September 2, 2021
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By Mike Sokol
Welcome to my newly revised RVelectricity™/No∼Shock∼Zone™ Newsletter published the first Thursday of the month. It’s been a crazy year with COVID, but now that things are settling down a bit, I once again have time to dedicate to a monthly newsletter in addition to the other 8 or more articles I write every month for RVtravel.com, and the multiple pieces I write for my RVelectricity™ Facebook Group and YouTube Channel.
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.
If you haven’t yet, be sure to join my popular and very informative Facebook group, RVelectricity. (More than 17,000 members and counting.)
New No~Shock~Zone projects!
What’s new with me?
In June of 2020 I was able to create No Shock Zone, Inc., a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit corporation so I could explore deeper RV electricity topics such as campground power problems, and electric vehicle towing capabilities. No big grants as of yet, but I’m hopeful something will come along soon.
Power to the people!
You see, I think it’s vitally important that consumers are educated about electricity, not just for their own RVs, but for everything else in their lives. For example, as I’m writing this, Hurricane Ida is bearing down on Louisiana. I’m getting a constant stream of emails about portable generators and how to hook them up into house electrical systems. That’s because FEMA and other first responders in the Gulf States have warned that there will likely be no help or rescue for at least 72 hours after the hurricane has passed! That puts a lot of people on their own, and without electrical power.
I’m doing my best to quickly educate everyone on the topic of generator safety and how to power your house from your RV generator, but this is something that should be taught all along. It’s too complicated to offer a quick tutorial after the power goes out. So there’s much more to do on this topic.
We bet those one million people in Louisiana without power wish they had a car generator to power their home. For one, they could keep the food cold in their fridges instead of tossing it away.
My live and streamed RVelectricity seminars
I’ll be at the Hershey RV show presenting my RVelectricity seminars in the Champions Club room on Wednesday, Sept. 15, through Saturday, Sept. 18, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., and on Sunday, Sept. 19, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Each free session is 60 minutes with hands-on demonstrations. See you there!
GoGreenRV is up and running
I’ve successfully launched my GoGreenRV experiment with its own Facebook Group and YouTube channel. And all of the major car manufacturers have shown interest in what I want to test and write about. I think it’s obvious that battery technology and the EV charging grid isn’t quite ready for an EV that can tow a large RV just yet. But it’s well on its way.
And many of my GGRV readers have asked where all this needed electricity will come from. Will it be wind, or solar, or wave, or nuclear? Or will we simply be burning fossil fuels to make the power to charge our RVs? And what about the lithium needed to make the batteries for these promised EV cars and trucks? Will we still rely on other countries for this most precious of materials needed for the batteries in our computers and phones, as well as EVs? Well, I’m the guy to answer those questions and tell you just how well any of this works.
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From the beginning…
In fact, I’ve already had loaner electric and hybrid vehicles from Ford and Volkswagen, with promises of a loaner Rivian R1T truck, F-150 Lightning, GM Hummer and possibly a Tesla Cybertruck.
Plus, Rockwood has built and loaned me a GeoPro G-19FBTH Toy Hauler. Also, Safari Condo has built me a custom Alto trailer equipped with 400 watts of solar panels, 200 amp-hrs of lithium batteries and a 12-volt compressor refrigerator. All for me to test and write about for the rest of the industry.
My promise to all of you…
All of my experiments and articles will focus on the facts of how well any of these new technologies work, so I’m eliminating as much marketing spin and bias as possible. For example, I’m not only doing basic road tests of these EV tow vehicles and trailers, I’m taking them on short road trips to discover the practical aspects of EV towing range, charging challenges, and where exactly I can go with an EV.
What a long, strange trip it’s going to be…
Here’s me and my best buddy Karl at the Luv Pup T-shirt shop in downtown Frederick, Maryland, last week. This wasn’t a long trip by any means with my VW ID.4 EV and Alto trailer, but I was able to easily make the 60-mile trip without worrying about charging. And while I was there showing off my RV and RV stuff, I made a new friend at the shop who printed up some very cool tie-dyed T-shirts for us with my GoGreenRV logo.
Tommy D’Aquino from Luv Pup has promised to supply me with some free GoGreenRV / LuvPup T-shirts for giveaways at my seminars, which is totally groovy. Yes, I was a child of the ’60s, playing ’60s songs in the ’60s (of course), so I’m ready to relive that fun time of my formative youth! Far out…
The reason I’m working on the destination angle of my Electric Vehicle testing is that AAA National Magazine is interested in publishing not only my technology articles, but AAA also wants me to include a travelogue of where you can go in an EV without running out of battery power!
So, baby steps for now as I learn how well this all works. Hopefully, by the spring of 2022, I’ll be ready to make my cross-country trip from Maryland to the Salton Sea Lithium extraction project in Southern California. I also hope to visit the new Apple “Spaceship” near Cupertino, CA.
Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.
Not enough power to run your air conditioner? Think again!
When the summer heat arrives and your 110 power is from a small portable generator or a 20-amp household hookup, you’re out of luck running an air conditioner. That is, unless you have a SoftStartRV. It’s inexpensive, simple to install, and makes running your A/C possible when you never could before. Order at a discount. Money back guarantee if not 100% satisfied. Read more
Watch Mike’s “Ask the Expert” Series
- Lithium Battery Charging HERE
- SmartPlug shore power connectors HERE
- SoftStartRV No Splice Installation HERE
No~Shock~Zone – Part 1 of 12
Here’s NSZ Part 1, which was originally published back in 2010. Each month I’ll republish the next part on a different RV electricity topic until you’ve read all 12 sections. Want to read ahead? Then you can buy my RV Electrical Safety book online, which sells thousands of copies every year. I wrote it specifically for RV consumers that want to know more about how their electrical systems work. So, don’t worry, this will be painless.
