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Old 07-26-2010, 11:56 AM   #1
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1967 17' Caravel
Grass Valley , California
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Electrical Power Protection

Last week we made our first trip with our shiny "new" 67 Caravel. We learned a lot - mostly simple things like what to bring and where to put it, but on the third day our MaxxFax quit. I know I can repair it, or replace it, but this the leads to the cause of the problem. I noticed several times lights flickering and other power related symptoms. I have no power protection now and in cruising the net it has been suggested that the best (and most costly) way to go is to put in a 30 amp surge protector and an Autotransformer (Hughes?). Our next adventure is a rally in Monterey, CA and I'd like to be safe.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. George Paige
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Old 07-26-2010, 12:31 PM   #2
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I use a 6 outlet power strip, with overload protection...I've got the sat box, tv, dvd, sat antenna controller all plugged into the power strip...

It has the added convenience of then being able to move the power strip's male plug into the shore power receptacle - or the inverters receptacle as needed - only one plug to move when we're off the grid...

These power strips aren't designed to handle the entire load of the trailer, but should protect the valuable electronics bits....I've got the same strip at home with the computer and tv, etc and I know they work as I've 'blown' it once during a power outage as there was an overload upon startup...I can also flip the switch OFF when we leave the house to power down all those parasitic electrical loads...

Ray
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Old 07-26-2010, 02:25 PM   #3
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I believe that the cost, hassle, space, and weight of autoformer-like devices far exceeds the cost and hassle of replacing/repairing damaged things the autoformer-like device could have saved.

I think there is a tendency to blame electronics and air conditioning failures on "power surges" or brownouts when in fact the failure was unrelated or (especially with air conditioners) was only accelerated by a couple of weeks.

Most stuff runs on a much wider range of input voltages than people believe, 90-140 volts, something like that. Go below that and usually it will just shut off or not work without any lasting damage. You won't see anything above 140 volts in the U.S. unless the campground has an open neutral somewhere in which case they should be buying you a new set of appliances.
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Old 07-26-2010, 02:56 PM   #4
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Air conditioners in particular will suffer from low voltage. The problem is as the voltage goes down the fan and compressor require more amps and the more amps the hotter they run so in effect low voltage (below 108 VAC) can burn out your AC.

Most other devices have a small amount of protection and a wider range of voltage tolerance. Your TV may need 120VAC input to operate but most of the internal components require 5 to 12 VDC and that voltage is regulated.

Electric heaters and ovens are restive loads and their output (heat) will go down as the input voltage goes down with out any damage.

Voltage surge is very bad for electronic components lightning is a good example you don't have to have a direct hit to destroy everything in you RV or stick house. Today many high end electronic devices have MOV's built in to protect from surges but to be truly protected you need a surge protection device for the RV.

Having said all that I know I should have one but !!! I don't.

Garry
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Old 07-26-2010, 04:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garry View Post
Air conditioners in particular will suffer from low voltage. The problem is as the voltage goes down the fan and compressor require more amps and the more amps the hotter they run so in effect low voltage (below 108 VAC) can burn out your AC.
I don't believe that's true, though people who sell A/Cs say it is (because they want someone else to blame for the short product life), and people who sell surge protectors say it is (because they want to sell surge protectors).

It is true that the amp draw will increase slightly as the voltage drops. Below a certain point, the thermal limit will trip and the A/C will shut off.

Quote:
Voltage surge is very bad for electronic components lightning is a good example you don't have to have a direct hit to destroy everything in you RV or stick house. Today many high end electronic devices have MOV's built in to protect from surges but to be truly protected you need a surge protection device for the RV.
No surge protection device can protect against an extremely large voltage spike.

Small spikes do not affect electronics.

The question then is whether there are enough of the medium sized spikes that the "surge protector" can guard against to justify its purchase price, weight, and the hassle of using it.
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