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Old 05-10-2016, 10:26 AM   #1
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AC in Driveway

I spent all of 2015 traveling the country in my 2015 EB Airstream. It's currently parked at my parents driveway. Not sure what to do with it longerm, but when I visit my parents, I was planning on staying in it.

Since the summer is coming up, it will need AC (likely will have a cat traveling with me as well). There is an outdoor, 20 amp outlet about 5' from the rear of the trailer. I found the below thread about running the AC on a 20 amp circuit, but no real definitive answer was given:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f427...ner-14666.html

My options as I see them are:

1. Run the AC only (no water heater, fridge, or anything else) with a 20 amp outlet
2. Buy a smaller standalone AC and run off of 15 amp outlet within the airstream (8,000 BTU model, 12 amp, or I've found them as low as 9 amp)
3. Get a 30 amp outlet installed (least likely, given arrangement of house to driveway)

I can run my 50 amp cable to hookup for the 25' run to the outlet.

Looking for a more definitive answer on running the 12k BTU AC off of a 20 amp house outlet or feedback from someone who has placed a temporary stand alone AC unit in an Airstream.

Thanks.
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:12 AM   #2
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The breaker for my 13.5K AC unit is 20 amps. If everything else is eliminated in the trailer, the AC unit should be fine.
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:15 AM   #3
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If it's really a 20A circuit with 20A available for use (i.e. it's not just a 20A outlet installed on a circuit shared with a couple of 15A duplex outlets that are currently in use, etc.) you should be able to be smart about other power usage in the trailer and be able to air condition the unit from it.

You already plan to run your 50A cable to it, so you shouldn't have a problem there. Run your water heater on propane (if at all) and maybe the fridge as well, don't run the microwave with the AC running, etc. The main thing is to check that the 20A outlet is really supported by a 20A circuit as it should be. It's a real 20A outlet, right? not a regular 15A residential duplex outlet? See the image for the difference:
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:15 AM   #4
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I have tried running my AC on 20 amp using different system configurations. All fails. I had a 30 amp ckt. run to the outside of my garage. My trailer stays on my driveway and plugged in when at home. Nice to have power, water and sewer available when needed.
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:16 AM   #5
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Can't answer your question, but before you count on that 20 amp outlet I would make sure the breaker is in fact 20 amps and that there aren't any other loads on that circuit. Very well could have additional outlets/lights connected in the garage.
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:40 AM   #6
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I would suggest option 2 or three. Option 3 would be my choice. You could maybe have the 30A RV recepticle installed for the cost of a small AC unit?


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Old 05-10-2016, 11:50 AM   #7
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If you plan to spend any extended amount of time camping there, I would bite the bullet and get a 50 amp line installed. Then you can easily and comfortably make full use of the trailer as a complete home, not limp along in a crippled fashion.
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:51 AM   #8
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Go get a descent meter that has an ammeter and measure the current being drawn by your AC unit and other devices in the camper. Then if your 20A is in fact a 20A circuit, the breaker is correct and the wire size is correct, you can determine what is and isn't safe to run on that circuit. I run my 15k btu AC on a 20A circuit with no problems. A 15A trips. Hope this helps
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Old 05-10-2016, 12:03 PM   #9
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I also just thought of another issue I had, the progressive dynamics converter I have has a higher amp draw when the batteries are low. I found that if the batteries are low, the converter draws more amperage than when it is just maintaining them. SO if your batteries are low you want to let them charge up before turning on the AC!
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Old 05-10-2016, 12:07 PM   #10
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I have run my 1972 Armstrong 11,000 BTU AC on a 20 amp circuit for hundreds of hours, and even on 15 amp circuits for days.

My opinion is this. So long as the circuit breaker does not trip, you are not overloading the circuit.


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Old 05-10-2016, 12:46 PM   #11
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So that was a ton of replies in a short amount of time (thanks!).

I'll check it out this weekend and let everyone know how it went.
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Old 05-10-2016, 01:15 PM   #12
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If the breaker box is within reasonable distance to the trailer, it is usually a simple thing to install a 30 or 50 amp service just below the breaker box and then use a RV extension cord to get to the trailer, instead of trying to run wire from the box to near the trailer.

My took about 15 minutes, as the breaker box is in the garage and in a hollow wall.

I simply cut a hole in the drywall and used an "old work" electric box. Lowes has all the parts.


Good Luck.


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Old 05-10-2016, 02:28 PM   #13
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Where is the electrical breaker box at your parents home & is it accessible? Having a 30AMP outlet installed at the box is very cost effective. Purchase a 30 AMP extension cord or two and run them as close to your AS as possible & plug into that with a 30 AMP plug from your AS.
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Old 05-10-2016, 05:13 PM   #14
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Here is what I did at my home because I have a serious shortage of garage and outdoor outlets.

I installed a new outlet directly under my breaker box in the garage so I could power my Airstream when it is home.

While I could have installed a 30 amp just as easy, I installed a 20 instead because it is all that I need.


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