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Old 06-24-2017, 10:37 AM   #1
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smart plug and socket failed

The smart plug and socket started an electrical fire that melted fuse them together. No damage except for the smart plug and socket but a log of smoke damage to the immediate area. The cause was caused the the socket did not hold the plug secure in place. The socket and plug was 240 volt, 50 smp which is heavy. I have had trouble with them before wiggling loose causing the electrocity to go off and on. The dock and house breakers did not trip.

We replaced the socket and plug with the marinco with the convention locking ring we used for 30+ years. Had to replace the wires from plug to breakers. The Eagles and we are well known so the marine electrician came right over and with in 3 hours electricity was back an. He said the smart plug was not that reliable especially the big hravy power cords. To much weight pulling down on the plug.

So you might want to ckeck and/or replace plug and socket.
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Old 06-24-2017, 10:45 AM   #2
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Ah, progress.
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Old 06-24-2017, 11:26 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Fill View Post
He said the smart plug was not that reliable especially the big hravy power cords. To much weight pulling down on the plug.

So you might want to ckeck and/or replace plug and socket.
I Ihad a SmartPlug 110-30amp plug for about 5 years & I now have a SmartPlug 240-50amp plug on my present boat. (2 years) I've had exactly "0" problems with either one!
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Old 06-24-2017, 11:40 AM   #4
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There have been a few smart plug meltdowns.

While I like their idea....it isnt infallible either.

I know some standard 50A plugs have problems, but very few compared to the standard 30A plug.

A great idea that still needs improvement or better exanation of user isdues if there are any.
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Old 06-24-2017, 11:55 AM   #5
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The traditional style 50amp plug is very robust, I can't see that one having the issues of the traditional 30amp which can easily be pulled out without the ring being used.
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Old 06-24-2017, 11:58 AM   #6
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Agreed. 50 amp is about foolproof.
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Old 06-24-2017, 11:59 AM   #7
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The biggest failure I have seen in 50A 125/250V plugs is when the neutral lacks conductivity and starts burning a plug and spikes that fry equipment onboard.

But with regular disengaugement of the plug, it is caught early and corrosion remains at bay.
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Old 06-24-2017, 07:06 PM   #8
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They've had some significant failures. I think there was a thread on here with pictures posted of Smartplug melt downs.

As I recall, the failure was primarily with updating an existing power cord with Smartplug replacement plugs and receptacles. The plug end relies on plastic teeth to grip the power cord casing to keep the plug from twisting on the cord and shorting the wires. Also the thermal fusing didn't work when that occurred.

The factory molded Smartplug and cord didn't seem to have that problem, but it's a tad expensive.
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Old 06-24-2017, 09:43 PM   #9
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I had a melt down and never quite figured why as wellClick image for larger version

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Would be grateful for answer. Went down for night all ok in morning plug was in the water all burnt up!!
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Old 06-25-2017, 12:45 AM   #10
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Interesting. I put a 30 amp Smart Plug on my Sailboat. I have been very happy with it. I think the SmartPlug is much more secure and safer than the standard 30 amp plug.

My North Pacific has a 50amp/125 service. That plug seems extremely secure and I don't feel the need to change it.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:50 AM   #11
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I take a simpler approach than many.

I use the standard NEMA 30 amp hardware and use a bit of conductive grease on the terminals.

I also limit loading of the shore power to no more than 80% of the rated capacity, which if memory serves correctly is the NEC continous rating for a overcurrent protective device.
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Old 06-25-2017, 11:04 AM   #12
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Quote:
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I had a melt down and never quite figured why as wellAttachment 66140Attachment 66141
Would be grateful for answer. Went down for night all ok in morning plug was in the water all burnt up!!
Our smart plug was a little worse as we had smoke damage inside and outside with some paint blister. We have a boatnanny alarm that text a status every day at 12 noon. Wednesday text every thing was ok, Thursday no text, so called Everest yacht service to check on. They called about the failure. They said they know of other failure.

