RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 32

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Issue 32 • July 5, 2020

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Read back issues of this newsletter and many other articles by Mike Sokol on RVtravel.com. Warning: There is a lot to learn here.


Welcome …

By Mike Sokol

The rise of HRDL (the turtle), and lots more!

By golly, since I’m stuck at home due to all of my live seminars and live concert work being canceled this summer, I’ve been getting into all sorts of trouble.

Back in the ’70s when I was a kid, that kind of free time usually resulted in too much partying, too much fast driving, and too much chasing girls. But now that I’m locked into my Funkstown skunkworks with my beautiful wife, 3 cats and a shop full of laboratory grade test gear, my new type of trouble is actually useful. In fact, I’m now inventing measurement techniques that let me see RV related electrical phenomena down to the sub millisecond level.

Read more about how I invented HRDL (yes, it rhymes with “turtle”), which let’s me create my own high-resolution, 1 part-per-million accurate graphs of everything from how circuit breakers and GFCIs trip, to why air conditioners draw more current at low voltage, and even new technology such as the inner workings of the SoftStartRV™ controller.

In this issue I’m also going to begin a boondocking series sponsored by CarGenerator.com. While some of this is CarGenerator™ related, the vast majority of these articles will focus on non-generator topics, such as, how long can you run a rooftop air conditioner from a pair of lithium batteries and an inverter? Or how much power does a CPAP machine use overnight if you’re boondocking?

I’ll also cover other important topics such solar panel requirements, 12-volt DC compressor refrigerators, induction cooktops, and anything else related to electrical generation, storage and usage while camping “off the grid.” The beauty is that while CarGenerator.com™ is sponsoring this series, they have no control over its content, so I can write about anything I want to, any time I want to write it. If it’s boondocking related, then they want to support it. Pretty cool, eh? Look for the first part of this series in this issue.

Lots more below, including learning how churning cream from whole milk makes butter via emulsification when I was 6 years old. Learning is a great thing.

Let’s play safe out there…  


P.S. And just a quick note that this newsletter is made possible by the voluntary pledges of the readers of RVtravel.com. We could not bring this to you without their support. If you deem what we provide to you here and at RVtravel.com to be of special value and would like to be a part of our effort, please consider pledging a voluntary subscription. More information is here. We will include you in special emails, articles and videos exclusively for our supporters.


If you haven’t yet, be sure to join
my new Facebook group, RV Electricity.
(More than 9,100 members and counting.)



Boondocking power requirements – Part 1

What is a CarGenerator™ and why is it useful for boondocking?

Unlike my first boondocking days in a Cox pop-up camper in the ‘60s, when the only things electrical were the batteries in my portable AM radio, today most everyone needs some kind of power for camping. And with that fact the need for a generator of some sort rears its ugly head.

If you already have a generator in your coach, or take along a portable generator of some kind for your 5th wheel or tag trailer, then perhaps you’re already set for boondocking. However, if you’re trying to get by with batteries alone, or solar panels and a bank of house batteries and you’ve occasionally run out of power, then the rest of this first boondocking article is for you. Read my full article HERE

Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.


Watch Mike’s one-hour recorded webcasts 
All about portable generators. Recorded May 19, 2019
RV power pedestals: What you should know. Recorded May 10, 2019


Industry Updates

Hershey RV ShowMy Hershey RVelectricity seminars are going online this September

While the physical Hershey RV show is canceled this September due to COVID-19, I have been contracted to do my basic RVelectricity seminar as an online video for you all to watch and learn from. Stay tuned for more information as the details solidify. See you then (virtually)…


Survey Question

How many of you use an onboard or portable generator for your RV?


Last month’s survey results:

Do you need AC power for air conditioning?

Well, I sort of guessed this, but it’s good to see the numbers. So nearly 2/3 of you need power for 1 air conditioner, while nearly 1/3 of you need enough power for 2 air conditioners, and 5% need power for 3 air conditioners. This is exactly why so many campgrounds are struggling to keep up with the power requirements. When many of them were designed and built 20 years or more ago, nobody could guess at just how many RVers would need so much electricity to power their RVs. Just like in the ’60s and ’70s, when most cars didn’t have air conditioning and power steering, it’s nearly impossible buy a new vehicle now without these as included options. More to study about campground power, which I’m working on.


Tools and Other Devices

HRDL (the turtle), and how I can log 192,000 data points per second with 24-bit resolution

Okay, I’m going to show you the basics of how I invented a new measurement technique last week. No, I will not build one for you. No, I will not help you calibrate it if you do mange to build one. But since necessity is the motherhood of invention, I’ll cover the basics of how and why I designed a High Speed Data Logger (HRDL) for my RVelectricity experiments.

