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Old 01-23-2022, 01:24 PM   #1
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Receptacles, wish they were better!

Electric space heater pulling about 12a did this. But boy was I surprised when I removed the receptacle to replace it! This out of a 2021 27FC.Click image for larger version

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Old 01-23-2022, 01:50 PM   #2
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What surprised you, the type of receptacle?
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Old 01-23-2022, 02:06 PM   #3
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Did the breaker ever blow when this happened?

That's a 15a receptacle. A 1500w space heater can pull slightly over 12 amps, depending on the actual voltage. At 110v it's going to pull 13.6 amps. (watts/volts=amps) Since it's not uncommon for voltage to be less than 120v this may have played into it.

It could also be that there is a loose connection somewhere. Looks like the neutral socket is the one that overheated, so it might be a good idea to trace back your lines to make sure you don't have something that's worked loose. We've seen threads over the years on multiple forums about neutral lines loosening in transfer switches, circuit panels, shore power inlets, etc.

Could also be that the heater itself is misfiring and pulling more than its rated wattage. If you have an EMS you should be able to see how many amps it's pulling. A broken cord/plug or a loose connection in the heater can also cause resistance and a higher than expected draw.

Was there anything else plugged into the circuit being fed from the piggy back line?

Of course, if any of these things are going on you'd think that the breaker would have blown, unless the heat buildup was slow and steady. Sometimes breakers don't blow as quickly when the overage creeps up on it.
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Old 01-23-2022, 02:06 PM   #4
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If you have room you can install a remodel box and a standard receptacle. If not, there is a special tool to assemble those trailer receptacles but I recently saw this You Tube of a guy who did it with a C clamp.

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Old 01-23-2022, 02:18 PM   #5
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Did the breaker ever blow when this happened?

That's a 15a receptacle. A 1500w space heater can pull slightly over 12 amps, depending on the actual voltage. At 110v it's going to pull 13.6 amps. (watts/volts=amps) Since it's not uncommon for voltage to be less than 120v this may have played into it.
On a purely resistive load when voltage drops so does current (and power or watts). The resistance of the load does not change, resistance would have to decrease for current to rise. (I=E/R) or (RxE=I)

Constant P is voltage down and current up. (motor loads)

Constant R is voltage down, current down. (resistive loads)

Being a 15 amp circuit 12 amps is right at the maximum allowed for continuous duty (3 or more hours without cycling) and the breaker will never trip unless wires melt together.

An under sized extension cord can also cause overheating. As far as the neutral, I can't explain why but about 90% of the overheated/melted receptacles we ever changed were melted at the neutral. I always assumed it was because that side is more awkward to tighten for right handed sparkies but who knows, the current is the same on both sides.
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Old 01-23-2022, 02:47 PM   #6
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On a purely resistive load when voltage drops so does current (and power or watts). The resistance of the load does not change, resistance would have to decrease for current to rise. (I=E/R) or (RxE=I)

Constant P is voltage down and current up. (motor loads)

Constant R is voltage down, current down. (resistive loads)

Being a 15 amp circuit 12 amps is right at the maximum allowed for continuous duty (3 or more hours without cycling) and the breaker will never trip unless wires melt together.

An under sized extension cord can also cause overheating. As far as the neutral, I can't explain why but about 90% of the overheated/melted receptacles we ever changed were melted at the neutral. I always assumed it was because that side is more awkward to tighten for right handed sparkies but who knows, the current is the same on both sides.
Thanks for the information about resistive loads.
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Old 01-23-2022, 03:53 PM   #7
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Thanks for the information about resistive loads.
Another thing to note, your example of a voltage drop to 110 at the load would result in only 11 amps at the load or 1,210 watts at the load however the entire circuit would still draw the full 12 amps at 120 volts with the remaining 230 watts of power being used up in the circuit as the circuit is just another resistor in series with the load, which is why cords get warm/hot.
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Old 01-23-2022, 04:02 PM   #8
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Space heaters can be hard on residential circuits because they tend to run continuously for many hours at high wattage. I always recommend to buy the ones that are adjustable and use on 600 or 900 watt setting, if you must use the 1,440 or 1,500 watt setting at least plug into a 20 amp circuit. There's just no way around it, when you are constantly getting heat from resistance some of that heat will make it's way up the cord and the cord itself will have it's own little resistive heat gain going on. Kind of the same as when we run the AC all day on the 30 amp shore plug and it gets hot.
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Old 01-23-2022, 04:50 PM   #9
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Good information, Brian. Thanks for posting. I've used a couple of space heaters in our AS and by far the ones with a lower wattage setting, running continuously, help eliminate the cold floor - hot ceiling issue. One in the front on setting 1/3 and the other in the back on low, both continuous. The cords are just room temperature and the ambient temp is a pleasant 75.
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Old 01-23-2022, 08:34 PM   #10
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OP here, got tired up all day and just coming back to this thread. Some background:

