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Old 07-13-2018, 04:34 PM   #1
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Portable AC won't work in a 30 amp Winnie

I bought a 10,000 btu Hisense portable AC unit that was rated at 10 amp. I was hoping to just cool the front or the bedroom of my Itasca while hooked to a friends household 20 amp outdoor receptacle. 1 melted gfi outlet later I'm a little wiser and warmer. Don't make my $400.mistake. I was also hoping to take some of the work off of the basement air when hooked to 30 amp. Oh, well. an expen$ive lesson.
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Old 07-13-2018, 04:41 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Idiotasca View Post
I bought a 10,000 btu Hisense portable AC unit that was rated at 10 amp. I was hoping to just cool the front or the bedroom of my Itasca while hooked to a friends household 20 amp outdoor receptacle. 1 melted gfi outlet later I'm a little wiser and warmer. Don't make my $400.mistake. I was also hoping to take some of the work off of the basement air when hooked to 30 amp. Oh, well. an expen$ive lesson.
As long as all the connections from the house c/b through the outdoor receptacle into the RV are in good shape and the wiring is the correct size to handle the current and length of wire, the 10,000 btu A/C should work just fine. Of course there can't be anything else in the RV operating on 120V AC. Basement air, microwave, water heater operating on elect, etc.
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Old 07-13-2018, 05:59 PM   #3
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Unhappy Portable AC

I made sure everything was turned off except for the refrigerator and a small fan,water heater was turned off, no microwave use. AC unit ran for about five minutes and then melted the outlet I don't know what else I can do except learn from it.
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:12 PM   #4
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The National Electric Code says that there should not be more than a 5 % drop between zero load and full load at any outlet, so for a 15 Amp Outlet that's 6 volts. If there is more than this than there is a bad connection somewhere that can overheat and destroy something. Like what happened to you, like what happens to people who report destroyed breakers, destroyed wire ends, and destroyed transfer switches due to bad connections.

For reference a properly made and maintained RV with no loose AC connections like my Winnebago Vista 27N will never see a voltage drop over 3 volts between no load and 15 amp load on any outlet.

You can self-test to see if an outlet can handle a heavy load so you can get a bad connection fixed before any damage is done ...

Get a Kill-A-Watt power monitor / analyzer, Menards sells them for $ 22. You can use this to confirm that any outlet in your RV and all of it's wiring feeding up to that outlet can handle a heavy load as follows:

1. Turn off other loads as possible. If another heavy load in the RV like AC changes from on/off or from off/on during your testing it will invalidate the result.

1. Plug the Kill-A-Watt into the outlet you want to validate.

2. Display and note the no-load AC volts.

3. Plug in your load, and turn it on

5. Display and note the load AC volts.

6. Display and note the load AC amps.

7. Turn off the load.

First of all the change in voltage should be well under 5 % or under 6 volts. In a RV we really want it to be 3 volts or less given the distances and number of devices in series.

The amount of loss turning into heat is the formula:
(No load AC volts - Load AC volts) * AC Amps.

For example if you are using a 10 amp load and voltage drops 3 volts, there is 30 watts of power turning into heat. That heat is distributed everywhere along the AC current path.

You can try this same test with the same load on all your different breaker fed circuits and different outlets, and if any have a much higher voltage drop than that's a red flag that there is a bad connection.

You can use a "gun" type infrared thermometer to find the bad connection that is heating but its a balancing act for how long to leave the load on to generate the heat so you can see it with the gun vs. leaving it on too long and damage occurs.

I use a Soleus Air 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner in my Vista 27N, and it also happens to be plugged into an outlet that is fed thru another GFCI outlet and it works great, with nothing overheating. So it can be and is being done.
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Old 07-14-2018, 03:58 AM   #5
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Be sure to use a 12 gauge extension cord. Most cords sold are not heavy enough. That will help with the voltage drop.
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Old 07-14-2018, 07:25 AM   #6
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Our old trailer had a 9K wall unit A/C and I ran it from a 15A circuit at home for a number of years. I did use a 12 ga extension cord. If the fridge was on electric that could have overloaded the circuit but a breaker should have popped for the 20A outlet. I would run the fridge on gas when hooked to the smaller circuit. Sounds like there is an electrical problem with the circuit you plugged into.


One other thing comes to mind and that pertains to the GFCI outlet. I had one fry due to a nearby lighting ground strike. I couldn't tell until I went to use it one day. It was stuck between on and tripped and started smoking due to the partial trip. I unplugged very quickly and killed the breaker until I could get a new outlet. My guess is it could have melted if I wasn't there see it happening.
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Old 07-15-2018, 05:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idiotasca View Post
I made sure everything was turned off except for the refrigerator and a small fan,water heater was turned off, no microwave use. AC unit ran for about five minutes and then melted the outlet I don't know what else I can do except learn from it.
Something had a poor or bad connection in or at the outlet that melted. If all connections at the outlet were truly in good condition, then there was some other significant 120V load left on in the RV.

I doubt there is any way to examine the melted outlet to see what the cause was.

To test, install a new outlet, clean up or replace the connector on the end of the cord that was plugged into the outlet and test again.

Bottom line, a 10-12 amp load on 15 or 20 amp outlet will not cause a problem. It is just that simple.

It is common practice for people in houses or RV's to plug a small 1500 watt space heater into 15amp outlets all the time without causing a problem. Other than momentary starting current for the air conditioner compressor the A/C doesn't pull any more current than the small space heater.
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Old 07-15-2018, 05:52 AM   #8
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I agree with the others. Anything that will work plugged in to a sticks and bricks house will also work plugged in to an RV - it's the same electricity, it has to work.
So there was some other issue preventing that from working in your RV. Some other heavy draw appliance else was running, a bad power cord, a bad connection - something.
Rather than giving up on the portable AC as a bad idea find what the problem is and correct it.
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Old 07-15-2018, 08:07 AM   #9
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If it was excess power draw from the RV it should have tripped a circuit breaker in the house electrical box. Something was wrong with that circuit. As it is an outdoor outlet I wouldn't be surprised that they used a GFCI breaker in the electrical box and that it was bad.
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