Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Wednesday, June 16, 2021

RVelectricity: How I began writing for RVtravel.com 10 years ago

By Mike Sokol
Dear Readers,
Since this is Chuck Woodbury’s 1,000th issue of the RV Travel Newsletter, and I’ve probably been around starting with issue 500 or so, now is a good time to circle back to where I first started writing electrical articles for RVtravel.com.

From the beginning it’s been about electrical safety

I became interested in RV electrical systems more than 10 years ago when a sound engineering colleague of mine complained about feeling a shock from his Prevost Tour Bus for some Rock Star. He couldn’t understand why he could possibly be shocked from a million dollar tour bus (essentially a very expensive Class A RV), so I began snooping around on the Internet looking for information.

Hard to believe, but it’s been more than 10 years since I first started writing for you. Now, 10 years ago there was a lot of misinformation about what this shocking voltage was, but I did learn that the RV industry called it a Hot-Skin condition. And since my background is in power distribution for industrial power plants, then later in calibrating missile guidance systems, then even later in concert power systems, I was quickly able to spot a lot of websites and blogs with information that just seemed wrong to me. I was also trained by OSHA in electrical safety for the teams of electricians I supervised in my various jobs, so I was pretty sure I understood this Hot-Skin thing.

Enter the RV Doctor …

Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor

It didn’t take me long to find Gary Bunzer (aka the RV Doctor) and get in contact with him. I explained my conundrum of seeing very little correct information about RV Hot-Skin Shocks, and he patiently listened for over an hour while I explained my basic theory to him. So Gary, seeing an opportunity, asked if I knew how to write technical articles.

Later on Gary would kick-start my RVelectricity seminars at major RV events like the Hershey RV show, by allowing me to use his time slot to try out my electricity seminars on his audience. For that I will be forever grateful. Boy, I sure miss that guy…

Enter the technology writer (me) …

Well, I had already been publishing technical ad electrical articles for the pro-sound industry for more than 25 years, with hundreds of articles on all levels of electrical technology for rock concerts, church sound systems, even DJ sound and lighting. And I had also done hundreds of technology seminars on advanced sound system installation and operation, so it was easy to say “yes” to Gary regarding writing technical electrical articles, since I knew what I was getting into.

Enter Chuck Woodbury …

Gary recommended that I contact Chuck Woodbury from RVtravel.com, to see if he would be willing to carry some of my RV electricity articles. I originally named my series No~Shock~Zone, as in creating a safe zone around yourself to protect you from shock. I remember Chuck said if Gary recommended me, then he would publish what I wrote – no matter how good or bad it would make the RV industry look. So I said that I would write a 12-piece series on RV electrical safety for RV owners and run it weekly in the RV Travel Newsletter.

Enter my first survey regarding electrical safety …

The first thing Chuck and I did was ask a simple question to his RV Travel readers about how many of them had ever felt a shock while touching an RV. The numbers were astounding! Of the 1,100 readers who answered this poll, some 21% reported feeling a shock at one time.

  • Yes, seriously:  0.68% (7)
  • Yes, but not seriously:  21.10% (218)
  • No: 78.22% (808)

A little ciphering on a calculator provided a SWAG (Scientific Wild A** Guess) that over 1 million RV owners in the U.S. alone had probably been shocked at some time. Admittedly, there are “only” a handful of RV deaths from electric shock every year. But there are around 1,000 deaths from electrocution every year. Many of those electrocutions are from the trades like painting contractors who get their aluminum ladders tangled in power lines and fall off the roof. But I think that every single death from electrical shock is one too many, so I continue to write about RV electrical safety for you all. I must have at least 1,000 articles and posts published on all aspects of electricity over the last 10 years since I average at least 2 articles per week.

Yes, I wrote a book about RV electrical safety

I’m very proud of my first book on RV electrical safety, titled “RV Electrical Safety“. See a theme here? I’ve previously published a book on sound system techniques with a Prentice Hall, but I decided to publish this one on my own using Kindle, and it continues to sell over a thousand copies every year.

So, I thank all of you who purchased my book and have used it as your own guide on RV electrical systems and electrical safety. I’ve even encountered a few RV technicians and manufacturers who use it as a reference book, which is really cool.

Where am I going from here?

Well, this summer I’m taking on Electric (EV) Tow Vehicles for RVs. I’m calling it GoGreenRV, since it will be demonstrating renewable energy for use in electric tow vehicles, and eventually electric Class C and Class A RVs. But for now I’m taking baby steps with the new all-electric SUVs and pickup trucks being offered this year by large auto makers.

