Thursday, May 16, 2013

DANGER - ELECTRICITY!

Sooner or later, every RV owner is faced with changing out the shore power plug on their rig. Even if they were originally molded together the plug and cable become separated mostly due to the vast temperature changes that our rigs endure which shrink and expand the cable sheath and conductor insulation. With 50 amps of current running through this plug, any loose or exposed wire conductor is a recipe for an electrical fire.

I faced this exact issue with our rig and I initially chose to replace the plug with the Camco version that is fitted with a handle at the back of the plug for easy handling. I visited my local RV parts vendor, paid  @ $20 and upon opening the packaging and the looking at the inside of the plug, I was appalled at the extremely flimsy construction and what I will call a "dangerous design". I immediately returned this junk item and went to Plan #B with a visit to my local, "Blue Home Improvement Store" full of items made everywhere but in the USA.

Beware of Camco-Chinese, "Chamco Junk!"
At the Big Blue Store, all I could find was a plug made in Mexico that was clearly designed for static, household use and very limited handling and therefore not compatible with RV, shore power use. Because we were heading out in the next few days, I made the purchase at @ $25 and also made a note to look for a better solution.

The Mexico plug was far better constructed than the Chamco Junk but definitely did not make me feel comfortable with the small amount of surface that would grip the shore line cable sheath or the dangerous lack of clearance between the circuit elements in the plug (just like the Chamco).

In less than 30 days, my fear about the clamping force on the cable sheath was confirmed. Because of the consistent handling in an RV environment, the cable sheath pulled out of the plug straining the conductors. And yes, I tightened the sheath clamp as much as possible.

The Mexico plug. Who designed this thing? 

The search was now on for a viable solution. I looked for many months and finally found what I was looking for -  directly from the USA, made by Hubbell.  Yes, it is pricey at $70 delivered via Amazon.com. You get what you pay for and this unit is truly of "commercial quality". All the shortcomings of the Chamco Junk and the Mexico plug are covered in this unit. It is very durable, very well made and of a safe, thoughtful design. In particular, it has adequate insulation and spacing for the conductors in the plug itself and a very large surface for clamping the cable sheath.

Hubbel Part# and Origin
Hubbell Plug Fitted
Compare the safe spacing and insulation of the conductors
Unlike the Chamco and Mexico plugs that use very small,
screws to tension and grab the wire conductors , the
Hubbell plug uses large 3/16th inch socket screws.

Even though, I despise the Chinese crap from Chamco, I did like their idea for a handle that was fixed to the plug. The Hubbell unit had no such feature. Fortunately, some deep research on the Interwebs revealed a new solution by Coil n' Wrap with the product name of "Plug Dogs". Presto, problem solved!



No this is a great setup!
Removing and fitting the new plug took about 30 minutes. I feel confident that my shore power connection is now safe and trouble free for many years to come.  Thanks Hubbell and Coil 'n Wrap.

Tools: 3/16 Allen, compound snips, precision snips, flat blade
screwdriver and a box cutter knife. 




KEYWORDS: Camco Made in China, 55255, Hubbell Made in USA

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