RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 28

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Issue 28 • March 1, 2020

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Read back issues of this newsletter and many other articles by Mike Sokol on RVtravel.com. Warning: There is a lot to learn here.


Welcome …

By Mike Sokol
Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends. (Yes, that’s from Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s album “Brain Salad Surgery,” if you must know.) Lots of interesting things happening about RV electricity in the last month, some of which I’ve probably forgotten by now. But I guess that’s one of the side effects of hitting 65 and having tons of things to do. But I ain’t complaining, I’m just explaining.

First of all, my RVelectricity Master Classes were a big hit at the RVillage Rally in Florida two weeks ago, with 300+ (Standing Room Only) each day for 3 days in a row. All I can say is, WOW! What a great crowd! And the party didn’t stop after my 75-minute session each day – it went on for hours afterwards. Happily, I couldn’t pay for my own drinks at the bar (which was conveniently located at the back of the seminar room ) since every time I ordered a beer the barkeep would tell me it was already paid for. As I said, WOW!

Two weeks before that was the Boston RV Expo, which I’ve already written about but which deserves another mention. Once again, SRO for a 90-minute session with me standing in the hall for a solid hour after my seminar answering even more questions about RV electricity. And yes, some free drinks there but I had to walk to the bar in another room. I’m thinking about requiring a bar in my seminar room as part of my production contract. (Kidding.)

My RV Electricity Facebook group is going like gangbusters as well, with more than 6,000 members and counting. And this Newsletter is at almost 17,000 opted-in members, and growing by a hundred or so a week. You must really want to know about electricity!

I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jim Mac from RVBusiness last week, and you can read my interview HERE. Jim and I talked for an hour-and-a-half about how I got the RVelectricity bug, and my wish list for electrical improvements the RV industry could make.

Let’s play safe out there… 

P.S. And just a quick note that this newsletter is made possible by the voluntary pledges of the readers of RVtravel.com. We could not bring this to you without their support. If you deem what we provide to you here and at RVtravel.com to be of special value and would like to be a part of our effort, please consider pledging a voluntary subscription. More information is here. We will include you in special emails, articles and videos exclusively for our supporters.


If you haven’t yet, be sure to join
my new Facebook group, RV Electricity.
(More than 6,000 members and counting.)



Seminar Reactions

RVelectricity seminars are a big hit in Boston and Live Oak, Florida

Back in the ’70s I had a pretty cool rock band (Draco) where I would jump through fireballs wearing a chrome suit (including matching gloves) with a Mini-Moog synthesizer I had cut in half so I could wear the keyboard part like a guitar. So did I invent the Keytar? Maybe, maybe not. But I’m being treated like a rock star at my latest RVelectricity seminars and it’s a lot of fun.

However, don’t expect fireballs at my latest RVelectricity seminars, and I’m pretty sure I can’t get enough height off of a mini-trampoline for a full back-flip anymore, so don’t ask. But you can find me in my Red RVelectricity Hat and Shirt with my cool atomic logo at an RV rally coming to a city near you. For my latest 2020 RVelectricity seminar list click HERE.

Click on the videos below to watch…

Mike Sokol at the Boston RV Expo, Jan. 2020

Mike Sokol at RVillage Rally, Live Oak, FL, Feb. 2020

Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.


Watch Mike’s Video Shorts 

• How to properly torque transfer switch screws HERE
• Voltage drop under load HERE
• Perform a hot-skin test with a NCVT HERE
• How to use a digital meter to check AC volts HERE


Industry Updates

RVBusiness Interview:
Mike Sokol expounds on proper RV electricity usage 

From the Editor of RVBusiness: “The following RVBusiness Q&A features Mike Sokol, commonly regarded as ‘the nation’s number one authority of RV electricity.’ Sokol, the author of several books on RV electricity, frequently writes on the subject at RV Travel, and ten months ago started the popular Facebook group RV Electricity, which has grown to [more than] 6,000 members. He also conducts seminars at many of the popular RV shows and rallies.”

