Breaking News on “Stray Voltage”

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Breaking News on Stray Voltage

By Mike Sokol
Within hours of publishing my article Focus on Stray Voltage, we received this very interesting comment from Richard Iddins. 

Dear Mike,
We just left a park in Alberta Canada. Where this morning when I was greasing the suspension on our trailer and when I touched one of the axles with my arm I felt a tingle. I checked the frame of the trailer with my non contact electrical tester and found it to be hot. I then checked the electrical pedestal and found it to be hot also. I then, with my volt meter stuck the black probe into the ground (Dirt) and the red lead to a screw on the pedestal. And found there to be 40 volts. I disconnected the camper and rechecked and found the same voltage.

I then checked other pedestals in the park and found all of them to show voltage to ground. (Metal pedestal to ground). The camper next to us was a metal skinned unit that was also showing hot. I checked from the skin of the unit to ground and found the same 40 volts.

When I notified the campground they were receptive and called an electrician who was there within the hour and after checking he called in the local electric provider who also sent in one of their guys.

Before leaving the campground I requested a refund for the night and they stated that they do not give refunds.

The question I have is why would my EMS system not have shut down and given a code to tell me that we had the condition. Also I us the yellow  plug in testers that have the 2 yellow and 1 red lights that will look for Open ground, open neutral, open hot, Hot/ground reverse, hot/ new. Reverse and correct. This tester did not show a fault either.

Please let me know your thoughts. —Richard 

Dear Richard,

Well, I have a potential answer for you already. That’s because I’ve been studying this phenomenon for the last 8 years or so. While EMS systems and 3-light testers can find maybe 99% of all hot-skin stray voltage, there’s a really big miswiring condition I’ve named a Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground (RPBG) and which can’t be detected by any current surge protector technology, nor can it be disconnected from the hot ground condition created by it. Pretty scary, isn’t it? 

fluke testerInterestingly when I first discovered this RPBG effect none of the test gear manufacturers knew about it, or that their meters couldn’t find it. That’s also when I developed the proximity test for an RV hot-skin stray voltage using a standard Non-Contact Voltage Tester

See my initial article on it here, which was first published in Electrical Contractor and Maintenance Magazine where I introduced the concept of RPBG wiring to the electrical contractor and test industry.

I’m betting that’s what’s going on at this campground. If that’s indeed the case, then it’s a life-threatening situation that should be shut down and corrected immediately. 

Let’s play safe out there….

 

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit NoShockZone.org for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

 

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Jerry

The article above notes a 40V difference. Your referenced article uses a 90V+ detector. Should we be using both a low voltage and a high voltage Fluke detector?

Gregory Greer

Great information. I have been an RV’er for the past year and when we purchased our motorhome, we also purchased an electrical diagnostic surge protector. Over the past year, the device has saved us from faulty wiring at pedestals. At Ocklochnee River State Park, Florida our diagnostic surge protector indicated a hot neutral and no ground. We alerted the campground staff and found out that the entire campground had very recently been re-wired with new pedestals. I checked a few other nearby sites and found faulty wiring on the 3 sites, down for ours but the other direction, the pedestals were correctly wired. The next morning, they electrical contractor came out and found that the wiring was incorrect and that line served the 3 sites that I had found faulty. Another note to this particular circumstance: 2 days later, people showed up at the site next to ours. Their class A motorhome had been at Camping World, being rewired as they had fried their electrical system after plugging in at the campground. They just thought their motorhome had experienced an electrical problem but they did not realize it was due to the faulty wiring at their site. They went to the Campground office and filed a claim and the State Park was going to cover their very expensive electrical repair. I cannot speak highly enough about testing every pedestal prior to hooking up.

Gene Bjerke

Looks like I need to change my habits. I keep a NCVT handy when I plug in, but since I use a surge protector that runs a circuit analysis first, I don’t usually check with the NCVT. Perhaps I should get in the habit of checking the pedestal with the NCVT before I even plug in.

Richard Iddins

Mike, Thanks for your response. Am I correct in thinking this could be caused by incorrect park wiring or an incorrectly wired camper?

Thanks again