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Old 10-23-2014, 10:08 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post

using the 50-amp receptacle with a suitable adapter to the trailer's 30-amp cord means everything is within its rated capacity, and there is no need to specially limit how much electrical power is used.
Well you can do it and common sense sort of tells you that it ordinarily wouldn't be a problem it does go against electrical codes. The breaker on a circuit is sized for the wire it protects. It's OK to use a larger diameter wire than the circuit breaker is rated for but to meet code it's not OK to use a smaller diameter wire than the circuit breaker is rated for.

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Old 10-23-2014, 10:28 PM   #32
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I agree that a 20-amp cord with up to 30 amps of load is a bad combination... but to me that doesn't lead to choosing the 20-amp receptacle over the 50-amp: using the 50-amp receptacle with a suitable adapter to the trailer's 30-amp cord means everything is within its rated capacity, and there is no need to specially limit how much electrical power is used.
Actually, Brian, I only say that because I live in the south, have to run the A/C much of the time, use a microwave, and have never popped a breaker when doing this on a 20 amp circuit. So I have not found 20 amps to be limiting, at least in my case. That being said, I would have no qualms if I had no choice but to use a 50 amp connection. If I've never popped a 20 amp breaker, I seriously doubt I'm going to pull amperage which exceeds the 30 amp rated shore power cord if connected to a 50 amp source.
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Old 10-23-2014, 10:46 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
The breaker on a circuit is sized for the wire it protects. It's OK to use a larger diameter wire than the circuit breaker is rated for but to meet code it's not OK to use a smaller diameter wire than the circuit breaker is rated for.
As described earlier, this is a normal situation for every household lamp with a 16-gauge (or even 18-gauge) cord - except that those lamps don't have any kind of overcurrent protection (circuit breaker or fuse), and the trailer does. Since those cords can't handle 15 amps, that must be "not OK"... that doesn't make sense to me.
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Old 10-23-2014, 10:52 PM   #34
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Hummm, you go to plug into the power pole and the cord will fit or it won't. If it doesn't... get out the adaptable and put that between the trailer cord and the connection. Power? yes.. score! Not... reset the power box. That doesn't work? Contact the host...

Seems simple to me. What do I know? Has always worked for me. YMMV
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Old 10-23-2014, 11:15 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
As described earlier, this is a normal situation for every household lamp with a 16-gauge (or even 18-gauge) cord - except that those lamps don't have any kind of overcurrent protection (circuit breaker or fuse), and the trailer does. Since those cords can't handle 15 amps, that must be "not OK"... that doesn't make sense to me.
And just about every other electrical appliance made. Few have cords with conductors that meet the electrical code for the circuit into which it is plugged. But that is not a problem because the cord is only supplying the appliance and is sized adequately by the manufacturer of the appliance to meet its amperage requirement. The circuit wiring is intended to supply multiple appliances with various amperage requirements. Again, theoretically, a 30 amp shore power cord could be overloaded by plugging it into a 50 amp outlet, but it would require plugging a lot if additional appliances into the various trailer outlets, and if total draw exceeds 30 amps, it would pop the trailers main breaker, stopping current flow anyway, thereby protecting the shore power cord. So I would agree with you Brian, but people have to be "comfortable" with what they do. If someone has concerns about plugging into 50 amps, then don't do it.
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Old 10-23-2014, 11:20 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
this is a normal situation for every household lamp with a 16-gauge (or even 18-gauge) cord - except that those lamps don't have any kind of overcurrent protection (circuit breaker or fuse), and the trailer does. Since those cords can't handle 15 amps, that must be "not OK"... that doesn't make sense to me.
I guess you could say that the wire size to a device is sized by the manufacturer for the amperage draw of that device. That same 18 ga. wire to a 3/4 hp motor would fry. But you're right, unlike automotive circuits that often have fuses of many varied sizes, including some for very low amperage and smaller wires house wiring doesn't do that and it would be possible to fry something without tripping the 15 amp circuit breaker.

Donna; Yes, adapters do work but it is possible to adapter your way into trouble. Remember in the old days, people put a penny in the fuse holder, it worked too but sometimes it burned the house down.

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Old 10-23-2014, 11:49 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
Hummm, you go to plug into the power pole and the cord will fit or it won't. If it doesn't... get out the adaptable and put that between the trailer cord and the connection. Power? yes.. score! Not... reset the power box. That doesn't work? Contact the host...

