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Old 09-15-2019, 10:37 PM   #1
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Melted 2 extension cords

Hi All,

I have used an adapter to allow me to go from 50A down to a residential plug that has a 15A service (regular three-prong outlet). I just wanted to be able to keep the coach's batteries charged, as well as run the refrigerator and maybe some lights (all of which are LED now). Well, I melted the female connector of the heavy-duty extension cord in both cases. No fire, thankfully, but the one heavy-duty extension cord end was melted so badly it was almost unrecognizable.

What gives? Is there a setting in my coach that I can set so that it doesn't draw so much power? I am not happy to go through extension cords like no tomorrow, but I would be even less happy if I caused a fire.

Thanks!
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Old 09-15-2019, 11:03 PM   #2
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Yes, you can turn down the inverter/charger amp draw. That way it will limit how many amps that pulls.

Look for charge rate setting in the Inverter remote and turn it down to 5 amps.

You may also want to change the outlet that's melting the plugs. It may be a big part of your problem. Overloads should trip breakers, not cook wall outlets.
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Old 09-15-2019, 11:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mecdatlanta View Post
Hi All,



What gives?
Apparently you can not run your fridge and charge batteries on your 'heavy duty' extension cord.

This does not surprise me in the least.

Turn off your fridge until your batteries are charged. Problem solved.
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Old 09-15-2019, 11:45 PM   #4
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I run my 50 amp rig using a 50' 20 amp extension for months at a time. My battery charger and inverter are on all the time as is my Jenn Aire side by side refer. No problems till I turn on a couple heaters, then I can melt a cord end.
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Old 09-16-2019, 07:13 AM   #5
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Mecdatlanta,

I can think of several conditions that could possibly contribute to the problem that you are experiencing:

“Loose Connections” cause arcing which creates excessive heat and often leads to the type of catastrophic failure that you have described. Check to see if you have a loose fitting / worn plug where the failure occurred. Cords and plugs wear out and become loose over time with normal use.

“Excessive Voltage Drop”. Voltage and Amperage are inversely proportionate. As the Voltage drops, the Amperage (current flow) goes up. Heat is a byproduct of current flow. I recommend purchasing an inexpensive voltage meter that plugs into any wall outlet. I keep mine plugged in a prominent location inside the coach bathroom , and glance at the voltage regularly. You will be surprised how voltage can vary between RV parks, and even time of day.

“Current Flow” greater than anticipated. Your coach was designed to operate on a 50 amp service with a 50 amp cord. When using a cord with reduced size conductors (and possibly extended length?), it becomes very important to know what your actual load is. Even though you have attempted to shed some of the load, you probably have a greater load than anticipated. I recommend getting a qualified electrician to check the actual load with a clamp-on Amprobe, and a 12” long test cord. That way you can accurately determine what your load is.

“Problem with the Source” The wall outlet that you are plugged into may be miss-wired, have loose/ warn contacts, etc. The electrician will be able to check the source.

You may have a combination of any of the above.

Hope this helps,

Jim
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Old 09-16-2019, 07:55 AM   #6
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Unless you have a residential refrigerator, your RV refrigerator will draw
lots of amps when on elect.
So take a look at that too and either turn it off or switch to propane.

I try not to use extension cords but at times we all need to, so when I do
I hang around for a while feeling of the cord and plugs to see if heat is
building up.

Ray
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Old 09-16-2019, 08:26 AM   #7
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The 1200 series Norcold draws about 4 amps at 120 VAC which isn't a lot, but you can essentially zero that by switching it to propane, like RamiDav suggested. Like Twinboat said above, your inverter/charger can be a fair current draw, but you should be able to limit that with a setting on your charger remote panel. If all you are powering would be your refrigerator, you charger and a few lights, you should not have a problem with a 15 amp source, but no coffee, no heaters of any kind, no hair dryers, etc.

As for the receptacle failures, zo66 is right. The problem is likely in your cord connector, and most likely on the female side. I'm not clear on which is actually melting, whether it is the male or female end of your 50 amp to 30 amp, or your 30 amp to 15 amp, or a 50 amp to 15 amp (which I've never seen), or just what you actually have. But a loose female connection will result in a higher than normal resistance, and the heating is caused by the I-squared-R losses in the connection. If the "R", or resistance, is high, it is going to get warm. And the damage can only get worse and may cascade to the point that melting can occur. I would suspect the female side of your melting point would be the problem.

