What causes the camper plug to melt?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: What causes the camper plug to melt? We will give you advice on the security and prevention of electrical problems in RVs. 

What causes the camper plug to melt?

The main cause why your camper plug may melt is usually a loose connection at the campground that will cause additional resistance, thus heat buildup. 

Also, a common explanation for the camper plug melt is overloading a socket or an extension cord. Connecting several appliances to the same outlet – through multiple extensions or other accessories – is a bad practice that can lead to an accident. Many fires start for this reason.

Another risk factor that can cause the camper plug to melt is the age of the electrical installations. If an outlet is overloaded and outdated, it will tend to get hotter than recommended. In the long run, this will cause the insulating material on the cables and plugs to melt and burn.

How to prevent a camper plug from overheating and melting?

These simple tips will help reduce the risk of a short circuit fire in your camper:

  1. Check the insulating coating of cables and plugs and make sure they are in good condition. Also, check that the plugs are cold. If they get hot, that may indicate a problem with the cables.
  1.  Do not connect several appliances to a single outlet, especially if it is a high-consumption appliance, such as a refrigerator, dryer, heater, air conditioner or an electric shower.
  1. Ornamental lights should not remain on when no one is inside. If you want to have them on for long periods of time, prefer LED lights, with lower energy consumption.
  1.  Unplug appliances you’re not using. In addition to being safer, this will result in lower energy consumption!
  1. Install fuses or circuit breakers on each circuit! This is essential: it will protect you, protect your camper and all electrical equipment in the event of a problem. 

How does a fuse work? It cuts the current during a short circuit or overload: when the current of the circuit exceeds that of the fuse, the conductive wire inside gives way. A fuse is only used once, unlike a circuit breaker. The latter therefore costs much more, but functions as a switch and can be switched on again.

  1.  You can also install a circuit breaker to stop supplying power to your electrical circuit. The latter is generally installed as close as possible to the battery and allows it to be completely isolated from all the circuits to which it is connected.

There are many types, they have the advantage of being able to be activated without taking any risk. Otherwise, you have to disconnect the cables from the battery terminals by hand… This is risky in the event of an overload or short circuit.

  1.  If you are designing a 230V circuit: As with 12V, you have a (+) cable for the phase, which is usually red, brown or dark, as well as a (-) cable for the neutral, which is blue. You also have the earth which is streaked green and yellow: it is this that will protect in the event of a fault.

If the 230v comes from a camping type socket (therefore outside the camper), the earth goes back into this circuit and therefore to the EDF network. We will discuss this in detail in a future article on 230v.

  1.  The circuit must be suitable: the elements that will constitute it must be sized for it to be good: sections and types of cables, length of cables, quality of materials … You must be careful what you buy. Also, take care of welds, cable passages, etc.
  1. Have a fire extinguisher close at hand! Although mandatory in the standards, many forget it. 
  1. Lead, AGM and GEL batteries sometimes need a sealed container in case of acid release but also to protect them from water or shocks. A battery is expensive and is not recyclable, it should be spared as much as possible, even if we have the means to change it regularly!

Do this before plugging in your camper

When you enter your campsite it is tempting to plug it in and turn it all on. However, you need to keep safety in mind, especially when it comes to electricity. First, it’s a good idea to test the connection with a polarity tester to make sure the camp wiring is in good shape. This is a relatively common and affordable tool and is an excellent insurance policy against inadvertent damage to the electrical wiring in your RV.

Then, before plugging it in, take some safety precautions and turn off everything, both the electrical system and the electrical pedestal of your RV. Once the power cord is securely plugged in, turn it on. You may also consider installing a surge protector to protect your RV  electrical system from potentially damaging surges. This protector is insurance against a larger and more destructive electrical problem.

Regular maintenance and inspection are the easiest way to catch a small problem before it becomes a big problem. Observe your batteries and all of their connections frequently. A good time may be just before leaving on a trip. Check to make sure all connection points are secure. That nothing looks damaged or frayed, and that everything is clean with no signs of corrosion. If you see something that looks bad, it’s a good idea to check it out.

Also, know where the electrical panels are in your motorhome. If something doesn’t light up the way it should, first look to see if a circuit has tripped or if a fuse has blown. You can usually see if a fuse has blown, but sometimes you can’t. 

In that case, you can use a small test light that will illuminate if a fuse is good. If you replace a fuse and it blows right away, it’s a good sign of a bigger problem. You can also try following power lines to determine if there is a connection problem, although these can often be difficult to find without professional help.

The bottom line

Always be very careful with electricity. If you are comfortable doing electrical work, then you already know the safety precautions to take. Turn off the power at the source before working, treat all cables as if they are live, use tools with non-conductive handles, etc. 

However, if you are not sure of your ability to work with electricity, do not take a chance with your motorhome or your life. Have your vehicle repaired only by people who have knowledge and experience in recreational vehicle repairs.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

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FAQ on What causes the camper plug to melt?

Can I plug my RV into an extension cord?

Yes, you can plug your RV into an extension cord, but you will also need a 15/20 Amp adapter for your RV’s electrical hookups to prevent them from overheating. 

How does an RV electrical system work?

An RV has a 12-volt electrical system and a 120-volt or 220-volt system, depending on the country. The 12-volt system runs on one battery (or, in some cases, multiple batteries), and powers things like the start-up of the water heater, oven, and refrigerator. The water pump, the carbon monoxide detector and many other things work thanks to this system. 

Can you run an RV generator while plugged into shore power?

Yes, you can run an RV generator while plugged into shore power. We get how this may cause concern as it seems counterintuitive, but remember that RV generators are built with a transfer switch, thus all the power will come from the shore power while the generator will remain charged and risk-free. 

Can you plug an RV into a house outlet?

To plug an RV into a house outlet you will have to connect your RV to the house’s electrical system. We told you how to do it step-by-step in this article. 

Where can I plug in my RV for free?

You can plug an RV for free in community parks, churches, terminals with camping permissions and RV dealers. 

How to install an RV power supply?

The safest and simplest way to install a home connection for a recreational vehicle or RV is to use a power pedestal manufactured for this purpose. Power pedestals are similar to the hookups in most campsites, usually made with a built-in 50 amp outlet and a 30 amp outlet and one or two 20 amp outlets. 

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