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Power Strips and/or extension cords

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I've been reading the very long (127 pages so far beginning from 2009!) but very useful thread for new cruisers called "I wish I knew before" https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=56064428#post56064428

Many suggest that folks pack a power strip and an extension cord to use in their room. The reasoning seems good especially considering my husband uses a CPAP machine and will need access to an outlet.

In one of the 2013 posts someone said that a power strip was confiscated from the luggage.

1. Does the cruise open and search your luggage?

2. Does HAL allow the use of the power strip?

3. If not, can we borrow one so we can use it for the CPAP machine?

We are sailing on the Westerdam in Alaska in June!

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Generally, the ships don't want you using surge suppressing power strips. They don't want any current returned to the ship's electrical system. Using a simple extension cord is fine along with a plug that is like a 3 in 1 type plug. I was just on Westerdam in April 2018 and used my simple extension cord without any issues.

 

Yes, the ship can open and search your luggage. The checked luggage does usually go through x-ray machines for safety reasons. They will normally call you into a private area that's jokingly referred to as the "naughty room" to open your luggage with you present if they find it necessary.

 

Yes, sometimes the ship has approved power strips that can be borrowed but I'm not sure if they can be counted on for borrowing.

 

Hope this helps.

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I have taken a variety of plugs and cords and not had any problems. May be I have just been lucky. Since your husband must have a cord for his CPAP machine, I would contact HAL (or have your travel agent do so) and explain the situation and see if they can guarantee they have one you can use or what you could bring to be compliant with their regulations.

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The cord part of the loaner power strips are not very long, so it's best to bring a simple extension cord for the CPAP. Upgrades to the W'dam have added USB ports for charging things so that reduces the number of things that have to be plugged into the standard 110/220 outlets. Which brings up another point: most chargers these days are dual voltage (110 to 240) so that a simple adapter plug can allow you to use the European 240v outlet. Check the label to be sure your charger is dual voltage.

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I've been reading the very long (127 pages so far beginning from 2009!) but very useful thread for new cruisers called "I wish I knew before" https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=56064428#post56064428

Many suggest that folks pack a power strip and an extension cord to use in their room. The reasoning seems good especially considering my husband uses a CPAP machine and will need access to an outlet.

In one of the 2013 posts someone said that a power strip was confiscated from the luggage.

1. Does the cruise open and search your luggage?

2. Does HAL allow the use of the power strip?

3. If not, can we borrow one so we can use it for the CPAP machine?

We are sailing on the Westerdam in Alaska in June!

 

Here is a photo of my bedside on the Westerdam taken last month that shows a UB port, US AC outlet, and European outlet (same for both sides of the bed. There are now two empty plugs under the desks that the DVD players and TVs used to use. Lots of AC outlets now in the Westerdam staterooms.

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I travel with a CPAP. I ask the room steward for an extension cord as soon I see him, one is always delivered by dinner.

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I've been reading the very long (127 pages so far beginning from 2009!) but very useful thread for new cruisers called "I wish I knew before" https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=56064428#post56064428

Many suggest that folks pack a power strip and an extension cord to use in their room. The reasoning seems good especially considering my husband uses a CPAP machine and will need access to an outlet.

In one of the 2013 posts someone said that a power strip was confiscated from the luggage.

1. Does the cruise open and search your luggage?

2. Does HAL allow the use of the power strip?

3. If not, can we borrow one so we can use it for the CPAP machine?

We are sailing on the Westerdam in Alaska in June!

 

 

Please... No, scratch that: DON'T use power strips. They are invariably surge protected.

 

Because surge protectors are designed for use ashore and ships are wired differently,

anything with surge protection has to be presumed an active fire hazard. Not in and of

themselves, but because they defeat the circuit breakers that protect us when something

else goes wrong somewhere -- and the resulting fire might not even be in the stateroom

where you are using one.

 

Here's the US Coast Guard's official warning, with the technical details:

https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/DCO%20Documents/5p/CSNCOE/Safety%20Alerts/USCG%20Marine%20Safety%20Alert%2003-13%20Surge%20Protective%20Devices%20Onboard%20Vessels.pdf?ver=2017-08-08-082206-293

 

BTW, I'd be shocked if any cruise line was unwilling to come up with bedside power for a CPAP.

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Here is a photo of my bedside on the Westerdam taken last month that shows a UB port, US AC outlet, and European outlet (same for both sides of the bed. There are now two empty plugs under the desks that the DVD players and TVs used to use. Lots of AC outlets now in the Westerdam staterooms.

 

 

Here is the photo:

 

IMG_1720-2.jpg

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Please... No, scratch that: DON'T use power strips. They are invariably surge protected.

 

Because surge protectors are designed for use ashore and ships are wired differently,

anything with surge protection has to be presumed an active fire hazard. Not in and of

themselves, but because they defeat the circuit breakers that protect us when something

else goes wrong somewhere -- and the resulting fire might not even be in the stateroom

where you are using one.

