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RVelectricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): Answers to your questions on the new SoftStartUp controller

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) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM. Today I answer some of your questions on the brand-new SoftStartUp controller.


 


Dear Readers,

My Saturday article in the RV Travel Newsletter on the brand-new SoftStartUp controller generated a lot of questions about using it on generators (hah!). If you missed it, you can read it HERE.

Since there seems to be so much interest, here are a few quick answers to some of your questions.

Q: I’m curious why is there no mention of actually plugging this into a generator like the Honda 2200? When will this be available for purchase?

A: Well, that first article was a technical overview of how the SoftStartUp works. And there’s only so much information I can stuff into one article until it becomes unreadable.

But to answer your first question, yes it does work with a Honda 2200 inverter generator. That’s exactly what I used to test the SoftStartUp to power a Dometic Penguin II 15,000 BTU air conditioner.

To answer your second question, the SoftStartUp is available now. Click here to get a special RVtravel.com discount.

Q: Will this trigger a hardwired EMS?

A: I believe that if you’re plugging it into a floating neutral generator that you would still need to add a Generator Bonding Plug. I’ll try it this week. That’s because an intelligent/EMS surge protector works by monitoring the voltage differential between the neutral and ground conductors.

If your RV is plugged into a properly wired pedestal, the neutral and ground conductors are bonded together back at the property’s service panel. But most portable inverter generators have a floating neutral that will allow the ground-to-neutral voltage to drift up to 1/2 the line voltage (60 volts or so). A simple generator bonding plug that I invented 10 years ago solves the problem.

Q: Mike, do you think the SoftStart technology would be effective for the startup currents in a transformer-based microwave oven? I had to exchange my transformer oven for an inverter oven because the startup current caused my coach inverter to shut down. The startup surge is about 5X the rating, similar to A/C units… but it’s not a motor, it’s a transformer, so the physics and momentum are different. Appreciate your thoughts.

A: Yes, I think it could work. I’m also going to try it on my laser printer that trips the breaker if I try to print something in my office while the window air conditioner is running. In theory, it could reduce this starting surge by perhaps 50%. But I’ll try this to be sure and write about it in a future article. Much to learn.


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Q: The big question is, will it be available for rigs with 50-amp service, and what does it cost? And will it work inline with a surge protector without issues?

A: So many questions, so little time… I’m not sure if and when it will be available for a 50-amp service, but I’ll let you all know when I hear something.

As far as I know, the SoftStartUp should also work properly with an EMS surge protector, but I’ve only done casual testing on that so far. I’ll have to set up an experiment to confirm my hypothesis of operation.

Understand that my FunkWorks Lab tests all kinds of things that gets sent to me for review, so I try to stay focused on what’s right in front of me. But it would be exciting to test a 50-amp version of the SoftStartUp if it becomes available. I have a Honda EU7000iS generator that would be perfect for this test. And I’ve asked Harbor Freight for a few Predator generators to try out, but no traction yet.

Check the link below for prices and to get a special RVtravel.com discount.

Q: Will you be making a video of the SoftStartUp in action? I learn a lot from your videos. 

A: Oh, yes. I’ve already recorded a video of the SoftStartUp starting a 15kBTU air conditioner on a 20-amp home outlet, a Honda EU2200iS generator, and even a Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro Portable Power Station. I’ll publish the video from the back deck of my FunkWorks Lab next week.

Please Stand By…

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….

To get your special RVtravel.com discount on the SoftStartUp, click here.

Send your questions to me at my 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 Amazon.com. 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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cee
30 days ago

I have the 1st generation SoftStart installed on my A/C. Aside from the size, are there differences between mine and the latest SoftStart?

Parson Pete
1 month ago

I use a 50 Amp EMS on my shore power and have installed Soft-Starts on both my 15,000 BTU A/C’s they work fine – no issues, Also, okay when on Onan 6000 KW Genset.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

I had our mobile RV guy install this on our travel trailer. The ac runs fine using my old Champion 2,000 watt generator. It will NOT run in eco mode though.

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

That’s correct. While my 3,000 watt Honda inverter generator in eco mode will start a 15k rooftop air conditioner using SoftStartUp most of the time, any 2000 or 2200 watt generator will definitely need to run in full power mode.

TIM MCRAE
1 month ago

Thanks Mike. Love this! Ordered mine within minutes of reading Saturdays article.

I already sent this to the company. Will there be a hardwire model (soon)?

I want to put it after the load transfer switch on my Class A (30amp).

It will be safer from theft (at this price!) and auto switch between shore power & my Onan 4k genny.

I will probably do this myself with a few 30amp plugs and sockets to avoid tearing up a brand new unit or void the nice 2 yr warranty, but each plug / socket adds several potential hot spot / current wasters!

Thanks again Mike

Tim

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