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Thread: RV outlet

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member rrcur's Avatar
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    Default RV outlet

    My old house has an RV outlet (NEMA TT-30R) mounted on the outside of an exterior wall. Since I have no use for this, I'd like to remove this recepticle and use the circuit for other purposes.

    The raised printing on the recepticle says "Travel Trailer Use Only, 30A 125V." In the panel, there is a single 30 amp breaker that is clearly labelled "RV Outlet," and when I switch this breaker off, the recepticle is de-energized.

    So far so good, but here's the problem.

    The cable running from the panel to the recepticle has three wires (black, white, red) and a ground and is labelled E25682F (which is 10 gage, 3-wire w/ ground, direct burial cable). I had expected to see two wires and a ground.

    The black, ground, and white wires are connected to the back of the recepticle, and the ground is also connected to the ground screw inside the outdoor junction box. The red wire is not connected to anything, and appears to be just sitting in the box.

    Does this make any sense? It is possible that the previous owner just used whatever 10 gage cable he had lying around and that the red wire is not connected at the panel?

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member Chad Schloss's Avatar
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    sounds like that, or they thought ahead, in case someone wanted a 220v outlet for future use. kind of like wiring a ceiling light in your living room / bedroom with 14/3 just incase someone may want to install a fan/light kit there one day, the wire is always there.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The important thing is what about the OTHER end of the red wire. Is it also "just sitting" in the panel box? You can only tell that by LOOKING at it. We can guess what he did, but our guessing could get you electrocuted.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member rrcur's Avatar
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    I plan to take off the panel cover to see if the other end of the red wire is connected to anything. I have a very high degree of respect for electricity, and I generally draw the line at working in (or even touching) the panel. I also triple check wires before I install a light fixture or junction box to make sure they're not energized.

    If the red wire is truly just along for the ride (unconnected at both ends), is it safe to just cap the red wire, ignore it, and treat the three-wire cable as a two-wire cable with only a hot, a neutral and a ground connected to the panel?

    I'd like to remove the RV recepticle and use this circuit to add one or two conventional duplex outlets on the first floor of my house. My approach would be to terminate the the three-wire cable at a new interior junction box and extend the curcuit from there with two-wire Romex.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If the red wire is not connected, yes, it is safe to use that circuit for 'normal' outlets. since it is 30A, you could install 20A outlets rather than the more common 15A ones. Then, if you ever did want to power something that required higher current, you'd be all set. A 20A outlet will work with typical straight or 20A cords since one slot is T-shaped to accept either plug configuration.

    BUT, and this is IMPORTANT; unless you change the breaker ALL additional wiring must be the same gauge. The CB is protecting the wiring, and it must be matched with the wire. If you want to use say 12g wire, you'd have to also change the CB to at most a 20A one, or with 14g, a 15A breaker. It's okay to have heavier wire on a circuit, but NEVER smaller gauge. The extra wire (red) isn't a problem.
    Last edited by jadnashua; 06-21-2012 at 02:00 PM.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member rrcur's Avatar
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    Ok, so I (carefully) took the cover off the panel, and the red wire from this cable is definitely not connected to anything. It just hangs straight down all by itself to about 3 inches above the bottom of the panel box and is capped with a wire nut. I re-traced the path of this wire from the panel entrance five or six timeswith my eye (and with a flashlight) to make sure i was following the right wire.

    As a final precaution, after the cover is back on, I guess I should flip on the breaker and test the red wire to make absolutely triple sure there's no current there.

    Thanks very much for the advice, especially about wire gauge.

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    it is safe to use that circuit for 'normal' outlets. since it is 30A, you could install 20A outlets rather than the more common 15A ones.
    I am just as certain as I can be that 30 amp circuits cannot be used as general purpose circuits in a home.

    One could have two 50 amp circuits in a three wire arrangement feeding all the outlets and lights in the house, except kitchen, bath and laundry, yes?

    There would be zero protection for anything plugged into those circuits.

    You are correct about re-purposing larger wire. A nice old lady bought a gas range to replace her electric. I took the 50 amp receptacle off the wire and using a huge box, installed a 15 amp outlet to juice her controls and timers on the new range. And changed the arrangement at the panel. Got lucky there, as an old panel had been gutted and the wire run thru a large conduit to the new panel. Easy to pull the large wire out of that conduit and replace it with 14 ga and tie it to the original wire in the old panel. Saved me crawling under the blasted house. And easily reversed.

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