Electrical supply in Southwest Chief Bedroom?

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TaseMeBro

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Hi there!

Hope you don't mind my first post being on a pretty specialized/esoteric topic, but I suspect the breadth of expertise on this forum will include someone who knows..

I've got a trip, with a friend, coming up on the Southwest Chief. We've booked a bedroom. Based on a few other posts I've seen here, it looks like there's two outlets in a bedroom.

But, my question is how much power can they supply? To be clear - I'm NOT intending to run a space heater or microwave or anything crazy like that. But, between my friend and I, it's within the realm of possibility we could draw 4-500 watts at some points, to keep computers, chargers, and gear going.

Can the outlets in the bedroom support this, or do we risk popping a breaker or otherwise disrupting the cars electric?

Thanks for your time, help, and expertise.
 

tgstubbs1

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Crazy? Microwave ovens are extremely useful onboard a train.

Take a look at Amazon. They have a number of small ones [microwaves]. I tote mine in a rollaboard, which contains my coffeemaker, and some supplies in the cavity.

The outlet needs to be able to supply standard 110v devices.
A power strip with excessive things plugged in could trip a breaker.
 
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TaseMeBro

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Hi @tgstubbs1 - thanks for the reply, but I'm not sure I follow.

I didn't mean to imply that a microwave would be "crazy", I simply used it because it sprang to mind a common household appliance that draws a notable amount of power. I suspect you might have interpreted my use of "crazy" a bit too literally.

If a user has brought a microwave onboard, and used it in a bedroom, (as I think you're indicating), that'd be a good sign for me. I think most small microwave ovens draw 600-700 watts, which is less that we'd draw at "peak".

Yes, all our devices would use normal household 110v power and plugs.

While we'll be bringing a power strip, I'm not sure I follow your logic there. A strip only increases the number of outlets - it doesn't, on it's own change power usage. My concern is would plugging say 400-500 watts of demand into said power strip cause a problem.
 

me_little_me

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Hi there!

Hope you don't mind my first post being on a pretty specialized/esoteric topic, but I suspect the breadth of expertise on this forum will include someone who knows..

I've got a trip, with a friend, coming up on the Southwest Chief. We've booked a bedroom. Based on a few other posts I've seen here, it looks like there's two outlets in a bedroom.

But, my question is how much power can they supply? To be clear - I'm NOT intending to run a space heater or microwave or anything crazy like that. But, between my friend and I, it's within the realm of possibility we could draw 4-500 watts at some points, to keep computers, chargers, and gear going.

Can the outlets in the bedroom support this, or do we risk popping a breaker or otherwise disrupting the cars electric?

Thanks for your time, help, and expertise.
We've been able to use a small 1000W hair dryer w/o problems. But if a bunch of people did at the same time, it would probably trip a breaker. WE usually use it on low heat (so it doesn't draw so much) and for minimal time.

So I wouldn't worry about it but I would be courteous and think about whether you need to draw power at the time you do (so charge things during dining hours and overnight) and spread out the use. Lowering the screen brightness while on power also helps.

Not everyone in the car shares the same breaker. Perhaps someone will chime in with how many breakers are in a car and how many rooms on a single breaker. My guess is two to four for the latter.
 

Triley

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We've been able to use a small 1000W hair dryer w/o problems. But if a bunch of people did at the same time, it would probably trip a breaker. WE usually use it on low heat (so it doesn't draw so much) and for minimal time.

So I wouldn't worry about it but I would be courteous and think about whether you need to draw power at the time you do (so charge things during dining hours and overnight) and spread out the use. Lowering the screen brightness while on power also helps.

Not everyone in the car shares the same breaker. Perhaps someone will chime in with how many breakers are in a car and how many rooms on a single breaker. My guess is two to four for the latter.
I want to say one for the lower floor, one for the upper. Now whether or not the GFCI outlets in the bathrooms/at the sinks in bedrooms are on the same set of breakers as the "normal" outlet by the temperature control, I don't know. What I do know is that I was shocked to see a bedroom with 3 outlets in the SEA yard the other day.
 

PVD

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I don't know the power distribution plan of a SL car, so I do not know if each room is on a single circuit serving all receptacles, or if multiple rooms are shared. Assuming 20A @ at 120V (nominal) =2400W shared across all devices on a circuit. Normal practice in design is using 80% as a max design load, but the bottom line is that it is unlikely 500w will pop a breaker, unless a bunch of other stuff is on the same circuit.. (like if it was shared with another room and they used a full sized dryer) again, I don't know how the receptacles are distributed/wired in the SL
 

enviro5609

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4-500 Watts? What kind of gears require that much energy? A typical laptop power adapter is no more than 100W, a typical USB charger is 10W (5V x 2A)...
Gaming laptops can use adapters providing 200-300 watts. The largest I’ve seen was 330. Workstation laptops use larger adapters as well, for the same reasons. High end GPUs (and to a lesser extent CPUs) draw a lot of power.

If you are doing content creation/video editing you could easily have gear charing at 400-500W draw just working while on the train.
 

tgstubbs1

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Hi @tgstubbs1 -

If a user has brought a microwave onboard, and used it in a bedroom, (as I think you're indicating), that'd be a good sign for me. I think most small microwave ovens draw 600-700 watts, which is less that we'd draw at "peak".

