Y-Splitters – Are they good or bad?

When you have more reefers in your yard than plugs available on your Power Pack, it might be tempting to use electrical Y-splitters on your reefer extension cords to increase capacity. But here’s why this practice should be avoided, if possible.

As the demand for fresh produce grows globally, shipping companies have been keeping pace by ordering new reefer containers by the thousands. These latest reefer designs are far more efficient and consume less energy than previous models. So conventional wisdom might suggest that Power Pack diesel generators can handle more reefer containers. Using Y-splitters is an easy way to do this.

What are Y-Splitters?

Reefer Cord Y-Splitter
Designed for temporary use to meet short-term demand spikes, Y-Splitters allow multiple reefer cords to connect to a single power source receptacle.

Caution is advised
While adding more connections than a power pack is designed for may provide a temporary and safe solution when connected to newer low-current reefer boxes, caution should be exercised as it is possible to exceed the specifications of the power pack.

Many container fleets still have a big share of older reefer versions in use today. These, of course, draw a much higher current than the newer designs. When reefer yard technicians cannot control the age of the reefer containers that reach their yard, the risk of overloading power packs increases.Y-Splitters on PortaPack

Hot Reefer Boxes
And what if several of the reefer boxes are hot when connected using Y-splitters? When these boxes all come online at once, it’s quite possible that the current draw will exceed the limitations of the power source. With loads of perishable cargo under your care is it really worth the risk of damaging your power pack and losing the valuable cargo entirely

Then there is the safety aspect. Y-splitters when improperly handled can bypass the integrated safety designs of the receptacle panel. The safety of personnel is paramount. ESL Power Systems, manufacturers of reefer and intermodal electrical components, recommends the following guidelines when using Y-splitters:

  • Do not connect or disconnect reefer plugs to a splitter while energized
  • Reefer plugs must be connected to the splitters female cord connectors before connecting the male plug to an interlocked outlet
  • Use of multiple Y-splitters on the same circuit is not recommended
  • Do not exceed the Y-splitter rated current

Y-splitters can be an effective tool for meeting short term, high volume throughput of reefer cargo. Use them with caution while understanding all the variables involved.  And if more plugs are needed to meet short or long term refrigerated container demands, increase your capacity safely with additional power packs or portapacks from Power Pool Plus.

For questions on how to properly apply refrigerated container load to your power packs, contact Power Pool Plus.

Ted Shelson, VP Marketing
Power Pool Plus