 

Here's the US Coast Guard's official warning, with the technical details:

https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/DCO%20Documents/5p/CSNCOE/Safety%20Alerts/USCG%20Marine%20Safety%20Alert%2003-13%20Surge%20Protective%20Devices%20Onboard%20Vessels.pdf?ver=2017-08-08-082206-293

 

BTW, I'd be shocked if any cruise line was unwilling to come up with bedside power for a CPAP.

 

Power strips are not "invariably surge protected". Any power strip in the $4-6 range will not be surge protected.

 

Surge protectors do not "defeat the circuit breakers". The incident mentioned in the USCG Safety Notice was caused by a low amount of current, below that which the circuit breaker would protect at, but the MOV semi-conductors went into "thermal runaway" (overheating at low current loads) and caught fire.

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Here is the photo:

 

 

I suspect that only Westerdam's suites got this full upgrade. In our oceanview cabin in April 2018 (we boarded the same day you disembarked in Vancouver), there was only a USB port on either side of the beds. The were no AC outlets of any voltage near the beds. The desk offered 2 each of US and EU design. I suspect it's because the desk outlets are somewhat closer to the bed in non-suite cabins that they don't offer them at the headboard. See my photos of our cabin by clicking here,

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I suspect that only Westerdam's suites got this full upgrade.

In the description of the recent dry dock for Nieuw Amsterdam it indicated that only its suites would be upgraded. Perhaps suites are upgraded more often than other staterooms?

 

 

This message may have been entered via voice recognition. Please excuse any typos.

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Thank you all for your replies. It appears I need to call Ship Services at HAL. My husband must use his CPAP, it is good for both of us!!!

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Power strips are not "invariably surge protected". Any power strip in the $4-6 range will not be surge protected.

 

Surge protectors do not "defeat the circuit breakers". The incident mentioned in the USCG Safety Notice was caused by a low amount of current, below that which the circuit breaker would protect at, but the MOV semi-conductors went into "thermal runaway" (overheating at low current loads) and caught fire.

 

I sit corrected. My understanding was that the ignition could occur at the point of the fault

(i.e., elsewhere in the wiring, down the alleyway, even) as well as at the surge protector.

 

Thanks, CHENG.

 

That being said, MOVs and Zeners are cheap and the $4 powerstrip by my feet specifies

a clamping voltage. ...or is it only MOVs (that try to absorb the spike rather than shunt it)

that are the problem?

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I sit corrected. My understanding was that the ignition could occur at the point of the fault

(i.e., elsewhere in the wiring, down the alleyway, even) as well as at the surge protector.

 

Thanks, CHENG.

 

That being said, MOVs and Zeners are cheap and the $4 powerstrip by my feet specifies

a clamping voltage. ...or is it only MOVs (that try to absorb the spike rather than shunt it)

that are the problem?

 

No, it is the MOV's that will cause the fire. If your power strip does specify a clamping voltage, or joules of protection, then it most certainly is surge protected. I am surprised that an inexpensive power strip is so protected, most at that price range are not. MOV's don't absorb the spike, they shunt it to the ground, creating a short circuit between the power leads and ground when the clamping voltage is exceeded. The problem is that due to the floating ground on ships, a ground fault somewhere else on the ship can induce a voltage into the ground system, which can be in reverse polarity (and will be cyclically due to the alternating current) to what the MOV is designed to hold back (remember, the MOV is varistor or diode, which is designed for voltage in one direction only. This reverse voltage is what causes the surge protector to fail. You may have misunderstood me before when I say that a failure somewhere else on the ship (as noted above, a light or motor going to ground) can cause the surge protector to fail, but it is at the surge protector that the fire would happen.

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Not in and of themselves,

 

Many surge protectors are not circuit breakers (which need to be reset if they trigger) but a semi-conductor device that shorts excess voltage down to earth. The trouble is that ships use a different wiring arrangement to domestic installations and many do not have an earth, just two sockets, + and -. If a surge occurs although the suppressor shunts the excess to the earth line of the extension, this is not connected to anything, i.e. not earthed, so the suppressor has to absorb it, hence a fire risk.

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Many surge protectors are not circuit breakers (which need to be reset if they trigger) but a semi-conductor device that shorts excess voltage down to earth. The trouble is that ships use a different wiring arrangement to domestic installations and many do not have an earth, just two sockets, + and -. If a surge occurs although the suppressor shunts the excess to the earth line of the extension, this is not connected to anything, i.e. not earthed, so the suppressor has to absorb it, hence a fire risk.

 

Well, that's not quite correct. Even if the surge protector was not connected to ground, since the MOV in the surge protector simply acts as a short circuit to ground, not a resistor, and since there is no ground to conduct electricity further, there would be no flow of electricity and therefore no fire.

 

The second point is that most ship's systems do have a ground (though you're right some older ships do have a simple two pin outlet, most have 3 pin for the 110v systems, all other voltages have 3 wires). The fire hazard does not come from a voltage spike like a surge protector protects against on land (because those voltage spikes can't happen on ships), but from low voltage in the reverse direction caused by an earth fault elsewhere on the ship entering the ground wire. A reverse voltage as low as 30-40 volts in the reverse direction can cause an MOV to fail in thermal runaway.