Electrical safety for RVers – Part 1 – Basic electrical concepts
While RVs as wired from the factory are inherently safe, they can become silent-but-deadly killers if plugged into an improperly wired extension cord or campsite outlet. This is because RVs are basically a big cage of metal insulated from the ground by rubber tires. It’s up to you, the RVer, to make sure the frame and body of your RV is never electrified due to poor maintenance, bad connections or reversed polarity in a power plug. This so-called Hot-Skin/Contact-Voltage is what causes a tingle when you touch the doorknob or metal steps of your RV while standing on the ground.
Read the rest of Part 1 HERE.
Torque screwdriver to the rescue
Most overheated electrical connections are due to terminating screws that loosen up from a combination of road vibration and heating/cooling cycles.
Don’t just start twisting on these screws since too much torque can result in stripped screws and broken terminals.
I recommend you get an inexpensive torque screwdriver like this with all the bits you could need, and perform a yearly re-torque of all the circuit breaker and transfer switch terminal screws.
Last month’s RVelectricity posts in RV Travel Newsletter:
• VW ID.4 EV – First test drive with travel trailers
• Power-hungry RVs, and appliances
• The reasons for bonded and floating neutral generators
• First mpg towing tests with F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid
• Please don’t bring a noisy generator to the quiet outdoors
Last month’s JAM (Just Ask Mike) Session posts:
• Emergency generator CO poisoning reminder
• “Stop dragging my chains around” – Protect 7-way plug and chains
• Dometic 12-volt DC fridge power usage tests – Part 1
• “Ball of Confusion” – new USB-C connectors in cars
• When you DIY, take a picture – it will last longer
Best book on RV electricity, hands down!
Mike has taken his 50+ years of experience to write this book about RV electricity that should be essential reading for all RVers. 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. Learn more or order.
By Mike Sokol
In case you missed them the first time around, here’s one of the 36 previously published Road Signs articles. No, it’s not really about actual signs (well, sometimes it is). These are just my observations of things while I’m traveling, gigging, or simply working on some project around the house.
There’s a lot of pressure to do my job perfectly, especially when there’s a broadcast to many millions of people. But it’s not exactly rocket science and certainly I’m not holding a person’s life in my hands like a surgeon. However, music is a very personal and powerful force so it must be done correctly and with great artistic flair. In short, every performance is ultimately important to the artist, presenter, or even your child in their third-grade play. Read more.
Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.
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.
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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More great info, keep up the good work!
I’m for green energy if it makes economic sense. However, if it’s kowtowing to the eco-nuts who believe in anthropogenic global warming. Reducing the carbon printfoot is a waste of resources, and will not do anything to change the climate. CO2 is not a driver of climate change.
I was surprised to read “We bet those one million people in Louisiana without power wish they had a car generator to power their home.” Seems kind of insensitive to be shilling for an emergency power source that requires you to run your car engine, when there is little or no gas available in the devastated area.
Hi, Bill. Mike had nothing to do with that ad being put in there. He didn’t know it was put in after he was done with the newsletter, actually. –Diane
I did not put that in there… It was added after I finished and turned in this newsletter. I can’t control the ads that are inserted by RV Travel.
The RV Staff should have never put that ad in that part of Mike’s Newsletter. It’s beyond insensitive! Like those people don’t know they need some sort of generator and here it comes, purchase this item, running your car at $4.00 plus a gallon. Rather rude!
Hi Mike, I never miss a RV News letter or your series on RV electric. Thank you. I was perplexed on your issue of bonded and floating neutral generators. I have a 11500 watt portable generator that I built a permanent shelter for, includes a hinged roof for refueling. If I read correctly you said if the bonded neutral generator is plugged into a bonded neutral panel, we would have to transfer the neutral as well as the 240 volt lines. I spoke with a local electrician, he installs home and portable generators and never heard of that. I called my electric company and spoke with my tech who was scheduled to install a whole house surge protector and he didn’t know what I was talking about. Did I miss understand? Thanks for educating the public on electrical safety.
I’ve discussed this at length with a number of engineers for the makers of transfer switches, as well as authorities on the NEC. If you’re a member of my RVelectricity group you can see the discussion I’ll begin on it this week. It does get a bit tricky.
Mike please keep us well informed about this
Mike, You go! Swing through Tucson for FMCA Spring 2022 Rally? Be great to see you there.
Small note, living in hurricane country, I have a small 3.5kw genset for emergency power, only running frig, led lights, and TV. It came with a SLA battery that required replacing every season. I just replaced it with a Li battery. Happy Days.
Thanks Mike for all your efforts. Wonder if you will be researching automatic transmission electric “toad” (towed behind motorized RV) cars?
Yes, working on getting an EV toad to experiment with. It could work like an exhaust brake, but with electrons, when going down a grade. Plus it would recharge the EV batteries at the same time. So win/win!
Mike, thanks for all that you do for all of us. I really enjoy your suggestions on purchasing different tools and have purchased a few of them. The idea of a torque screwdriver is great, however, there is something missing. I opened up a few of my manuals etc. and not one of them has a torque setting for screws. Without this information, $39.00 for what :)? Is there a place that I can get this information?
Torque information is on the inside panel of most every generator transfer switch. I also have a file somewhere with torque requirements for all common circuit breakers. I’m on the road right now, but let me see what I can find and post tomorrow.
Hey Mike. Boy, you sure have been a busy beaver. Love that Safari Condo set up, especially the 400 watts of solar with 200 amp-hrs of lithium batteries. They really have a sweet set up.
If your best buddy Karl, isn’t your Brother, he sure looks like he should be!!!!