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RVelectricity – Readers’ Q and A’s from November 2020

By Mike Sokol
I’m getting a lot of interesting questions from my readers, many of which are on my RVelectricity Facebook Group. Here are a couple:

Q: Hey, Mike,
Long time since I last talked with you. I keep seeing your articles referencing the neutral bonding issue, which you and I dealt with almost 8 years ago, before you created your own dummy plug for sale. You instructed me on how to create one, so I created one the next day and it’s worked great since then. However, there is one minor drawback that frustrates me. I can’t use both of the 15-amp outlets on the duplex on the generator, since the bonding plug takes ups one of them.

I realize I could plug in a multi-outlet strip in one receptacle to solve the problem, but most are not meant for outdoor use. Would I be correct in assuming that I could create a neutral bonded 30-amp dogbone to plug into the main 30-amp outlet on the generator, to serve the same purpose? I realize I would not want to use the dogbone when plugged into shore power, as it would create a 2nd neutral bond point. Even though it would cost more to build the 30-amp version, it would free up the second 15-amp receptacle. I would have to label the dogbone so I wouldn’t use it on shore power.

Also, a big thumbs up to you for your great work over the years for RVers. I feel I’ve earned a masters degree in RV electrical education from you during our full-time travels of 11 years and counting. I now do all my own electrical repairs and upgrades, which was not the case 11 years ago. Thanks! —Fred Burns – Still chasin’ our dream full-time

A: Fred,
Thanks for your kind words. And yes, you can indeed build the G-N bond into your custom generator dogbone adapter. For example, if you have a 3,000-watt generator like my Honda EU3000i, it will need a NEMA L5-30 plug. All you have to do is include a ground-to-neutral jumper inside of the male plug, which then goes to a standard TT-30 female outlet that matches what your RV shore power cord needs.

I would suggest that a short piece of 12-gauge solid wire would fit down beside the 10-gauge stranded wire in the flexible cord. Just make sure it has a solid connection for both the Neutral/Ground jumper as well as the wire feeding the RV. —Mike

Q: Mike,

I read your article and have attempted to put a battery cutoff switch on our 2011 Newmar Bay Star without any luck. For the house batteries, I have two 6-volt batteries in series, as your diagram shows. I ran a battery cable from the ground to the frame to the switch, then from the switch to the negative terminal (where the other negatives are all connected).

When I turn the knob to the OFF position, everything works, same as when it is in the ON position. Very confused why it does not work.   There are additional negatives attached to the same terminal, assuming one is going to the distribution panel eventually. —Carl & Shari

A: Dear Carl & Shari,
I think I see the problem. In order for a disconnect switch to work, it has to disconnect ALL of the negative/ground wires, not just the main one that goes to the chassis ground directly from the battery. That suggests that you’ll likely have to run a single heavy-duty wire from the battery to the disconnect switch, then connect the multiple negative/black wires on the chassis side of the switch. That way you’ll be disconnecting ALL of the negative/ground wires at the same time, not just one of them.

Everyone: Be aware that if this is a travel trailer or 5th wheel with an emergency breakaway switch in case your tow vehicle separates from the trailer, that any battery disconnect switch should be in the ON/POWER position while traveling. —Mike

Okay, everyone. Electricity is a powerful friend, unless you don’t respect it. 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.

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Earnie W
11 months ago

Carl & Shari would also be running the risk of overloading the small wires with any high current draw such as a slide out motor thus causing a fire if they don’t heed your advice.