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Well, that's not quite correct. Even if the surge protector was not connected to ground, since the MOV in the surge protector simply acts as a short circuit to ground, not a resistor, and since there is no ground to conduct electricity further, there would be no flow of electricity and therefore no fire.

 

The second point is that most ship's systems do have a ground (though you're right some older ships do have a simple two pin outlet, most have 3 pin for the 110v systems, all other voltages have 3 wires). The fire hazard does not come from a voltage spike like a surge protector protects against on land (because those voltage spikes can't happen on ships), but from low voltage in the reverse direction caused by an earth fault elsewhere on the ship entering the ground wire. A reverse voltage as low as 30-40 volts in the reverse direction can cause an MOV to fail in thermal runaway.

 

CHENG?

 

Been doing some research because something didn't ring true about that

MSA: all MOVs used in surge protection circuitry will eventually succumb

to thermal runaway -- that's why they have integrated thermal fusing.

 

Read that USCG Marine Safety Alert again.

https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/DCO%20Documents/5p/CSNCOE/Safety%20Alerts/USCG%20Marine%20Safety%20Alert%2003-13%20Surge%20Protective%20Devices%20Onboard%20Vessels.pdf?ver=2017-08-08-082206-293

 

The two fires it talks about were not caused by what the headline implies.

Those fires were caused by using designed-for-land power strips (which

only have single-pole circuit breakers because that's all they need) in an

environment that requires two-pole circuit breakers.

 

When a fault developed elsewhere in the ship's wiring, those single-pole

breakers could not even protect the power strips themselves. :o D'oh!

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CHENG?

 

Been doing some research because something didn't ring true about that

MSA: all MOVs used in surge protection circuitry will eventually succumb

to thermal runaway -- that's why they have integrated thermal fusing.

 

Read that USCG Marine Safety Alert again.

https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/DCO%20Documents/5p/CSNCOE/Safety%20Alerts/USCG%20Marine%20Safety%20Alert%2003-13%20Surge%20Protective%20Devices%20Onboard%20Vessels.pdf?ver=2017-08-08-082206-293

 

The two fires it talks about were not caused by what the headline implies.

Those fires were caused by using designed-for-land power strips (which

only have single-pole circuit breakers because that's all they need) in an

environment that requires two-pole circuit breakers.

 

When a fault developed elsewhere in the ship's wiring, those single-pole

breakers could not even protect the power strips themselves. :o D'oh!

 

I believe that very few, and only expensive surge protectors have integral thermal fusing. And yes, as you say, as the MOV degrades, there is a chance of thermal runaway even from normal operation. This is why old surge protectors have been blamed for house fires, they have been subjected to sufficient joules of energy, above the clamping voltage to start to degrade. The reverse power that surge protectors on ships experience causes this degradation faster, should there be a ground fault present on the ship.

 

You are partly correct with regards to the USCG Safety Notice. What they don't stress is the problem caused by both the use of a consumer power strip, and a surge protected device.

 

If you have electronics plugged into a consumer power strip that only trips one leg (hot, not "neutral"), if your device does not have a ground fault (therefore no connection between the device's wiring and ground, then even if there is a ground somewhere else on the ship, no current will flow in the ground connector (since the power goes into the ground at the fault, but has no other connection back to the power source), and therefore there is no danger with the circuit breaker in the power strip only protecting the hot lead, and no danger of fire. Remember, no mention was made that a ground fault was found in the equipment plugged into the power strip. Now, if your device (say a hair dryer) does have a ground fault on the "neutral" leg of the appliance, then the lack of circuit protection on the "neutral", along with another ground fault somewhere on the ship, could cause excessive current on the neutral leg, that would only be protected by the ship's circuit breaker, not the one on the power strip. So, you still need two ground faults to have current flow, and the possibility of fire. This requirement to have two ground faults to produce current flow in the ground (hull) is why the ships use the floating ground in the first place.

 

What caused the fires mentioned in the Safety Notice is that a surge protector, by its design, places a high resistance connection between the hot and neutral wires to ground. Therefore, with only one ground fault, anywhere on the ship, the MOV provides a current path, admittedly high resistance, but in the reverse direction than it is designed to handle, and current can flow in the ground conductor. This could lead to high current flow, and if the hot lead is the one where the MOV fails first, then the power strip breaker would possibly interrupt it, depending on the current flow. If the MOV on the neutral leg fails first, then there would be no interruption of the current, regardless of current value, and current would continue to flow to a failed MOV. It was the combination of the surge protector and the consumer power strip with no breaker on the "neutral" leg that caused the fires, though an MOV in thermal runaway can start a fire at current levels below the circuit breaker trip values.

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Thank you all for your replies. It appears I need to call Ship Services at HAL. My husband must use his CPAP, it is good for both of us!!!

