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.
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?
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?
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.
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