A real shocker about campground electricity


By Chuck Woodbury

I talk by phone with our RV electricity expert Mike Sokol almost every day. Mike is like a little kid: He gets so excited about everything! He is man who loves his work. I think he is also a bit of a mad scientist. I mentioned elsewhere about his plan to replicate a lightning strike in his home to see what happens to RV electronics when a lightning bolt strikes very close.

Mike is in the process of updating his Master Electrician License, which involves a lot of study about the latest codes and then a lengthy exam that only 20 percent pass on their first try.

power pedestal
Power pedestal at the North KOA in Little Rock, Arkansas

The other day, he delivered his notarized application to the appropriate place, where a woman took the paperwork. They chit-chatted for a few minutes and then she said something that Mike found astounding. “She told me the part of the test everyone was having so much trouble with was the new additions on grounding for shock and electrocution prevention, especially around campgrounds, swimming pools and hot tubs.”

Campgrounds? “I never mentioned to her that I wrote articles about RV electricity,” Mike said to me, “and now I hear that the latest code will require better grounding for campgrounds!”

Mike and I have devoted a lot of time recently trying to educate RVers and campground owners about the dangers of miswired and other otherwise unsafe power pedestals. And now, here was a woman who speaks with electricians every day telling Mike without any prompting about the dangerous situation of “shock and electrocution prevention, especially around campgrounds. . .”

Her comments made us realize that we need to keep working hard to make campgrounds and RV parks safer. Our RV Travel members, through their support are allowing us to do just that! 

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Thomas Becher
10 months ago

Count me among the top 20% if that’s true. Great, I’m smarter than I thought. In Wi we are usually like 3 or 4 years behind National code. It has to be approved by ??? Assembly,Senate?. I guess we’re not a United states Doesn’t make a difference of something is really important, wait out the cycle.

10 months ago

After reading the article, I was left wondering to which jurisdictions across the USA does this code apply, and which government entities honor the certification of the Master Electrician License that Mike has earned at his certification board.

1 year ago

Its a very good thing to have access to this information and from an expert. I sincerely appreciate your efforts in my behalf.
Thank you

Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 year ago
Reply to  Dannq

Thanks very much. I’m doing all I can to teach everyone about electrical safety for the home, stage and campground.

Charles Yaker
1 year ago

I use KOA but when their is a nice public county park in the neighborhood like Burns Park i’ll Go there every time.

1 year ago

Guess one reason I avoid campgrounds whenever possible. There are others too but this is one of them

Wolfe (by many other names)
1 year ago

Kudos to Mike on “getting the word out” on miswire/grounding issues. A strange thing happens with the internet where knowledge survives attribution, and you sometimes have folks advising you while unknowingly using you as their upstream source. In other online forums, I’ve had people “debate” by sending me snippets of my own articles or code, urls of my own videos, etc… my own fault for using several online pseudonyms, but still amusing.

Bob Godfrey
1 year ago

I can attest that a nearby lightning strike can do damage to an RV. Luckily the damage was minor and more of an inconvenience than anything. The bolt struck hardly more than 50′ from the front of the RV and afterward we noticed that the refrigerator panel lights were inop and the next day found that we had no hot water. The strike had blown the tiny 3 amp fuse in the power box on the outside of the RV for the refrigerator and also fried the thermostat for the water heater both of which I was able to repair the next day with the help of a very knowledgeable mobile RV repairman. And all this happened with a surge protector installed.

Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob Godfrey

I’m looking for funding to build a lightning generator primarily to test surge protectors, as well as design better hardening systems for RV electronics. The military does this to test gear for survivability in nuclear blasts, which generates all sorts of EMF pulses. The same thing happens near a lightning strike, so even if your surge protector stops the voltage spike from getting into your RV from the electrical system, there’s still an induced voltage in the electronics just from the huge magnetic pulse. But I’ve promised my wife not to build this “IN” my house, so I’m moving all the dangerous experiments to the back yard. That’s being a good husband…

RV Staff (@rvstaff)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

A considerate and thoughtful “mad scientist” — I’m sure your wife appreciates that. 😉 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 year ago
Reply to  RV Staff

I’m designing my lightning simulator to be able to produce a 10,000 Joule strike at 3,000 volts, which should be enough to vaporize most surge protectors. My kids have asked to be around when I try out, so it will be a father/son/son/son bonding time. The mom generally doesn’t want to watch.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

That picture blows me away! I wouldn’t even want to WALK near that thing, let alone plug into it!

And this is the ‘world famous’ KOA?

Jeffrey Torsrud
1 year ago

The picture posted on the NORTH LITTLE ROCK KOA is Amazing.

I have stayed ONE TIME at this KOA and will Never stay there again. This KOA is NOT designed for Large RV’s, has many hills and Unlevel Sites.

This is ONE KOA that should be avoided.

Lynn Beenken
1 year ago

Throughly agree, almost impossible to load or unload toys from toyhauler without pulling into the road to obtain a level surface. We’ve since moved to Catherines Landing in hot springs, very big rig friendly.

George McMeen
1 year ago
Reply to  Lynn Beenken

If you are talking about Lake Catherine Corps Park it is a very good park with lots of updates. Lake DeGray COE park in that area is also a very good park.

john barone
1 year ago

if you ask me (even though you didn’t) all KOAs should be avoided. when one charges you 6$ a day for a CAT it is time to write em off. overpriced- old- and cookie cutter. Another charged 7$ for any guest that visited for more than 30 minutes. KOA= Keep On Adding.

Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 year ago
Reply to  john barone

Chuck and I have talked to KOA about providing electrical maintenance training for their campground maintenance staff, but so far no traction. However, if you all keep telling campground management about my RV electricity articles, seminars and videos, that may put enough pressure on them to take this seriously.