 

We use 2 cpap machines. I always call ship services and ask them to supply one of the long, orange extension cords like you would use outside. Then we bring 2 regular extension cords and we're all set. The cabin steward will tape down the orange cord to the floor so you don't trip over it. As far as distilled water, I have been told several times that the tap water on the ship is fine to use. We've never had a problem with it.

Helen

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I believe that very few, and only expensive surge protectors have integral thermal fusing. And yes, as you say, as the MOV degrades, there is a chance of thermal runaway even from normal operation. This is why old surge protectors have been blamed for house fires, they have been subjected to sufficient joules of energy, above the clamping voltage to start to degrade. The reverse power that surge protectors on ships experience causes this degradation faster, should there be a ground fault present on the ship.

 

You are partly correct with regards to the USCG Safety Notice. What they don't stress is the problem caused by both the use of a consumer power strip, and a surge protected device.

 

If you have electronics plugged into a consumer power strip that only trips one leg (hot, not "neutral"), if your device does not have a ground fault (therefore no connection between the device's wiring and ground, then even if there is a ground somewhere else on the ship, no current will flow in the ground connector (since the power goes into the ground at the fault, but has no other connection back to the power source), and therefore there is no danger with the circuit breaker in the power strip only protecting the hot lead, and no danger of fire. Remember, no mention was made that a ground fault was found in the equipment plugged into the power strip. Now, if your device (say a hair dryer) does have a ground fault on the "neutral" leg of the appliance, then the lack of circuit protection on the "neutral", along with another ground fault somewhere on the ship, could cause excessive current on the neutral leg, that would only be protected by the ship's circuit breaker, not the one on the power strip. So, you still need two ground faults to have current flow, and the possibility of fire. This requirement to have two ground faults to produce current flow in the ground (hull) is why the ships use the floating ground in the first place.

 

What caused the fires mentioned in the Safety Notice is that a surge protector, by its design, places a high resistance connection between the hot and neutral wires to ground. Therefore, with only one ground fault, anywhere on the ship, the MOV provides a current path, admittedly high resistance, but in the reverse direction than it is designed to handle, and current can flow in the ground conductor. This could lead to high current flow, and if the hot lead is the one where the MOV fails first, then the power strip breaker would possibly interrupt it, depending on the current flow. If the MOV on the neutral leg fails first, then there would be no interruption of the current, regardless of current value, and current would continue to flow to a failed MOV. It was the combination of the surge protector and the consumer power strip with no breaker on the "neutral" leg that caused the fires, though an MOV in thermal runaway can start a fire at current levels below the circuit breaker trip values.

 

CHENG? Listen to yourself: "Every MOV-based surge protector will suffer

thermal runaway if it's kept in service long enough, but many are sold

without thermal fusing"? C'mon man! ;p

 

Methinks:

 

• Those house fires were caused because the thermal fusing had been

compromised by the time the eventual thermal runaway happened.

 

• Shipboard fires from the same cause are more likely because shipboard

use ages MOVs much faster than use ashore.

 

• Power strips without surge protection but with single-pole circuit breakers

can suffer a fire afloat simply because floating-neutral (there, finally got to

use that pun) circuit legs are unprotected against shorts-to-earth.

 

• The two fires referred to in the MSA were simultaneously ignited by a

wiring fault at a third point in the same ship. (ACK! Do cruise ships

plan and practice for multiple simultaneous fires?)

 

• There is going to be a stateroom fire or fires because that MSA has led

folks to believe that power strips without surge protection are safe when

afloat.

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Well, I won't debate whether or not consumer surge protectors have thermal fusing or not, I'll just say it's been my experience that they don't.

 

A power strip with a circuit breaker on one leg will still require a ground fault on the neutral leg, and another ground fault somewhere on the ship to allow current to flow. While these do not provide as much protection as the European type of power strips that we use on ships that have two pole breakers, the circuit breaker in the ship's wiring (even the 110v system) is a two pole breaker, so when a ground current happens, this breaker will trip, both the hot and neutral legs, unlike a home circuit breaker.

 

As I said, the fires in the Safety Notice were caused because the MOV provided the return path from the ground to the power leg. The current flowed from the power system at the ground fault, to the ground wire, and then through the MOV at the surge protector back to the power system. Had the MOV's not been present, there would not have been any current flowing, even with the ground fault at the third point, since the "normal" power strips, nor the appliances plugged into them had any connection between the power system and the ground.

 

As I've said, while a consumer power strip with only a one leg breaker does not provide as much protection as a two pole breaker would, the ship's circuit breaker is a two pole breaker. The fires in the Safety Notice were caused by thermal runaway at currents less than the circuit breaker trip level, which is why the ship's breaker did not trip.

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CHENG?

 

Sounds like we've been talking past each other..

 

*YES*, a shipboard MOV surge protector can cause a stateroom fire in the

same manner that they have caused house fires. Agreed. Done.

 

---

 

But MOV thermal runaway is not the only failure mode for power strips with

single-pole circuit breakers afloat. Floating-neutral (love that pun) vs earth-

ground provides another set of failure modes that do not involve MOVs.

