4) Typical Campground Issues

Lights flicker when the refrigerator starts

This is a result of Voltage Drop(VD) in the feeder cable when the motor starts up. A typical alternating current(ac) motor will draw 10 times it normal operating current when it starts, dropping the line voltage, causing the lights to flicker

Toaster oven and/or Coffee Maker take longer to cook.

These are straight resistive load devices and are not harmed by the lower voltage, however the Ohms Law formula comes into play here.

V=IR  (voltage = Current(Amps) x Resistance
I=V/R  Current(Amps) = Voltage / Resistance

As the voltage drops, the current in the heater element drops. Heat is generated in the heater element as the current passes through the resistive wire of the heater element.

Some appliances, especially newer ones with switching power supplies have unexplained shutdowns.

The switching power supplies in newer appliances have over voltage and under voltage protective shutdown circuitry. The shutdown trigger varies but 100V is common.

Cannot run multiple appliances at the same time (ie: Air Conditioning|(AC ) and Microwave) without tripping the main circuit breaker.

This is a Voltage Drop issue. These devices are Power dependent and the formula becomes

P=IV Power(Watts) = Current(Amps) * Volts
I=P/V Current(Amps) = Power(Watts) / Volts

 In this circuit Current(Amps) increases as the voltage goes down, and more current passes through the circuit breaker than would normally happen. AC units draw more current after they start as the pressure generated by the compressor builds up and the compressor has to work harder. The circuit breaker is also affected by ambient temperature. See item 5.

Circuit breaker trips more often in hot weather.

Circuit breakers have two elements, One of which is a temperature sensitive bimetallic strip that heats up and trips the circuit. The ambient temperature at the circuit breaker affects the trip point. The hotter the breaker, the lower the current at which it will trip.

Air conditioner starts and runs a few minutes, stops but won’t restart. Compressor just hums.

The compressor builds up pressure as it runs. When it stops and then restarts. It must start up against the pressure and draws much more current from the circuit. That current may not be available with long runs of undersized cable.

A 5 year old refrigerator fails.

Electric Motors are sensitive to low voltage and can be damaged below 106V

Voltage varies by as much as 22 Volts, based on park occupancy, and/or time of day.

Grid loading is involved here. The main park voltage during the week, may be as high as 127V. As people come into the park for the weekend and start loading the grid, which is not designed to handle the load, the voltage available to each site may drop as low as 106V. The voltage SHOULD not drop below 106V even under load.

Provided with a site with a 30A receptacle but your equipment is setup  with a  20A  plug.

Adapter plugs or “cheater” cords used to connect a 20-ampere supply cord to a 30-ampere receptacle outlet do not provide adequate overload protection for the cord or your connected devices.

Campers Protect Yourself – If you don’t have one, buy a multimeter(Volt Meter) and monitor the voltage at your site. If you see the voltage drop below 106V turn off your AC Unit and/or anything else that uses a motor. Most modern switching power supplies will shut down when the voltage drops too low.

Canadian Tire sells a Line Monitor for just under $30.00. This device displays, the Voltage, and Frequency of the Line, and Current(Amps) and Watts for any device plugged into it.

Failure to follow this advise may prove costly.


Next – Reasons (Why is This Happening)

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