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Old 11-04-2013, 16:14   #1
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Smart Plug shore power connectors

I had eyed the adverts for this new product for some time and then my boat inlet burned out as well as the plug on the power cord that was connected to it. I looked the product up and found out that it should fit the cutout and even current screw holes for the fasteners so I decided to go for it and ordered both the inlet and the plug in a kit they sell.

After unpacking I noticed a warning label on the boat inlet that said that opening the contacts too far might result in breaking it. That was a red flag right there. My current cabling is AWG6 and I immediately realized it was not going to fit. The product specs do not list the maximum conductor size. I tried AWG8 and with effort and tricks could get it in. It is really designed for AWG10.
While opening the contacts to maximum I also noticed the tendency to turn the screw too far back, which can break plastic tabs. There is a design error, because there is a plastic guide to bring the strands into the receptacle but the contacts can't be opened far enough and restrict the opening. Stupid error. I found another error and that is the cable stripping instructions: they let you strip the conductors too far. Not a problem other than the documentation.

So I ripped out the old inlet and cabling to the inside breaker and installed the inlet. It does fit the old pattern exactly.

Next was the plug; After opening it, I noticed that it can only handle AWG10 conductors which is okay because all the cables are AWG10 (this is a 30A 120V inlet). It seemed impossible to get the cable through but using the tool supplied and liquid soap it was rather easy.
Next was connecting the conductors. This is not easy at all. There are three big plastic fingers blocking the path; these will later grab the cable to provide strain relief. The only way is to use pliers for the 2nd and 3rd conductors which works but not as nice as how Marinco connectors work.
After connecting the plug must be assembled. The cable (standard from chandlery) looks too thick for the strain relief fingers but we'll put it together anyway. There are three screws that you must insert and get started which required too much effort in my opinion. Once all three are started, you rotate around the three with a turn, so that you gradually close the plug which forces the before mentioned fingers into the cable to hold it. The two screws on one side bottom out nicely but the third screw on the other side does not; I can keep turning it. It still holds the plug together but it is not 100%

Then we inserted the plug, locked it with the cap and all worked well.

I must say that the locking mechanism is very good. Also, the stainless steel parts are very pretty and stout. and the contacts are much better than the old system.

The question is if I would buy it again... I think I would choose the European blue plugs next time, even if that requires more work to fit the inlet to the old hole. I believe that it's contacts are as trouble free as the Smart Plug ones and the locking mechanism is good too, while it has superior connections for the conductors. The old style Marinco connectors I always used, also have better connectors for the cable conductors. The cable relief looks more high tech for the Smart Plug but I believe it assumes a smaller diameter cable which also lead to difficulties closing the plug and the screw that was overpowered by the tension.

Still, I'm very happy to got rid of that old inlet with the ever lasting burned plug problems.
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Old 12-04-2013, 18:50   #2
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

The European blue plugs are only rated 16A. Not a problem on my boat, as I never draw more than that. But not a substitute for a 30A plug.

Unfortunate, because they're also cheap as hell. Search eBay UK for CARAVAN MAINS and you'll see. Why aren't US shorepower connectors priced like that? I don't see the difference in materials cost.
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Old 12-04-2013, 19:21   #3
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

without pics, that post is too long to read...
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Old 12-04-2013, 19:23   #4
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

Good report, in many cases folks may have a "mechanic" or "electrician" do the work for them, and not realize how important the details really are.

In most cases, folks do not want to re-wire their internal existing A.C. wiring, so access issues and being able to "get to" the back of the shorepower inlet really are important. If so, this would be a reason to reconsider not getting one.

Thanks for the input.

I'm still living with the old dock mounted SP inlet/wire/cable/old big yella thingie.

I have a relatively new(er) one that folks say: "Wow, your SP wire is SOOOO new and looks so good." My wife keeps saying: "Don't you have TWO? We just leave our old one on the dock and bring this one just to impress you when we travel together."
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Old 12-04-2013, 20:13   #5
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
The European blue plugs are only rated 16A. Not a problem on my boat, as I never draw more than that. But not a substitute for a 30A plug.

