1: Your basic reel, just roll up the cord, nothing special (I have several)
2: Cord reel, this unit either has an "outlet" that rotates with the reel or slip rings and a fixed outlet or pigtail, I don't like them, slip rings are prone to failure
3: Power cord retractor systems. These are NOT cord reels, and are likely best for your situtation, Was looking at them last week, round $500 more or less depending on the cord (more for 50 less for 30 if memory serves, however I did not pay that much attention as I can wrestle the cords for that money)
These units consist of a motorized unit which either pulls the cord out of, or into, a box, inside the box the cord coils on it's own, it's not reeled in and out so there is no need of slip rings, the RIG end of the cord can be hard wired to the rig
Looked good, don't know how well they work but the dealer demonstrates many times per show and never has a problem.
I have a power (50amp) cord winder that came on my RV. It's a round cylinder about 18" high and 14" in diameter. I didn't go out and measure, just guessing from memory. The rocker switch powers the cord in or out through an opening in the top of the cylinder. It's never given a problem and it's a lot easier than trying to roll it up by hand. When stored, the cord is totally enclosed in the cylinder, except for the plug sticking out the top.
Another forum member has a power reel that is just that - a reel that turns, winding up the cord. It seems to work fine also. I have no idea what they cost, but they seem to work well.
Get the Glendinning cord system, it's superior to anything else out there and is also available with a wireless remote. The cord is coiled into a cylinder, as Caltex described. I have this on our boat and it has been (almost) trouble free for 6 years.
The brand I have on my coach (forget the name), only powers the cord in. The cord is wound on a reel and it requires me to manually intervene to stop the cord from piling up on one side of the reel and binding.
I ahve a Shoreline Reels 50 amo cord. They are $611.50 plus freight which includes 35 feet of 50 amp cord and are a vertical reel that takes up about half the footprint of the tub type. I use a rag to guide the cord onto the reel which helps keep it clean. No fuss, about a 12"X16" footprint. No problems in three years.
Good point re the footprint. I have a small bin in which the cord reel is mounted. I was going to replace the piece of junk I currently have with a Glendinning, but don't have the height &/or width to accommodate the cylinder/tub.
Thanks Jeff. Mine is the el cheapo that Monaco put on our coach, although I've seen much better ones on other Monaco coaches.
For clarification, it works (retrieve only), with the same caveat you mentioned. But, when I removed it to install a surge protector in the back of the bin, I found out how cheaply/sloppily it's made. I talked with Mr Glendinning (son of the original designer) at Indio last year and he offered to buy mine if I bought one of his, but I don't have enough room in the power bay.
We have the Glendinning which is power out and power retrieve - it is by far one of the handiest gadgets we ordered when we picked options. I would never have an RV without one because I have been completely spoiled.