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Author Topic: 30 amp service for 50 amp bus  (Read 4073 times)
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« on: August 29, 2011, 10:57:56 AM »

Just got back from a wonderful week at Hunting Island State Park just outside of Beaufort, SC. This was our third trip out with our bus and everything worked pretty much perfect. The only bump in the road was when we decided to take advantage of a beach front site that came available. The site we were on was a 50 amp site and the one we moved to was a 30 amp site. No problem, I had my trusty 30 amp male to 50 amp female dogbone. Now, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I do learn real quick. I moved and rewired the previously installed, code violating, breaker panel and adjusted the loads so everything was balanced. It never dawned on me though that if the chance came to pass that if all I had was 30 amp service, then I'd only had one leg of my normally available two legs of 120 volts. Of course, when I plugged my adapter in and went to turn on the AC in the front of the bus......no power. Had me scratching my head at first (remember.... cue the somewhat dull knife) until I realized that in the back of my mind I always knew that 30 amp RV service only provides one leg of 120 volts. After removing my breaker panel cover and inspecting with my digital VOM, as luck would have it my front AC and most of my other important electrical needs were on the other leg of the 50 service (the one not seeing power from the dogbone adapter)......so I killed all the power and swapped the two legs at the CAMCO plug I have installed and bada bing, back in service......well half service anyway. Well the next logical question (at least logical to me) came to mind. What do most RVer's do when in this situation? Are normal 50 amp RV services wired in such a way that if you are faced with only 30 amp service as an option then at least you have your most needed electrical supplies delivered? Or is there an adapter that piggybacks the two 120 volt legs of the bus' 50 amp service together so that you can pick and choose what you want to have power for?
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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2011, 11:05:55 AM »

The typical 30 amp male to 50 Amp female adapter has the two legs strapped together in the adapter.  Is this one you purchased or made up yourself?  Easy fix.

You will have both legs available but will have to do some load management.
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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2011, 11:30:15 AM »

Just don't use that type of bridging dog-bone adaptor if you have any 220 volt loads than need to bridge across both legs of a 50 amp service.  I'm not sure that anything catastrophic would happen, but at the least the 220 volt appliance won't work.

Brian
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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2011, 11:41:15 AM »

That's right, nothing would happen except that the 220 volt appliances wouldn't work.  They are not going to work anyway.

It's the same basic setup if you have a 240/50 amp shore connection but your generator is wired for 120 volts.  In that case, the generator is strapped to both sides of the panel.
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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2011, 12:19:29 PM »

Well obviously I didn't search hard enough because I couldn't find any indication of a dogbone that connected the two legs. I purchased this one from AdventureRV.net. Looks like I'll need to purchase another one now......thanks for clearing that up guys.
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2011, 04:14:50 PM »

I thought all adapters had the two legs tied together. If they weren't, the adapter would not serve the purpose it was intended for.

Mike
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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2011, 04:37:07 PM »

I just double checked mine again a couple of hours ago.....I must've got a dud.
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2011, 05:53:28 PM »

As a follow up, this is the adapter I purchased. After reading the description a little more closely, I think I may have got just what I bought. I've got a trouble ticket submitted to the website to make sure.
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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2011, 06:26:55 PM »

I realize that this doesn't answer your question - however another member previously posted a real good reason why you may want to think twice before using a 30 amp to 50 amp adapter:  Your 50 Amp draw will overload the neutral of the 30 Amp service.   Some parks will have a sample of a melted 30-Amp receptacle as an example of some of the damage which can be caused by using the adapter.
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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2011, 07:18:11 PM »

I realize that this doesn't answer your question - however another member previously posted a real good reason why you may want to think twice before using a 30 amp to 50 amp adapter:  Your 50 Amp draw will overload the neutral of the 30 Amp service.   Some parks will have a sample of a melted 30-Amp receptacle as an example of some of the damage which can be caused by using the adapter.

Huh?  How does that work?  The adapter simply converts a 30 outlet for use with a 50 amp plug.  One can't pull more than 30 amps or the breaker will blow.
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2011, 07:31:26 PM »

I just double checked mine again a couple of hours ago.....I must've got a dud.

Yes, you got a bad one.  I would return it for credit, if you still can.

As a follow up, this is the adapter I purchased. After reading the description a little more closely, I think I may have got just what I bought. I've got a trouble ticket submitted to the website to make sure.

