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Old 07-18-2013, 09:56 PM   #1
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Using A/C with 20 Amp Circuit

I need to simply check the A/C on our new-to-us Funfinder TT and unfortunately all I have is the 20 amp 120V circuit at our house. Does anyone know how long an A/C could be run on the 20 amp circuit without damage? I'd really just like to make sure the A/C works....that's it.
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:26 PM   #2
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Most RV AC's will operate on a 20A cct. As long as you have 120v and 20A it should run indefinately without any problem. Of course don't have a lot of other stuff on at the same time or you will pop the 20A breaker. What is the BTU rating on your AC.
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:37 PM   #3
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I agree - 20amps will run a 13,500 or even 15,000 btu A/C unit indefinitely. I just did this so we could clean the inside of our rig while it was sitting in our driveway.

I would advise using the thicker 20amp extension cord as the normal 15amp cord understandably will really heat up.
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Old 07-18-2013, 10:37 PM   #4
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Your AC is on a 20A breaker, so like Libero said, as long as you keep 120V steady and it doesn't drop, you'll be good.
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:03 AM   #5
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Yes you can do this. I am doing the exact same thing in the new trailer I've brought home tonight. After having a couple of problems the first time I did this, I'd like to offer a few points to make life easier.

1. Only one Air Conditioner can be carried. Two maxes out the system causing the breaker supplying the circuit to trip.
2. Though there are little adaptors that sell really cheap, I've seen two of them melt and burn up through the years. I now use this Camco 55185 RV 30 Amp to 50 Amp Dogbone Electrical Adapter | eBay
(No relation, just for reference. I've seen them cheaper elsewhere) and have never had it heat up or melt in any way so far. I take it to the extreme with one stepping from 50 amp to 30 then one 30 to 20.
3. A good quality extension cord really really should be used. The kind like used for construction jobs with larger wires to carry current. The run of the mill little orange cords have heated up I've noticed and heat means resistance in the circuit. Bigger wires carry more current, less resistance and therefore the breaker's trip rating is never (hopefully) reached. Also, In this case Shorter is in fact better. Use only as short a cord as necessary to also lessen voltage drop and current loss. Yes you can use a cheap thin one. But you shouldn't.
4. Running a circuit at it's max capacity like your 20 amp wall circuit will weaken the breaker and it may start tripping at lower and lower thresholds down the road as the years go by. If you replace it, Don't get a bigger one. Use the same rated 20 amp one that's called for. Stepping that breaker up defeats the ability of the breaker being the weakest link and now something in the circuit will heat up and burn out first like one of the prongs in the connector or the wires themselves. This is dangerous. Don't be stupid.

I've owned three rvs over the years, lived in them off and on for months at a time and parked in places that the only electricity to be had was a 110 outlet. These points have helped me in every way and are not expensive compared to the cheaper alternatives. Hope this helps.
Lenny
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:14 AM   #6
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Make sure the receptacle is tight, sloppy contacts will create heat at the adapter prongs.
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Old 07-19-2013, 07:59 AM   #7
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I thought I answered this.

In theory, the A/C will run forever on 20 amps.. In fact, the breaker that feeds it... 20 amps.

HOWEVER.

1: Plug RV power cord into household outlet with only the Dogbone... You are golden

2: Short extension cord (Say 50' or less) Sears and K-mart sell a 12 ga cord with a push button on the socket, This is my cord of choice, Anything longer than 50 feet consider using as much 30 amp cord (or 50) as you can.
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Old 07-19-2013, 10:27 AM   #8
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Couple things here.

STARTING and air conditioner and RUNNING an air conditioner are two different things. Starting requires tons of inrush current and it what pops breakers and bogs gensets.

20 AMPs is sufficient for running a fairly large AC unit.
When hot and cycling on and off the AC unit is at its most difficult- starting it
This measurement of current to start is called LRA or locked rotor amps.

If you dont have the full 20 amps you almost definitely pop a breaker- sometimes you will anyway just running an extension cord.

You can purchase a "hard start " kit that installs easily that will buffer your starting load dramatically and help you out if you are on the edge of starting hot, or are running your AC off a small genset. Supco and Dometic make these kits.

I can reliably start and run a 13.5K BTU on a single honda 2K with this kit.

Uncle Dave
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Old 07-19-2013, 11:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clarkgriswold View Post
I need to simply check the A/C on our new-to-us Funfinder TT and unfortunately all I have is the 20 amp 120V circuit at our house. Does anyone know how long an A/C could be run on the 20 amp circuit without damage? I'd really just like to make sure the A/C works....that's it.
Until you fail to pay utility bill.
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Old 07-19-2013, 11:17 AM   #10
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It would be advisable to determine what the voltage is at the RV (at any plug) BEFORE and DURING the a/c operation. Your voltage will drop and you should know what the drop is. It's dangerous to the RV and the a/c unit to operate at low voltages say...107 and lower. Some say 105 is the limit. It may not hurt it right now...but accumulated hours of running at low voltages taxes the compressor. My plug-in monitor shows voltage available and an alarm sings loudly at 103vac. A cheap volt-meter will suffice. All previous post's advice is good. Use heaviest wire available and keep the length as short as practical. 50 feet of 10gauge extension cord at Lowe's is $129! But, a damaged a/c unit is way more. Compressors and fan motors run hot at low voltages.
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Old 07-19-2013, 12:17 PM   #11
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Thanks for answer!

Thanks to all! Sounds like everyone's on the same page with the answers. Much appreciated!
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Old 07-29-2013, 11:47 AM   #12
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One thing that I would like to interject in the the posts is that you need to be aware of how far away from the main circuit breaker box you are. As the wires get longer there is a drop in voltage. If you are close to a hundred feet from the main breaker box, then I suggest talk to an electrician. Check the voltage at all plugs. At work we had problems with a 5 hp swimming pool circulation pump. Turned out that it was on a 20 amp circuit but 270 feet from the breaker box. Had to install larger wires to handle the voltage drop. Also, use 20 amp rated devices - outlet - instead of the normal 15 amp outlets.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:22 PM   #13
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Usually a 3% or less voltage drop is the recommended level for efficient operation of equipment. I don't know how many amps your A/C is pulling but your distance calculation is from your home panel box and not the receptacle. If your 100 ft from the panel box and pulling 15 amps, you'll most likely need a 10 gauge wire (10AWG) to avoid more than 3% drop. As said, you'll need to check the voltage delivered at the camper.
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:39 AM   #14
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I recommend using the RV cords as much as possible (50 or 30 amp cords) if you have to extend more than that use at least 12ga cords, You can get 'em at Sears or K-mart with a "lock on" outlet (you push a button to plug into the cord or unplug from it) and at Lowes, Home Depot and many other hardware places without that feature.,
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