 

The authors of that MSA conflated both surge-protected and non-surge-

protected power strips as "surge protective device"s. You'll note they used

"allow us to simultaneously deliver power to multiple devices" as an

identifying characteristic of "surge protective devices".

 

When describing the cause of the twin fires on that container ship, that MSA

focused on the single-pole circuit breaker issue and did not mention MOVs.

 

---

 

My point has been that the MSA has led folks (including me) to think that

power strips and cubes without surge protection were safe afloat, and that

is a Bad Thing™ because they are *NOT*.

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CHENG?

 

Sounds like we've been talking past each other..

 

*YES*, a shipboard MOV surge protector can cause a stateroom fire in the

same manner that they have caused house fires. Agreed. Done.

 

---

 

But MOV thermal runaway is not the only failure mode for power strips with

single-pole circuit breakers afloat. Floating-neutral (love that pun) vs earth-

ground provides another set of failure modes that do not involve MOVs.

 

The authors of that MSA conflated both surge-protected and non-surge-

protected power strips as "surge protective device"s. You'll note they used

"allow us to simultaneously deliver power to multiple devices" as an

identifying characteristic of "surge protective devices".

 

When describing the cause of the twin fires on that container ship, that MSA

focused on the single-pole circuit breaker issue and did not mention MOVs.

 

---

 

My point has been that the MSA has led folks (including me) to think that

power strips and cubes without surge protection were safe afloat, and that

is a Bad Thing™ because they are *NOT*.

 

Okay, take the surge protection out of the equation, let's talk about a simple, non-surge protected power strip with a single pole breaker. Without any surge protection, there is no connection between the two power leads in the power strip and the ground lead, agreed?

 

How does floating neutral vs earth ground provide another set of failure modes? What are these failure modes that don't have anything to do with MOV's? I'm really not aware of any, nor have I experienced any in 43 years on ships.

 

Again, if your device does not have a ground fault, then the fact that the power strip only has a single pole breaker doesn't matter, since a ground fault elsewhere on the ship will not cause the power strip to conduct current and catch fire. Now, if your device does have a ground fault, and in the "unprotected" "neutral" leg, current will flow, and if it reaches the set trip current for that circuit, while there is no breaker on the power strip, it will be protected by the two pole breaker in the ship's circuit, just as if the power strip had a neutral breaker. I disagree with your assertion that a non-surge protected consumer power strip is dangerous, and can cause a fire on a ship, any more than your Iphone charger or a simple plug splitter or extension cord. An extension cord does not have any circuit breaker on either power leg, are these inherently dangerous when used on ships with a floating neutral? Because that is what you are saying, when you say that a non-surge protected power strip is dangerous.

 

And, I have said that the Safety Notice did not stress the fact that it was the combination of the surge protection and the single pole breaker that led to those two fires. However, again, please explain how a single pole breaker, downstream from a double pole breaker, on a power strip with no ground fault, and with devices plugged in that have no ground fault, can cause excessive current and cause a fire.

 

As I've stated, ship provided power strips are usually 220v European power strips, that while they do have a two pole breaker on them, are really preferred because they plug directly into the 220v outlet without a plug adapter, and also provide universal outlets on the strip so that any combination of 220v and 110v plugs can be plugged into the strip. But I have used consumer non-surge protected 110v power strips for decades on ships, and have never had a problem or fire from them. I have had problems and incipient fires from surge protected consumer 110v power strips.

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Okay, take the surge protection out of the equation, let's talk about a simple, non-surge protected power strip with a single pole breaker. Without any surge protection, there is no connection between the two power leads in the power strip and the ground lead, agreed?

 

How does floating neutral vs earth ground provide another set of failure modes? What are these failure modes that don't have anything to do with MOV's? I'm really not aware of any, nor have I experienced any in 43 years on ships.

 

Again, if your device does not have a ground fault, then the fact that the power strip only has a single pole breaker doesn't matter, since a ground fault elsewhere on the ship will not cause the power strip to conduct current and catch fire. Now, if your device does have a ground fault, and in the "unprotected" "neutral" leg, current will flow, and if it reaches the set trip current for that circuit, while there is no breaker on the power strip, it will be protected by the two pole breaker in the ship's circuit, just as if the power strip had a neutral breaker. I disagree with your assertion that a non-surge protected consumer power strip is dangerous, and can cause a fire on a ship, any more than your Iphone charger or a simple plug splitter or extension cord. An extension cord does not have any circuit breaker on either power leg, are these inherently dangerous when used on ships with a floating neutral? Because that is what you are saying, when you say that a non-surge protected power strip is dangerous.

 

And, I have said that the Safety Notice did not stress the fact that it was the combination of the surge protection and the single pole breaker that led to those two fires. However, again, please explain how a single pole breaker, downstream from a double pole breaker, on a power strip with no ground fault, and with devices plugged in that have no ground fault, can cause excessive current and cause a fire.