I don't think so.  I think whoever wrote that bit of copy was not an electrical genius by any stretch.  For example this:
Quote
If RV is wired normally it prevents the use of the 20 amp side of RV panel.

Is either meaningless, or just plain wrong.  A "normally" wired 50-amp rig does not have a "20 amp side" of a panel.  It has two 50-amp sides.  I am guessing they meant that it prevents use of 240-volt loads, but who knows.  Whatever they meant, it makes no sense as written.

I would not let them use this to weasel out of refunding your money or replacing the cord.  Moreover, this:
Quote
They are Heavy-duty 10/3 ST power cords with 3-wires plus ground.

is also just plain wrong.  This type of adapter uses 10/3 cord, which is three wires including ground, not "plus ground" (which would actually make it 10/4, good buddy).

BTW, I just replaced my 30-to-50 dogbone, which gave up the ghost after over 20 years of service  (http://ourodyssey.blogspot.com/2011/07/relaxing-on-clinch.html).  A perfectly good 10/3 model cost me only $15 at Camping World, so perhaps the $5 saved by buying from this outfit is a false economy.

...  Your 50 Amp draw will overload the neutral of the 30 Amp service.   Some parks will have a sample of a melted 30-Amp receptacle as an example of some of the damage which can be caused by using the adapter.

This is also not correct.  On a 30-to-50 dogbone there is no way to "overload the neutral" without first overloading the hot, which should trip the breaker.

Perhaps you are thinking of the "two-fer" adapters that allow you to connect your 50-amp rig to two 30-amp receptacles.  This is a box with a 50-amp outlet in it and two short cords with 30-amp plugs.

These boxes, in untrained hands, are dangerous for several reasons.  One of those reasons happens to be that connecting the two 30-amp plugs to receptacles that are on the same leg of power, rather than opposite legs, can, indeed, overload the neutral, putting a full 60 amps on it.  That said, 60 amps on a cord rated for 50 is unlikely to melt it, and you'd have to try really hard to get 60 amps onto it in the first place.

Campgrounds have a very different reason for discouraging the use of these "two-fers", namely that they don't want you using twice as much power as you've paid for.  So it would be no surprise that they would resort to scare tactics like melted adapters at the front desk.  FWIW.

-Sean
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« Last Edit: August 29, 2011, 07:43:17 PM by Sean » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2011, 07:48:47 PM »

Well written "fact" post Sean.  it helped me understand or confirm a few things.  thanks.
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« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2011, 05:49:18 AM »

I'm always amazed after reading posts like these that there aren't more "accidents", in spite of Sean's best efforts and well documented best practices. I wish folks would study these materials first before tackling some of these tasks, and especially before offering "suggestions".
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« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2011, 10:03:02 AM »

I think Sean should write a good book on the subject which would help the rest of use out on electrical wiring etc. Some wiring diagrams would be great also. Or maybe even charge for his services. I would be willing to pay after I provide him info on what I have and what the best way to do it is.
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« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2011, 09:30:23 PM »

"I think Sean should write a good book on the subject"

If some one would compile it - I think he pretty much has - FWIW
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« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2011, 10:15:56 PM »

So what will this give you....30A on one leg and 15A on the other ?

Will it provide 240V ?

or 45A on each leg @ 120V or 240V...or what ?

« Last Edit: August 30, 2011, 10:17:43 PM by eagle19952 » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2011, 03:58:14 AM »

So what will this give you

That is basically the same "two-fer" device I was describing in my earlier post.  Some versions have a box with a receptacle and two cords, where others, such as the one pictured, have a fully molded "Y" adapter with the receptacle and two plugs.

Quote
....30A on one leg and 15A on the other ?

In this case, yes, because that's how the manufacturer chose to build it.  Many models have two #10 AWG cords with TT-30 plugs; this model appears to have one #10 with a TT-30 and one #12 with a 5-15P.  So that's all you get with this model.

It has the advantage of not being able to exceed the neutral rating, as described above, since even if you connect the two plugs to the same leg, the neutral current would be at most 45 amps.  The disadvantage is that you have no control over which side of your panel gets the 15 amps, and which side gets the 30, so if you own one of these adapters, you probably need to figure that out and arrange your panel loads accordingly.


Quote
Will it provide 240V ?


Yes, if you connect the two inputs to opposite legs of the shore power.  However, you'd have only 15 amps of 240, with an additional 15 amps of 120 available on the larger leg.

