15 or 20 amp adapter and an extension cord? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 01-25-2015, 02:39 PM   #1
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15 or 20 amp circuit with adapter and an extension cord?

I just read something online about not plugging into 15 or 20 amp circuits with an extension cord. Tales of igniting trailers followed the post. This is the first I heard of this, so I'm going to the experts.

Of course 15 or 20 amps is probably not sufficient to run the water heater on electric or the AC, but is it OK to plug into a 15 amp circuit if only lights will be used? We're picking up our new 21 next month and we plan to spend a couple of weeks in our kids' driveway while we wait for our license plates to show up.
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Old 01-25-2015, 02:53 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Jeff and Karen View Post
I just read something online about not plugging into 15 or 20 amp circuits with an extension cord. Tales of igniting trailers followed the post. This is the first I heard of this, so I'm going to the experts.

Of course 15 or 20 amps is probably not sufficient to run the water heater on electric or the AC, but is it OK to plug into a 15 amp circuit if only lights will be used? We're picking up our new 21 next month and we plan to spend a couple of weeks in our kids' driveway while we wait for our license plates to show up.
Its not a problem to plug in to a 15amp or 20amp source with an extension cord and an adapter -- as long as the extension cord is at say at least a 10 gauge and is rated for outdoor use. Of course, you'll be limited in what you can power, but running just the lights is no problem. People do it all the time.

I would turn off the household breaker before plugging in, then turn it back on once you're hooked up.

In the long term, if your intention is to plug in at home, you might want to run a dedicated 30 amp circuit for that purpose.
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Old 01-25-2015, 02:53 PM   #3
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I just read something online about not plugging into 15 or 20 amp circuits with an extension cord. Tales of igniting trailers ollowed the post.
Geesh, the stuff you fine online

When you plug your adaptor and extension cord into the house circuit the house circuit breaker limits the current going to the trailer. Try and use too many devices at once and you pop the house circuit breaker. Annoying but not life threatening.

My only caution is not to use an after market cord unless its' at least 14 ga. Some cheap extension cords are very light weight and not suitable for even 15 amps.

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Old 01-25-2015, 03:06 PM   #4
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Why not just get a 30 amp extension cord and put your 15 amp adapter at the end, then you will have one to use when the 30 post is to far away at a campground.

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Old 01-25-2015, 03:30 PM   #5
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I just read something online about not plugging into 15 or 20 amp circuits with an extension cord.
Since the current in the cord will be limited by the circuit breaker, the concern would presumably be with inadequate extension cords. There are lots of cords in which the wire is too thin to carry 15 or 20 amps; that doesn't mean they are not good cords, just that they are not suited to the purpose. Since it is easy to use a lot of power in a whole trailer (compared to what you would normally plug into one outlet), there is a high risk of overloading an insufficient cord, causing it to overheat.

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Tales of igniting trailers followed the post.
The risk is a cord overheating. A hot cord outside of the trailer is obviously a danger, but how that would ignite a trailer is not clear to me.
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Old 01-25-2015, 03:30 PM   #6
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Actually some of us with removable 30 amp cords keep them for heavy duty use and for around the house and other uses have an adaptor that is suitable to leave plugged in for extended times. The advantage is that the much more expensive 30 amp cord isn't out in the elements as much.

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Old 01-25-2015, 05:36 PM   #7
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Cord size:
If you're plugging into a 15 amp circuit, use a 14 gauge extension cord, minimum.
If you're plugging into a 20 amp circuit, use a 12 gauge extension cord, minimum.
Your 30 amp shorepower cord with your trailer is 10 gauge, which is minimum size if your'e plugging into a 30 amp circuit.
The smaller the gauge number, the larger the wire size and larger the cord amp. capacity.

In all cases, if you overload the circuit by having too many things with big power demands on in the trailer, the circuit breaker** will trip and protect the extension cord and therefore, everything downstream.
** that's the breaker in the panel at your house,etc. , not in your trailer.
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Old 01-25-2015, 06:32 PM   #8
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That reminds me I need to have a good look over the "hand me down" heavy duty cord I got with my sticks 'n bricks.
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Old 01-25-2015, 07:09 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone. I think my 30 amp cable and extension will reach the 15 or 20 amp outlet in my daughter's garage. If not, for the short term I'll get a short 12 gauge exterior extension cord to bridge the difference.

Since this will be a fairly regular destination, I'll probably spring for an electrician to install a 30 amp circuit near where we'll park the trailer, and we'll be done. I may even have a plumber tap into their sewer system!

I thought the Internet hysteria about imminent fire if one plugs into a 15 or 20 amp circuit was just so much hooey. Thanks for confirming my intuition.
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Old 01-25-2015, 07:18 PM   #10
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I have a heavy duty extension cord ( meant for use with an engine block heater ). Trailer is plugged in all winter and from time to time I run a 1500 W heater in the trailer.
I carry it with me when camping to ensure that I can put the trailer where I want and still reach the power tree ( haven't actually needed it yet ).
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