 

As I've stated, ship provided power strips are usually 220v European power strips, that while they do have a two pole breaker on them, are really preferred because they plug directly into the 220v outlet without a plug adapter, and also provide universal outlets on the strip so that any combination of 220v and 110v plugs can be plugged into the strip. But I have used consumer non-surge protected 110v power strips for decades on ships, and have never had a problem or fire from them. I have had problems and incipient fires from surge protected consumer 110v power strips.

 

CHENG?

 

Normally yes, but would you touch a metal-cased power tool lacking an earth lead?

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Well, you have all confused me, which isn't that hard. We are on the Veendam in Nov. My husband uses CPAP, I use oxygen and a scooter which needs to be charged. We usually bring a big orange multiple plug plus an extension cord. I do not think the Veendam has been retro-fitted yet. Plenty of plugs on Koningsdam last December. I will call Ship Services and check out Veendam

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Well, you have all confused me, which isn't that hard. We are on the Veendam in Nov. My husband uses CPAP, I use oxygen and a scooter which needs to be charged. We usually bring a big orange multiple plug plus an extension cord. I do not think the Veendam has been retro-fitted yet. Plenty of plugs on Koningsdam last December. I will call Ship Services and check out Veendam

 

Extension cord plus big orange multiple-tap would put a smile on both of us, even if

we need sunglasses ;)

 

Just no switches (to keep me happy) or pilot lights (to keep CHENG happy?).

 

I pack a little duct tape in case the extension cord turns out to be a tripping hazard.

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CHENG?

 

Normally yes, but would you touch a metal-cased power tool lacking an earth lead?

 

Who said there is no earth lead? Most (the exception being some older ships) cruise ship, or cargo ship outlets, whether 110v or 220v are three wire (two power leads and a ground), and three prong (even the 220v outlets, if you look carefully, will have two metal prongs on the circumference which are ground pins). People misunderstand the difference between a ground circuit on a ship and a ground circuit on land. Other people misunderstand and think there is no ground on a ship, but there is a very large and effective one, the hull. The only difference is that the "neutral" or "white" lead is not connected to the ground at the circuit breaker box like on land. Think of the 110v (and the shipboard 220v as well) circuit on a ship as being the same as your electric range or water heater. It is connected to the two power leads coming into your house (to provide the 220v), and to the ground lead for safety. Yet, each power lead is not at the ground potential (just like a ship), unlike the 110v wiring in your house. I know that ranges typically also have a neutral wire to provide the 110v for controls, so lets just concentrate on a water heater. Is the water heater unsafe? Nope, because the metal casing is connected to ground, but without a ground fault, there is no connection between the two power leads and ground. Yet, if the water heater goes to ground, it won't shock you because the metal case and the ground wire provide a better path for current than through you to the earth. And, likewise, the circuit breaker is two pole, so any ground fault current will likely trip both power legs.

 

Almost every power strip I've seen has a three prong plug on it (and that does not imply surge protection). Now, if you want to plug this three prong power strip into an older two prong outlet, with a plug adapter, and decide not to use the screw tab to complete the ground, then you are creating a dangerous situation, but that is a different thing, and not caused by using a power strip with only a single pole breaker on a ship.

 

Again, the switch on a power strip has nothing to do with the safety of using it on a ship. Pilot lights on power strips have nothing to do with their safety on a ship. The words "surge protected", "joules of protection", "clamping voltage" are the keys to what is unsafe on a ship. If those words are not present on the packaging or the power strip itself (the fine print on the back), then the power strip is safe to use, but it may still be banned from use by cruise line policy.

 

This confusion over what a non-surge protected power strip is, is why many cruise lines simply ban them altogether, rather than have the port security people trained to detect, or argue about whether the power strip is safe or not.

 

I would not recommend using a power strip anyway for charging a scooter as well as running a CPAP and oxygen concentrator, all night, unless you checked the amperage rating of the power strip and compared it to the max current draw of all your equipment together, especially the scooter charger.

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CHENG?

 

Normally yes, but would you touch a metal-cased power tool lacking an earth lead?

 

Who said there is no earth lead? Most (the exception being some older ships) cruise ship, or cargo ship outlets, whether 110v or 220v are three wire (two power leads and a ground), and three prong (even the 220v outlets, if you look carefully, will have two metal prongs on the circumference which are ground pins). People misunderstand the difference between a ground circuit on a ship and a ground circuit on land. Other people misunderstand and think there is no ground on a ship, but there is a very large and effective one, the hull. The only difference is that the "neutral" or "white" lead is not connected to the ground at the circuit breaker box like on land. Think of the 110v (and the shipboard 220v as well) circuit on a ship as being the same as your electric range or water heater. It is connected to the two power leads coming into your house (to provide the 220v), and to the ground lead for safety. Yet, each power lead is not at the ground potential (just like a ship), unlike the 110v wiring in your house. I know that ranges typically also have a neutral wire to provide the 110v for controls, so lets just concentrate on a water heater. Is the water heater unsafe? Nope, because the metal casing is connected to ground, but without a ground fault, there is no connection between the two power leads and ground. Yet, if the water heater goes to ground, it won't shock you because the metal case and the ground wire provide a better path for current than through you to the earth. And, likewise, the circuit breaker is two pole, so any ground fault current will likely trip both power legs.