Read my full interview HERE.


Survey Question

Is there anybody out there? Part 2

Dear Readers,
In order for me to get sponsorship support for my RVelectricity articles that are published here, I need your help. I’m getting conflicting reports about how many of you read my articles in this space, as well as my Just Ask Mike (JAM) sessions and my Saturday RVtravel column. Some of our search engines say it’s as little as 250 readers when these columns are first published, while others say it’s more like 2,500 readers or even more, and I have no idea. And these search engines don’t tell me anything about the technical level I’m writing at.

So I’m asking you to complete these polls, which I’ll use to adjust how many articles I include in this newsletter and at what level of technical difficulty. So even if you’ve answered one or more of these polls in my Just Ask Mike (JAM) Session, or my RV Travel RVelectricity article, please answer this double poll below. That will give me a good indication of how many of you are out there reading this monthly newsletter, and at what technical level you want me to write. Thanks so much for participating in order to make this newsletter better.

PLEASE NOTE that if there is an ad below each poll they are auto-inserted by Google and I have no control over what appears in that space. So just because it shows up in my article does NOT indicate that I endorse whatever is being advertised. (Plus, we may be getting rid of those ads below the polls, if they’re still there when you view these.)

Please answer both polls.

*If there is an ad above, it is auto-generated by Google and is not necessarily an endorsement from Mike.

*If there is an ad above, it is auto-generated by Google and is not necessarily an endorsement from Mike.


Last month’s survey results:

Click to enlarge.

Two-thirds of RVers don’t have solar panels…

Not a big surprise here. It’s predictable that 2 out of 3 RVers don’t have solar panels on their rigs. That’s understandable since solar for boondocking is still pretty expensive, but coming down in price every year.

But some 6 percent who responded note that they have more than 600 watts of solar panels. That’s some serious ray-catching ability which, if teamed up with sufficient batteries, could run a residential refrigerator plus maybe a CPAP machine indefinitely without a generator (as long as the sun keeps shining). Much more on this later, but it appears to me that the future of boondocking is tied to the price of solar panels, lithium batteries, and maybe a few other tricks I have up my sleeve. Stay tuned…


Tools and Other Devices

Carbon Pile Battery Tester

Okay, I’m diving into this 12-volt battery thing really deep since I’ve been getting dozens of emails every week from RVers who are experiencing poor battery performance.

So is it the charger, too much load, or batteries that just can’t hold a charge? The final question can only be answered by something called a Carbon Pile Battery Load Tester, which can apply a load of hundreds of amperes to your RV house battery while monitoring voltage levels.

I’ve not bought one of these yet to try, but I’m tempted by the inexpensive model from DHC Specialty Corp ($66) on Amazon, or the red Harbor Freight ($55) version. Yes, I’ll need to make a video of how to use it, but at that price it could be a real deal for sorting out battery problems. I used a really expensive SnapOn version for battery testing many moons ago as a young car and truck mechanic (yes, I can rebuild a 300+ HP diesel engine), but these inexpensive battery load testers may be just what you need for battery testing. Stay tuned for more info…

Learn more or order at Amazon.


Last Month’s RVtravel.com Posts

These articles are rated Moderate to understand for most RVers.

Did the campground industry association save RV park owners millions of dollars by nixing electrical upgrade?
Can reversed polarity alone cause dangerous hot-skin voltage?
Finding short circuits in dead 120-volt AC systems, Part 3A.
Hot-Skin/Contact-Voltage questions from the Boston RV Expo.
Finding short circuits in 12-volt systems, Part 2B.

Last Month’s JAM (Just Ask Mike) Session posts:

These articles are rated Easy to understand for beginners.

Combination voltage and 3-light tester. Mike recommends a new product that functions both as a 3-light tester and a plug-in digital voltage tester.
Can I hook up two surge protectors? Mike explains all about basic and advanced/EMS surge protectors, and whether you can use more than one at a time.
Battery bank accounts – deposits and withdrawals. Mike explains charging and discharging batteries in RVs by using a bank account analogy. (Yep, Mike makes it make sense.)
URGENT! Warn your kids about the “Outlet Challenge”.
Can I connect 6- and 12-volt batteries together? Almost everything you ever wanted to know about connecting batteries.