Be warned that this is a very technical article, so if you’re afraid to use a meter you might want to move along. But if you’ve ever wondered just how those fancy graphs in textbooks are created, then fasten your seat belts and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. Read the full article HERE.


☀ Run your RV air conditioner with only a small portable generatorYes, it’s true!


Last Month’s RVtravel.com Posts

These articles are rated Moderate to understand for most RVers.

The dangers of rewiring 240-volt dryer and welder outlets.
Will my RV generator backfeed power and kill someone?
Testing for a dangerous hot-skin voltage.
First-Timer’s primer on Hot-Skin Voltage.
More analysis of the new SoftStartRV air conditioner device.

Last Month’s JAM (Just Ask Mike) Session posts:

These articles are rated Easy to understand for beginners.

Another combo voltage and 3-light tester recommendation.
Beware of “electricity-saving” and other scams.
Are power strips dangerous?
CarGenerator update / TT-30 outlet.
Taming the air conditioner energy hog.


Q&A’s from my Facebook group:

I’m getting a lot of interesting questions on my RV Electricity Facebook Group. Here is one that’s potentially very dangerous. Good thing we have a lot of smart people in the group who can answer these types of question definitively. 

Q: I’m trying to find what is called a RV-Y connection with 2 15 amp males to one 30 amp female. I know the 15 amp must be on separate breakers. I want to run my a/c off of this (wired through the MH) when visiting my son. —Barry Rokaw

A1: Ron WhiteYou are not going to find one because you can’t combine two separate legs into one 30-amp female receptacle.

A2: Mike EhlertVery dangerous thing to do. Even if the phases are right you stand a good chance of overloading the breakers.

A3: Jay MerrittNope. Can’t put two 15s together to get 30.

A4: Mike SokolBig code violation and dangerous since if you pull out one of the plugs the male prongs will be energized.

Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.


The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. He has taken his 50+ years of experience to write this book about RV electricity that nearly anyone can understand. Covers the basics of Voltage, Amperage, Wattage and Grounding, with additional chapters on RV Hot-Skin testing, GFCI operation, portable generator hookups and troubleshooting RV electrical systems. This should be essential reading for all RVers. Learn more or order 


Camco Store at Amazon.com
There isn’t much you need for your RV that Camco doesn’t have. If you think we’re kidding, then click through to the Camco store on Amazon where you’ll find some of their best-selling products — all for your RV or for you to make your RVing better. Click here and you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store.


Road Signs

By Mike Sokol

How early does learning really begin?

I thought about this last week when I saw an eBay ad for a vintage butter churn. I was immediately taken back to when I was 6 years old visiting my grandma and grandpa on their small farm in West Virginia, and was mystified about how a butter churn could make a lump of butter out of liquid milk. While my brothers and sister and I turned the crank handle, I was learning the physics of emulsification. I just didn’t know what to call it at the time. Read more.

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.


Directory of RV parks with storm shelters 
Where do you camp when a tornado is headed your direction? Hopefully in a park with a storm shelter. Here’s RVtravel.com’s ever-expanding directory of such places.


STAFF

Editor: Mike Sokol. RVtravel.com publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern.

Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we may occasionally get something wrong.  So always double check with your own technician, electrician or other professional first before undertaking projects that could involve danger if not done properly. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com..

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Lynnett sine
3 months ago

Thank you Mike…boondocking power is what I want to hear more of!!!

Steve Kukuruza
3 months ago

. A few months ago my fridge shut off, No power. Could not switch to LPG. Nothing. As I went outside to check all the things we usually check, I saw that the EMS status board was flashing on and off. About an hour later, I passed by the fridge, and just for the heck of it, I pushed the power button and it came on. EMS stopped flashing. Later in the evening, the same thing happened. 45 minutes later it came back on. Two days of consulting, conference calls and so much more, one mobile tech asked if I had fluorescent lights and if they were flickering. As a matter of fact I did, He said to test this theory, disconnect the light from the power. The fridge and EMS have worked perfectly ever since. He said the ballast in the light was burned out and that caused some sort of emission when it had the power to it that knocked out the fridge and disturbed the EMS. I replace all fluorescent lights and everything is fine now. Thought some readers might want to know this.

Mike Sokol
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Kukuruza

Good catch. Yes, ballasts can act like that and usually start smelling burnt as they start arcing internally.

Steve Kukuruza
3 months ago

I have a couple of issues that might interest your readers. First, I need some advice. I have a 110 plug upfront that has stopped working. When I put a meter to it, it shows 40 volts. I was told that means there is a leak to ground somewhere. this is on a GFI circuit, and the GFI is OK. How can I trace where the pinch or leak to ground cold be?

Mike Sokol
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Kukuruza

Steve, can you post this question in my RVelectricity Facebook group? It can be discussed and answered more easily there. Thx