By Mike Sokol
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.
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I’ve received a number of emails and Facebook comments this week about 30-amp RV extension cord plugs overheating and melting. Now, these particular failures aren’t where the shore power cordset is plugged into the pedestal or the RV itself. These meltdowns seem to occur where a 25-ft. extension cord is plugged into the RV’s shore power cordset. And, yes, many times it’s the connector that’s laying on the ground.
But it worked just fine for the last year…
Well, oxidation (corrosion) on most all metals occurs from a combination of oxygen and moisture, so having your 30- or 50-amp shore power cord hooked to an extension cord laying on the ground is asking for trouble. Now, it might work just fine for the first year or so. And if you’re in a dry desert environment it might work forever. But the first time it rains the brass contacts in your plug and extension cord will begin to oxidize (corrode). After that begins it’s a fast ride to overheating and meltdown failure, especially if you’re running a portable space heater or air conditioner in your RV.
I used to bag and gaff-tape all my sound and lighting power connectors that we knew would be in the rain, but for RV owners there’s a simpler and more elegant solution. I found this cool cord cover a few days ago and have asked for a review sample.
But in the meantime, I think it’s a great idea you might want to try yourself. Note that it will accept a 30- or 50-amp extension cord, even with the power-grip handles.
Lift me up – Don’t let your connections sit in water and corrode
However, I don’t like the idea of this cord cover laying on the ground where just a few inches of water could flood it out. I think that placing it on an overturned 5-gallon bucket is a much better solution.
Of course, if the water gets over 2 feet deep you’re in really deep do-do, so I think a regular bucket is more than fine. As soon as my sample unit comes in I’ll a take a picture of it on a bucket in my flooded back yard. In the meantime, you can get one for yourself 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….
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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