Please stand by, for science …

I will have an official announcement in a few weeks. But if all goes well, this will be the ultimate cross-country road trip to see just how far you can tow an RV trailer with an all-electric EV tow vehicle.

I’ll be reporting on things like miles per battery charge with and without an RV trailer behind me, charging times and availability of charging stations, and even comparing the refueling and recharging costs of gasoline vs. electric SUVs and Trucks.

What does it all mean?

I’m not sure. But I’m reasonably certain I’m going to learn a few interesting things about EVs and RVs. And, yes, I’ll be taking plenty of pictures and writing lots of articles about charging an RV in a campground, electrical safety around EVs, and lots more.

Think of this as RVelectricity 2.0

Yup, while I’ll continue my normal writing about all things relating to RV electricity for RV Travel, and moderate my ever-growing RVelectricity Facebook Group, this new GoGreenRV program will be one more thing I can do to help educate you all about electricity, and show you ways to use it safely and effectively. It’s going to be a wild (but always safe) ride, so watch for 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.

##RVT1000

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Bill Richardson
29 days ago

Thanks for educating us. I enjoy all of your columns and have learned a lot from your excellent book.

Ryan
1 month ago

I’m excited to read about your upcoming experience. I see a lot of headlines about new and upcoming EV trucks with amazing range predictions but haven’t seen anyone write anything about range when it comes to towing. Something else I’ve been wondering about is if you have any data on how the migration to EVs is impacting the nation’s power grid. Is there a tipping point between the number new EVs coming online and the amount of power we can supply to them with the nation’s current infrastructure? Safe travels!

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Ryan

One of the aspects of EV charging is their impact on the power grid. I’m searching for a grant that will allow me to spend the hundreds of hours needed to study this in depth as part of GGRV. That’s also why I created No Shock Zone Inc as a 501(c)(3) Non Profit Corp that could accept grants from a foundation or government entity. I’m sure I can answer these questions if given enough resources. Anyone know of a foundation that could help?

Tom
1 month ago

Have a viable recharging plan. And, lots of fun.

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

This project will give me access to some of the smartest people on the planet. I’m not sure what I’m going to learn, but I’m certain to learn something. And learning new things is a ton of fun for me. I can’t wait to get started.

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

Working on it. But I’m sure that one of those so called “solar generator” won’t be able to provide more than 3 miles driving range after an hour of refilling.

Ken
1 month ago

Cool summer! Ought to be an adventure. Let’s say, in your travels, you just can’t quite make it to the next charging station. What’s you “ace in the hole”, backup plan? Call for a tow to the nearest charging station? Whip out your handy Honda generator (is this possible)? Wait for the sunshine to recharge you on the side of the road? Or use an alternative mode of power (petrol)? The crowd is waiting. Go for it Mike.

David Telenko
1 month ago
Reply to  Ken

Looking at the EV, it won’t be long before some of our RV’s will be all electric. This brings to question the charging station, if it’s going to be anything live the natural gas is, that’s going to be a huge issue! We had 2007 Honda Civic CNG vehicle. Awesome vehicle, cept for filling stations! When we got it, we were told when the fuel light came on, you had roughly 50 more miles left in the tank! Not so, as my wife worked about 50 miles from home & about 1/2 way home the light came on & 15 miles later she ran out of fuel, had to get towed to CNG station, as the AAA tow truck driver said they had not figured out how to carry extra CNG! So I guess we will find out, perhaps Elon Musk will be in on getting EV stations all over, maybe the moon too!
Snoopy

Wolfe
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

First blush, your numbers sound about right. Which implies refilling your battery overnight from the 12KW shore power is entirely possible, but a hideous abuse of already-meager campground infrastructure.

Also interesting, if you carry a 12KW onboard while driving, you can add 36miles distance per hour, giving you 150% continuous range… but of course you’re locally 33% fossil to go with the 66% deferred fossil of using grid power. For real fun, compare the fossil load of each option.

Running 100% from solar is the ideal theory, but I cannot figure out how you’d carry the estimated 24KW of panels…lol.

Looking forward to your experiments…

Last edited 1 month ago by Wolfe
Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

As far as generator fuel requirements, a Honda EU2200is should burn 1 gallon of gas in 4 hrs of run time. As noted above, that might provide 20 miles of driving on a gallon of gasoline in the generator. Again, I’m not considering losses, so I could be off by 50% either way. Maybe this is only 10 or 15 miles per gallon of generator gasoline. This seems like a reasonable sanity check of the numbers, but I won’t know until I try an experiment.

Glenn
1 month ago

Will be looking forward to your road trip experiment!
Have fun.

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