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.
I’ve had my 30-amp plug burn up a few times in the last couple of seasons. Is it something I’m doing wrong, or something the campground is doing wrong? —Burt
If the outlet on the pedestal has been overheated before, then its own contacts can overheat your perfectly good 30-amp plug. Or if your 30-amp plug is damaged or corroded, it can damage a perfectly good campsite outlet.
There’s also the possibility that either the shore power plug or outlet was built in a foreign factory that doesn’t comply with all NEMA dimensional and material standards for those connectors. I just don’t know enough to venture a definitive opinion yet.
But all is not lost as Mike Zimmerman and I (over on the RVelectricity Facebook group) are taking on the challenge of trying to determine why this problem seems to happen on a lot of 30-amp shore power connectors, and why it appears that the neutral contacts overheat much more frequently than the hot contacts. It’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
But not to worry, as I’m designing a high-current testing device that can overload any RV connector with up to 180 amperes of current for hours at a time, all without driving up my electric bill too much. It’s just one more piece of test gear I need to build that just doesn’t exist outside of a large test lab, but which can help answer these seemingly simple but rather deep questions. Please Stand By for more science.
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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