Regarding the three essential testers (Digital Multi-Meter, Non-Contact Voltage Tester, and Circuit Analyzer) mentioned in the video from Gary Bunzer in the RV Travel newsletter recently (Three electrical testing devices all RV owners should have in their tool kit), do you have statistics (even educated guesses) on how often hot-skin wiring is actually occurring? How about the harder-to-detect Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground? Thanks. —Wolfe
That’s a great question, but one that’s very hard to answer. I’ve run a few surveys on this topic, plus there are some anecdotal examples I can provide. My first survey was run here on RVtravel.com and we found from a thousand readers that 21% of them had been shocked sometime by an RV. If there are 11 million RVers in the US, that suggests maybe two million of them have felt a shock. So let’s drop this down to 10% of these shocks coming from a unique grounding failure. That’s still 200,000 potential failure points in the USA alone. Out of this how many were campground outlet failures, how many were extension cord failures, and how many were RV internal wiring failures? I just don’t know, except for the fact that I seem to get equal numbers of these questions in my email box every week.
So how many times were hot-skin voltages caused by RPBG (Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground) miswiring? Well, that’s even harder to answer since most of the time this condition goes undiagnosed as the cause of a hot-skin voltage.
I still get a few emails every week from electricians and inspectors who thank me for bringing this condition to their attention and explaining how it happens. Remember, I not only had to discover this problem, but I named it as well. See this article where I introduced the concept to the electrical industry. And I see RPBG miswiring at least a few times a year in churches where I teach my live-sound mixing seminars. I’ve explained the concept of RPBG dangers to the pro-sound industry on ProSoundWeb.com, and where I’m now the moderator of their AC Power & Grounding forum.
So what does this mean to you as an RVer? Well, even if one in a thousand outlets you plug into has an open ground or RPBG wiring condition, and you camp maybe 50 times a year (once a week), you might never encounter one in your lifetime. However, if you’re unlucky enough to plug into an outlet with a miswired ground, then you and your family could be in serious danger. I do know the electrical industry says there are around 1,000 deaths by electrocution per year in the USA alone. How many are workers and how many are RVers? Again, there’s no good data on this since hospitals don’t often publish the cause of death. But isn’t it worth 10 seconds of your time to check your RV with a a Non-Contact Voltage Tester for a hot-skin voltage every time you plug into shore power?
That’s my 2 cents. An educated guess, but a guess it is.
Let’s play safe out there…. —Mike Sokol
Editor: Here are links to Amazon for the three essential testers (by category) mentioned in the video (Hint: check out the best-sellers if you’re looking to buy):
Digital Multi-Meter, Non-Contact Voltage Tester, Circuit Analyzer
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.