RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23

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Issue 23 • September 29, 2019

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RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23Welcome …

By Mike Sokol

Many things have happened in the last month besides the fall Equinox, the biggest one being my interaction with the NFPA (the keepers of the National Electrical Code) about not requiring GFCI breakers on 30- and 50-amp campground pedestal outlets. It appears that for now there will be no 2020 NEC requirement to install 30- and 50-amp GFCI breakers in campgrounds, which IMHO would cause a lot of nuisance tripping due to additive normal leakage currents caused by RV appliances and inverters/converters.

RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23Also, my RVelectricity™ seminars at the Hershey RV show were a big hit last week. So big, in fact, that my room that was designed to seat 50 swelled to more than 60 attendees most days and there were still people standing in the hallway trying to get in. I nearly had to body surf to my demonstration table (really!).

That shows me that many of you really want more training about RV electricity, so I’m actively looking for sites and shows in 2020 to attend and present at. Budgets are still an issue, but now that I’m getting direct support from many of you via my I Like Mike campaign, I can afford to present even more seminars next year.

Finally, my I Like Mike donation campaign officially began on September 1st, and I’m encouraged by all your support so far. More than a hundred of you have already donated to my I Like Mike fund, which will help defray the developmental costs of my RV Electricity programs. I’ve also received dozens of notes of encouragement telling me how I’ve saved lives and helped you troubleshoot complex electrical issues that many of your repair shops have struggled to resolve. As I like to say, knowledge is empowering, and that’s my primary goal — to empower you to ask questions and avoid electrical dangers. I really am humbled by your response so far.

On to the newsletter…

Let’s play safe out there… 
RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23

If you haven’t yet, be sure to join the popular Facebook group, RV Electricity.
(More than 3,800 members and counting.)


RVelectricity funding campaign off to a great start!

You really do “Like Mike

RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23A few months ago at the Enumclaw (Wash.) RV Expo, Chuck Woodbury and I (and the rest of the RVtravel crew) had a long meeting about various potential ways to fund my RVelectricity program. While I’ve been writing about electrical safety and troubleshooting for the last 10 years, I’ve only received partial funding for the last 3 years from Chuck and RVtravel.com readers. And while that was a help, it didn’t come close to the costs I’ve incurred designing and testing RVelectricity demonstration gear, spending dozens of hours each week writing articles and answering questions, and presenting seminars all around the country. So we had reached a tipping point, a crossroads as it were.

READ MORE


RV Electrical essentials
Surge ProtectorsDogbone Electrical AdaptersMultimetersPower Pedestals for Home or Campgrounds. • Portable GeneratorsRV SolarRV InvertersRV LED Lights30 and 50 amp extension cords


RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23Watch Mike’s one-hour recorded webcasts
All about portable generators. Recorded May 19, 2019
RV power pedestals: what you should know. Recorded May 10, 2019


Industry Updates: Electric RVs

RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23VW’s “Drive Bigger” campaign makes the ID. BUZZ electric bus inescapable, years ahead of its release —Elektrek

While this certainly isn’t an electric-powered Class A or Class C or even a Class B RV, I’m going to think of this as a Class VW. Before large RVs became the new normal, the original Volkswagen Westfalia microbus conversion was hugely successful, and still is sought after to this day. So could a similar conversion of the soon-to-be released ID. Buzz be coming? I hope so…

Read below for more about the upcoming release of VW’s all electric ID Buzz. Groovy!!! —Mike

READ MORE



Survey Question

Has your RV been in the shop for electrical repairs?

RVers have different experiences when their RVs are in the shop, especially regarding the length of time they’re in there. Please take a few seconds to respond to our poll, and feel free to explain your shop experience in the Comments. The poll results will appear after you vote.


Last month’s survey results:

RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23
(click to enlarge)

Do you have a clothes dryer in your RV?

All I can say is that I had NO idea that 25% of you have an electric clothes dryer in your RV. That’s just one more reason to be extra diligent about the health of your shore power wiring, as well as the connections in your transfer switch and circuit breaker panel.

Why is that? Well, an electric clothes dryer will pull a lot of current continuously for quite awhile, perhaps 30 minutes or more. And if there’s any corrosion or loose connections your shore power plugs, or loose screws in your automatic transfer switch (ATS) or circuit breakers, that’s when overheating and melting of your extension cords, dog-bone adapters, and all associated wiring can occur.

