Saturday, April 1, 2023


RVelectricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): That ’70s Hot Dog Show and portable solar power stations

Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) with the subject line – JAM. Today I discuss portable solar power stations and, maybe more importantly, hot dogs.


Dear Mike,
Over on your RVelectricity Facebook group I read where you were going to try a Hot Dogger from the 1970s. I had one as a kid, but it’s long gone now. Were you able to find one and did you get it working? —Sid

Dear Sid,
Yes, I did. In fact, it was so interesting I made a video about it, which I’ll publish for the first time here. And, of course, since I like to measure everything, I ran an amperage and wattage consumption test at the same time. And because I’m studying the uses for the latest portable solar power stations, I used a Southwire Elite 1100 Series™ Portable Power Station to power it.

Is this a solar generator?

Well, sort of, kind of. I really don’t like that terminology since these aren’t really generators in in strictest sense of the word. They’re actually a lithium battery with a built-in pure-sine inverter, and an external power supply for charging from 120-volts AC or 12-volts DC.

That’s why Southwire calls their product an Elite 1100 Series™ Portable Power Station, which I think is much more accurate. Plus, these units have a variety of USB and cigarette lighter outlets for powering phones, air mattress inflators, etc. (If you’re interested, here’s a link to the product on Amazon.)

How did these Hot Doggers work?

You simply place up to six hot dogs between the electrical spikes, put on the lid (which applies 120-volt AC power), then wait 60 seconds or so for your hotdogs to fully cook. There’s an electrical interlock in the lid so you can’t accidentally apply power to the hotdogs without the lid being fully on—so this appears to be safe.

But they do draw up to a 1,000 watts from the 120-volt AC outlet once the hotdogs get cooking. So be aware that if you’re on a loaded circuit there’s the possibility of tripping a circuit breaker.

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Where did the Hot Doggers all go?

My son asked why these Hot Doggers aren’t manufactured anymore. I think it’s because in the early 1970s there were no cheap microwave ovens. So this was a miracle in fast cooking. But once microwave ovens became affordable and in every household (including your RV), then the Hot Dogger wasn’t needed anymore. Plus, it’s really a one-trick pony, without a lot of other uses. So now you can find them on eBay for a little trip down nostalgia lane.

Watch me cook hot dogs in a Hot Dogger!

As promised, there’s the video of me cooking hotdogs in a Hot Dogger using a Southwire Elite 1100 Portable Power Station. And yes, this a picture of my kids loving them.

Please note that while my boys like ketchup on their hot dogs, I refuse to eat my dogs that way. I’ll have mine with sauerkraut and spicy mustard, or if I’m in Chicago I’ll have it with the florescent green relish and all the fixings. To watch the video click on the image or HERE.

OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.

Let’s play safe out there….

Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

You don’t want to miss Mike’s webcasts on his YouTube channel.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign



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9 months ago

Back in the 50’s as I recall we made hot dog cookers in wood shop in eight grade. Took a square block of wood put 6 nails through it, soldered wires to each side 3 and 3 nails, put another block of wood on bottom and our own hot dog cooker. No switches or cover. Mon and Dad loved my handywork and it worked. 100% safe as long as you didn’t touch live nails.

Mike Sokol
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan

Yup… we made them in the Boy Scouts. And yes, they could kill you if you touched a nail or even the hot dog!

Mike Sokol
9 months ago

So for those of you interested in electrical power calculations, who can figure out the impedance of each hot dog if the power draw was 1,000 watts at 120 volts for 6 hot dogs? And what would the total kWh usage be for 1 minute of hotdog cooking at 1,000 watts? Please show your work…

RV Staff
9 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

I just want to know if they blow up if you nuke them for too long. That would certainly impede the ability to put it on a hot dog bun. (Yeah, I know impede and impedance are entirely different things. You don’t need to phone me and explain it, Mike. Thanks, anyway.) 😆 –Diane

Mike Sokol
9 months ago
Reply to  RV Staff

Actually, they are the same thing….

impedance (n.)
“hindrance,” especially and originally “resistance due to induction in an electrical circuit,” 1886, from impede + -ance. The classically correct formation would be *impedience.

9 months ago

Back in the 60’s cheese dogs from the Majestic Diner in Pittston Pennsylvania were always good. I think the ashes from the cook’s cigar made the difference!

Tommy Molnar
9 months ago

Growing up in Chicago in the 50’s, there were still hot dog vendors with pushcarts who came down our street. When you told them you wanted “everything”, that meant mustard, onions, relish, and tomato wedges along the side of the dog, and a healthy sprinkling of salt from a huge salt shaker. It was a show to watch! Weinerschnitzel need not apply!

Tom Hosack
9 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Celery Salt

Glen Cowgill
9 months ago

A Hot Dog is not a Hot Dog with Out the good chili and mustard found in northern West Virginia. Even that has seemed to have disappeared. I make my own which is close to what I used to get as a youth.

Mike Sokol
9 months ago
Reply to  Glen Cowgill


9 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Hebrew Nationals or Nathan’s are the best at home.

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