The plug has a max of 30 amps per leg, so well within limit.
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Old 06-30-2017, 09:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
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............. He said the smart plug was not that reliable especially the big hravy power cords. To much weight pulling down on the plug. .............
I won't get into the argument of "smart plug" vs. a conventional plug and socket, but here is what I do and my suggestion to everyone regardless of the type of plug/socket you are using: Use some strain relief to take the weight and strain off the plug. I have a Velcro strap near the boat end of my shore power cord and use it when I coil the cord to store it. I also use it to strap the cord to a rail near the boat inlet. This takes the weight off the connection and protects against something pulling on the cord from putting strain on the connection. Simple, cheap and effective and works with any brand or size of cord/plug.


BTW: Regardless of the brand or style of plug, make it a habit to feel the outside of the plug after you've been connected for a while, especially if the heat or AC has been running. If it's warm or hot, you have a problem that needs to be taken care of.
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Old 06-30-2017, 11:15 AM   #14
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Never had trouble with my 30 amp Nema plug style designed in 1938.
Both my 30 amp yellow shore power cords are very old and a prior owner replaced the 4 plug ends on them both using Nema standard 30 amp Hubbell and Marinco plug ends.
The old cords are pretty stiff.

This guy likes the smart plug. I am never going to change to a smart plug.


Shore Power Cords - SmartPlug vs. 1938 Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com
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Old 06-30-2017, 11:21 AM   #15
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The smart plugs do have some good ideas in them...
But before I jumped to them, I wanted more power coming to the boat so upgrading to a 50A 125/250 setup made sense.

While they do suffer from corrosion problems, they dont burn up nearly as much as the easy to wiggle loose 30A setup.

The 50A plug has positive lock to the full outlet, not just hanging on the prongs.

Where there is metal to metal socket connection, you could probably hang from it so supporting that type of connection while nice is almost overkill.
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Old 07-02-2017, 10:14 AM   #16
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This topic always leads to spirited debate.

On the one hand are those who made the switch. Their argument is that it's newer and "better," at least in theory. This argument is bolstered by satisfied customers who report zero problems in their implementation.

On the other side are those who argue against assuming something is "better" just because it's newer or costs more. Used properly and inspected regularly, the old tried-and-true connectors also have millions of users with zero problems.

I lean toward the latter argument. Maybe it's because I'm skeptical when someone wants to sell me something that requires replacing millions of installed and working non-proprietary components with their patented new stuff.

To me, a "smart" plug would be one that's safer, but still works with existing installed equipment.

I also know that, once a consumer does buck tradition and pay extra for a new product, they're highly motivated to justify that decision by showering praise on it. I'm not trying to cast aspersions on anyone here; I do the same thing. Just that it makes it hard to get unbiased feedback.

However, multiple, actual reports of fires caused by these proves to me they're not quite as "smart" as the marketing suggests. Before I throw away thousands of dollars' worth of cables and dockside connections I already own, you have to convince me that the replacements are significantly better.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. These fires aren't helping that.
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Old 07-02-2017, 10:36 AM   #17
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Agreed. People tend to want to justify what they have invested their money in.

I usually don't take an owners opinion of a product that he owns but if he no longer owns the product, boat, electronic equipment I value that opinion higher.
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Old 07-02-2017, 10:43 AM   #18
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Many people have pointed out that the old NEMA 30A leaves a lot more room for improvement than the NEMA 50A plug. The 50A plug is very robust with a large supporting shell, large contacts, and positive lock.

So there is a very different, and better argument for the Smart Plug as a 30A replacement, and much less so for a 50A replacement.

I don't doubt that the Smart Plug 30A is an improvement over the NEMA plug, but I think that this thread and others demonstrate that the Smart Plug is not infallible as many would like to believe it is.
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Old 07-02-2017, 11:19 AM   #19
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My boat uses two 30 amp inlets, one for air conditioning and heat, the other for everything else. On the A/C and heat there was some melting of the plastic on one of the pins of the NEMA plug male and female. I had read good reviews of the Smart Plug so bought a 30 amp inlet and cord to give it a try on the A/C & heating circuit. I have installed it but we haven't been able to get out on the boat to use it except for a trial at the dock. I'll be able to try the A/C, if only at the dock, this summer. I'll keep a close watch on it and report any problem. Heating is the bigger draw in my system, I sure won't be needing that till winter.
I have an IR thermometer so will keep that and fire extinguishers close by.
Picture of the inlet and plug, the cord and plug were not very old and have never been in the water.
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Old 07-02-2017, 11:23 AM   #20
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What would be considered a dangerous temperature at a 30 amp inlet?
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