RV Electricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): What is an RVelectricity™ Master Class?


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,

I keep hearing about your RV Electricity Master Classes, but I can’t find any real information on what’s included. And can it really take three 90-minute sessions? Is there that much to learn about RV electricity? —Stan the Man 

Dear Stan,

Yes, that’s the plan, Stan. There really is a lot to learn about RV electricity, since there’s a bunch of different electrical systems in a typical RV. To prove it, here’s the syllabus of what I’ll be teaching at the RVillage 2020 Rally. (Read more about the Rally HERE.)

RVelectricity™ 90-MINUTE TOPICS

Part I – Hot Skin Voltages

(90 minutes)

• What is Voltage?
• What is Current?
• What is Hot-Skin/Stray-Voltage?
• Testing Methods for Hot-Skin Voltage
• Using a Non-Contact Voltage Tester
• Outlet Testing Basics Using a Digital Meter
• Testing 30- and 50-amp Pedestal Outlets
• Dogbone Adapters
• Grounding Issues and Advanced Testing
• Safety Considerations Around Electricity

Part II – Campground Power and Surge Protectors
(90 minutes)

• What is a Campground Pedestal?
• How to Plug and Unplug Safely
• Over- and Under-Voltage Pedestal Demonstration
• Wiring a Campground Pedestal From Pole to Outlets
• Why Do 30-amp Shore Power Plugs Melt?
• Pedestal Miswiring Dangers Including 30-amp Dryer Outlets
• Pedestal Open-Neutral Dangers
• Available Wattage From 20-, 30- and 50-amp Outlets
• Pedestal Diagnostics Using a Ground Loop Impedance Tester
• Voltage-Surge Definition and Dangers
• Surge Protector Theory and Selection
• Basic and EMS/Advanced Surge Protector Demonstrations
• RV Wiring Maintenance
• Transfer Switch Operation, Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Part III – Generators, Inverters, Batteries and Solar
(90 minutes)

• Portable Generator Selection, Hookup, Grounding and Bonding
• Transfer Switch Basics, Operation and Troubleshooting
• Inverter Types, Selection and Troubleshooting
• Converter/Charger Types, Selection and Troubleshooting
• Battery Selection Including Flooded Cell, AGM and Lithium
• Multi-Battery Hookup and Isolation Systems
• DC to DC Charging Systems Between TV and RV
• Solar Panel Selection and Integrating Into Charging Systems
• Solar System Capacities Needed for Residential Refrigerators

Now do you believe me?

If you look at the picture of my desktop, you’ll see the demonstration pedestal I designed and built which allows me to fully test a 50-amp 120/240-volt RV pedestal using only a 120-volt wall outlet power. Plus I can use the Variac to show how EMS surge protectors respond to anything from 0 to 280 volts, demonstrate open and hot grounds, create a 240-volt 30-amp RV outlet, and lots more crazy and dangerous situations you might encounter in a campground.

I’m adding more to my RVelectricity itinerary all the time including what 3-phase 120/208-volt power in a campground looks like on an oscilloscope (it’s now allowed in campgrounds per the NEC 2017), and how to diagnose GFCI leakage tripping.

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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