A strip only increases the number of outlets - it doesn't, on it's own change power usage. My concern is would plugging say 400-500 watts of demand into said power strip cause a problem.

I'm not sure about drdrmond's microwave, but the small ones I've owned tested at around 1000 watts.


You can add up the wattage of all your devices, but you won't know how many people are also loading that circuit. I think that's why they only put one receptacle in a room.

A power strip would only make it easier to overload because you can plug more things. You are right, it has nothing to do with the loads, in fact a 15 amp power strip should trip off before the 20 amp room breaker.

Lots of people do plug in things like coffee makers, etc., so the power is there. Naturally a breaker could trip if they share a circuit with another.

I'm sure you'll let us know how it goes🙂
 

oregon pioneer

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Roomettes only have one outlet. I always bring a plug strip to run my devices. IIRC, the outlet is marked "10 amps Max" or something like that. I have a cute little hot pot for my tea that is rated for 500 Watts (it boils water slowly but reliably). I unplug other devices when using it, and I have not had any trouble at all running the 500 Watt load.
Acres_19s.jpg
 

zephyr17

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Roomettes only have one outlet. I always bring a plug strip to run my devices. IIRC, the outlet is marked "10 amps Max" or something like that. I have a cute little hot pot for my tea that is rated for 500 Watts (it boils water slowly but reliably). I unplug other devices when using it, and I have not had any trouble at all running the 500 Watt load.
View attachment 24940
Well 10 amps at 120 VAC is 1200 watts.
 

me_little_me

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4-500 Watts? What kind of gears require that much energy? A typical laptop power adapter is no more than 100W, a typical USB charger is 10W (5V x 2A)...
Remember, multiple laptops: "But, between my friend and I, it's within the realm of possibility we could draw 4-500 watts at some points, to keep computers, chargers, and gear going.". You haven't seen the power-sucking capability of some of the newer laptops and who knows what other gear TaseMeBro is referring to.
 

TaseMeBro

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4-500 Watts? What kind of gears require that much energy? A typical laptop power adapter is no more than 100W, a typical USB charger is 10W (5V x 2A)...
A couple other users already hit it, but, yeah.. two fairly power hungry laptops are the main draw. They're about 200W each. One Chromebook at maybe 50W, a couple of small chargers for maybe 25W, a 5g hotspot, and a satellite hotspot for areas with no cell.

I doubt everything would be at max draw at once, but I *suppose* if that were to happen, it could go as high as 700W.

Thanks to all who answered! It's very much appreciated, especially knowing that a hair dryer has been used successfully. If that works, we should be just fine.
 

alanh

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Do they still have the "shavers only" marking?

Just imagine telling the designers in 1978 that people would be plugging in computers and phones.
 

TaseMeBro

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Do they still have the "shavers only" marking?

Just imagine telling the designers in 1978 that people would be plugging in computers and phones.
Funny... that's actually what prompted my question. I can remember seeing "Shavers Only" outlets on various travels (not specifically on trains), and I wasn't sure if that might be the spec of the Amtrak bedroom ones.
 

caravanman

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I have happily and repeatedly used a small travel kettle to brew my "English Tea" in Amtrak bedrooms. The kettle is rated at 600 Watts, and never any problem. I am sure you would be fine with the equipment you describe, but can I put in a plea that you do spend some time just gazing out of the train windows too, some of the scenery is stunning! ;)
 

tgstubbs1

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If you take along a power strip you might also need a three prong ground adapter. A shaver outlet might nit have a ground.
 

PVD

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While I'll never say never with Amtrak, I don't believe I have ever seen a receptacle that was not 3 bladed in any current car.
 

me_little_me

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If you take along a power strip you might also need a three prong ground adapter. A shaver outlet might nit have a ground.
Not an issue on Amtrak trains these days. All have grounded outlets. The "Shavers only" came about because old bathroom lights in hotels were not grounded but many of them had two-prong, low current (small wires) outlets by the bulb. Even when separate outlets were provided, they were designed as low current because of the wiring. Shavers would be one of the few low current devices used in a bathroom.
 
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TaseMeBro

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@caravanman

No dobut you're right about taking time to enjoy the train and scenery! We don't plan to stay cooped up in the bedroom the whole time on technology.. we both work in the same field, and haven't had a chance to sit down in person for several months to talk shop.

A big reason we picked the train over plane is so we could have that nice setting, take breaks, enjoy the train, etc.

Gotta work a little, though, to keep paying for those Amtrak Bedroom tix. ;)

P.S. My mom's English.. How much electricty can it take to drag some tea briefly through a mug of milk? (Said in total humor, of course!)
 

tgstubbs1

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Not an issue on Amtrak trains these days. All have grounded outlets. The "Shavers only" came about because old bathroom lights in hotels were not grounded but many of them had two-prong, low current (small wires) outlets by the bulb. Even when separate outlets were provided, they were designed as low current because of the wiring. Shavers would be one of the few low current devices used in a bathroom.
That's good to know. I've been getting the idea that Amtrak trains are "behind the times' compared to European and Asian trains.
 
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