The inverse relationship between current and voltage does not apply to resistive loads like lighting or your Norcold refrigerator. It does apply to motor loads, but hopefully you aren't operating any appliances or devices that have motors as a part of the load.

Check out the female end of your connection that is in trouble. (Replacement of the cord associated with the hot female should be a priority.) Switch your Norcold to propane. Go to the shore power setting on your inverter/charger and set it to 15 amps or less. Don't operate anything else other than maybe a few lights and watch a football game on your TV, if you like, and you should be good.
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Old 09-16-2019, 08:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mecdatlanta View Post
Hi All,

I have used an adapter to allow me to go from 50A down to a residential plug that has a 15A service (regular three-prong outlet). I just wanted to be able to keep the coach's batteries charged, as well as run the refrigerator and maybe some lights (all of which are LED now). Well, I melted the female connector of the heavy-duty extension cord in both cases. No fire, thankfully, but the one heavy-duty extension cord end was melted so badly it was almost unrecognizable.

What gives? Is there a setting in my coach that I can set so that it doesn't draw so much power? I am not happy to go through extension cords like no tomorrow, but I would be even less happy if I caused a fire.

Thanks!
15A of, no biggie, your cord was not capable of carrying the load.. just becasue it has what looks like a 15 amp end does not mean much.

a cord with 14/2 or 12/2 wire size can hold ...

mid size norcold fridge and my 60 watt convert/charger was drawing 6.8 amps amps when my batteries went low.. nothing else on.. I have a monitor panel..

so if you have a larger charger and refrige plus a couple lamps.. you can heat up a cheap cord that may be too long and have a crappy receptical...
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Old 09-16-2019, 08:50 AM   #9
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I did not see mentioned the draw from electric heating element on water heater. Make sure that is off.


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Old 09-16-2019, 09:05 AM   #10
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How long is the cord and what gauge is it?
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Yes, you can turn down the inverter/charger amp draw. That way it will limit how many amps that pulls.

Look for charge rate setting in the Inverter remote and turn it down to 5 amps.

You may also want to change the outlet that's melting the plugs. It may be a big part of your problem. Overloads should trip breakers, not cook wall outlets.
I agree with Twinboat. Melting connectors means there is a defective wiring component; socket, plug, connections inside the electrical box or plug, or house component wiring design. The house circuit breaker should trip with overcurrent and prevent melting.

From your description of the melting, my guess it is a defective design or build of the socket on the extension cord.

I don't have your model of battery charging system. 50 amps DC charging current would use approximately 5 amps of 120 volt current. It should not burn a 15 amp 120 volt outlet.
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:13 AM   #12
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Confirm block heater is off too.
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:13 AM   #13
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mecdatlanta - I note you have not replied since your original post. On your inverter can you select the input power setting? It tells the inverter how much it can draw and prevents overheating.

The inverter can detect two vs one leg of power, but it can't detect how many amps is can draw. Since the inverter manages power to charge plus power to the fridge it should prevent what you describe.

BTW the block heater is probably NOT on the same leg as the fridge and inverter and won't be powered on on leg (i.e. 110v).
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Old 09-17-2019, 04:42 PM   #14
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Way too complicated

This thread is getting way too complicated. Most posts do not relate to a melted extension cord connector. All the recommended actions, as good as they are, are unlikely to help solve the melted connector issue.

No connector should melt unless there is a defect in the connection or circuit. Circuit breakers are designed to prevent melting of properly sized wire and connectors no matter how much the user tries to draw from the circuit.

Both melted extension cords could be defective. It is not uncommon for "Walmart" quality electrical cords and adapters to be below code requirements. The socket or plugs the cords were connected to could be defective.

The circuit breaker in the shore power system could be oversize or defective allowing excess current. It should be a 15 or 20 amp breaker depending on the shore wiring and sockets. 14 gage wire is for 15 amp breakers, 12 gage is for 20 amp circuits.

The extension cords could be sized for 15 amps while the shore power circuits may be sized for 20 amps.

Your hand can be used to find an overloaded cord or connector. Plug it in. Apply the load. Feel for high temperatures. You don't need to wait for the cord to melt.
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