Is a surge protector extension cord allowed on a train?

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denmarks

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If you have ever taken a cruise you know that surge protectors are not allowed. Something to do with the electrical system. Since a train also generates its own electricity using a diesel engine are there any surge protector limitations? NOTE: I am not planning on using one. This is just to have the information posted here.
 

PVD

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There are a few different reasons why ships don't want them, but I've never heard a word on a train. I did have a seatmate on an NER who draped a cord across me instead of on the floor. When I told him to put it on the floor he said he didn't want it to get dirty. When I said their might be blood on it when I wrapped it around his neck he rethought his position.
 

denmarks

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Don't forget I am referring to surge protectors. Cords and circuit breakers were allowed on a ship.
 

zephyr17

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Don't forget I am referring to surge protectors. Cords and circuit breakers were allowed on a ship.
I have used a surge protector power strip on the train for years and years and no one has ever said a word.
My usual placement is very obvious, right below the middle of the window, behind where the table slots in.

My only word of advice is to use one that has a "straight in" standard plug. The ones with the flush plugs that are designed not to stick out from the wall won't fit into the recessed sockets on the Superliner Is.
 
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denmarks

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Here is something I found.

"Serge protectors are designed for land-based power with consistent voltage. Cruise ships create what’s known as “dirty power” where voltages fluctuate. This dirty power also degrades the life of mobile devices much faster than land-based power."

Is the power on a train "clean"?
 

zephyr17

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Here is something I found.

"Serge protectors are designed for land-based power with consistent voltage. Cruise ships create what’s known as “dirty power” where voltages fluctuate. This dirty power also degrades the life of mobile devices much faster than land-based power."

Is the power on a train "clean"?
Not very.
 

PVD

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Many ships don't want extension cords either, they encourage overloading, and getting trampled or crushed creating a fire hazard. A small multitap is usually ok.
 

BCL

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Here is something I found.

"Serge protectors are designed for land-based power with consistent voltage. Cruise ships create what’s known as “dirty power” where voltages fluctuate. This dirty power also degrades the life of mobile devices much faster than land-based power."

Is the power on a train "clean"?
Some surge protectors have an EMI filter that can smooth out the power delivery a little bit, although something like a true power conditioner might be better. I don't think that fluctuating voltage is generally what happens, but rather less than a perfect sine wave output. Something like the wave on the left, which is noisy and can cause all sorts of problems like RF interference.

 

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The core issue seems to be that consumer grade protectors often fail to immediately disengage as intended and can be a poor match for marine wiring because they only partially disconnect from the supply even when functioning properly. Some suppressors can and do work with ships but since there is no easy way for staff to confirm this at boarding it looks like they simply ban everything outside of simple two-in-ones and USB multi-charger devices. That being said I've never seen or heard of a surge protector causing major problems on a train.

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Link: https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/TVNCOE/Documents/SafetyAlerts/SurgeProtectiveDevices.pdf
 
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LookingGlassTie

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With regard to cords being wrapped around people's necks...................

In July 2017 I was on the Silver Star coming back home from Orlando and I had a seatmate. I had the aisle seat and he had the window seat. I was charging my phone but I made sure the cord was on the floor as opposed to across his lap. 😁
 

TinCan782

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I just use a couple of household extension cords with a three-tap on the end. The only use is for USB chargers for our phones, scanner and GPS.
No device issues in the past 15 years (trains or cruises).
I don't use my laptop on the train.
 

TaseMeBro

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Hi there, OP.

A bit over a week ago I, coincidentally, had a somewhat related question, which got a LOT of excellent answers. You might take a look at it, here:

A few people mentioned having plugged in multiple devices, and a few folks, like @oregon pioneer mentioned using a power strip, here:


You asked about a surge protector as well - I don't have any specific expertise on the quality of onboard electrical power, but I bet it's not particularly "clean". I doubt it'd make a difference to an ordinary laptop charger, or typical consumer electronics, but if you had something more specialized with you - especially if it relied on the correct frequency/hz, I suppose you might encounter a glitch or two.

Years ago, when I travelled often to some.. uncommon.. destinations, I would bring a voltage stabilizer - an older version of something like this:

They're very bulky and heavy though, and not practical unless you had some essential, perhaps medical, gear that's truly vital. I haven't carried it for years, and I've yet to find issues running stuff like laptops on "bad" electricity, even in less developed nations with bad electricity.

I think you'd be just fine with a small strip, maybe from a name brand that also had a noise filter - and even that would be a big extra measure of conservatism.
 