Quote
or 45A on each leg @ 120V or 240V

Nope.  It would be 5,400 watts total, which is equivalent to 45 amps of 120.  But it's spread across two legs, so you get one leg of 30 and one leg of 15, whether they are on opposing legs or not.

Make sense?

-Sean
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« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2011, 04:11:22 AM »

Also, not to state the obvious to those who already know, but to those who do not, the adapter pictured above will not work as designed with a GFCI outlet.....
« Last Edit: August 31, 2011, 04:13:11 AM by bwze » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2011, 09:51:36 PM »

Pretty much as I thought, Thank-you.
I have seen some pedestals where the 15 amp common is simply a jumper wire from the 30 amp.
and have seen labeling to use either or and not both.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2011, 09:54:07 PM by eagle19952 » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2011, 07:54:57 AM »

Following up.....

In an earlier post, I mentioned a ticket that I submitted to the vendor from whom which I purchased my adapter. In said ticket, I asked if the adapter that I purchased was supposed to work as one would expect...taking a single hot leg 30 amp service and adapting it to provide power to both legs of a 50 amp service (hoping that I just got a dud). I got a simple answer from them......"no".......(that's their actual reply by the way). So, I recommended that they possibly reword their description to make it clearer to customers that this adapter didn't work as one would expect and I also inquired that since it didn't work as one would expect, what was it's intended use. The answer this time was....."how much clearer can the ad be when it says: If RV is wired normally it prevents the use of the 20 amp side of RV panel"......(again, their actual reply). Now I've answered their retort with something a little more "to the point", but it's becoming clear that my purchasing power just doesn't necessitate the need a more thorough explanation and that I must be an idiot for not knowing which side of my 50 amp service is the 20 amp side. After the fact, I decided to call and speak with an actual person......when I explained the situation and asked his opinion, he agreed with me wholeheartedly....didn't make any sense at all and he didn't know what you'd use it for either. When I asked what my options were, he let me know that I could request an RMA number to return it to them.....at my cost. Long story short, I'll make a trip to Camping World, as I should have done in the first place, to get an appropriate adapter, and I'll keep this one as a memento and as proof positive that when dealing with a 50 amp service....you have a 30 amp side and a 20 amp side....and you better know which one is which when the time comes Grin
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« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2011, 08:01:25 AM »

I'm so low tech...  I just plug my bus into the 30 amp plug and my block heater into the 15 amp plug... and away I go   Wink

Brian
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« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2011, 08:21:13 AM »

Is it common for RV parks that do not have 50 amp service to run separate lines off different legs for the 15 and 30 amp receptacles, or would you be most likely on the same leg most of the time?
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« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2011, 08:40:19 AM »

Is it common for RV parks that do not have 50 amp service to run separate lines off different legs for the 15 and 30 amp receptacles, or would you be most likely on the same leg most of the time?

Typically a pedestal will either have 50, 30 and 15 service or just 30 and 15 service.  You can assume 99.99% of the time that the 30/15 service will be on the same leg.  If they had gone to the bother of running two legs to the pedestal they would have put in a 50 amp plug (and charged accordingly).
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« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2011, 08:43:51 AM »

Bob-- that's what I was getting at, but certainly don't know for sure.  The adapter could still be useful for increasing capacity, I suppose.
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« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2011, 08:51:33 AM »

I have a homebuilt version that I carry with us and use maybe 5 nights a year.  We always use it when we stay at one particular friend yard where the power source is the tractor shed out of 15 amp outlets on a fuse box.  I suppose we must have used it on a 30/15 service at some point but I find it much more useful for combining 2 x 15 amp outlets.
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« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2011, 09:36:56 AM »

   
I have a homebuilt version that I carry with us and use maybe 5 nights a year.  We always use it when we stay at one particular friend yard where the power source is the tractor shed out of 15 amp outlets on a fuse box.  I suppose we must have used it on a 30/15 service at some point but I find it much more useful for combining 2 x 15 amp outlets.

Bob, do you mean that you plug into a 15-amp outlet on one breaker circuit and a 15-amp outlet on another breaker circuit and thus get a total of 30 amps feed into your bus (sorry, if this is a stoopid question, electrical stuff isn't my strong point).  If so, it sounds like a good plan if you're confronted with several usable circuits but none rated at more than 15-amp (@ 120v).
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« Reply #26 on: September 06, 2011, 11:41:29 AM »

Bob, do you mean that you plug into a 15-amp outlet on one breaker circuit and a 15-amp outlet on another breaker circuit and thus get a total of 30 amps feed into your bus (sorry, if this is a stoopid question, electrical stuff isn't my strong point).  If so, it sounds like a good plan if you're confronted with several usable circuits but none rated at more than 15-amp (@ 120v).

