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Old 08-03-2014, 07:29 AM   #1
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Running Roof Air on 15 Amp Power

My buddy has a 2001 Alpine with Duotherm Air Conditioners. Is it possible to run the roof air off a 120 volt 15 Amp house outlet? If so, can he run either the front or rear air conditioner depending on which zone he sets on the thermostat?

Thanks, Sammie
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Old 08-03-2014, 07:50 AM   #2
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Hi Sammie, I would not try it, especially if the Coach is on a extension cord. One A/C unit will just about max a 15 amp. breaker out. Does he know what the amp. draw of the A/C unit is when running? Mine will not run on a 15 amp. outlet, started heating up the outlet and melting it. I had it on a 12/3 heavy extension cord and it still got hot. Most on here when doing this go to a 20 amp. breaker and plug the Coach right into a outlet with no long extension cord going to the Coach's cord and that seems to work for running one A/C unit at a time, and nothing else in the Coach, fridge on propane.
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Old 08-03-2014, 07:54 AM   #3
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I am sure people will say they do it all the time but you are on the razor's edge here----A/C often take 15-17 amps to start compressor and 12-13 to run so nothing, repeat, nothing else [120v] in the coach can be on. Accordingly, if you dont use a relatively short run of heavy duty [12g] extension cord, the resistance in the cord will raise the amps and kill the volts. Need to use a plug-in voltmeter [like from Camping World] to monitor volts--less that 108 and you could hurt the A/C.....good luck
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:39 AM   #4
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I am sure people will say they do it all the time but you are on the razor's edge here----A/C often take 15-17 amps to start compressor and 12-13 to run so nothing, repeat, nothing else [120v] in the coach can be on. Accordingly, if you dont use a relatively short run of heavy duty [12g] extension cord, the resistance in the cord will raise the amps and kill the volts. Need to use a plug-in voltmeter [like from Camping World] to monitor volts--less that 108 and you could hurt the A/C.....good luck
Old Scout, Thank you for your quick answer. My buddy has plugged in his coach to a 15 Amp circuit in his garage for several years now, and as much as I have tried to tell him that it's not a good idea, he persists to do so. He can run one air conditioner at a time, and yes the plug does get hot. I don't know how the Alpine thermostats are set up, but it appears that only the rear air will work and when he tries to switch to the front zone air conditioner, nothing works. Is this normal for the limited power source he has?

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Old 08-03-2014, 08:52 AM   #5
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Not sure--I do know that some brands of RV have power management systems that share or shed load to better utilize available power. For the purposes of conversation, I would invest in a plug-in voltmeter from CW [$10-12][good for all RV owners anyway], and propose a "test" of his unit. Prolonged low voltage to his AC unit will eventually end up costing him--maybe not now, but later. Bottomline--the heated cord/connection is coming from resistance--more amps, less volts....
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Old 08-03-2014, 09:11 AM   #6
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A lot of RV's with 2 AC units. The rear one is small BTU then the front and use less AMP's.
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Old 08-03-2014, 09:19 AM   #7
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I do it all the time. I use 12 gauge cord running 35 feet from the breaker to the RV. Both A/Cs are 13.5 KBTU and when one is running the voltage measured inside the RV is about 112 VAC. Different A/Cs draw different loads but it works for mine.
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Old 08-03-2014, 09:27 AM   #8
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If you are going to have your RV at home from time to time why not spring for a proper RV electrical 30amp or 50amp outlet with the proper breakers and wiring from your electrical panel. Problem solved.
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Old 08-03-2014, 09:41 AM   #9
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I do it all the time. I use 12 gauge cord running 35 feet from the breaker to the RV. Both A/Cs are 13.5 KBTU and when one is running the voltage measured inside the RV is about 112 VAC. Different A/Cs draw different loads but it works for mine.
SteveS, Can you switch from rear air to front air conditioner using your thermostat when plugged into the house plug. Is this a normal two prong house outlet?

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Old 08-03-2014, 09:59 AM   #10
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Part of the problem will be the draw from your inverter/converter and possibly the refrigerator if defaulted to AC. If the house batteries are being charged, it can eat up enough amps to put you over even if everything else is turned off. I have had just these items alone pop a 15A breaker using a long extension cord. I ran the 50A cord all the way to the plug and eliminated the line loss and it worked fine but it shows how much those two items can draw. I don't think you can run an AC on 15A unless you have everything in the rig turned off and you minimize line loss.
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Old 08-03-2014, 11:41 AM   #11
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Make sure batteries are fully charged (this is important since the converter will suck too much power if it is in boost mode)
and turn off EVERYTHING else Leave just the converter and ONE air conditioner running.
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Old 08-03-2014, 04:41 PM   #12
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Sammie - I installed a 20 amp dedicated breaker in my breaker panel and ran 12 gauge romex 25 feet, through conduit, to a 30 amp outdoor connector box. From there, most of the time I just connect a 10 foot, 12 AWG power cord to my RV input power connector. I can switch between front and rear A/C units using the thermostat and have, on occasion, switched them both on simultaneously. They both will run but doing this is not a good idea. I haven't checked the voltage with them both running because I don't allow them to run simultaneously for more than a few seconds. Just for drills, I will give it a try right now and report back.
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Old 08-03-2014, 04:42 PM   #13
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Spring for a proper RV electrical 30 amp or 50 amp outlet as Adonh suggests and you don't have to worry about a possible fire.
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Old 08-03-2014, 05:19 PM   #14
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OK, here are the results of the A/C power test. I have never looked at it to this extent before and found it interesting. With no RV load, except the inverter and the low load items it feeds, the internal voltage was 118 VAC. When the front A/C was turned on the voltage spiked down to 110 VAC when the compressor turned on and then settled to 115 VAC. I turned the front A/C off and tested the levels for the rear A/C with identical results. Then, with the rear A/C running I turned the front A/C on and the voltage spiked down to 107 VAC when the compressor turned on and immediately settled to 112 VAC with the compressor on (both compressors on at this point). I let them run for about 5 minutes with no change in voltage. The only difference I imagine there to be with this test, to what others are asking, is that all connectors are 30 amp connectors but 12 AWG wire is used. I could run this same test and put a standard 15 amp connector in line to see if that causes different readings...I suspect there might be slight differences.
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