5th wheel electrical question

I just rented a 5th wheel. It is stationary with dedicated hydro to hook into. There are 2 hydro plugs, one is being used. Full sized water heater. Heat is run by propane as well as the stove. The fridge and microwave are electric.

So, I turned on the heat, and the propane tank ran out within 30 hours. So, I’m thinking of getting some larger tanks and hooking them up so I don’t have to go out every other day to fill the tanks (I need to get a second one as the other 2 are too old to refill.

If I plug the portable heater I bought, and turn on my kettle, the breaker trips. So it’s a juggling act to have heat and make a cup of tea.

So my question, can I get an extension cord to plug the heater into its own port? The hydro coming in are 2, 4 prong ports outside (?). Also, can I simply buy a larger propane tank and hook that up instead of using the 20 lb tanks.

I guess with the propane heat when the tank runs dry, it freaks me out. The trailer quickly fills up with excess propane, and of course the fan keeps running. So I worry if I’m out, I’ll blow the fan while it’s running. Maybe I’m overthinking this and there’s an easier solution.

I live in Victoria, BC, so heat is only an issue for a couple of months. Of course the electrical issue is also a problem, as I’m getting my internet and cable hooked up tomorrow, so don’t want to only be able run one thing at a time.

Go easy on me please. I found this site by googling 5th wheel electrical issues.

I know all these words…

He’s referring to a mobile home, of the variety which hooks up to a tractor-trailer (the connecting interface behind the cab is called ‘the fifth wheel’) with wiring and propane gas issues. Stationary means it’s semi-permanently parked, and hydro means there’s hydro-electric power (I think).

As for his issues, I’d recommend consulting a mobile home dealer in the Victoria area.

Gas and electrics in mobile homes can be pretty ropey. flexible gas pipes have a definite service life and will start to leak. The trailer is frequently pretty flammable so care is needed to avoid a spectacular end.

You also need to be aware of gas. Not the kind you get after eating a curry, but propane, which is heavier than air and needs a vent in the floor in case of a leak; and carbon monoxide is lighter and tends to rise. A detector is essential (may even be mandatory) as you can neither see nor smell it.

Get a qualified person to inspect the whole setup and to advise you how best to deal with your problems.

Hydro = electric company or electrical hookup in Canada.

As for what you want to do, sure all of that can be done. Just be sure to have a qualified person do the work.

Also it may cost a bit, but fixing things like this can make daily life a WHOLE lot less frustrating (more pleasant). Worth every penny if you ask me…

I guess with the propane heat when the tank runs dry, it freaks me out. The trailer quickly fills up with excess propane, and of course the fan keeps running.

If you have propane “filling the trailer” then your system is compromised and you’re living inside a bomb. Seriously. If this is really happening then it is insane to have any propane tank hooked up to this system.

How can the trailer fill up with excess propane if the tank is empty? Doesn’t excess, by definition, mean more than empty?

Which breaker? One in the trailer’s power center, or the one feeding the “shore power” circuit the trailer is plugged into?

I would expect a fiver to have a 50-amp, 240 volt connection. Some smaller ones take 30 amps at 120. You describe two 4-prong plugs, so you probably have the 50 amp/240volt option. My WAG from afar is that the air conditioner has its own power connection, which would be weird, but plausible if someone added the AC after the unit was built. Whoever you rented this from should be able to explain what’s what with the plugs.

The individual outlet circuits inside the trailer are probably 15 amp, so yes, I’d expect difficulty running an electric heater and an electric kettle at the same time as each probably pulls around 1500 watts or 12 amps. This is why so much stuff in an RV is propane-powered.

There should be more than one circuit inside the trailer, so you just need to figure out which outlet is on what circuit and divide the kettle and heater accordingly.

Even for a 20 pound barbecue grill tank, 30 hours of heat seems a bit short. Guessing there might be a small leak, probably outside at the tank, or the tank simply wasn’t actually full. Most RVs run a pair of 30-pound tanks with an automatic changeover controller. If you’re living in this full-time, you may want to look at upping the tanks to a pair of 50-pounders.

If you don’t have one already, get a combo propane / carbon monoxide detector so you’ll be alerted to gas leaks as well as CO.

You could just run the kettle from an extension cord that is plugged in INSTEAD of the heater.

  1. sitting around with the heater on … decide to go to make a cup of tea
  2. Unplug heater
  3. Plug in kettle
  4. Now you have a cup of hot water
  5. Unplug kettle
  6. Plug in heater.

If the cords were are the SAME port, then its far easier to
a. remember to unplug heater when kettle is in use.
b. do the swapping (tie them together so they never go walkies !)

But anyway, that can be a pain.

So yeah, the electrics in your caravan/mobile home are not made for running a room heater … you can indeed by an extension cord that goes into the 2nd port provided with the site… The trailer parks office will explain who, how ,what… You need the outside end with the special water proof plug, right ?
Sure, you can get larger gas… Ask at the trailer park’s office if its allowed… do they already have gas ? Do they allow large tanks sitting around ? Do you move to a site with gas already ?

Does it get so cold there you could be in trouble if your propane runs out, “Hydro” ain’t providing electricity and you are trapped in ?
Is the small tank really sign saying “if you need heat, then you can only stay overnight . This is no place for hibernating during winter.”.

Oh , and the trailer park may require the power be hooked in permanently.
not just via an externsion cord through the window or door way.

So you get an electrician to add a 2nd port to the outside, and a socket for it on the inside… that new socket is the one for your heater to use…