That's exactly what we do.  It works for us because our big power hog is an electric water heater which is on one side of the panel so by doing it this way we put the water heater off by itself and leave the "other" 15 amps for regular use.
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« Reply #27 on: September 06, 2011, 10:16:31 PM »

Bob, do you mean that you plug into a 15-amp outlet on one breaker circuit and a 15-amp outlet on another breaker circuit and thus get a total of 30 amps feed into your bus (sorry, if this is a stoopid question, electrical stuff isn't my strong point).  If so, it sounds like a good plan if you're confronted with several usable circuits but none rated at more than 15-amp (@ 120v).

That's exactly what we do.  It works for us because our big power hog is an electric water heater which is on one side of the panel so by doing it this way we put the water heater off by itself and leave the "other" 15 amps for regular use.


Thanks, Bob.  Sorry to have to ask more questions but I'm trying to completely understand this.  What kind of cord do you use for this setup?  Do you have a "Y" connector as shown in this thread?  When you're in a campground that has the full array of sockets, do you plug into the 50-amp socket and provide 240-v power and split it into two 120 legs on the bus (or is your bus set up for 120-v power into it)?
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Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
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« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2011, 10:32:14 PM »

Thanks, Bob.  Sorry to have to ask more questions but I'm trying to completely understand this.  What kind of cord do you use for this setup?  Do you have a "Y" connector as shown in this thread?  When you're in a campground that has the full array of sockets, do you plug into the 50-amp socket and provide 240-v power and split it into two 120 legs on the bus (or is your bus set up for 120-v power into it)?

And I apologize too - this board moves too fast for an old guy.

My cord is a homebrew but it is essentially the same "Y" connector you refer to.

If 50 amp is available we'll use it.  We won't pay extra for it though because we're pretty happy with 30 amps.

The root of your confusion is likely summed up in your last question.  50 amp is 240 volt service and that gives us two legs of 120 volts @ 50 amps.  We do not have any 240 volt equipment onboard.  On a 50 amp service you can pull up to 50 amps on each side or leg of the panel, IOW a total of 100 amps @ 120 volts.  When we are on a 30 amp pedestal we have a total of 30 amps @ 120 volts available for all onboard uses.  IOW that 30 amps feeds both sides of the panel and can be drawn 30 amps on one side or 15 amps per side or 10+20 or whatever.  When we use my cheater box we have 15 amps per side - no more, no less.

The difference between a 30 amp combiner and a 30+15 cheater is that the combiner feeds both legs off the same 30 amp service.  The cheater on the other hand keeps the legs separate so in our situation when we are using 2 x 15 amp outlets we only have 15 amps per leg.

Clear as mud??
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« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2011, 09:50:51 AM »

   (snip)  Clear as mud?? 

Actually, clear as cold water!  Thanks.  I'm never going to be one of those people who gets himself in trouble by thinking that he "knows enough about electricity" but this is explained clearly enough that even I can understand it.

I'm also going with no 240v loads on my bus.  120v, nice and simple all the way.  That's why I'm really interested in learning how to feed it off a 240v socket.

I also expect to have a number of times where I'm working with only a 15A feed circuit (or maybe two different 15A feed circuits), so this is interesting to me, too.

Appreciate the info.  BH NC USA
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« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2011, 09:59:08 AM »

Typically a pedestal will either have 50, 30 and 15 service or just 30 and 15 service.  You can assume 99.99% of the time that the 30/15 service will be on the same leg.  If they had gone to the bother of running two legs to the pedestal they would have put in a 50 amp plug (and charged accordingly).


What are the chances the campground only ran a 30 amp feed to the pedestal assuming only one outlet or the other would be in use at any one time?
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« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2011, 11:32:18 AM »

I'd say its almost a certainty that's what has been done Brian. And you can also assume that single hot wire has been sized for as much voltage drop as they thought they could get away with. On the newer pedestals you'll often see a 30 amp and a 15 GFI. You can't run a 30/15 combiner or cheater off a GFI so that option is out if you are on a GFI.
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« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2011, 12:16:09 PM »

I know people who carry 15 amp receptacles to replace GFCI receptacles during their stay.  They put things bck when they leave.
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