RV Electricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): Generator bonding

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By Mike Sokol

Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM.


Dear Mike,

Enjoyed your talk at the Airstream Rally in Doswell, VA, last week. I use a Champion 3000 dual fuel generator and when I plug my Progressive Industries EMS into the Champion I get some funny readings and it shuts down. I’ve plugged in a 3-light tester to the generator and it shows open ground. Any thoughts? Thanks. —Stan White

Dear Stan,

I’ll bet you’re seeing something that looks like this. One amber light in the middle lit up, and the other two lights off or glowing dimly. What does this have to do with the EMS shutting down? Well, it’s doing this same sort of test internally, and because it’s finding an open ground, it’s shutting down power to the RV.

However, this really has nothing to do with grounding your generator or RV to the earth. Both the EMS and the 3-light tester is expecting power that looks like it’s coming from a wall outlet or pedestal, not a generator.

That’s because most generators (and all inverter generators) have something called an open-neutral, where the ground and neutral are isolated from each other. The reasons they do this are a bit too complicated for this JAM Session, but know that it’s perfectly safe to bond the generator neutral and ground together so it’s wired like a pedestal outlet already is.

The easiest way to accomplish this is by simply plugging a Generator Bonding Plug into any unused outlet on your generator, and that bonds all of the generator outlets together. I invented this Ground/Neutral Bonding Plug, which is now available from Southwire and Micro-Air.

So if you’re trying to get your EMS Surge Protector to work on your inverter generator, it could be as simple as plugging in this special generator bonding plug.

For my BIG article on generator neutral/ground bonding, read all about it HERE.

If you want to purchase a ready-made generator bonding plug from Southwire, go HERE.

OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.

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.

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