So if you do have high-amperage appliances (such as a clothes dryer), you’ll want to carefully inspect all of your RV wiring for signs of overheating, and be sure to use a good contact cleaner on the shore power connectors as well as the pedestal outlet itself. —Mike


Tools and Other Devices

RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23Trace lost wires inside of your RV walls

I’ve had and used one of the original Fox & Hound testers from Triplett for at least 30 years, possibly a lot more, and it’s always been a great piece of gear for finding wires inside of walls. It works by injecting a warbling tone (the fox) into your electrical wiring, then you use a probe (the hound) to sniff out where the wires are going even if you can’t see them, up to 12″ away.

The newest version of the Fox & Hound from Triplett is about $50, has variable sensitivity of the hound’s “nose,” and includes a nice carrying case. Its built-in batteries can energize dead wiring, allowing you to sniff out those cables in your walls. And it now includes 120-volt AC protection, so you won’t damage the Fox if you accidentally connect it to a live wire with 120 volts on it.

There are also larger and more complex versions of the Triplett Fox & Hound kits if you’re doing this professionally as an RV technician, but I think that most casual users would do great with the basic Jr. unit.

Have fun tracing wires…

Learn more or order at Amazon.


Last Month’s RVtravel.com Posts

RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23

These articles are rated Moderate to understand for most RVers.

RV Electrical Safety: Part 7 – Wattage.
Don’t fix a blown fuse like this!
Pedestal power basics.
RV Electrical Safety: Part 6 – Voltage drop.

RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23Last Month’s JAM (Just Ask Mike) Session posts:

These articles are rated Easy to understand for beginners.RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23

RV hot-skin test at Hershey. Choosing a Non-Contact Voltage Tester to check for hot-skin voltage on an RV.
Powering a fridge in RV 40 ft. from house outlet. How do you power up your refrigerator in the RV out in your driveway from your house outlet that’s 40 feet away? Easy!
Series/parallel battery capacity. This is a continuation of a previous JAM session where Mike discussed the possible spots to place a disconnect switch.


cord-753Don’t come up short!
Sometimes your 50-amp power cord is not quite long enough! That’s when this 15-foot extension cord will come in very handy. Sure, you can use a wimpy orange extension cord with an adapter — and risk burning up the cord, ruining appliances, or maybe even burn up your rig! With this cord along you’ll be all set. Learn more or order.


Q&A’s from my RVelectricity Seminars:

I’m getting a lot of interesting follow-up questions from my RVelectricity Seminar attendees. Here’s a recent one.

Subject: 50-amp surge protector with 30-amp service

Q: Mike, I recently attended your training on electricity at the Hershey RV Show. I have a 2003 Fleetwood Southwind that has 30-amp service. I have a 50-amp Southwire Surge Guard surge protector. Can I use this surge protector if using the proper adapters and have my coach protected by the 50-amp surge protector, or should I have a 30-amp surge protector only. Thanks for a response. —Tom Penna

Read Mike’s Answer


RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23RV Travel contributor Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. Mike has taken his 40+ years of experience to write this book about RV electricity that nearly anyone can understand. Covers the basics of Voltage, Amperage, Wattage and Grounding, with additional chapters on RV Hot-Skin testing, GFCI operation, portable generator hookups and troubleshooting RV electrical systems. This should be essential reading for all RVers. Learn more or order


RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23Camco Store at Amazon.com
There isn’t much you need for your RV that Camco doesn’t have. If you think we’re kidding, then click through to the Camco store on Amazon where you’ll find some of their best-selling products — all for your RV or for you to make your RVing better. Click here and you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store.


Road Signs

By Mike Sokol

Suki the Adventure Cat has probably been to more places than you have

RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 23Who doesn’t like to look at cats and kittens on their Pinterest feed? Yes, I’m guilty of trying to de-stress by looking at pictures and videos of cats doing all sorts of silly things, and kittens being just-too-cute. But a month ago I found a cat that was not only photogenic (as Bengal cats are), but also living the dream of traveling all around the world and seemingly having a fabulous camping adventure that any of us would envy. Meet Suki, the Canadian Adventure Cat, and boy does this cat and her owner get around!

READ MORE


STAFF

Editor: Mike Sokol. RVtravel.com publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern.

Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we may occasionally get something wrong.  So always double check with your own technician, electrician or other professional first before undertaking projects that could involve danger if not done properly. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com..

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.

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RVtravel.com includes links to other websites. We cannot control the content and/or privacy policies of those sites. Please be aware when you leave this newsletter or any other section of RVtravel.com to read the privacy statements of any of those websites that collect personally identifiable information. Our own privacy policy applies only to RVtravel.com and its affiliated blogs and websites.

This newsletter is copyright 2019 by RVtravel.com.

