Issue 23 • September 29, 2019
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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.
Also, 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…
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“
A 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.
RV Electrical essentials
Surge Protectors • Dogbone Electrical Adapters • Multimeters • Power Pedestals for Home or Campgrounds. • Portable Generators • RV Solar • RV Inverters • RV LED Lights • 30 and 50 amp extension cords
Industry Updates: Electric RVs
VW’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
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:
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
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…
Last Month’s RVtravel.com Posts
These articles are rated Moderate to understand for most RVers.
• 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.
Don’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
The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
RV 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
Camco 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.
By Mike Sokol
Suki the Adventure Cat has probably been to more places than you have
Who 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!
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..
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