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Old 09-02-2014, 02:32 PM   #1
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can a vintage Airstream be powered by heavy duty extension cords?

Hello good people
Just got a 76 Overlander. We're not ready with a plan to run real power yet to it. Could we get by with two extension cords, are there any with enough voltage to run: the lights, fridge, heater and A/C?
It's temporary, but I don't want to fry anything.
Thanks so much
Elicia
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Old 09-02-2014, 02:42 PM   #2
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The AC is the problem, and if by "the heater" you mean an electric one, that is a second problem.

Most heavy duty normal extension cords are at best #12 wire, good for 20 amps on short runs, less on longer runs (like two cords). The outlet you plug into is commonly only 20 amps, often only 15 amps capacity.

The AC takes in the range of 13.5 to 15 amps alone, nothing else on. You can see the problem. A portable electric heater takes a similar amount of power.

So, yes if you stay away from using the AC or portable electric heater. No, if you must run those things.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:26 PM   #3
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Assuming your Airstream and house breakers are proper, the only thing you risk "frying" is the extension cord you use.

You can use plug adapters but check amp rating of the main circuit breaker in the Airstream, and the amp rating of the breaker on individual house circuit you are plugging it into.

If the amp rating of the circuit breaker on the house receptacle you plug into is lower than the Airstream's main circuit breaker, the amp rating of the cord must be equal to or higher than the amp rating of that house circuit breaker.

If the amp rating of the house circuit breaker you are plugging into is higher than the Airstream's main circuit breaker, you could get by with a cord amp rating equal to or higher than the amp rating of the Airstream's main circuit breaker.

IMPORTANT: this is for a single extension cord of the length you need to reach the Airstream. for example two 25' extension cords rated for 15amps will not safely carry the full 15 amps when connected together over 50'.

You can get an adapter for the Airstream's 30amp cord that allows you to plug into a regular two prong outlet. You are good then if it will reach.

Most house receptacle circuits are 15 amp which will run the AC alone and not much else. Kitchen and bath receptacles on newer homes are usually 20 amp which would allow you to run the A/C and a few other things.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:35 PM   #4
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Buy a 10g extension cord and you will be fine to run about everything.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:50 PM   #5
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Thanks y'all. So .. two 10g extension cords chained, and then I'll need a 10g RV plug adapter? (I forgot to mention, there's a hot water heater too that's electric -- could i plug that in inside or should I use a splitter and plug it in outside -- but then the splitter needs to be 10g?)
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:55 PM   #6
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If you have a voltmeter to check your ac in the camper i would attempt it. I wouldnt allow it to get very far 120VAC otherwise your current draw will increase and possibly fry or shorten the life expectancy of electrical equipment. If the plugs are really warm to the touch, I'd say your pulling your incoming voltage too low. Thats why I am going to be dropping a two phase 50A and a single phase 30A receptacle at my meter box on the house. I couldn't keep the incoming VAC high enough.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
Buy a 10g extension cord and you will be fine to run about everything.
10g extension cord at a hundred feet is good for 15, maybe 20 amps continuous - but one still needs to check the cord specs and the breakers.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:08 PM   #8
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can a vintage airstream be powered by heavy duty extension cords?

15 or 20 amps will run most any A/C found in an RV, but I would try hard to keep the run to no more than about 50 feet if at all possible.
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