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.
We’ve been stuck in a campground for weeks that has very limited electrical power. In fact, sometimes it drops below 100 volts in the afternoon and our EMS shuts down the power for hours until it comes back up. I understand that running on low voltage can be bad for air conditioners and I don’t mind getting out of that tin can of an RV for some fresh air, but how do you deal with 100+ degrees of air temperature? —Soleil
Well, I’m a bit of an expert at dealing with hot outside temperatures without the benefit of an air conditioner. For example, when I was the principal engineer running sound at a bunch of live music festivals during the summer I would often be sitting under a small tent out in the middle of the crowd to mix the music for the bands. I couldn’t have walls and an air conditioner in my tent because I needed to hear the band, so there I was, stuck for days at a time under a 10×20 portable tent, and the air temp was overwhelming.
I could rent in or order most anything I wanted for these gigs, so I started getting contractor misting fans. These looked like medium sized table fans that sat on a bucket of water and had a small pump that would create a fine mist in the airstream. And this actually works on the principle of evaporative cooling, so it really does cool the air.
Now many of these early fans needed AC power, which wasn’t a problem when I had a physical mixing console under the tent that also needed power. But in the last few years of doing festivals I did all my mixing from an iPad wirelessly, so I didn’t need a power plug at my tent. They were just coming out with some great battery-powered contractor misting fans, and I used one at a gig several years ago and it worked great.
I loved this misting fan at my gigs so much that I even brought along bags of ice to put in the water bucket, which enhanced the cooling effect even more. With that in mind I just did an experiment with my Vitrifrigo portable refrigerator/freezer a few weeks ago and used it to freeze a bucket of water overnight. This ice bucket would be perfect to sit in the water pail of a contractor misting fan and should help keep you chilled for hours. I don’t have one of these yet to try but the Ryobi one looks great and should run 6 or 8 hours on a single battery charge.
Also, this misting fan from Ryobi can get its water supply from a hose or a bucket, which I’m sure would make you a hero with the kids when you set up a misting area close to your campsite or even your backyard. Just don’t be tempted to run any misting fan inside of your RV since it would quickly turn the interior into a swamp. Find it at Home Depot or Amazon.
Hope this helps you keep your cool.
OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it. And 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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