RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 7

RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 7

Issue 7 • May 27, 2018
Brought to you as a public service by RVtravel.com. Support comes from our sponsors, advertisers and the contributions of readers, who believe that an educated RVer is a safe, happy RVer. Please consider supporting our efforts with a voluntary subscription.

Subscribe to one of our many online newsletters (including this one) about RVing.


Welcome …

By Mike Sokol

I just got back from the RVillage Rally One in Elkhart, Indiana, where I had a lot of fun presenting two No~Shock~Zone seminars. Thanks to Southwire/Surge-Guard for their support and supplying me with Southwire tools and Surge Guard protectors.

The first seminar was on Advanced Surge Protectors and why you need one. There are lots of reasons why Advanced Surge Protector technology is important to the health of your RV’s electrical system, which I’ll cover in another issue. In the meantime, be sure to read my article on how MOVs work in a basic Surge Protector HERE.

The second seminar was on RV Hot-Skin Voltage, how it happens, how you can find it, and why it’s dangerous to ignore. I’ll cover more on that topic next month, but for now you can watch this video to see what happens to my action figure (it’s not a doll) Flash, when he gets between a hot-skin voltage on a mini-RV and the ground. Yes, he blows his top, which is a real flash bulb. FLASH VIDEO

Right now I’m scheduling seminars at the Thor Diesel Pushers Rally in Goshen, the FROG (Forest River Owners Group) Rally, also in Goshen, and the Hershey RV show (America’s largest RV show) in the town of Chocolate Kisses.

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.


Watt’s Up?

As promised, here’s the next installment of my Basic Electricity Course. Class is now in session….

If you’ve been reading along this far you already know about voltage (electrical pressure) and amperage (current flow). But one without the other is useless to us. In the end it all comes down to wattage.

Get to Work

We’re going to put voltage and current together and make them get to work. If you notice in the first illustration, there’s a lot of pressure at the bottom of the water tank. However, unless that pressure gets to move something, it simply sits there as stored energy just like the compressed air in a tank. Electricity works exactly the same way.

You’ll typically have around 120 volts of electrical pressure at an electrical outlet, but the air around the outlet has such high resistance to electrical flow that the electrons just sit in the outlet waiting for a connection. So there’s no current flow unless you connect something that completes the circuit. Read the rest of the article HERE


Klein Tools Electrical Test Kit — Essential!
Every RVer should have this aboard their RV. The highly-rated, updated electrical test kit contains MM300 (manual-ranging digital multimeter), ncvt-1 (non-contact voltage tester) and the RT105 (receptacle tester). The ncvt-1 automatically detects standard voltage in cables, cords, circuit breakers, lighting fixtures, switches, outlets, and wires. The RT105 detects the most common wiring problems in standard receptacles. Learn more at Amazon.


Troubleshooting 101: Over-current

Mike,
I have a question but, as I said at the RVillage Rally, it’s a little long. What would cause a pair of 2kW generators to overload when charging my batteries? Looking for your guidance in what actions I need to do to either the generators or the trailer to allow me to charge my batteries with the generators. 
 
Problem: I tried to charge my batteries with a pair of 2kW Champions with a 30-amp parallel operations kit. Generators would run for a few minutes then something would kick in and the generators would over rev, meaning the trailer would pull too many amps from the generators and charging would shut down. This has happened a few times. 
 
History (background): 
 1. I have my 5th wheel set up for 50 amps. My 5th also has solar on the roof and 8 lithium batteries. It has a switch that will automatically switch from shore power to solar, based on being plugged in or not. Except for overhead lights, water pump and maybe something else that constantly runs off batteries. 
 
2. I have two 2k Champions (with inverters) with a parallel operations kit. Knowing I can only get around 3700 Watts.  And knowing I can run only 1A/C (but this not part of the question). 
 
Thanks in advance for whatever advice you can offer. –Robert

Read Mike’s answer HERE

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


Truma AquaGo®: Instant, Constant and Endless Hot Water
trumalogoThe revolutionary Truma AquaGo® hybrid instant water heater provides instant, constant and endless hot water. The Truma AquaGo® is the only RV water heater that can be decalcified to extend product life and maintain performance. And its “Easy Drain Lever” makes winterization simple. Use the Truma AquaGo® to replace any 6 16 gallon water heater.  Find a dealer at www.truma.net.


