By Mike Sokol
As most of us are winding down the camping season and mothballing our RVs for the winter, now is a great time to repair and upgrade our electrical systems. That way you won’t be caught off-guard in the spring when you head out on your first trip and forgot something important.
I’ve had dozens of emails over the last few months about shore power plug meltdown, many times during extreme hot spells. It’s obvious that running air conditioners and other appliances at the same time can stress your RV electrical system to the max. And if it’s not maintained properly you can have equipment meltdown. Of course, connectors are typically the weak link in the system, so if your shore power connectors aren’t perfect, then that’s going to be where the overheating occurs.
30-amp shore power
Something that seems to exhibit the most problems is the pedestal outlet for 30-amp shore power. Even though the plug looks much more robust than the 20-amp plug in your house, in reality it’s only rated for 50% more amperage, that is, 30 amps of current instead of 20 amps.
I’ve written many times about how the TT-30 plug’s similarity to a home 240-volt dryer outlet can cause residential electrician confusion. But today I’m going to focus on the other end of the shore power cord – the part that plugs into your RV.
These twist-lock connectors have been around for a long time, so they’re on millions of RVs. And they are indeed approved for use in this application. However, to function properly twist lock plugs must be connected properly using both hands, first locking in the connector itself, then spinning on the locking ring. Failure to follow these steps can result in a high-resistance connection which could lead to overheating during high-current situations (like running air conditioners and microwave ovens).
Enter SmartPlug. This marine-grade inlet receptacle and matching shore power plug not only has 20 times the contact surface area of a traditional twist-lock connector on your RV, it’s also manufactured with marine-grade contacts and hooks up with a simple “push” and click. So there’s no additional alignment procedures, twisting motions to make full contact, or extra lock rings that must be spun on without cross-threading.
Live, on TV, it’s me….
Click on the picture to watch my 7-minute video where I explore the differences between the standard twist-lock and SmartPlug connectors. And if you had any type of shore power connector failure last season, now is the time to consider an upgrade. Not much stops a camping trip faster than an electrical system failure.
If you’re looking for a place to purchase a SmartPlug, I highly recommend TechnoRV. They not only produce their own educational videos about the products they sell, their customer service is top notch. You can buy a SmartPlug HERE.
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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