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Old 07-17-2020, 02:53 PM   #1
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Hughes autoformers

https://rvtailgatelife.com/future-rv-autotransformers/

Everyone should read this link before you purchase a Hughes autoformer
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Old 07-17-2020, 03:52 PM   #2
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Obviously the writer didn't do much due diligence before writing the article that she didn't feel right about Hughes because they have an interest in the issue (well dah....) and nothing else to back up their position. Instead, the writer seems to prefer that everyone just shut down their power when a park has poor electrical, but she produces no independent research on if there really is a problem! Typical of writers these days. Just regurgitate what they read or heard somewhere else.

Hughes' position on the effects of their product on a campground's system has been clearly stated for a long, long time:

"The Autoformer DOES NOT take power from the park. It does not affect the park or input voltage, or make electricity. An Autoformer running at full output (50amps) will use 1 amp, but will cause appliances to cycle more often and run cooler. This will use less total power from the park.

What it is doing is changing the voltage – amperage relationship, lowering the amperage and raising the voltage. Since appliances run better on higher voltage, lower amperage, less overall power is used from the park, and better service is enjoyed from your RV"


I would think that if that is true, it's a pretty easy thing to prove....shouldn't be rocket science. Notice...it's not PULLING MORE AMPS...it's lowering the available input AMPS and lowers the output AMPS to boost the output voltage.

I wonder what HARD EVIDENCE the rule makers have? Have there been a bunch of fires in campgrounds that have a PROVEN link to a bunch of people using Autoformers? I haven't heard of any....how about you all? How many fires have there been? On the other hand...even well over two decades ago, when virtually no one had autoformers, I can remember touching my power cord or even the outlet box and it being VERY hot when everyone was running AC's on a very hot day. The weak power issue at campgrounds is the core problem...not a handful of people that may have an autoformer in any given campground.

I would tend to agree with Hughes...the ones with the issue are the campgrounds and they don't want to own up to it.

That said, at least at most of the campgounds I'm staying at, I've noticed an investment in better electrical...the 50AMP hookups many are now demanding is driving that change as campgrounds need to rewire to get that power to the pedestal and do it under current electrical codes. I recently booked campsites for an excursion my wife and I are taking soon in Southern Idaho. Long term forecasts show that temps will be in the 90's every day. I did not even consider all the max 30 amp campgrounds there were. No 50 AMP in those conditions...not interested in staying there. I carry a Hughes Autoformer, but rarely use it anymore. If needed however, I will use it.
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Old 07-17-2020, 07:04 PM   #3
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My understanding of autoformers is similar to "NCC-1701A" and that they don't impact a campground, but instead lower amperage to the RV while they increase voltage.

The NFPA is an important entity and their findings impact Fire Codes and court rulings. With that said, this finding may have more of an impact on campgrounds than RVer's using autoformers. It may force the campgrounds to repair their infrastructure to avoid losing their insurance coverage when a fire can be attributed to low voltage.
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Old 07-17-2020, 07:28 PM   #4
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They have a three year warranty. I just got mine back from California after being repaired for sticking relays that caused it to boost when it didn't need to. Like from 120v to over 130v. They were very easy to deal with. It cost me $103 to send it back for repair but they sent it back to me pre paid.

I bought it last year for Western US campgrounds in the Summer where there might have been low voltage in a campground. I never saw that. Now I am in NY and it is still in the box from getting repaired.

The part about it damaging campground electricity is BS.
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Old 07-18-2020, 06:58 AM   #5
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I'm having difficulty understanding the NFPA position on autoformers because the campground wiring is still protected by circuit breakers that (if they follow NFPA standard) limit the max amps on any wire. So regardless of what an autoformer does with amps vs volts, the electrical load on the campground wiring stays within the prescribed limits. A 30A hook-up is still 30A, whether an autoformer is in us or not.


I don't own or use one, so I'm just a disinterested observer.
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Old 07-18-2020, 11:39 AM   #6
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I'm having difficulty understanding the NFPA position on autoformers because the campground wiring is still protected by circuit breakers that (if they follow NFPA standard) limit the max amps on any wire. So regardless of what an autoformer does with amps vs volts, the electrical load on the campground wiring stays within the prescribed limits. A 30A hook-up is still 30A, whether an autoformer is in us or not.