Industry Updates

National Electrical Code changes for 2020 – An update by Wade Elliott

Every three years the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) repeats a process to evaluate and change the National Electric Code (NEC) to enhance safety, provide clarification and guidance to Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). The NEC is a standard by which states and municipalities (and others) can establish common “rules” by adopting this NFPA standard. The 2020 code cycle started with a number of recommended changes (known as Public Inputs) submitted in late 2017 to the NFPA.

Eighteen separate code-making panels went through a first draft process this past January. This process has a number of people from many disciplines collaborating on evaluating these Public Inputs. The panel then agrees to adopt, discard or modify the recommendations. If the recommendation is adopted, a vote is taken which requires a super majority of the panel to pass. This work is then made available to the public for comment; for this cycle, that will be starting in the summer. Following the gathering of these comments, the panels will then evaluate the comments in the fall for submission to NFPA for final approval in 2019. Read the full article HERE

— Mike


Survey Question
The Goldilocks question

Do you think my electrical articles are written at a good technical level for you? Please take the Goldilocks survey below and let me know if I need to adjust my writing style.


This adapter might save the day
You’ll be glad you have this along if you need to plug your 30-amp cord into an ordinary 110 outlet. Just use this adapter. You’ll need to watch your energy usage carefully, of course, but at least you’ll have enough power for basic needs. Learn more or order


Last month’s survey results: See right.

Tools and Other Devices

Mike, I really enjoy your entries in the RV Travel newsletter. They are very informative. Some time ago I think I recall you making a recommendation of a clamp meter for RVers. I would like one that measures DC current in 12-volt systems. Can I bother you for a recommendation? —Bill
 
Most certainly. As you may know, an AC clamp meter uses a tiny current transformer in its jaws to measure amperage. However, transformers only pass AC voltage and current, so that technology can’t measure DC amperage. Enter the Hall Effect Sensor. This semiconductor can measure either AC or DC currents, so you can get a clamp meter that will measure 120-volt shore power amperage, as well as 12-volt DC amperage in your battery system. Expect to pay a little more for a clamp ammeter that does both AC and DC current measurements, but the flexibility of having a tool that will work for both your AC and DC troubleshooting is well worth it.

The Southwire 21050T is a great clamp meter that’s reasonably priced and available at any Lowe’s store or on Amazon.

Learn more or order at Amazon


Last Month’s RVtravel.com Posts

More random GFCI tripping.
Elkhart RVillage Rally seminar topics.
RV’s power outlets are melting. Help!
Surges and Joules and MOVs, oh my!


cord-753Don’t come up short!
Sometimes your 50-amp power cord is not quite long enough! That’s when this 15-foot extension cord will come in very handy. Sure, you can use a wimpy orange extension cord with an adapter — and risk burning up the cord, ruining appliances, or maybe even burn up your rig! With this cord along you’ll be all set. Learn more or order.


Q&A’s from Forums

I spend a lot of time on dozens of RV forums answering questions about electricity. Here’s a comment received from an attendee at the recent RVillage Rally:

From the RVillage Rally

Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us RVers about electrical shocks in Elkhart at the RVillage Rally. Learned a bunch. Bought a non-contact tester as you recommended. No more RPBG’s for this RVer. Thanks!

A: You’re very welcome. As you saw from my demonstration, an RV hot-skin voltage is completely invisible to the eye, without any of a blue glow or sparks that you see in the movies. But it’s really dangerous to touch any vehicle that’s electrically energized. If any of you want a review of what an RPBG is, HERE’s something I wrote about this dangerous miswiring condition along with links to additional articles I’ve written for the contracting industry.

Mike

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


The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
RV Travel contributor Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. Mike has taken his 40+ 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 


FOMs – Friends of Mike

Let me introduce you to a new company I’m working with that can be a great source of gear for you and your RV. I just met Eric and Tami Johnson from TechnoRV at the RVillage Rally in Elkhart, and found them to be very knowledgeable about Surge Guard products as well as all kinds of other electrical gear for your RV. Plus they’re compassionate about service and support including pre- and post-sales training. If all works out, then they’ll be supplying Surge Guard products for sale at my future No~Shock~Zone seminars. Check out their website.


