Fuel Advantage: Shore Power Safety

New standards make Truck-Stop Electrification a safer proposition.

“Those truck manufacturers and system suppliers who supply 20 amp systems will recognize that they should provide the extension cords that go with it,” he says. “And that’s what’s occurring with some of the products that are being released that have the 20 amp threshold.

“There’s an extension cord length setting in RP 437 of 25 feet,” he continues. “A lot of times people will use extension cords that are quite a bit longer, 100 feet or so, and what happens with increased length of wire is you get a degradation of the voltage level; the voltage drops. The voltage drop affects the performance of whatever you’re plugging into. That’s why we recommend no more than a certain length—12 gauge for up to 25 ft; 10 gauge for 25 feet or longer—It’s just to ensure that you have proper voltage available to operate whatever you need to operate.”

» The RP directs drivers to inspect their extension cords at each usage, and to position them between the truck and the power outlet in such a way that they won’t be tripped over, but can fleets depend on the drivers to do this?

“Considering the number of household fires that take place because of improperly-sized extension cords, or old extension cords that have worn out and gone past their date, I would say that some driver instruction should be done,” Meleck says. “Even though it is common sense, it is of value to discuss that you don’t use really old wire, and you make sure that your wire gauge is big enough to handle the load.”

» The RP calls for safe break-away of cords, in case the driver ever pulls away from the power stand without unplugging first, but isn’t that already the standard?

“The connector products that we’ve chosen both on the SAE side and on the truck stop side use straight blades, so that if you do pull at it, it will come apart naturally,” Meleck explains. “There was a market push to go with locking connectors, for higher amperage applications, 30 amps or higher. The breakaway provision is put in place more to cover the future direction that involves higher current applications, and to insure that as people start to get into higher amperage applications that they consider that when the driver is going to pull away he is occasionally going to forget that he’s plugged in. If the connection points are locked in place, there’s going to be damage, either to the truck or to the electrical pedestal.”

For expanded coverage on idle-reduction technology, watch for the Summer issue of Fuel Advantage, available at www.fuelpub.com

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