Another Safety Feature
When Ken, the owner of SmartPlug, set out to design this product he wanted to incorporate a thermal-breaker into the inlet body to prevent melt downs, boat and marina fires due to high resistance. It was not good enough to just design a better plug & inlet, he wanted to design a truly safe product. Should be simple right?
It seems that no thermal breaker existed that could work in this type of application.
- Problem number one, design and build a thermal protection system for the SmartPlug 30A inlet.
- Problem number two find a company that can make it to SmartPlug’s stringent specifications and quality standards. They finally settled on a design for the thermal protection system and then found a company to manufacture it. This company is not Chinese, as one may assume, but rather a German company where labor costs are quite high.
It should be noted that the vast majority of this system is made right here in America and I like that.
- The tinned wire used in the cord sets is made here in America
- The thermoplastics used in the SmartPlug are all made in America
- Assembly is all done here in America with US labor
- The thermal breaker is made in Germany using comparable wages to US workers.
- The stainless used in the SmartPlug does come from China but only out of necessity. If US Made, the product would sit in US shelves because it could not be built affordable and could not be competitive. Ken tried his hardest to manufacture it all here in the US which is more than most companies will even attempt these days.
The Additional Safety Feature:
Inside the body of the 30A inlet is an epoxy potted thermal breaker that will trip at 200F. This is below the melting point of the wire jacket. Once the inlet has cooled it will automatically re-set at 110F so you don’t lose bilge pumps etc..
No other shore cord system, in the world, incorporates this innovative safety feature. It will prevent the high resistance melt down images you have already seen so many of here and could save lives, entire marinas and boats.
IMPORTANT: There are some in the industry who feel an auto-resetting breaker, of any kind including thermal, is not safe. This mind-set & origin stems from breakers re-setting into a dead short, and I agree 150% with this. However resetting automatically into a dead short is not the same as a high resistance thermal shut down.
REMEMBER HIGH RESISTANCE CAN CAUSE A FIRE AND NEVER TRIP A STANDARD CIRCUIT BREAKER.
Up until now we have had no shore power thermal breakers that trip on high resistance / temperature just on overload of the circuit or an imbalance such as an ELCI (basically a whole boat GFCI)..
The argument the opponents (most likely the manufacturers who don’t care about safety) propose is this:
Boat owner’s Darrell & his other brother Darrell awake in the middle of the night to no boat power.. Darrell & Darrell find no electricity at the AC panel. Darrell #1 opens the AC panel at the same exact moment the thermal breaker re-sets and gets zapped.
While, in theory, this could possibly happen, it is about as likely as Rosie O’Donnell beating Lance Armstrong in The Tour de France. At least Darrell & Darrell were still alive to open the AC panel & not cooked medium rare in their sleep…
Follow me for a moment please;
The same few folks (ABYC members & even instructors) & competitors of the SmartPlug arguing against the thermal-breaker in the SmartPlug 30A inlet have zero issues with auto-transfer inverters which can create the same exact Darrell & Darrell scenario they paint above, and use, to argue against the innovative and significantly safer SmartPlug..
Once such competitor actually argues out one side of their mouth against the thermal-switch then out the other sells piles & piles of auto-transfer inverters…. Blatant hypocrisy? You bet…
Follow me again please;
Darrell #1 goes to the dock pedestal and physically unplugs the shore power cord. He yells down to Darrell #2 “Okay-dokey it’s safe now.” Darrell #2 opens the AC panel and ZAP………!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oops, the inverter transferred AUTOMATICALLY without requiring a manual-reset to produce 120V AC.…… D’oh.
It is insanity to argue against the thermal-breaker in the Smart Plug 30A without also arguing against auto-transfer inverters, especially if they want to use the Darrell & Darrell argument….
Like anything common sense should rule the day, but too often common sense is being waved bye-bye to out the back window of the school bus.. We now have a safer mouse trap & a better mouse trap but it will always get hung up with second guessers & direct competitors proposing poorly thought out & grossly hypocritical supposition like I just outlined. You will have to decide what is safer for your vessel.
EDIT: SmartPlug has decided to offer a version of the 30A inlet without a thermal breaker to be in compliance with the ABYC standards against auto-resetting. Now if we could just get all those inverter manufacturers to… Aw $hit, I give up………