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 due to high resistance. It was not good enough for Ken 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! I like that!!
#1 The TINNED wire used in the cord sets is made here in AMERICA!!
#2 The thermoplastics used in the SmartPlug are all made in AMERICA!!
#3 Assembly is all done here in AMERICA with US LABOR!!
#4 The thermal breaker is made in Germany using comparable wages to US workers.
#5 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.
GRAND SLAM 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 IMPORTANT SAFETY FEATURE. It will prevent the high resistance melt down images you have already seen so many of here.
Note: There are some in the ABYC who feel an auto-resetting breaker, of any kind, is not safe. This mind set stems from breakers re-setting into a dead short, and I agree 100% with this. However resetting into a dead short is not the same as a high resistance thermal shut down. In the future this topic is going to be tackled at the ABYC level.
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..
The ABYC Conundrum:
The argument the opponents (competitors and a select few ABYC members) 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 a bike race. At least Darrell & Darrell ware still alive to open that AC panel before it killed them in their sleep and then burned down entire marina.
Think about this; the same few folks/competitors arguing against the thermal breaker in the SmartPlug 30A inlet have ZERO issue with auto-transfer inverters which can create the SAME EXACT Darrell & Darrell scenario they paint above, and use to argue against the SmartPlug.. Once such competitor actually argues out one side of their mouth against the thermal switch then out the other sell piles of auto-transfer inverters.... Hypocrisy? You bet...
Follow me here... Darrell #1 goes to the dock pedestal and UNPLUGS the shore cord. He steps back on-board opens the AC panel and ZAP!!!! Oooops the inverter transferred AUTOMATICALLY...... D'oh.....
It is hard 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 many times it does not. We now have an arguably much safer mouse trap & a better mouse trap but it will always get hung up with second guessers & direct competitors proposing supposition like I just mentioned. You will have to decide what is safer for your vessel.
The Rest of the ABYC / SmartPlug Story:
Starting soon the SmartPlug will no longer use a thermal breaker. The ABYC was giving them a hard time about the "auto-resetting" thermal switch so they decided to remove it rather than battle the ABYC on the subject of the thermal switch. 50A units never had it anyway.