I don't own or use one, so I'm just a disinterested observer.
I'm acquainted with a couple of people on NFPA committees (Articles 520, 525 and 640) and have found them to be receptive to questions as to why a particular change to Code was proposed, how it was evaluate and what alternatives were considered. They were helpful in explaining how they got where we were...

If stakeholders want to correspond with a Code committee (Article 551 covers the 'special occupancies' of RVs), I believe an email to the NFPA would be the place to start.

Edit ps: the NFPA is not a government agency, they are a private organization founded and largely funded by the insurance industry (much like how U.L. got started) and the sale of Code publications and standards. The USA lacks a central Codes authority and defers to states, counties and municipalities to adopt Codes in whole, in part, or to modify/create as they see fit.
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Old 07-18-2020, 11:57 AM   #7
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Bottom line is the RV campgrounds need to upgrade and update their power grids to meet the load demand from the RVs. If a campground cannot accommodate the larger rigs, they need to not allow them in.
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Old 07-18-2020, 12:24 PM   #8
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Bottom line is the RV campgrounds need to upgrade and update their power grids to meet the load demand from the RVs. If a campground cannot accommodate the larger rigs, they need to not allow them in.
Ken
I agree. If kcdodger sees this maybe he can offer his perspective as a former CG/park owner.

Updating 30 amp electrical infrastructure is waaaay expensive as pretty much everything needs to be replaced, and the CG/park owner is still at the mercy of the power company, who will under-supply the venue because they are not usually required by regulation or statute to supply 100% current-capable service.

The cheapest time to deal with updating is while the ground is open. It's the best time to upsize conduit or add more runs, use bigger junction boxes.. basically planning for incremental upgrades and expansion, now. Does it make the cost go up? Yes. Does it save money in the future? Likely, unless the next incremental upgrade is so big that all existing work is scrapped.

There is the school of thought that trying to 'future proof' is foolish since we don't know what the future will be, but in practice I've found it useful and economical in the long run to pay for some additional capacity or infrastructure up front in projects I've pursued. I'm equally certain that others have had the opposite experience...
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Old 07-19-2020, 11:22 AM   #9
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the NFPA is not a government agency, they are a private organization founded and largely funded by the insurance industry (much like how U.L. got started) and the sale of Code publications and standards. The USA lacks a central Codes authority and defers to states, counties and municipalities to adopt Codes in whole, in part, or to modify/create as they see fit.

Right, and amateur electricians need to understand that "the electrical code" depends on where you are and what you are doing. Each state, and sometimes municipality adopts some version of the NEC and then adds/modifies to some degree. And they typically run several years behind whatever the latest edition of the NEC may be, so any changes re Autoformers may or may not apply where you are. Either now or ever. And existing installations are often grand-fathered in as well.
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Old 07-19-2020, 11:32 AM   #10
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Right, and amateur electricians need to understand that "the electrical code" depends on where you are and what you are doing. Each state, and sometimes municipality adopts some version of the NEC and then adds/modifies to some degree. And they typically run several years behind whatever the latest edition of the NEC may be, so any changes re Autoformers may or may not apply where you are. Either now or ever. And existing installations are often grand-fathered in as well.
Yepper.

Los Angeles has electrical code that applies to portable DC generators (film and TV production) and nothing electrical is used on a film or TV location without a City of Los Angeles sticker on it (like a U.L. label).

My Fair City is a minimum of 3 code cycles (9 years) behind. The local builders association is usually successful at torpedoing any change that adds to the cost of a new home - they squashed the requirement for Arc Flash interrupters in sleeping rooms because it would add $300 to the cost of a $300,000 home.
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Old 07-20-2020, 07:52 AM   #11
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NFPA=Not For Practical Applications
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Old 07-20-2020, 01:35 PM   #12
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If stakeholders want to correspond with a Code committee (Article 551 covers the 'special occupancies' of RVs), I believe an email to the NFPA would be the place to start.
Thanks...I have sent an email asking about technical and empirical evidence that is behind their decisions on this matter. There were a bunch of different email/contact listings....Hope I got the right one or that whomever it goes to can get it forwarded. I sent to a Standards Admin email.

Awaiting their response...
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