Q&A’s from my RVtravel column:

I’m always getting interesting questions from my RVelectricty column at RVtravel.com. Here is one simple but interesting one. 

Q: Hey, Mike. How come I don’t get a shock when I have the generator running the power to the motorhome? Only time I get a shock is when it’s plugged in to shore power? —John

A: John, that’s because a generator without a grounding rod is completely isolated from the earth. So even if a voltage potential exists between the generator and the chassis/skin of your RV, there’s no connection to ground for the fault current to pass through. So you can’t get a shock while touching the skin of your RV and standing on the ground.

However, you can still get a shock if you touch your generator chassis and the skin of your RV at the same time. But the fact that you can feel a shock while plugged into shore power demonstrates that you have at least a broken ground wire connection in your shore power cord or adapter, and you need to fix it immediately. —Mike Sokol

Read the original article and the rest of the comments HERE.

Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.


The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. He’s taken his 50+ 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.


Road Signs – Peripheral Vision

By Mike Sokol
I’m the quintessential absent-minded professor who sets down the screwdriver already in his hand while searching for a wrench, only to lose the screwdriver in the process. Then I’ve got to look for the screwdriver without losing the wrench again.

So you can see I’ve had a lot of practice looking for lost objects. But knowing how to look for a lost object is important. Many times I would get angry at myself for losing the screwdriver in the first place and try to stare down the room. That doesn’t work very well for me and I just end up getting more frustrated, which causes me to look even harder.

If, however, I can calm myself down enough to not look directly for the lost object, it will often show up in the edge of my vision. In short, my peripheral vision often sees things that can’t be found while looking directly at them. Read more.

Let’s play safe out there….

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.


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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This newsletter is copyright 2020 by RVtravel.com.

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George Stoffa

You went up a notch in my book with the ELP and the Pink Floyd Wall references, and the Moog on top of it!

Kevin L Young

Everyone keeps pushing 12 Volt only refrigerators, but what about us who boondock. Solar alone won’t always keep up. That is why we still need LP refrigerators. Any advice on boondocking with a 12 volt refrigerator would be appreciated.

peterb

Mike, 2007 Ford E-350, V-10. I replaced front light bulbs both turn signal-running lights and headlights from factory to LED. Had a plastic melting problem caused the heat from large ceramic resistors that came with the new LED bulbs. Question, I understand the need for the resistors, but how much electrical power saving am I wasting in heat. Was switching to LED a good idea? Should I switch back to incandescent bulbs? Does anyone have the answer?
Thanks Pete

Ralph Williamson

What are your thoughts on AGMs? They are so expensive compared to regular wet cells, but I really like not having to do any maintenance on them. Do they last longer to make up for the difference in cost?
Second, do you think we will get to where LiPo or another advanced technology battery will become mainstream in RVs? Seems EV auto adoption will drive lead batteries out of style IMHO.

Tom

Had a wire nut melt at 30 amp power box in older 31′ motorhome a few years ago in 109 degree day. To solve this problem I did the following. Found rear A/C wire in junction box going to breaker box. Installed new 2nd breaker box with new 2nd 30 amp cord and ran rear A/C wire to new 20 amp breaker. Added two 120V plugs in dinette lower panels, each with a new 15 amp breaker. Bought the 50 amp to two 30 amp pig tail.
This has left me so many options now. When at 50 amp hookup can run both A/C s. Can use toaster oven with no worry. When visiting at friends In summer with 20 amp only use new 30 amp cord and only run rear A/C, fridge on propane. Shower and cook in the house. In winter with 50 amp can run more than one space heater safely. When at just 30 amp use front A/C and fridge on propane.
Thanks Mike for helping me learn more on RV electric.