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Old 03-29-2013, 12:23 PM   #1
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Campground and RV Electrical Connections question

First let me start off by saying that before I start the season I intend on purchasing a Progressive Industries PT30C 30 Amp Portable Electrical Management System. That said, here is my question. I have been camping at only one campground for the past 10 years. It is at the beach and most of my camping is during the busy, hot summer months. The park is usually maxed out with campers. Last year, I purchased my Jayco. Before that I owned a 2001 Forest River. I have never used a surge protector of any kind. Back in 2010, I noticed that the male end (prongs)of my TT power cord was turning black as though they were burnt. Remember, it took about 7 years to get to that point. I went to the local RV store and purchased a new head and replaced the old one. I also purchased a 50 amp to 30 amp adapter. From that point on I used the adapter. I never noticed any blackening or burning of the adapter, although it was only used a few times. A friend who camps as I do, only one campground down has noticed his prongs are blackening as well. Does anyone know what caused the blackening/burning? Low voltage? High voltage? Power surge? Perhaps overuse by campers of the 30 amp receptacle, and by using the adapter I have eleminated that problem? I am not a real mechanical mind person, and after reading here and every where else I realize the need for a protector. I'm just trying to figure out what it is that is causing the blackening or burning so I can be on the lookout for it. One other concern i have is this. With the surge protector I am looking at, it says it will shut off power to the TT in the event of low or high voltage. If the burning is caused by say, low voltage, and the protector shuts off power, what happens if the low voltage is constant? Thus the power won't come back, and I bake in 100 degree sun! thanks for your advice.
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:00 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krackeer View Post
Does anyone know what caused the blackening/burning? Low voltage? High voltage? Power surge? Perhaps overuse by campers of the 30 amp receptacle, and by using the adapter I have eliminated that problem?
Exactly. The black marks and heat are caused by arcing of the electrical flow caused by a loose or very dirty plug or receptacle. Usually, I think, caused by a loose RV park 30 amp receptacle. I've also noticed that using a 50 to 30 amp converter usually eliminates the problem; I think because the 50 amp receptacles are not used as much and therefore are not as worn out.

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With the surge protector I am looking at, it says it will shut off power to the TT in the event of low or high voltage. If the burning is caused by say, low voltage, and the protector shuts off power, what happens if the low voltage is constant? Thus the power won't come back, and I bake in 100 degree sun! thanks for your advice.
Right, on my hardwired Progressive Industries EMS as long as the voltage is below (or above) the cut off point, your electricity is off. On mine there is a switch you can use to "turn off" the protection so that if your electricity does not meet the EMS standards, you can turn your electricity back on if you want. But then you are defeating the purpose of the EMS; but it's a choice you can make which may damage your air conditioner or other equipment. I assume the portable EMS units have the same provision, or else if you don't want the EMS protections just unplug the EMS unit.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:04 PM   #3
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Be sure to shut off the circuit breaker on the power pedestal before connecting or disconnecting your power cable. This will eliminate arcing during the process and is safer for you. Rarely do I find breakers shut off. Many campers just leave them turned on.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:34 PM   #4
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I agree with what RVhiker has said.
I would add, the loose/dirty receptacle in the pedestal has more electrical resistance than it should, and as your RV draws current through that resistance, there will be a voltage drop develop inside the receptacle. The voltage drop multiplied by the current draw, is the power consumed inside the receptacle. The blackening of the prongs is what you see afterward.
So, even though the CG voltage may be above the EMS cut-off, the extra drop inside a loose/dirty receptacle could be just enough to trip your EMS.
If you want to boost the CG voltage a bit, you can use an Auto-transformer, as found in this link to Tweetys;
http://tweetys.com/rv_autoformers.aspx
You install it between the pedestal and your EMS.
Be advised, some CG management frown upon using an Auto-transformer, but from a technical standpoint, it will NOT do any harm to their systems.

P.S. The best solution is to have clean tight connections in the receptacle and tight screw terminals where the internal wires connect to the receptacle. I've seen cases where the receptacle is okay, but the internal screw terminals for the wires are loose, resulting in excessive voltage drop.
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Old 03-29-2013, 06:26 PM   #5
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.......Be advised, some CG management frown upon using an Auto-transformer, but from a technical standpoint, it will NOT do any harm to their systems.
If the campground management is so ignorant as to believe the auto-former is detrimental to their system they will probably believe you if you explain to them it is your home made surge suppressor.
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