 

Almost every power strip I've seen has a three prong plug on it (and that does not imply surge protection). Now, if you want to plug this three prong power strip into an older two prong outlet, with a plug adapter, and decide not to use the screw tab to complete the ground, then you are creating a dangerous situation, but that is a different thing, and not caused by using a power strip with only a single pole breaker on a ship.

 

Again, the switch on a power strip has nothing to do with the safety of using it on a ship. Pilot lights on power strips have nothing to do with their safety on a ship. The words "surge protected", "joules of protection", "clamping voltage" are the keys to what is unsafe on a ship. If those words are not present on the packaging or the power strip itself (the fine print on the back), then the power strip is safe to use, but it may still be banned from use by cruise line policy.

 

This confusion over what a non-surge protected power strip is, is why many cruise lines simply ban them altogether, rather than have the port security people trained to detect, or argue about whether the power strip is safe or not.

 

I would not recommend using a power strip anyway for charging a scooter as well as running a CPAP and oxygen concentrator, all night, unless you checked the amperage rating of the power strip and compared it to the max current draw of all your equipment together, especially the scooter charger.

 

My point was that a single point of failure can put line voltage on any metal-cased

power tool which lacks a functioning earth ground.

 

A similar failure on the neutral leg in a power strip or anything plugged into it would

cause short-circuit current flow from the (floating) neutral to earth. The single-pole

breaker wouldn't protect the power strip, allowing it to ignite before the distribution

panel overcurrent devices reacted.

 

 

 

Let's climb out of the weeds...

 

Use a power strip or whatever with surge protection afloat? Me: Nope.

Use a power strip with a (single pole) switch while afloat? Me: Nope.

 

That just about covers all power strips, no?

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My point was that a single point of failure can put line voltage on any metal-cased

power tool which lacks a functioning earth ground.

 

A similar failure on the neutral leg in a power strip or anything plugged into it would

cause short-circuit current flow from the (floating) neutral to earth. The single-pole

breaker wouldn't protect the power strip, allowing it to ignite before the distribution

panel overcurrent devices reacted.

 

 

 

Let's climb out of the weeds...

 

Use a power strip or whatever with surge protection afloat? Me: Nope.

Use a power strip with a (single pole) switch while afloat? Me: Nope.

 

That just about covers all power strips, no?

 

A single point earth fault will allow current to flow from the equipment with the earth fault to ground, just as it does on land. Now any power tool that "lacks a functioning earth ground" is a danger on land or at sea, whether plugged into a power strip or directly into an outlet. I may have misled you when I say that when a single earth fault happens, no current flows on a ship. This is not quite correct, the current will flow from that earth fault to the hull, and then to earth through the sea. The problem with ships is that you have something made with dissimilar metals, and submerged in salt water, a fine electrolyte. So, when earth current flows in the hull, you get galvanic corrosion of the hull or piping, which you don't want. To control any possible current flowing in the hull, the ship has ground sensors that place a very high resistance between the power legs and the hull. An ammeter is placed in this circuit to measure current flow through this circuit (since this provides the connection back to the power system when a ground fault happens, it completes the circuit). When this meter shows current flowing, the engineers will be able to track down the earth fault by isolating one circuit at a time to see if the current flow stops.

 

My point, and I see that I was not sufficiently clear, is that while current will flow from a single earth fault to ground somewhere on the ship, with a power strip that does not have any connection between the power leads and ground, there will be no current flow from ground into the power strip, so no danger of fire. Only the addition of the MOV semi-conductors between the power leads and ground, provide the possible path for this current from ground to flow back to the power leads from the other earth fault, and complete a circuit through the surge protector, and this completed circuit is what presents the fire hazard. Again, what is the difference between a non-surge protected power strip with a circuit breaker on one leg, and an extension cord with no circuit breaker on any leg?

 

I apologize for my lack of clarity, this has become second nature to me, and sometimes I gloss over things that I think everyone knows.

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Thanks to everyone for the detailed technical information.

Some of the readers are now fully informed and others are completely confused.

 

Back to the original question, what to do?

 

There are two possible answers:

1. Go shopping, spend money for extension cords and power strips that may or may not be allowed by the cruise line. Use up valuable space in your suitcases to carry them to and from the ship, and risk your bags being opened and held for possibly dangerous items.

 

OR

 

2. Spend no extra money, use all your suitcase space for more important items, avoid your bags being opened or delayed, and borrow the necessary cords and power strips (checked and approved by the ship's electricians) from the cruise line at no cost to you.

 

What would an intelligent person do?

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Thanks to everyone for the detailed technical information.

Some of the readers are now fully informed and others are completely confused.

 

Back to the original question, what to do?

 

There are two possible answers:

1. Go shopping, spend money for extension cords and power strips that may or may not be allowed by the cruise line. Use up valuable space in your suitcases to carry them to and from the ship, and risk your bags being opened and held for possibly dangerous items.

