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Old 08-06-2014, 11:57 AM   #1
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20 amp service and A/C use

The little (20 sites) campground at my Michigan sporting club only has 20 amp service. Members say their ac's generally work fine, but you don't use the microwave at the same time, etc.

I'm shopping for my first camper (will probably be an '80's Airstream as that vintage is in my price range) and have heard contradictory reports re: ac's and 20 amp service.

Just got off the phone with the seller of an '85 Sovereign 29' who says his original Coleman ac doesn't make the trailer cold on 20 amp, ice-cold on 30 amp.

Is his experience typical? Thoughts? I don't care to get a genny.
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:20 PM   #2
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Most AC units will operate fine on a 20 amp service, but you don't want to have anything else on at the same time, like the electric element in the water heater if you have one. No microwave. Best to switch the refrigerator to propane also, when you are on limited electric service and want the AC on.

You also want to have good quality adaptors to go from the 30 amp trailer plug to the 20 amp outlet so you have no/minimal voltage drop at the connection.

The seller of the Sovereign who says the Coleman does not make it cold on a 20 amp service and "ice cold" on a 30 amp service is full of BS, unless he has a very poor conversion connection (mentioned above) or a very poor 20 amp outlet with low voltage to begin with. A significant voltage drop will make an AC produce somewhat less cooling and ultimately damage the unit.

If others at the campground say their AC units work fine with the 20 amp service, yours should also work well. The AC units on Airstreams are the same as the ones on all other RV's, not special to Airstream.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:57 PM   #3
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Every 20 amp service is not the same. Some, because of long distance runs of the wiring, have reduced voltage at the appliance. Low voltage will eventually kill the motor.
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Old 08-06-2014, 02:49 PM   #4
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I have no problem running my Coleman A/C, 13,500 on 20 AMP. Cool is cool, also depends on weather conditions, outside temp etc, all thing have to be considered. The breaker for the A/C is a 20 AMP, I assume original. I am not in a habit of running all of the appliances at once, what's the point of it. Good Luck on a purchase, you will love it!
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Old 08-06-2014, 04:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zil View Post
Every 20 amp service is not the same. Some, because of long distance runs of the wiring, have reduced voltage at the appliance. Low voltage will eventually kill the motor.
True.

What matters most is the voltage at the trailer. As long as it stays above 110 even with the A/C running, you're fine. Badly wired campgrounds can deliver insufficient voltage to 30a and 20a connections alike.

It's about wire size and distance. At one location where I stayed for 8 weeks, the shared power pole was 80' away. I ran 6 gauge cord, and it worked out fine.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:09 PM   #6
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You MUST check your voltage "under load". That means, turn on the AC then check voltage at one of your outlets. If not at least 108VAC, you will cause shortened life of AC.
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:47 AM   #7
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Thanks!

Cannot even begin to tell you all how happy I am for this info. I have relayed it to the seller, who checked his owner's manual which said ac only drew 14.5 amps, and we are working out a way to test out his rig using other outlet, adapter, etc.

Saturday is our club party. I will bring a voltage meter and check my two neighbors voltage with their ac's running.
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Old 08-07-2014, 11:23 AM   #8
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Wait, what, you need A/C in Michigan?
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:20 PM   #9
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Not this year! We found a use for this "Polar Vortex!"

But in a normal summer here in SE Michigan, we'll get a bunch of days in the 90's. Even so, my campsite is shady, so I expect I'll very rarely use the ac. But when you need it...
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:37 PM   #10
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Sounds like you are in good shape with the Airstream you are planning on buying and your hunt club. I might suggest that you purchase a "watt meter". These are only about $30 and tell you the line voltage and the power being used by whatever is plugged into it.

Have fun, Dan
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:44 PM   #11
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Will ac run with a honda eu2000 ?
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Old 08-07-2014, 11:50 PM   #12
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My 11000 BTU unit will run on my 2000i, but my friend's 13,500 BTU won't run on his.

I'm not convinced that the 2000i is enough to not damage the AC long term. I'm working on a test and will post the results when I finish.

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Old 08-08-2014, 12:04 AM   #13
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Our AC in the FC 20 ran fine with an EU2000...
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:49 AM   #14
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Thumbs up

I was curious if that would work. I'm plugged into a 20amp outlet in the garage and my ac works. I converted to LED lights so that takes a lot of load off. Probably wouldn't be able to use the microwave at the same time but we rarely use it anyway. I have been looking at generators and didn't really want to step up to the eu3000 because of its size.
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