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Comments for RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 1

  • Mike
    Thanks for all the great info. Those of us that have been RVing for a long time think we know or have heard everything but a refresher course is always welcome by those of us who are smart.
    Thanks again and keep them coming.
    Jeff Schwartz

  • I would like to ask a question. After recent wild fires in my city, my church is looking into providing parking for RVs and trailers for those who lost their homes. If we want to install electricity, how much do we need? For example, if we want to support 10 trailers, do we need 500 amp service, or is there some lesser amount needed since it is unlikely that all trailers could draw 50 amps simultaneously?

    • I’ve posed this question to a few of my industry contacts that do this sort of thing. It’s not just about getting enough amperage capacity for the RVs. There’s also local building and electrical codes to consider. As soon as I get enough information on the legal ramifications, I’ll write a column about it.

  • I have a question about using the generator on my RV as a back up generator for my home or shop. as a temporary/back up power supply, when the power company’s line is down.

    With the generator running on the RV, I’m trying to use the ground fault equipped 110V outlet on the exterior of the RV as the supply to the garage. Using a “gender bender cord” male/male to connect the RV outlet to a garage outlet (not GFI). (Of course, the main disconnect at the meter base to the garage and the main breaker in the garage distribution panel are thrown/disconnected.) The problem is that the ground fault on the RV outlet pops off….disconnects.

    At the distribution panel (primary, not a sub panel) for the garage, the neutral buss and ground buss are connected or bonded as they should be. And ground and white from the outlet circuit both terminate on the same buss.

    I’ve checked the wiring (neutral, load, and ground) of the RV outlet, the male/male cord, the garage outlet and all are wired correctly. (Also checked with one of those plug in, lighted polarity testers that I use at camp grounds B4 I connect.) Everything checks out and is wired properly.

    Obviously, the ground of the RV and the garages’ ground have a different potential. When a GFI pops it tells me the ground wire is attempting to be used to carry electricity……….but???

    Do I need to disconnect the ground wire in my male/male cord?

    • I’ve talked to a few companies that make home generator transfer switches, and I almost have enough information to write a definitive article on this topic. As you have probably figured out, I never write about anything I “think” I know about. I need peer review and industry confirmation that my answers will be both safe and accurate. I’ll be writing about this in my newsletter soon.

    • Dick,
      Be aware that a gender-bender male-to-male plug is a serious code violation that could injure or kill someone, and possibly void your homeowner’s insurance. There’s a better way to do this which I’m researching and writing about right now. It will appear in my next RVelectricity Newsletter due out on December 31.

  • Mike and Chuck…

    Thanks for such a great avenue for RV’ers. It’s great to have such good resources available that have no “hidden agendas”.

    My question is in regard to hooking up an LED based TV set that comes with a 12 volt adapter, directly to an RV’s 12 volt electrical system. My concern is that the 120 volt power adapter has circuitry in it for the power supply, to “cushion” the output voltage in case if there is a surge or a voltage spike. With that circuitry not in the set, my concern is that there is no noise filtering, that some converters can put out, there is no surge protection from someone turning on the water, and the pump starts to run when the battery is low, etc. To me this just sounds like a way to blow out the TV.

    I know a TV that is made for 12volt DC has that extra circuit protection built-in. Yes, they do cost more. But better to be safe, than sorry… or as I once learned, buy price, buy twice.

    Thank you…
    Perry Sullivan, Jr.
    Tucson, Arizona

    • Perry,
      Great question. But in reality, virtually ALL modern televisions actually operated on 12-volts DC internally. There’s really no cushion from the 120-volt power. In fact, the 120-volt AC line is likely to be a lot dirtier than the 12-volts DC from your house battery. And don’t think that a simply surge protector actually filters out any “noise”. That’s just not how they work. I think it makes the most sense to skip the extra power supply stepping down from 120-volts AC to 12-volts DC, and simply run your television from 12-volts DC directly. Your 12-volt DC will certainly have its own regulated power supply inside, and that should protect the electronics from most anything that can appear on your batteries.

    • Luke,
      I had heard that rumor a while ago as well, but I just talked to someone on the NEC committee and that say it’s not true. However, ALL 50-amp/240-volt outlets are, in fact, 100-amp/120-volt outlets. That is, each leg is 50 amps, and since there’s two separate legs, it adds up to a 100-amp service already. I wonder if that’s how the rumor got started…

  • Great idea for a newsletter. I work daily with AC and DC voltages in my career field and am not yet an RV owner (shopping). Electricity’s conveniences and hazards are now on my novice shopper checklist.

    R/Dave H

    • Thanks very much for the kind words. It’s my privilege to teach the RV community all about electricity. It’s one of the most important, yet least understood resources we have.

  • Mike,

    What is the best way to care for batteries once a trailer is in storage?
    Take the batteries out, I do not have a trickle charger?. Leave the trailer plugged all winter? What are my options. Thanks in advance for your information

  • A float charger is really the best way to take care of your batteries while in storage. I’m working on an article for my RVelectricity newletter on this topic, so please stand-by.

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