 

OR

 

2. Spend no extra money, use all your suitcase space for more important items, avoid your bags being opened or delayed, and borrow the necessary cords and power strips (checked and approved by the ship's electricians) from the cruise line at no cost to you.

 

What would an intelligent person do?

 

Just to clarify. No one ::glances at CHENG?:: has any heartburn with extension

cords. Some have heartburn with some power strips, others with all power strips.

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I don't know what ship the OP will be on, but I was just on Eurodam and there were outlets all over the place in verandah room.

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What would an intelligent person do?
My understanding those with medical need have priority with regard to borrowing the power cords that are available aboard ship. I've never read any report that indicates that there are enough multi-socket power cords to borrow, for every cabin that otherwise would have brought their own.

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Just be aware that if one brings a multi plug power strip, one still may have it confiscate.

 

We were on the Rotterdam in March.

 

First day was a call at Half moon Cay.

 

In the late afternoon, the the power in our cabin went out for about thirty seconds, came back on, went back out and again came back on.

 

When we came back to our cabin late in the evening, the middle third of the cabin (had the desk, TV, loveseat) was without power.

 

We reported it to Guest Services and went to bed. The power was back on the next morning.

 

Next day was a sea day. Throughout the day, the power in the middle third of the cabin would go out and come back on. The whole cabin was also blacked out at some points.

 

Again we reported the problem to Guest Services and I made the statement it was if a circuit breaker was going off and resetting.

 

I also asked our cabin steward if anyone else was having problems. He said not that he was aware of.

 

Next day was a port of call. We came back on board ship at lunch time and heard our neighbors next to us return (our cabins were mirror images with their desk area on the other side of the common wall).

 

Within ten minutes, our power was again going on and off. Called guest services again and once again talked to our cabin steward and suggested that maybe there was a problem with too much being plugged in next door.

 

He must have talked to his supervisor because he told me later that afternoon that when the cabin next door was turned down for the evening, someone would "look" for the source of the problem

 

Turns out several multi plug cords had been bought on board by the couple next door and was being used to charge a plethora of electronics.

 

I was told the cords had been removed by security and we had no further problems.

 

I should note that the day after the cords were confiscated, a new electrical cable was run from the lobby area, down the hall, and into the electrical box between our cabins. Electrical work was also being done on the cabin that had caused the power problems.

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I don't know what ship the OP will be on, but I was just on Eurodam and there were outlets all over the place in verandah room.

 

When we sailed her in September, I remember there being USB outlets next to the bed. I had to use a CPAP and requested an extension cord but the closest electrical outlet was next to the Verandah door on the shelf where the TV used to sit.

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When we sailed her in September, I remember there being USB outlets next to the bed. I had to use a CPAP and requested an extension cord but the closest electrical outlet was next to the Verandah door on the shelf where the TV used to sit.

How did you plug in your CPAP? I put in a request with HAL about this but am concerned that my husband will not be able to use his.

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Cheng and Haboob - your posts have been most informative, and they have me thoroughly confused. We are leaving in September on the Grand Asia, and I purchased the Tessan 2 plug, 3 USB power strip. It was advertised as not being a surge protector, but now I wondering . . . Can you tell from the following website if this power strip is safe to use aboard ship? Thanks so much.

https://www.ebay.com/p/Tessan-Portable-2-Outlet-Travel-Power-Strip-With-3-USB-Ports-Charging-Station-5/1383379986

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Cheng and Haboob - your posts have been most informative, and they have me thoroughly confused. We are leaving in September on the Grand Asia, and I purchased the Tessan 2 plug, 3 USB power strip. It was advertised as not being a surge protector, but now I wondering . . . Can you tell from the following website if this power strip is safe to use aboard ship? Thanks so much.

https://www.ebay.com/p/Tessan-Portable-2-Outlet-Travel-Power-Strip-With-3-USB-Ports-Charging-Station-5/1383379986

 

I certainly could not tell from the ebay site, so I went to Tessan's site. Their site is not very tech oriented, but it does not make any mention of surge protection, but I have found that even manufacturer's websites can contain misleading or incorrect information. Your best bet is to contact Tessan directly at "support@tessan.com" and ask if it is surge protected. Make sure they answer in terms of "surge protection" and not "over voltage protection". You can also check on the fine print on the back of the device or in the paperwork that everyone throws out, whether it has terms like "joules" or "clamping voltage", as these are keys to surge protection. I just looked at the "exploded" view of the internals of this device, and I don't see the telltale shape of the MOV's used in surge protection, so my confidence that it is not is strengthened, but I still recommend contacting them.

 

I have found that most combination power strip/USB hubs are surge protected, though some aren't. To save confusion, I recommend a multi-USB hub (these typically have a two prong plug, which precludes surge protection), and a simple $5 power strip from Home Depot, or an outlet splitter. If you go the separate USB hub route, with a plug adapter, this can be plugged into the 220v outlet, leaving the 110v outlet free for hair care appliances, while your combination device you list could only be plugged into the 110v outlet to get 110v out of the power outlets.

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