no-no, but has been used by many .

I believe that 12 vdc is not under NEC regulation, at least for our systems.

Then there are the solar panels. My MPPT panels put out like 90+ volts per string.
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Old 10-02-2018, 11:12 PM   #9
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I appreciate all the info, will look for something stranded
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Old 10-03-2018, 12:59 PM   #10
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Also... No romex in conduit. Romex needs to be in "open air" so to speak to dissipate heat... otherwise it loses ampacity. The conduit will hold heat. Open wall cavities, etc.. just fine. If its going to be close quarters, it needs to be sized for the heat more then the load.
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Old 10-03-2018, 03:18 PM   #11
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Personally, I'm going to look to marine and industrial code when choosing and sizing electrical components for an RV build.
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Old 10-03-2018, 08:15 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Rovobay View Post
Interesting, however, when I demoed my camper for parts they used romex. my travel trailer I use to own used romex inside. I was planning on using romex in my bus. sub'd for more responses.


I had the same experience. Romex was used throughout in the trailer I demolished.

I used it in my build as well with frequent staples and silicone in some places to keep it free of vibration.

Iím sure using SOOW is a great way to do it, but I havenít had any problems and would be surprised if I do. Romex is quite stiff and will just stay put if secured well.
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:50 PM   #13
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Run conduit with individual stranded wire if you can. So much easyer to add another circuit later this way too. Even go as far as putting in some conduit that is empty. I had never given much thought to a backup camara, or to putting a TV in the bus,until my wife ordered a flat screen TV for the bus. Now what? no wires to the front.... Pulled off some panels and fished conduit from front to back off the bus. Sure wish I had put it in when the walls were apart. no fun going back.

The kitchen cabinets and water tank are in the way so ended up putting my endoscope in the conduit so I could see where I was feeding it. There is a chase to run it in mine thank goodness. Just had to do a bit of wiggling to get it through each hole
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:44 PM   #14
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IMHO this would be a good choice: https://shop.pkys.com/Marine-W123-Tr...gaAkddEALw_wcB
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:42 PM   #15
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Yep, that looks like good stuff.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:51 PM   #16
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Run conduit with individual stranded wire if you can. So much easyer to add another circuit later this way too. Even go as far as putting in some conduit that is empty. I had never given much thought to a backup camara, or to putting a TV in the bus,until my wife ordered a flat screen TV for the bus. Now what? no wires to the front.... Pulled off some panels and fished conduit from front to back off the bus. Sure wish I had put it in when the walls were apart. no fun going back.
Some of the best general build advice I've seen yet...
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:09 PM   #17
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It may be a bit late of over kill but I am going to base my electrical on 46 CFR Subchapter J (Small passenger vessel). It has a lot of low view voltage and good wiring information. Since boats and RVs are subjected to vibration IMO stranded wires are the way to go. I am traveling in Alaska helping my daughter move so I canít link the CFR citation. But it is easy googled or available through the GPO
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Old 10-10-2018, 10:11 PM   #18
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Sorry folks. Subchapter T. Subchapter J is electrical for larger vessels but still a good reference.
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:03 AM   #19
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Seems like I have read of people using both in their busses to wire the 110 from the ac panel. Is there much of a difference? looking 12 gauge



I'm not an electrician...but if I remember correctly


Not sure of your use of the word "busses". Are you referring to school busses or electrical busses? Electrical busses are the 3 metal strips in the electrical panels - you connect all of the wires together by screwing them to the 3 busses - hot, common, and ground. All of the wires & fuses in your school bus wiring are hooked together on a 12 volt "bus". Some vehicles use the frame for the ground "bus". Computers have multiple "busses" in them - 12v, 5v, usb, pci, ect. Don't ask me why they call them "busses"



Short answer, yes they can be mixed on the busses. Generally speaking bigger wire is better. Bottom line.... depends on what you are going to use it for.




1. Stranded wire can carry more current, something called the "skin effect"? Electrons travel on the surface of the strands and there is more surface area on stranded wire than single strand romex.


2. Stranded wire is more flexible and therefore easier to route into tight places and work with. However it is a bit like string and can get hard to push.



3. Stranded wire usually costs more than romex.


4. There are different types of insulation. Automotive stranded wire has insulation that can tale more heat and should be used any where there is heat such as near engines. There are also special insulations for very high heat like in ovens, furnaces, heaters, etc. but they are usually stiff and/or brittle.



5. There are different types of stranded wire. Automotive, extension cords, and welding cables have more & smaller wires for a given size than the stranded wire used in construction.


6. Stranded is easier to solder (solder is a more positive connection and therefore more vibration proof) than romex if that is a consideration.


7. Insulation type is very important. UV resistant should be used for outdoor wiring. I've already covered heat resistant for automotive (and machinery). Water resistant for outdoors or underground. Extension cords also have thicker insulation for rough usage. Round extension cords also usually have double insulation (each wire is insulated, the outside cover is a second insulator, and some have paper insulation embedded in them). Flat extension cords just have bare wires embedded in a soft thick outer insulation and have a greater chance of shocking you or just getting a wire cut in half, not really a good choice. Note: extension cords are not a good choice where heat is concerned because they will overheat easier. I use them for stuff like running tail lights because of the outdoors, toughness properties and there are 3 or more wires inside of 1 cord.


Make sure the wire is rated for the voltage (insulation) and amperage (wire size) that you are using.



There is more to it than what I have covered but I hope that you got the point.....no 1 type of wire is good for all applications. This is very easily researched and you shouldn't be relying on advice from people like me for your decision. We are talking fire and/or electrocution hazards as well as equipment failures. 110v can kill you. Get it right.
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