Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Better RV Extension Cord

I am interrupting the series, "It Isn't All Peaches and Cream" once again for an article that is more timely and of use to all who own a Roadtrek or an RV. I have written before about my RV extension cord. It is a 30 amp, 10 gauge M/F extension cord that is 30 feet long that I use when my Roadtrek's power cord is not long enough to reach the power pedestal or my outdoor 20 amp house outlet at home. We have rarely needed it at a campground but we do need it at home and that is where it gets monthly use.

This winter with temperatures incredibly colder than we have had in this area in many, many years we found a big problem with our RV extension cord.  There is a lip around the socket - made to securely hold the plug in place, I suppose, or to keep moisture out of the connection, but that lip combined with our Plug Dog handle on  both the extension cord socket and the Roadtrek power cord plug in the cold was not seating together properly. This was causing all types of problems including the connection coming apart or when pressured together to stay connected, almost impossible to pull apart in the frigid cold - even with the Plug Dogs. This extension cord socket has always been a tight connection.

After one cold night of panic trying to pull these apart standing in the cold and ice, I decided that I had to get a better extension cord. I have seen RV extension cords with built on handles in RV stores and in Camping World. Of course, snowed in we were not going anywhere near one of those soon. I started searching the internet for anywhere close that had it or if I was available site to store from the Walmart website. I like shopping on the Walmart website with their site to store service. They sell things that are not found in the Walmart stores and they ship for free to any Walmart store that you select. Even better is that you can return the item to any Walmart store for a full refund.

At first my search on the Walmart website was not coming up with anything other than the cord that I already have. A general Google search brought up the cord that I was looking for with a link to the Walmart website. Apparently, RV extension cord was not bringing it up on their site- it needed to include the manufacturer's name - Camco. There was the cord that I felt should be better. It has a large plug and socket and both have solid handles that are part of the plug and socket.

This is a 30 amp, M/F 10 Gauge RV Extension Cord. The cord matches the power cord on the Roadtrek - same gauge. The cord is five feet less than my original cord and is 25 feet long. Twenty five feet is plenty. The name is Camco Power Grip Extension Cord 30 amp Model 30-30 RV. As you can see this cord's socket base is flat - no Plug Dog is needed on the socket side of the connection as there is the nice BIG yellow pull handle. The Plug Dog on the Roadtrek power cord plug allows the two flat surfaces to attach properly. The price is less than the original RV extension cord that I have. This cord costs only $36.21 - free shipping site to store. My old cord costs $50.

It took ten days to ship and it arrived on the date promised. All I had to do was go to the store's Site to Store desk and pick it up.

Now, I have a better RV extension cord for my Roadtrek. This cord comes also in 50 amp for larger RVs. There is also a 50 foot length 30 amp cord with the same large handled plug and socket that sells for $64.38 if one needed a cord that long.

No matter which RV extension cord that you use, if it is cold outside, the cord will be stiff - as will the Roadtrek power cord. It will not unroll easily nor will it roll back up easily. I now keep the extension cord in the house where it stays warm until it is needed and after use in the cold it can warm up to roll it back up. We only put it in the Roadtrek if we are uncertain about the distance to the pedestal at the campground - and when we have carried it "just in case" we have not needed it. IF you are planning on staying at a friend or family's house when traveling take this cord with you. Outdoor outlets are not always conveniently placed to driveways. Combine this cord with a good 15/20 amp plug to 30 amp socket adapter and you can plug in safely. 

I am not sure what I will do with the old cord. One thought that I had was to cut away or grind away the lip on the socket. The plug and socket on that cord are lighted - nice if you want to know that it is plugged into power, but not really necessary. I am not sure if removing that lip will interfere with any wiring. Another thought is to purchase the same handled socket that is on the new cord, cutting the socket off of the old cord, and install the new socket on the old cord. I have seen that socket at RV parts stores. That is something to consider when it is warm again. Will it ever be warm again? Remind me that I asked that when it is 100 dF on July Fourth!

Now, just one word about RV extension cords because I have heard before to just use any household heavy duty 15/20 amp extension cord. I have also read and heard about the fires that have started when those cords get hot because they are overloaded. It was recommended to me and I recommend to you - if you need to use an extension cord on your Roadtrek or RV always match the gauge of the extension cord to the gauge of the power cord on the RV. For $36 why would anyone take a chance?


I fit all of the connections - using the old extension cord plug as a stand in for the Roadtrek power cord plug - inside before going out into the cold with the whole thing just to make sure things fit and came apart easily. The 15/20 amp adapter pulled off the extension cord plug easily easily. The extension cord socket was not as easy and it took holding on to the socket's handle and giving a sharp, quick tug on the Plug Dog handle to get them separated.

We had to plug into the house to charge the batteries and we were lucky enough to have a dry 38 dF day. (Imagine being lucky to have a 38 dF day!) I plugged the plug of the extension cord into my dog bone 30 amp female to 15/20 amp male adapter and plugged the adapter into the outlet inside our very small, screened porch and ran the extension cord out the aluminum screen door and down to the Roadtrek. The Roadtrek power cord plug got one of the Plug Dog handles and plugged that into the extension cord power grip handle socket. They went together easily. Because there was a lot of ice on the ground toward the front of the van that if it melted would come down into the connection I used Velcro straps to hang the connection from the frame of the Roadtrek's little door that covers the power and city water connection.

The connection worked well and the Roadtrek batteries showed that they were charging on the monitor panel. I checked that there was power in one of the Roadtrek's inside outlets and all was well. The Roadtrek remained plugged in for its usual charging time of 12 hours.When we went out the temperature was 27 dF. The Roadtrek plug and power grip extension cord socket came apart with a sharp pull much easier than the plug and old extension cord socket ever did in the cold. The cord came into the house to be kept warm and manageable for the next time it is needed. Maybe by the end of March the temperatures will be much better! I certainly hope so!

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