Autoformer worth it?

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Pat

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I'm in a campground with very low power during the hot afternoon.  Would an autoformer be worth the $350 or so purchase price?  If it boost voltage only 1%, it doesn't seem of any value. 

Any recommended make and model?

I've read that they need a surge protector between the autoformer and the power post, or the autoformer tends to self-destruct protecting the MH during a surge.  I find that too many surge protectors at too long for many posts.  I'd be interested in any solutions to that problem.

Also, CW sells an installation kit for building it into a bay.  I don't have any bays or anyplace to attach it, so this expensive item is going to have to sit out by the post.  Now to figure out how to lock it down.  Will it overheat in a box?  Maybe I could find a way to anchor a box to something.

--pat
 

Ned

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A better solution is to get the park to fix their problem.  Perhaps you can move to a site with better electric service.  You said you measured a park model outlet and the voltage there was steady.

A surge protector is always a good idea, autoformer or not.  We have one permanently installed between the shore power and the transfer switch.  An autoformer works by drawing more current when voltage is low to keep the RV voltage at a proper level.  If there are a lot of autoformers on the circuite, they just exacerbate the problem by drawing more current as the voltage drops, causing them to draw more current, etc.  I have never liked autoformers as a solution to a low voltage problem.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Pat,
You have received some incorrect information. First of all, the Hughes Autoformer boosts voltage by 10%, not than 1%. That's  enough to compensate for a moderate "brownout" (97-105V). Second, it has built-in surge protection, spec'ed at 733 joules and 4500 amps/spike. That's a decent amount of protection, though not  bullet-proof.  However, all common surge protectors use electrical devices called MOVs and are self-destructing to a degree. That is, each time they handle a surge, the MOVs use a bit of their capacity and eventually have no more to give. In layman's terms, surge protectors wear out.

As Ned says, an autoformer must increase the amperage it draws by 10% to compensate for low voltage.  Since most RV park power problems are triggered by high amperage draws to begin with, an autoformer device  may simple exacerbate the probelm and further decrease the voltage.  And you cannot draw your full 30 (or 50) amps when the autoformer is in its 10% boost mode because the site's circuit breaker still trips at 30 (or 50) amps.  Thus you actually have only 27 (or 45) amps actually available to your RV.

The Hughes has a handle that you could loop a chain through and then maybe padlock it to something else. What that "something else" might be is another story.  There may or may not be something fairly solid near the power pedastal, so maybe  an "eye" attached to the RV somewhere would be a viable solution.
 

Ron

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Pat,

As Ned mentioned get the park to fix their problem.  Your low voltage condition is NOT your problem but is a problem with the park wiring or feed.  Now it is possible that the problem may only be at a site or two due to insufficient wire size or loose corroded connections at the pedestal.  The problem may even be throughout the park.  Change sites and if that doesn't correct the problem for you then get them to fix their problem.  I would not remain in a park that does not provide us with good clean power.  Power fluctuations that drops below 110VAC is not good clean power.  If the park can't or won't correct the condition then I would suggest you move to a different park before you damage electrical items in your rig due to low voltage.
 

Pat

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Payson AZ
Couple issues arise here.  I'm the only one here so far, so it's impossible to tell what the effect will be of moving to a different site, once people start showing up and using the power.  The reason this site is already having low voltage problems is because it shares some wiring or something with the manager's house right next door.  I plugged my digital voltage meter directly to an adapter in the 30amp outlet on the post today.  I sat at it for at least a half hour and watched the voltage on my post rise and drop 3 to 4 volts every time the manager's a/c kicked off or on.  It also dropped or rose another one to two volts, apparently due to other usages in the manager's house.  NOTHING was attached to the post from me.  I was running my generator to keep the a/c on. 

Another major issue (I KNOW it's cheaper to move than to replace the appliances) is that I can afford this place.  I am a believer in you get what you pay for, but a lot of these old places in Mesa have ancient wiring.  I don't remember exactly what voltage was at Venture Out.  Don't recall needing much a/c there, but this year I'm in town early.  In the park in Oregon, when the guy next door was home with guests, they'd fire up those two air conditioners, probably the stove, and washer-dryer, and my volts would drop almost to the level they are here.  And that place has all new wiring.

Another issue is that I will be house sitting elsewhere in two weeks.  When I return here in November, (I've paid the 6-month rate) a/c won't be needed, most likely.  In March and April I will also be house sitting.  So do I chuck the bargain rate for two weeks?  I could ask to move, I guess, to a spot that isn't sharing with the manager and hope the neighbors don't show up the next day.  I've been extremely busy since I got here Sunday a.m.  Tomorrow will also be a problem.  Can't be helped.  In fact, today I had to leave the MH with the a/c running unsupervised with those horribly low power drops.  Normally I'd sit here and turn off the compressor when the voltage dropped too low.

This is nowhere near the first time I've had this experience.  So why are these prima donna appliances built to require such fancy new high powered wiring?

--pat
 

Ron

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So why are these prima donna appliances built to require such fancy new high powered wiring?

Wrong question there since most any 110 vac appliance whether in an RV or a house has the same requirements.  The question should be Why is the prima donna allowed to operate a campground with inadequate wiring that does not meet the national electrical code?

I may be wrong but I suspect you would have better chance of having good electrical if you were elswhere in the campground that is not connected to the managers house.  I would suspect the sites connected to the house circuit may have just been jury rigged by somebody not qualified to perform electrical wiring and therefore does not meet electrical codes.  I would highly recommend changing sites to another part of the campground that is not feed from the managers house.  Will probably improve and definitely not get worse.
 

rhmahoney

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"I'm in a campground with very low power during the hot afternoon.  Would an autoformer be worth the $350 or so purchase price?'

I'd be more inclined to run my generator. But then I am known to be passive-aggressive.
 

Pat

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Payson AZ
Electrician came out today.  He found that the screws behind the 30amp outlet were loose, which caused a couple volt drop.  They also contributed to overheating at the post when the house a/c put more strain on the power supply.  He said that most of the places along the line of spaces were interconnected.  He flipped over an S shaped silver piece that boosted the line somehow.  He also acknowledged that the power is slightly light.  The things he did managed to boost the volts by about 3.  It's enough to provide pretty good power to the a/c.  My inside indicator is about 3 volts light of the outside post, so I can see that things are ok.  The a/c very rarely slipped into slower speed after he did the work.  Life is good.  I like this simple park.  It's well run and meets a lot of my criteria.  I really hated to think of my appliances being damaged. 

--pat
 

Jim Dick

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rhmahoney said:
"I'm in a campground with very low power during the hot afternoon.  Would an autoformer be worth the $350 or so purchase price?'

I'd be more inclined to run my generator. But then I am known to be passive-aggressive.

Naw, not you, Russ. I can't believe it!!!! ;D ;D
 

blueblood

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Pat said:
? So why are these prima donna appliances built to require such fancy new high powered wiring?

--pat

The NEMA code requires a nominal 125 volts feed. Code is developed expressly for the purpose of supplying guidance to designers. The appliances are built with the assumption that businesses and the governmental code enforcers will ensure code is followed. In other words, IMO there is no such thing as "high powered wiring" requirement for appliances.
 

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