Heater installed is a smart heater with thermostat control. It was plugged in directly, no extension cord. Heater is fairly new and in good condition. Heater was running and this damaged was undiscovered until my wife unplugged the heater to move it, the breaker never tried as I doubt it never exceeded 15A.

What surprised me was the receptacle itself. I've never owned an RV so was unprepared for the shock of seeing a non standard receptacle, no box, and wires connected by just pushing them into slicing clips without even stripping any insulation off the wires! This thing was wired up for power in a manner like a phone cable termination.

The metal clips inside are just coated steel, and the neutral overheated, taking the spring out off the steel "buss" that engages the plugged in neutral prong.

I guess the source for a replacement can be online, I don't think I have the depth to install a shallow old work box with conventional receptacle.

This is the heaviest used receptacle in our one year old Airstream, it's what we plug or coffee maker into!
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Old 01-23-2022, 08:51 PM   #11
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What surprised me was the receptacle itself. I've never owned an RV so was unprepared for the shock of seeing a non standard receptacle, no box, and wires connected by just pushing them into slicing clips without even stripping any insulation off the wires! This thing was wired up for power in a manner like a phone cable termination.
I discovered these electrical receptacles during the conversion of my AS. It is easy to replace the receptacle in the overhead electronics cabinet with a standard receptacle, which I did. For the coffee maker I ran a new circuit to the kitchen and terminated it below the counter. Just popped a hole in the formica and dropped the coffee maker plug down to the socket.

The problem are those receptacles in the interior aluminum. Not enough depth for a standard plug. I think I will replace these receptacles with a standard box and just take the cosmetic hit of having the box stick out farther than the wall. AS installed plugs to not appear to be a safe installation.
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Old 01-24-2022, 04:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Gtx Eng View Post
OP here, got tired up all day and just coming back to this thread. Some background:

Heater installed is a smart heater with thermostat control. It was plugged in directly, no extension cord. Heater is fairly new and in good condition. Heater was running and this damaged was undiscovered until my wife unplugged the heater to move it, the breaker never tried as I doubt it never exceeded 15A.

What surprised me was the receptacle itself. I've never owned an RV so was unprepared for the shock of seeing a non standard receptacle, no box, and wires connected by just pushing them into slicing clips without even stripping any insulation off the wires! This thing was wired up for power in a manner like a phone cable termination.

The metal clips inside are just coated steel, and the neutral overheated, taking the spring out off the steel "buss" that engages the plugged in neutral prong.

I guess the source for a replacement can be online, I don't think I have the depth to install a shallow old work box with conventional receptacle.

This is the heaviest used receptacle in our one year old Airstream, it's what we plug or coffee maker into!
I think many have the same reaction - I know I did the first time I saw them.

They are everywhere in the RV industry, not just Airstream. It is not uncommon for one to not have the wires firmly seated in the clips, so perhaps the problem with yours is something simple like a bad install.

Check Out Of Doors Mart or Woodland Airstream for a replacement. If not there, then Amazon.
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Old 01-24-2022, 06:36 AM   #13
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I think I will replace these receptacles with a standard box and just take the cosmetic hit of having the box stick out farther than the wall. AS installed plugs to not appear to be a safe installation.
If you go that route you can use Wiremold style surface mounted boxes. They come in metal or plastic and several brands, Wiremold is just one brand, the original.
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Old 01-24-2022, 06:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richard5933 View Post
Did the breaker ever blow when this happened?

That's a 15a receptacle. A 1500w space heater can pull slightly over 12 amps, depending on the actual voltage. At 110v it's going to pull 13.6 amps. (watts/volts=amps) Since it's not uncommon for voltage to be less than 120v this may have played into it.

