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Old 07-19-2005, 10:14 AM   #1
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Campground Electric/AirC/low volts???

Greetings.

After a slightly rocky start, We were at a campground that had electric service to most of the sites. Some had 30A service.

It was VERY hot last weekend and we had the air conditioner running most of the time, as did everyone else that had an AC unit. We stayed nice and cool when inside though.

I have one of those volt meters from Camping World and normally the voltage reads about 125 to as high as 128 when using shore power or my generator.

However, this past weekend I noticed that the power would go down as low as 104-105 volts, (in the red!). The electricity also seemed to fluctuate, and sometimes the power would go back up to 110-112V.

I could also hear the AC unit actually slowing a bit during these slight "brown-outs".

Interestingly enough, even when most people cleared out on Sunday, my volt meter was still reading no higher than maybe 112V.

My first reaction is that there was an obvious strong demand for electricity due to the heat. My second reaction is that after reading about how low voltage shortens the life of the compressor, am I going to be in for a new Duo-Therm by the end of what is turning out to be one of Chicago's warmest summers.

Am I worrying needlessly. There was no way we could have continued camping without the AC!

Thanks.

Jonathan
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Old 07-19-2005, 10:50 AM   #2
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I always us a digital volt meter to keep tabs on the power. The Dometic can handle 120 volts with a 10% range (108 to 132), these are the mininums and maximums according to Dometic. When the voltage gets down to the lower range, we turn ours A/C off and run fans.
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Old 07-19-2005, 10:57 AM   #3
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If you call duotherm I believe they'll tell you the minimum is 103.5V for the penguin. However, to get close to that would be inviting trouble. Some of our older campgrounds here have the same issue during the summer with all of the ACs running. I bit the bullet and bought a Hughes Autotransformer to boost amps when the voltage drops. I hope that it might make the difference in being able to run the AC or swelter in certain situations. I bought it here http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/r...ds/55-3981.htm I had it mounted inside the trailer under the couch so I don't have to cover/lock it up outside on the power pedastle each time. I also use the digital voltmeter as well which is helpful.
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Old 07-19-2005, 11:05 AM   #4
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We have a Surge Guard (Model 34730) ... it shuts off power to the trailer when it dips too low. So far ... in a year and a half ... it has happened about 4 or 5 times ... but not while running the AC ....... yet.
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Old 07-19-2005, 12:23 PM   #5
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is that what happened to my electric?

While camping and running ac on a very hot day, the power went out when I started using the hair dryer. I turned all power off and tried it again in about 3-4 hours and did not have any other problems with it. (I was more careful about overloading electrical circuits though. ) We had previously camped and used all at once with no problems. Could I have experienced the same kind of "brown out"? Where do you get the surge guard "PorkyP' mentioned?
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Old 07-19-2005, 12:25 PM   #6
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autoformer

We had the same problem as you last year in Las Vegas. The AC was definately laboring. I went to camping world and bought the autoformer. The increase in voltage was significant and the AC liked it a lot better. The coach even cooled down to about 80. It was 115 outside. Needless to say, I would like to have a little more powerful AC in our unit, but again, I'm not planning another trip to Las Wages anytime soon.

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Old 07-19-2005, 12:48 PM   #7
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I also installed the surge protector in line with the Autoformer. I put the autoformer in line first to keep the power up, then the surge protector is plugged into it so that if I get spikes or things really go nuts it'll shut everything off. We seem to have more of an issue with low volts than spikes, although on Sundays when everyone unplugs to go home sometime you'll get a surge if you're still plugged in.
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Old 07-19-2005, 01:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazylev
Greetings.
I have one of those volt meters from Camping World and normally the voltage reads about 125 to as high as 128 when using shore power or my generator.

Thanks.

Jonathan
Jonathan, if this is one of those analog meters (I have one) keep in mind that I think it has an accuracy level of + - 7%. While I keep mine plugged into the outlet in the kitchen, if I start to see it head for the red, I'll use my digital tester which has a much tighter tolerance and get a better reading of the available voltage.

Jack
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Old 07-19-2005, 02:20 PM   #9
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Thank you for your posts.

Jack: Yes. It is one of the analog needle things I keep plugged in the outlet all the time for just such information.

I do have a real nice Ideal digital volt tester but I did not bring it with me on this trip.

Jonathan
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Old 07-19-2005, 02:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Hut
I also installed the surge protector in line with the Autoformer. I put the autoformer in line first to keep the power up, then the surge protector is plugged into it so that if I get spikes or things really go nuts it'll shut everything off. We seem to have more of an issue with low volts than spikes, although on Sundays when everyone unplugs to go home sometime you'll get a surge if you're still plugged in.
i would think that you would want the surge protector in line first to protect the big$$$$$ that you spent on the autoformer.....
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Old 07-19-2005, 03:27 PM   #11
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i would think that you would want the surge protector in line first to protect the big$$$$$ that you spent on the autoformer.....
norby
I thought about that & tried it that way first. I found that with transient spikes the surge would sometimes turn everything off and then you'd have to wait a few minutes for it to reset. In the meantime the AC would be off and it too would have to reset. The autotransformer has it's own surge protection (although not as sensitive as the dedicated). I decided that my priority is to keep the power up enough with the autoformer to keep everything running and then if there's a big spike to have it all shut down by the dedicated surge.
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Old 07-19-2005, 08:23 PM   #12
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It was so hot in Redding California the park power was down to 104 volts because every one was using their ac and I was worried the power might brown out. I was ready to get out our generator if the voltage dropped to 100 volts. Ya just can't live without ac in that kind of heat. The power went up to 108 volts when it cooled down at dusk.
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Old 07-25-2005, 07:32 AM   #13
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Tin Hut...

The Autoformer installation talks about a "ventilated" compartment.

does the Autoformer heat up in your installation?
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Old 07-25-2005, 09:20 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davesamuelso
Tin Hut...

The Autoformer installation talks about a "ventilated" compartment.

does the Autoformer heat up in your installation?
I have the autoformer installed under the couch. It doesn't give off much if any heat and doesn't off-gas anything. I believe they mean just don't seal it off or wrap it tight anywhere. Before I moved it into the trailer I kept it in a plastic bucket with a lawn/leaf bag over it to keep the rain off. I then cable locked it to the power pole so it wouldn't walk
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