Unfortunate, because they're also cheap as hell. Search eBay UK for CARAVAN MAINS and you'll see. Why aren't US shorepower connectors priced like that? I don't see the difference in materials cost.
Yes, I am using 240V 16A over my 120V 30A cabling so...

but here is a 30A 250V inlet: 32492-9 IP67 30A RCP 3P4W 250V 9h BLU

and the matching plug is on that page too. There are also bigger versions in EU style incl. 3-phase power but I'll just need to find a good website first.
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Old 12-04-2013, 20:16   #6
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

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Originally Posted by SVNeko View Post
without pics, that post is too long to read...
I'm sorry it ain't pretty enough... I guess I felt underpaid



Now it's your turn to pay by also writing a review with pretty pictures
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Old 12-04-2013, 20:31   #7
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

Good review. I was considering the switch to this type of plug too.

Thanks
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Old 12-04-2013, 20:44   #8
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I don't have a review but I was interested when it came out. Was curious that chandleries recently put it on special though.
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Old 12-04-2013, 20:48   #9
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

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Originally Posted by SVNeko View Post
I don't have a review but I was interested when it came out. Was curious that chandleries recently put it on special though.
Not for this plug, that was tackled by me in this thread. Just take one of your projects and write a review about whatever you used so that we can get that info too Make sure to add the pictures
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Old 12-04-2013, 21:04   #10
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Oh don't be so sensitive. Maybe I'll start with the trials and tribulations of adapting a European 220v boat for proper use in 120v/60hz countries, but not until I've finished this scotch and had a little sleep.
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Old 12-04-2013, 21:07   #11
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

I'm just trying to change the world, nothing special

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVNeko View Post
Oh don't be so sensitive. Maybe I'll start with the trials and tribulations of adapting a European 220v boat for proper use in 120v/60hz countries, but not until I've finished this scotch and had a little sleep.
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Old 12-04-2013, 21:09   #12
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

I had the same problem, chose the same solution and had the same problems. The plugs, locking mechanism, contacts, construction all are excellent and the new inlet did fit exactly into the old cutout even to the screw holes.

BUT the installation, clamping the wires into the inlet and plug were all a royal pain. A problem I had, the screws that tighten the clamps onto the wire, if loosened one turn too far will drop the clamping piece inside the plug in an area that sealed and inaccessible. Yes I know the instructions warn against that but to fit a larger gauge wire you have to open the clamp to the max, leaving the line between far enough and too far very fine. I was able to recapture the clamp onto the screw after 45 minutes of shaking, jiggling and uttering foul words in several languages.

That aspect of the Smart Plugs is very poorly designed and in my opinion prevent this from being an excellent product. It would have been very easy to build this better and I see no reason for it to be built the way it is.

All that being said, after the unnecessary hassles of the installation I'm happy with the results and yes I would do it again, but I would complain.
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Old 12-04-2013, 21:15   #13
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
I had the same problem, chose the same solution and had the same problems. The plugs, locking mechanism, contacts, construction all are excellent and the new inlet did fit exactly into the old cutout even to the screw holes.

BUT the installation, clamping the wires into the inlet and plug were all a royal pain. A problem I had, the screws that tighten the clamps onto the wire, if loosened one turn too far will drop the clamping piece inside the plug in an area that sealed and inaccessible. Yes I know the instructions warn against that but to fit a larger gauge wire you have to open the clamp to the max, leaving the line between far enough and too far very fine. I was able to recapture the clamp onto the screw after 45 minutes of shaking, jiggling and uttering foul words in several languages.

That aspect of the Smart Plugs is very poorly designed and in my opinion prevent this from being an excellent product. It would have been very easy to build this better and I see no reason for it to be built the way it is.

All that being said, after the unnecessary hassles of the installation I'm happy with the results and yes I would do it again, but I would complain.
Exactly. I like most of the product and think it's the new and good kind of company bringing the product to us, but there are these hassles that need to be corrected. I somehow hope they read all this and take care of it. They should have hired me to engineer it oh wait, I retired 10 years ago
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Old 12-04-2013, 21:23   #14
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

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They should have hired me to engineer it oh wait, I retired 10 years ago
Let me put that another way, if I had turned in a design like that when I was in engineering school I would have received a failing grade on the project. Maybe a pat on the back for the functional aspects but an F on the installation techniques required.
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Old 14-04-2013, 22:35   #15
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Re: Smart Plug shore power connectors

This is an interesting review. The Smartplug was one of the first upgrades I got after I bought my boat about a year ago (ok, ok, so the upgrade was driven by coming home to a smoldering burnt-out mess of a shore power connector).

I don't recall the specifics of the install, but I *do* remember that it was extremely painless. I had the whole thing (plug end and boat end) installed in about 60 minutes. It was well-engineered for my taste, and I don't recall any of the problems mentioned in this thread (usually I remember problems or anything I think is poor design). So +1 from me...
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