It could also be that there is a loose connection somewhere. Looks like the neutral socket is the one that overheated, so it might be a good idea to trace back your lines to make sure you don't have something that's worked loose. We've seen threads over the years on multiple forums about neutral lines loosening in transfer switches, circuit panels, shore power inlets, etc.

Could also be that the heater itself is misfiring and pulling more than its rated wattage. If you have an EMS you should be able to see how many amps it's pulling. A broken cord/plug or a loose connection in the heater can also cause resistance and a higher than expected draw.

Was there anything else plugged into the circuit being fed from the piggy back line?

Of course, if any of these things are going on you'd think that the breaker would have blown, unless the heat buildup was slow and steady. Sometimes breakers don't blow as quickly when the overage creeps up on it.
Radiant heaters are not constant power devices. reducing the voltage reduces the current since the impedance remain the same.
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Old 01-24-2022, 10:06 AM   #15
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I just installed a NOCO 15 amp AC port plug.
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Old 01-24-2022, 12:08 PM   #16
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A clamp meter will tell you the amperage draw, too. You'll need a line splitter, too. Or just buy this clamp meter kit.

A gray surface-mounted outlet is in the lavatory of our 2017 International. Only surface mounted outlet in the trailer. If I ever need to replace the other outlets that have no space for a box, I'll install same.

I thought I was going to be smart and install an outlet with USB ports under the dinette. Nope. Too shallow. Stuck in a wall-wart with USB, instead. Lesson learned.

I replaced the RV-type outlet behind the lounge television with a deep old-work box and standard outlets (2) + USB. Plenty of room and about two extra feet of ROMEX in the cavity behind the fridge. The original outlet was a single (other side blocked). Had to carefully enlarge and tidy-up the very-rough opening. What a mess. You'd think the CNC machine could cut a beautiful clean hole. It looked like someone used a dull chisel to cut the hole.
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Old 01-30-2022, 10:11 AM   #17
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Hi
Bought this stuff for a future project at local supply stores. I didn't have a problem other than I wanted gray on the aluminum. My Airstream is old enough that I dont have GFI's. I will have to enlarge the holes for the boxes.
Happy Travels!
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Old 01-30-2022, 06:48 PM   #18
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The real problem here is that there are two wires attached to the insulation displacement connections in the receptacle. The problem shows it ugly head when the first wire in not installed 100% perfectly and the insulation displacement knifes are spread just a little too far and the second wire when installed does not get the same contact pressure as the first hence causing a high resistance contact on the second wire and not the first. The terminal then over heats causing the problem. This problem is not uncommon. The conventional residential receptacle only allows one wire with the insulation displacement connections. The heater had nothing to do with this failure except that it was the item that was plugged in when the problem was identified. A coffee pot, hair drier or any other 12 amp appliance could have been plugged in when this problem was identified. Poor Airstream assembly quality is the real problem not the receptacle or the heater. This is similar to me finding residential wire nuts on a 20 amp circuit to the A/C. Wire nuts are not designed for any kind of mobile application. They will eventually vibrate loose and cause the same problem as yours: high resistance connection and over heating at the connection. When will the Airstream Engineers learn that their high prices deserves high quality. Unfortunately Airstream knows what is right but refuses to provide the customer with the quality that they are charging. Go figure......
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Old 01-30-2022, 09:29 PM   #19
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Imagine a heat sensitive smarter plug
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Old 01-31-2022, 07:54 AM   #20
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The heater had nothing to do with this failure except that it was the item that was plugged in when the problem was identified. A coffee pot, hair drier or any other 12 amp appliance could have been plugged in when this problem was identified.
I'll disagree with you on the heater, there is no 12 amp corded load that can stay continuous anywhere near as long as a space heater. Even the coffee pot only uses the full 12 amps when it is heating to temp, when it reaches temp it drops to a fraction of that. The space heater can literally draw continuously for many hours and will expose any weakness in the circuit where an intermittent 12 amp load would not. Hence my recommendation for adjustable, lower draw units especially when left unattended if you must use one at all.
Space heaters were the number one appliance by far that exposed or caused wiring and receptacle problems in all my years as an electrician. As soon as the first cold weather would hit we could expect some early morning phone calls from space heater related problems, often the customers wouldn't even connect the space heater to the problem and would be surprised that we already knew they were running them.
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