RV Safety Connecting to Shore Power

JWalmsley
November 29, 2019
regular inspection and maintenance travel trailers

Shore Power Components & Operation

In this article we will be discussing some of the different components and how they operate inside your camper as well as safe and potentially dangerous power connections. Your Oliver Travel Trailer is designed with a 30-amp shore power connection on the street side of the unit and some campers may also have an optional convenience 30-amp power connection on the front LP housing. Both of these connections can be used with campground pole connections as well as a generator. Your camper has a built-in transfer switch to determine where the power is coming from and will automatically switch between the two power inlets to supply the power to your main power panel through the surge protector.

Shore Power Components & Operation

Connecting to a Power Supply

When you hookup a shore power connection whether from a campground pole or a generator, it is important to make sure that this power is good. The power cord that Oliver supplies with every camper has a built-in LED, at the power pole end, that will light up when power is present but does not indicate whether the power you are connecting to is safe. The good news is that all new Oliver campers have a built-in surge protector that determines if the power is safe before it is allowed into the main converter box. This means that it protects your components inside the camper however the power cord itself as well as the power inlet are still susceptible to damage from a bad power supply or improper connection. You should always connect to the side of the camper before connecting to power and always make sure that you twist the connector to set it properly while always using the twist lock collar. Failure to properly connect the power cord to the power inlet can result in heat build-up at the power inlet which will eventually melt the power cord plug end as well as the power inlet itself. Once you have properly connected to the power inlet on the side of the camper, ensure that the breaker for the pole (shore power) is turned off before connecting the plug end of the power cord. Once the power cord is plugged in to the power source, flip the breaker to the on position.

Using Extension Cords & Adapters

In some instances, you may find that you are unable to reach the power supply without connecting an extension cord and/or an adapter to make the connection to a lower amperage receptacle. There are a few things you need to know about using these options and what might occur if they are not used properly. First let’s take a look at extension cords. Not all extension cords are built for the same purpose. Oliver recommends when using an extension cord that you purchase an RV rated 30-amp power cord extension. RV 30-amp power cords are 10/3 cords and are rated to carry the 30 amps that your camper requires to fully operate. This does take into consideration that you are still connecting to a 30-amp receptacle but in case your only option is to connect to a standard 15 or 20-amp receptacle like those at most residences, then you might consider using a lower gage extension cord with an adapter. Please keep in mind that we do not recommend using an extension cord rating lower than the 10/3 that matches your main power cord. If you do choose to use a lower gage extension cord you should first understand the rating of the cord. Extension cords come in many different size wires as well as lengths. The longer the cord, the more voltage drop will occur and when this happens some components may not operate properly or at all. It is also important that you use an extension cord rated at minimum for the same breaker size of the receptacle that you are using. If the receptacle you are plugging into has a 15-amp breaker then you would want an extension cord that meets that rating. Failure for the cord to meet the rating can cause heat build-up and the wires inside the cord may melt before the breaker trips the receptacle.

Heavy-Duty Extension Cords Chart

Length of Cord Gauge of Wire
25 feet 14 AWG
50 feet 12 AWG
100 feet 10 AWG

*When using an extension cord outside these specs on a 15-amp rated receptacle a certain amount of power will be lost between the receptacle and trailer. When this power is lost it may cause components to function improperly or become inoperative. *You should always use an extension cord with ground. Some older cords and older receptacles may not have a ground. You should check or be aware of the power you are plugging into to ensure that it is properly wired, grounded and the proper breaker size is installed prior to connecting your Oliver camper.

NOTE: Oliver recommends using the appropriate 30-amp 10/3 RV extension cord. The above chart is for your reference if you choose to use a different extension cord.

30-Amp to 15-Amp Adapter

Oliver does not support the use of an adapter from the 30-amp camper power to 15-amp receptacle. These adapters are widely available and used in the RV industry however there are limitations and potential dangers when using an adapter that you should be aware of. When connecting to a 15-amp receptacle you should always know what size breaker is in the circuit. The size of breaker lets you know how much power is available and how much power is safely protected. Breakers can provide up to 80% of their rating. A 15-amp breaker can provide up to 12 amps of continuous power of 3-4 hours. Not all breakers are equal. There are different types of Trip Curves which simply mean when or how quickly a breaker will trip to protect the wire. Most breakers have a 3x – 5x in-rush rating which means for a second or two it can handle more than its rating but only if the load quickly drops back down within working parameters. In layman’s terms, you cannot fully operate a 30-amp camper on a 15-amp power source. You should ensure that the breaker for the receptacle is properly sized before plugging in your camper.

30-Amp to 50-Amp Adapter

Oliver does not recommend using an adapter to step down from a 50a connection to the 30a power cord provided with your camper. Your Oliver Travel Trailer has been designed to work with a 30-amp power supply. Connecting to a higher rated power connection could result to damage of wiring and/or components inside your camper.

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