Burned out Motorhomes

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Forestboy, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    Serious question from someone with not one jot of electrical knowledge.

    In the UK we are constantly warned about the dangers of overheating electric cables and the potential fires should we leave them coiled. As someone who's experienced fire first hand (6 weeks in hospital) I always uncoil as fire terrifies me.

    My question is no one in Europe or the USA bothers to uncoil. In fact most have huge reel extension leads and a lot of top end vans have the cable fitted on a reel in a locker so you just pull out what you need.

    On a busy site in Croatia right now and all the Germans and Dutch seem to have reels. Big Concorde just pulled up and did just pull from a reel in the locker.

    Got nothing better to do as we've cleaned the van changed the bedding and waiting for the roast spuds to finish for Sunday lunch. So thought I'd ask as you don't see hundreds of burnt out vans littered around.

    Still intend to uncoil myself as I never want to experience another fire especially in a van.
     
  2. Puddleduck

    Puddleduck Funster Life Member

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    We always uncoil...... hubby was an electrical engineer and I am also terrified of fire. The risk is probably very small but why chance even a small risk you don't have to take?

    We have a couple of EHU leads so can use the most suitable length to avoid miles of trip hazard.
     
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  3. chaser

    chaser Funster

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    I have very limited experience of electrics but have seen two coils melt, not on fire as the trips went off, but hot enough to weld the cable in to a solid lump.
     
  4. Billy23

    Billy23 Funster

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    Not while motorhoming but years ago I had a reel catch fire while using a vacuum cleaner on the car. Never again, I always un coil all of the wire .
     
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  5. Derbyshire wanderer

    Derbyshire wanderer Funster Life Member

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    The problem is made worse by 3 factors and simplified they are
    The higher the current draw = more heat
    The more coiled cable = more transformer effect ( also more heat)
    The smaller cable diameter = less current capacity ( more heat again)
    A coiled cable running a TV is unlikely to warm up to any noticeable effect
    The same running the heating system is very likely to be very noticeable.
    Uncoiling is the only safe thing to do.
    Also worth a thought is some old hook up cables suffer from oxidation of the plug and socket pins which also can cause heat build up and possibly a fire. Never use one if the pins look very dirty as it cannot conduct the power properly.
     
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  6. f6c

    f6c Funster

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    Un Coil always(y)
     
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  7. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    So true in so many areas of life (y)
     
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  8. Fireman Sam

    Fireman Sam Funster

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    As an old retired water squirter I can tell you, from personal experience, that these fires are not such rare events as you may imagine. I’ve personally attended many such fires including two ‘fatals’.
     
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  9. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    Ok so like me most Brits uncoil no surprises there in our risk averse society.
    Doesn't explain why there aren't more burnt out vans when most foreign travellers don't uncoil. Also if its so unsafe how come top make vans have the cables on reels?
    It seems there are more questions then answers.
     
  10. OldAgeTravellers

    OldAgeTravellers Funster Life Member

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    I once lent a friend my cable reel for a garden party which I didn't attend found out after he had been running two beer coolers from it. The whole cable was just one solid lump total bin job.
    Also in most cases in a Moho the current is low rarely more than 6 amps at the fuse and for shortish spells so probably not enough to cause a problem. I don't use a cable reel just free coiled and I usually just lay the last few coils out a bit under the van so they have air all round. Cable reel is easier but potentially more problems. Also cable reels are usually 1.5mm sq whereas mine is 2.5 mm sq which is better for reducing voltage drop and heating effect. Probably too thick for a cable reel too. In Morocco I had a major problem as the voltage was very low and did my onboard charger in, about 250 euro to replace. But luckily it had a fail safe mode which closed it down until battery was disconnected and re connected which the manufacturers failed to tell me about. Thin cable means more voltage drop.
    Steve
    Edit: It is unlikely unless you draw the full 13amps for a long period that you will get a fire but you will probably get a melted cable. The vans with built in cable reels are usually top makes and are probably fused properly with a thermal cut-out as well. Just uncoil and park as far as possible from a French van with a thin cable on a reel who is daisy-chaining five other vans so as to divide the one euro between them all. You will be fine then. :france:
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
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  11. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    they have them nitrogen cooled ? far fetched and just a joke.. but it is an interesting question ..

    have also had an extension cable melt when using a small angle grinder... too lazy to roll it all out.. and I should know better...
     
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  12. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    Ah yes. The practices of a qualified electrician :LOL: As my mate said to me - don't you ever let me catch you doing it this way.
     
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  13. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    like the shoemakers kids.. always ill shod

    we are the worst for breaking the rules..
     
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  14. Gizmouk

    Gizmouk Funster

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    Do as I say, not as I do ;)
     
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  15. Scattycat

    Scattycat Funster

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    Never have coiled our cable . . . . . . Unless we plug the fire in or use the electric hot plate
    IMO, that if I'm only charging batteries or using low current draw appliences then the amount of power is not going to over heat the cable and so far it never has.
    Having said that it is not on a reel but laid loosely on the ground in a coil
    There have been a number of threads, I think on here and a number of other MH forums on the same subject and on reading them I've always rushed out to check our cable and the only time I've found it on the warm side is in Morocco in 40 degree sun.
     
  16. funflair

    funflair Funster Life Member

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    I don't know any brands that include a cable reel, you might find it is aftermarket fit.

    Martin

    Or am I still looking at vans that are too cheap.
     
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  17. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    that is ok.. loose coils won't heat up

    it's when it's tightly wound on a drum that the problem arises ..
     
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  18. DuxDeluxe

    DuxDeluxe Funster Life Member

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    Knaus?
     
  19. Teuchter

    Teuchter Funster

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    I got a cable on a reel with my Knaus but not a built in one - I thought it was just a "gismo" from the dealership, I don't use the reel cos many years ago I had a Hymer and it came with a cable on a reel and I found the reel a real pain in the arse to use!

    As a retired electrical engineer I fully agree with @ScotJimland - when the cable is tightly wound round a reel then the induction between the coils creates an effect akin to resistance and this will of course cause heat - the tighter it is wound and the more turns round the reel then the more heat and less chance of the heat dissipating.

    Any small inductance between a few loose coils will cause little or no heat build up as the coils are all exposed to air allowing any heat to dissipate
     
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  20. MikeD

    MikeD Funster

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    We always uncoil the cable

    I have at home melted a coiled cable into a Solid lump

    It was very very hot when I touched it
     
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