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Michel

Sharing old stuff.
Started working in telephony in 1971, so in those days trace and tone was very basic.
So with the tone buzzer the receiver was not very good, so we used a small transistor radio set in between stations as receiver to trace concealed wiring.

Rod Bauer

Mike,

How do you recommend cleaning a battery bank of accumulated road grime and dust? I have 8 new AGMs that are in a basement slide out tray which extends out of the coach.

Some have suggested simply taking a garden hose and rinsing them off with water and allowing everything to dry (including the slide out tray). I wanted your take on this practice and what your recommendations are for cleaning the battery bank.

Ron Jewell

We had wind damage repairs made to our travel trailer. As a result of the repairs, which were otherwise done well, a wire shorted out when we stopped the first night of our trip. We could not retract our slide outs or awning. We were parked near Valdosta, GA, and Valdosta RV was kind enough to send a repairman to our site. The man took about three hours to repair it, and we went on our way. Valdosta RV gave us great service.

Phil Atterbery

I also agree, the responses left out the DIY option. I have a 120VAC backfeed issue in a GFCI circuit chain. I’m checking one link at a time to find the error. It’s hard to trace wiring when you don’t know where it’s buried.

mike

Your survey left out an option….. “I had a major electrical problem and I was able/forced to repair it myself.

Dan

Regarding the drier amperage on your circuits. while using the drier, scan all connections and breakers with an infrared heat sensing gun. Any suspect connections will be easily detected.

Karin S.

I’m glad to see you have come up with a way to raise money for you Mike. Your love of passing along electrical knowledge to the lay person is amazing and greatly appriciated. No one should expect that you do this for free. I’ve purchased your book, read your articles and watch your videos. I catch myself re-reading and re-watching to keep the info fresh and seated in my brain.

Made a donation this morning!! 🙂

Mark Strovink

I voted months for repair, but the time was not in the shop, it was time waiting for the manufacturer to provide an updated wiring harness to fix a build problem.

Larry H Lee

As regards my RV having electrical repair:
It took 2 tries but when they actually listened to what I was saying they finally got it right.
Story: Start with having my generator 1000 hour service done at an authorized Cummins diesel facility. At pickup they told me the charge was so high because they had to remove the generator to complete the process. OK. Pay up and go on my way. Later, noticed passenger chair electric power was interrupted. Checked fuse box and found that circuit was protected by a 30 A circuit breaker. Pulled it out and noted the plastic block was misshapen right around that circuit breaker. Suggested to me that the breaker had been cycling on between full power and off repeatedly until the block melted enough to cause the interruption. I managed to get a 30 A fuse in place of the circuit breaker and power was restored to the chair. This proved the problem wasn’t the chair. A few days later the chair stopped working and the fuse was blown. Confirmed no power to chair and by supplying power to the chair once again I confirmed the problem was not the chair. I tried to trace the wire to no avail (lost in the maze), but at this point I began to wonder if the recent generator service could have anything to do with it. Flashlight around the gen location revealed what appeared to me to be a possible pinched wire far to the rear. Took the RV to the independent RV repair company I had used before with good result and explained to them what I thought had happened. Picked RV up a few days later and all was well. Soon same problem occurred. Checked fuse box. Fuse blown and I noticed they had replaced the plastic fuse block with a new one. But was that all they had done? Phone call revealed, Yes, fuse block replaced and chair functions tested OK–job done!
Returned unit for second attempt and this time all 4 techs were busy so manager came to see problem. I explained my theory and he understood. This time the tech installed a new power line from fuse block to chair and problem has not recurred.
So problem took 2 trips to repair shop and a total of 4 weeks to complete. Could have been done in one trip if they had listened to me the first time and/or communicated what I told them properly to the tech.
I did replace the circuit breaker which they installed with a 30 A fuse to avoid a repeat of the event. Chair has functioned fine since.

Corkey

Dis you mean to say the Fox and Hound would allow you to trace a line for 12 feet instead of the 12 inches in the article?

David Ozanne

Your poll was a little unhandy. I have had electrical problems, but have taken care of them myself. I have had my RV in a shop for problems and when it was done, I had to undo what the tech had done and redo it to get it right. Since then, I have done my own electrical work.

Primo Rudy's Roadhouse

Fox and Hound for $35 on Amazon…. price jumped $13 to 48? happens all the time. wonder why after this publication posts a price, Amazon raises

Good news is my toy hauler has never been in the shop. I am able to do all repairs my self

Rodney

Yes at least three times. It was the phantom engine electronic ignition on a Ford TFI IV. I finally bought tools online and am making a new TFI ignition harness. Thank you for the Ford auto collector blogs.