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Old 07-23-2019, 04:27 PM   #1
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AC on 20 amp service safe?

I'd like to run my 2017 25 FB's AC during hot weather with 20 amp service in the campground. Is this safe to do?
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:35 PM   #2
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AC on 20 amp service safe?

It’s possibly a marginal situation. If you don’t get sufficient voltage to your air conditioner when it starts and runs, you could cause damage to the compressor or other components.

You might be able to get away with it if you shut down all other loads in your AS including the converter.

We ruined our original air conditioner by running on low voltage for an extended period a few years ago. Compressor burned out and died a messy death.

I plan to install a MicroAir EasyStart module to reduce current draw and protect our current unit better before our next trip.

Search forums for more details on this device. Highly recommended and effective upgrade, in my opinion.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:46 PM   #3
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Hi

Another variable - how do you plan to hook up to the 20A service at the campground? Finding an "extension cord" that really is set up for 20A service is a bit hard. Adapting to a 30A cord is probably the better approach.

Bob
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:57 PM   #4
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Once started it will run fine however there is a possibility your start up capacitor is not able to start the compressor on the AC. If that happens to often there is a possibility of damaging the compressor, tripping breakers, etc.

Some have found the solution is to replace the stock starting capacitor with a "Hard Start" type of capacitor. Which is (sort of) like unplug the old capacitor and plug the new one in, each comes with instructions.

Some have gone with a more advanced unit called a "Soft Start" or "Easy Start" type of capacitor with added electronics to help maximize efficient starting of your particular compressor.



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Old 07-23-2019, 05:31 PM   #5
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Hi

Backing up a bit ....

Even with modified starting, the typical A/C is going to pull 13 to 16A while running. How much it pulls is very much a "that depends" sort of thing. High humidity is one obvious driver.

The plug on the post may be rated for 20A. If you have a normal extension cord, it might well be rated for less. Even if it's rated for "enough" it may create a voltage drop while in use. Longer cords need to be heavier cords to keep this from happening.

As the voltage drops, the A/C pulls more current to keep things going. That means more drop on the line and yet more current. It also means more wear and tear on the A/C even if it appears to be running ok.

Bob
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Old 07-23-2019, 05:40 PM   #6
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If you are going to do it buy a little plug in AC voltmeter. Watch it for voltage. Cut off the power converter. Cut off the WH. Put the refrigerator on propane. Set the AC to the full cold setting so that the compressor only has to start once. My guess is that it will work fine. Ours does. I am not guaranteeing that you will not hurt it. But if you are prudent and watch for voltage drop or pull down it should be fine.

If you can rig a way to go through your Progressive Dynamics EMS with the 20 amp line that would be the best way. An adaptor should do that. It will monitor for low voltage and prevent damage from restarting. One way that AC's get hurt is for the power to switch off and then come back on in a short cycle. I would worry about that on a 20 amp line.

The Easy Start makes it start with less power but does not reduce the power required to actually run the AC.
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Old 07-23-2019, 06:28 PM   #7
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This is the extension cord you can use for 20 amp service....note that one of the blades is sideways on purpose.....denotes 20 amp service....the plug should be romex 12 gauge if it really is 20 amps from the service panel.

https://www.amazon.com/Conntek-Outdo.../dp/B07BNV4GL8
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Old 07-23-2019, 10:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Another variable - how do you plan to hook up to the 20A service at the campground? Finding an "extension cord" that really is set up for 20A service is a bit hard. Adapting to a 30A cord is probably the better approach.

Bob
It will be a situation where hundreds of Airstreams will share electricity and be provided with 20 amp service. If the connection box allows for a 30 amp "male" we'd connect our SurgeGuard and normal 30 amp cord to the trailer. Otherwise I'm not sure.
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Old 07-23-2019, 10:31 PM   #9
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AC on 20 amp service safe?

Heres the bottom line if you'll have it, I operate on a couple of twenty amp circuits for weeks and months at a time, use an amp and volt gauge, use them toward not being stupid and your Airstream will never know the difference between a 20 and 30 amp service.
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Old 07-24-2019, 07:07 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SilverWind View Post
It will be a situation where hundreds of Airstreams will share electricity and be provided with 20 amp service. If the connection box allows for a 30 amp "male" we'd connect our SurgeGuard and normal 30 amp cord to the trailer. Otherwise I'm not sure.
Hi

If you are talking about a rally sort of setup then the answer is no.

It's not just the 20A part of things, it's all the structure "upstream" of your plug. Try to pull starting current through that and you likely will create all sorts of issues. ( = it's not really a 20A circuit ).

Bob
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Old 07-24-2019, 09:57 AM   #11
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easy start dropped our staring amps to around 13 vs no east start we were at 23 amps. I wouldn't plug into power and run the a/c without an easy start if you only have 20 amp service.
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Old 07-24-2019, 11:58 AM   #12
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First hand experience, large risk of overheating a connector if you do it for an extended time

If you do, monitor closely, and run everything else on propane
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Old 07-24-2019, 02:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

If you are talking about a rally sort of setup then the answer is no.

It's not just the 20A part of things, it's all the structure "upstream" of your plug. Try to pull starting current through that and you likely will create all sorts of issues. ( = it's not really a 20A circuit ).

Bob
So its sounds like surges and outages upstream are the risks whether you have an Easy-Start or not. I wonder if that is amplified with a large group of trailers.
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Old 07-24-2019, 02:31 PM   #14
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I installed easy start in both my A/C's. In my experience the "hard start" capacitors do not perform near as well. Before installation, start up current draw was 46 amps. After, it dropped to 19 amps and eventually 16 amps since the easy start has a learning curve. Mine one A/C will easily run on a 20 amp circuit as long as other factors are considered.

Obviously a good power source is a must. But also altitude and high outside temperatures can affect performance. Depending on those conditions my A/C's after initial start up run on 13 to 16 amps. Again, depending on external conditions, I can often run both A/C's on 30 amp service.

I also have a Southwire EMS surge protector with wireless readout, so I know exactly what each appliance is drawing in amps and watts.

If the power source is 20 amp, you need to eliminate other current draws, like refer (3 amps), water heater (10 amps), microwave (10 amps), and converter (variable draw). Same thing if I want to run both A/C's on a 30 amp service.
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