By Mike Sokol
I purchased a generator for the RV. It is a 3500-watt unit and came with an RV 30-amp outlet. I thought that it would tie the ground and neutral together but upon doing a continuity check on it all three poles are open. The generator does have an earth ground connection.
Do you recommend using the earth ground connection with a grounding rod and would a foot deep be adequate for a copper rod? Or should I just tie the ground and neutral together, and where would be the best place to tie together. Your help would be greatly appreciated. —Gary
This is something I’ve written about many times before, so I’ll condense it down into a few simple rules and link back to more complete articles if any of you need to dive in deeper.
• You DO NOT need to use an earth “grounding rod” for any portable generator that’s powering a single RV. However, if you’re using a large generator to distribute power to a number of RVs for a rally, that’s an entirely different thing which will require a grounding rod.
• Very few (if any) inverter generators have a built-in Ground/Neutral bond. That’s generally not an issue, but it does complicate troubleshooting of electrical problems. And it will cause any EMS/Intelligent Surge Protector to shut down the power since it will interpret it as an open ground condition (which it is). There are lots of UL and NEC reasons for this, but just know that it’s normal for that style generator.
• The simplest way to Ground/Neutral bond a generator is to use the G/N plug I invented. Just plug it into any 15- or 20-amp outlet on the generator panel and it will bond the entire generator’s electrical system. Here’s a link to where you can purchase one.
• No, this is not a cheater plug designed to fool anything. If you have a built-in generator on your RV, this same G/N bonding function is accomplished in the generator transfer switch. Since you don’t have a transfer switch on your RV and are plugging in your shore power cord directly to a portable generator, the RV’s electrical system is expecting a G/N bond from that shore power connection. My G/N plug design just gives the RV electrical system what it expects, nothing more.
• The easiest way to know if your generator has a floating or bonded neutral is simply by using a 3-light outlet tester. See my video on how this works HERE.
For more info, see my previous article on this topic HERE.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40+ 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.
Hi Mike, I have a new generator mounted on a tray on my travel trailer. Your explanation of bonding the neutral and ground makes sense. Is there any reason to also ground the generator to the trailer as is done for the trailer’s other electrical. I.e., attach a proper ground wire to the generator’s ground terminal and to the trailer chassis?
Not really, but it shouldn’t hurt anything. The ground conductor in the power cord connected to the generator should already provide a chassis to chassis bond.
Hello Mike, thanks for the good article on grounding. It’s always a mystery subject. I have an application question for my generator. I have a 2500 watt Champion inverter and it can’t quite power the AC. I also have a 2000 4000 w 12 volt DC to AC inverter and a small 12 volt solar plant that I will be expanding as funds become available. Is it possible to add and AC to DC converter from the generator and parallel the DC from the generator converter and the solar plant to provide enough wattage to start the AC? This will allow me to provide the 13500 BTU air conditioning solution I need and continue to grow the solar plant as funds are available. And the all-important question what do I do with the grounding? Or, should I go to a hard start solution? The soft start solution cost is close to another generator in parallel. I’m trying to avoid that expense and grow the solar. 40 year IT engineer and I know just enough to be dangerous. Would really appreciate your help. Thank you very much
Good morning Mike,
I have a couple of questions pertaining to the G/N plug:
“Just plug it into any 15- or 20-amp outlet on the generator panel and it will bond the entire generator’s electrical system”
Do I now have to plug into the back of the G/N plug? I couldn’t tell from the photo. Or do I just plug my RV plug into the designated 30amp outlet on the generator?
Just inset the bonding plug into any unused 20-amp outlet on your generator, then plug your RV shore power cord into the 30-amp generator outlet using the correct adapter.
Greetings Mike. Your help to date has just been incredible. Thanks for all you do.
As a suggestion, could you start an article on Solar Systems?
Some things “I” would be interested to know:
1) Understanding battery sizes. If a battery displays 6V and 210 AH @ 20 Hrs, how many watts is that? (forsaking inefficiencies of the inverter, total loads connected and the total discharge). Just understanding the total watts would be a big help.
2) Sizing and types of solar panels
3) Sizing Controllers
4) Understanding the different Inverters and how to size in accordance with the panels
5) Understanding fusing.
6) Recovery times to recharge battery banks.
If you present this article, please use laymen terms.
Your interest in this type of article would be appreciated.