Seems simple to me. What do I know? Has always worked for me. YMMV
In a sense, that's correct. Why overcomplicate it?
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Old 10-24-2014, 07:36 AM   #38
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This entire "question" can be resolved in one word: lawyers. Seriously, does anybody out there believe that if 50 to 30 amp adapters or 20 to 30 amp adapters violated the electrical code the product liability lawyers wouldn't be climbing all over it? And no major retailer like Walmart or Camping World would sell them. Not would any trailer manufacturer supply the as accessories. I, for one, cannot recall seeing a television advthat asks "Did you or one of your family members get harmed by using an adapter on your RV power cord? Did your property get damaged from using one? If so you might be entitled to compensation. Call the law offices of Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe."
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Old 10-24-2014, 09:00 AM   #39
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I did a little more digging online, and found both sides of the argument presented, but no authoritative source of information referenced by anyone on either side of this, only opinion. Carl's description in #35 just about had me convinced that looking at this as an appliance was the right way to look at this.

I decided to take a look at the code section 551, which specifies requirements for travel trailers.

551.40 120-Volt or 120/240-Volt, Nominal, Systems .40 120-Volt or 120/240-Volt, Nominal, Systems.

(B) Materials and Equipment. Electrical materials, devices, appliances, fittings, and other equipment installed in, intended for use in, or attached to the recreational vehicle shall be listed. All products shall be used only in the manner in which they have been tested and found suitable for the intended use.

Based on this it would appear the the code requires the adapter to be a listed product. I have found listed adapters to convert a 30A trailer to 20A plug, but have not found listed adapters of the type we are discussing here. The code also specifies the plug that should be used when attaching to a power supply:

551.46 Means for Connecting to Power Supply .46 Means for Connecting to Power Supply.
(C) Attachment Plugs Attachment Plugs.
(3) Units with Two to Five 15or 20-Ampere Branch Circuits. Recreational vehicles wired in accordance with 551.42(C) shall have an attachment plug that shall be 2-pole, 3-wire grounding type, rated 30 amperes, 125 volts, conforming to the configuration shown in Figure 551.46(C), intended for use with units rated at 30 amperes, 125 volts.


Also, related to viewing the camper as an Appliance section 551.43 provides some insight, although it is not directly applicable. It says if a single appliance is intended to be plugged in, the over current protection should not be more than 150% of the load, or in the case of a 30A load, 45A breaker.

551.43 Branch-Circuit Protection .43 Branch-Circuit Protection.
(A) Rating. The branch-circuit overcurrent devices shall be rated as follows:


(2) Not more than 150 percent of the rating of a single appliance rated 13.3 amperes or more and supplied by an individual branch circuit

I do not really expect the above to change anyone's opinion related to the safety of using the adapter, and not sure it will prevent me from having one as a backup. I think in my case I would only leave things powered up in this configuration while I am actively monitoring the situation, probably only to recharge batteries or temporarily run the AC.
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Old 10-24-2014, 10:53 AM   #40
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I really don't think that is applicable to the situation at hand. First, breakers are designed to trip to prevent too much amperage from melting the wire and starting a fire. Even if you were plugged into a 1,000 amp outlet, the main breaker in the camper will trip if 30 amps is exceeded. Look at the main breaker in your house panel. More likely than not it is a 200 amp entry. It feeds all the other breakered circuits, most of which are 20 amp with the stove, dryer, A/C, etc. being more. 200 amp is way more than 50% greater than 20 amps. In reality, the only way you could melt the RV shore cord is if you bypassed the RV's main breaker and then exceeded its 30 amp rated capacity, and even then it might get hot but not melt down. Furthermore, the cost to wire each drop in a campground would be prohibitive. So the distribution circuits are likely greater than 30 amp, and the box where you plug in has a breaker to limit the higher amperage supplied to the outlet to 30 amps. Not that it matters, but 50 amp campground is 220 volts. When you use the adapter, it draws from only one leg of the 220. Theoretically, if enough 50 to 30 amp adapters were being used, it could "unbalance" one phase of the power being supplied to the big stickies that utilize 220 volt power. But I would personally use a 50 to 30 adapter if only 50 amp service were available.
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