BCL

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You asked about a surge protector as well - I don't have any specific expertise on the quality of onboard electrical power, but I bet it's not particularly "clean". I doubt it'd make a difference to an ordinary laptop charger, or typical consumer electronics, but if you had something more specialized with you - especially if it relied on the correct frequency/hz, I suppose you might encounter a glitch or two.
The only thing I remember that really relied on that was a record turntable that I had in the 80s. It didn't have any kind of quartz lock system like with typical DJ-style direct drive turntables. It was belt drive with a manual fine tune for precise speed. There was a switch for 33-1/2 and 45 RPM, but it was never dead on when it came up to speed form a dead stop.

I'm pretty sure that the motor was DC and operated off of a transformer. However, it had a light coming through a window, which illuminated these markings on the edge of the platter. The AC nature of the power source for the light created a strobe effect where the markings would drift when seen by the human eye. But there were different markings for RPM and either 50 or 60 Hz, which were the two common AC power frequencies in the US. Then the adjustment knob had to be turned until the strobe made it seem like the markings were still corresponding to the AC frequency and turntable speed. This one is a variation on that without a window.



Here's someone who's showing that with a different turntable.

 

TaseMeBro

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The only thing I remember that really relied on that was a record turntable that I had in the 80s....
It's a bit before my time, but didn't some of the mechanical clocks (like the nightstand flip clocks) also have issues if run on the wrong frequency? And maybe some fan forced heating appliances might have insufficient airflow from a slower turning motor?
 

AmtrakMaineiac

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It's a bit before my time, but didn't some of the mechanical clocks (like the nightstand flip clocks) also have issues if run on the wrong frequency? And maybe some fan forced heating appliances might have insufficient airflow from a slower turning motor?
Yes old style plug in wall clocks with synchronous motors depended on the AC line frequency (60 Hz in North America) to keep time. Usually that frequency is very accurate in commercial power feeds. Running from a portable generator or on a train with head end power maybe not so much.

Interesting about ships banning surge protectors. We bought a surge protected power strip on every cruise we took since the cabins had a lack of outlets for phone charging, fans, etc. We never had a problem bringing them on board. This was Princess, other cruise lines might be more strict.
 

drdumont

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It's a bit before my time, but didn't some of the mechanical clocks (like the nightstand flip clocks) also have issues if run on the wrong frequency? And maybe some fan forced heating appliances might have insufficient airflow from a slower turning motor?
Yup. clocks, blowers, etc. designed for US and other locales based on 60 cycle current ran slow in Europe and other areas where the power line frequency was 50 cycles. And the reverse, of course.
Accuracy of motor operated clocks, turntables, even tape players depended on the frequency of the power supplied. As most utilities were tied to a large grid which was frequency controlled, this wasn't too much of an issue. Nowadays 'most every clock is driven by a pretty stable oscillator, or can update nightly using signals from the National Bureau of Standards or whatever it is called nowadays. WWV is a radio station which broadcasts precise time signals from Ft. Collins, Colorado, and from Hawaii. Cellular devices get time info from their standard, traceable to the National standard. 303-499-7111 is the number for about three minutes of the signal. You can use it so set your watch any time. The US Naval Observatory has a number, which has slipped my mind for the nonce. You can also get timing signals from GPS systems.
For many years, radio and TV stations used AC powered (with battery backup) clocks which reset every hour from a signal coming from Western Union. Used to drive me nuts when I would have everything timed just right in order to switch to a network feed at precisely the top of the hour, only to have the the %##!!! thing reset 2 or 3 seconds ahead of me.
Nowadays, everything in the TV and the Radio stations for which I care sync everything to a master signal generated by a device using a GPS receiver.
And please, no grousing about Cycles Per Second and Hertz. I'm Old School. Harrumph.
 

drdumont

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Some surge protectors have an EMI filter that can smooth out the power delivery a little bit, although something like a true power conditioner might be better. I don't think that fluctuating voltage is generally what happens, but rather less than a perfect sine wave output. Something like the wave on the left, which is noisy and can cause all sorts of problems like RF interference.

<snipped for brevity>
Actually, it never occurred to me to check the HEP. Next trip I'll take my analyzer along. Now you've piqued my curiosity.
With all the cheap backup generators and power converters on the market today, a non Inverter unit generates some pretty nasty power. Those spiky non sine waves can zorch cheaper power supplies in a heartbeat.
 
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If you have ever taken a cruise you know that surge protectors are not allowed. Something to do with the electrical system. Since a train also generates its own electricity using a diesel engine are there any surge protector limitations? NOTE: I am not planning on using one. This is just to have the information posted here.
 
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Marine Electrical Feeds on Cruise Ship are all over the spectrum. I carry a large amount of conversion plugs that work well in whichever country I travel to...lots of 220 voltage that has to be knocked down to 110 voltage I have set up Single Side band Radio Feeds, VHF, GPS receivers, Monitors and have had no problems as the Cruise Ship Companies are more concerned with Fire prevention. Think Irons used for pressing clothing, Hair Dryers, Hair Curlers, Hot Water Pots. Fire at sea is something that is to be avoided at all cost. The Cruise Ship Countries are obligated to provide extension cords for Capac breathing machines that a lot of American's use. As for Amtrak I carry a power Strip to plug into My laptop, Train Scanner, Cell Phone Recharger, WiFi signal amplifier. I enjoy listen to the Trains crews internal chatter, situational awareness is my entertainment when I travel by rail....
 

ehbowen

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The core issue seems to be that consumer grade protectors often fail to immediately disengage as intended and can be a poor match for marine wiring because they only partially disconnect from the supply even when functioning properly. Some suppressors can and do work with ships but since there is no easy way for staff to confirm this at boarding it looks like they simply ban everything outside of simple two-in-ones and USB multi-charger devices. That being said I've never seen or heard of a surge protector causing major problems on a train.


Link: https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/TVNCOE/Documents/SafetyAlerts/SurgeProtectiveDevices.pdf
This is correct. The reason ships are wired this way is because a ship is an enormous metal conducting object. If a ship is wired "wye" (like an ordinary home) and the 'hot" leg goes to ground, the breaker will trip and the circuit is useless. If it's wired "wye" and the neutral leg goes to ground, nobody will know about it until some other fault occurs and then it will be very difficult to troubleshoot (it's considered bad practice to have the neutral leg connected to ground anywhere other than the service entrance or generating source).

On the other hand, if either leg on a "delta" connected circuit goes to ground it will be at 0v (essentially a neutral) and the other leg will go to 120v (hot). This is very noticeable at the electrical distribution panel; there are three lights across all three phases which normally glow dimly with 60v (or 240v; the same principle applies to the 480v power used for major equipment) across them but if one leg grounds out that bulb will go dark and the other two will glow at full brightness. Troubleshooting then becomes a matter of opening breakers until the defective circuit is isolated, and then going through that one circuit until the ground is found and repaired.

Another reason that ships use delta power distribution is that, if a bank of three single-phase transformers is wired delta (to drop from 480V to 120V, say), and one of them goes bad, an emergency repair is to cut out the bad transformer and wire the other two "open-delta". In that configuration they can pass 57% of rated nameplate power across all three phases without overloading until the bad transformer can be replaced (spare parts can occasionally be difficult to come by out at sea...).
 

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MARC Rider

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Yup. clocks, blowers, etc. designed for US and other locales based on 60 cycle current ran slow in Europe and other areas where the power line frequency was 50 cycles. And the reverse, of course.
Accuracy of motor operated clocks, turntables, even tape players depended on the frequency of the power supplied. As most utilities were tied to a large grid which was frequency controlled, this wasn't too much of an issue. Nowadays 'most every clock is driven by a pretty stable oscillator, or can update nightly using signals from the National Bureau of Standards or whatever it is called nowadays. WWV is a radio station which broadcasts precise time signals from Ft. Collins, Colorado, and from Hawaii. Cellular devices get time info from their standard, traceable to the National standard. 303-499-7111 is the number for about three minutes of the signal. You can use it so set your watch any time. The US Naval Observatory has a number, which has slipped my mind for the nonce. You can also get timing signals from GPS systems.
For many years, radio and TV stations used AC powered (with battery backup) clocks which reset every hour from a signal coming from Western Union. Used to drive me nuts when I would have everything timed just right in order to switch to a network feed at precisely the top of the hour, only to have the the %##!!! thing reset 2 or 3 seconds ahead of me.
Nowadays, everything in the TV and the Radio stations for which I care sync everything to a master signal generated by a device using a GPS receiver.
And please, no grousing about Cycles Per Second and Hertz. I'm Old School. Harrumph.
Back when my daughter was little, we had a nebulizer to give her asthma medicine. So we decide to take a vacation to Grenada, where the current was 220V 50 Hz. I had the sense to get a voltage converter, but when we tried to use the nebulizer, the motor ran very sluggishly and couldn't nebulize anything. At least the volrage converter kept us from frying out the motor. Fortunately, the hotel contacted a local doctor for us, and we got a loan of a 220V 50 Hz nebulizer for the length of our stay.

Nowadays, it seems that most plug in appliances are actually DC, and the "wall warts" that you plug in will take anything from 110V to 240V nd convert tht to the proper DC voltage. I used my CPAP in China with no problem.
 
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