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.


My Other (previous) Life   

I was talking to a new electrical engineering colleague last week, and he was having trouble envisioning me back in the ’70s with a rock band, long hair, and jumping through fireballs. Really, I did. I had a Hammond B3 organ (400 pounds) with a 122RV Leslie (200 pounds), a Mini-Moog Synthesizer, and a large stable of other pianos and string synths. Never had a Mellotron, but boy I really wanted one. 

So here’s a drawing of me from a promotion we did for my band “Draco” back in 1976. While all the other bands in town had little 200-watt PA systems, I built a 5,000 watt PA that would be up to par with many modern systems. I also designed and built a 50kW (yes, 50,000-watt) lighting system with 1,000-watt PAR lights that we used in small clubs, plus my own handbuilt 2,000-watt-second strobe made from a commercial microwave oven transformer and a surplus airport runway strobe.

While we were really loud out in the room, I pioneered the concept of what I call the Semi-Silent Stage, where all guitar and bass amplifiers were eliminated from the stage. Now this was 1976 and everyone else had stacks of guitar amps on stage. But all the guys in my band were on headphones or used small speaker monitor wedges, which allowed us to keep the sound levels on stage to around 85 dB SPL. Interestingly, this idea of the Semi-Silent Stage is just now coming into acceptance, so I currently write articles about how I did it in the ’70s, and show how modern gear makes it easy to turn down the sound levels on stage while letting the room rock. To read my current Semi-Silent Stage series go to ProSoundWeb HERE.  


New & interesting finds at Amazon.com
See what really cool stuff Amazon is featuring today. It’s a whole lot of fun just browsing through all these great items. The selection changes every day, so check back often. You never know what you will find, which is part of the fun of visiting here. Check it out.


Road Signs

6-Pack Club….

While driving to Elkhart the other day I decided to play a mental game with myself and pick out the top six dead people I would like to spend the day with. You know, chit chat a bit… maybe have lunch and a few drinks with them, perhaps spend some time in their lab or office or whatever. A few possibilities immediately jumped to the top of the list, but the rest of them took a few days to sort out.

So here’s my 6-Pack list along with a few notes on why I would like to spend some time talking with each of them. Read the article.


STAFF

Editor: Mike Sokol. RVtravel.com publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Staff writer: Emily Woodbury. Advertising: Gail Meyring

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..

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.

This website utilizes some advertising services. Sometimes we are paid if you click one of those links and purchase a product or service. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. RVtravel.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

RVtravel.com includes links to other websites. We cannot control the content and/or privacy policies of those sites. Please be aware when you leave this newsletter or any other section of RVtravel.com to read the privacy statements of any of those websites that collect personally identifiable information. Our own privacy policy applies only to RVtravel.com and its affiliated blogs and websites.

This newsletter is copyright 2018 by RVtravel.com.

Related

12 thoughts on “RV Electricity – No~Shock~Zone by Mike Sokol – Issue 7

  1. john stahl

    Hi Mike,
    I have used a new EMS-PT50X for about three months. Now it started making a constant loud buzzing sound for over a month.. I contacted them a few weeks ago but they have not responded so I keep using it even though it makes loud buzzing. It is OK or safe to keep using it??? Or is there something wrong with it??? HELP!

    1. Sounds like the main relay might have a loose lamination or mounting screw. You really need to get a call from Progressive to know for sure if it’s dangerous. But in the meantime I would not run it unattended.

  2. Glenn

    Here’s the dc ampmeter I picked up this spring. I’ve been very pleased with it thus far. Great bang for the buck.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00SQ4UETO/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  3. Marmot

    My organist in the 70s had a B-3, but, regrettably, no Leslie with rotating horn. He used a standard organ speaker and we lost that fabulous wailing sound.

  4. Marmot

    A B-3 and Leslie: the equipment of the gods. Tom Petty’s use of that combo was among the best. Courtney Barnett’s new tune “Need a Little Time” features a very talented, very tasteful, B-3 player, with, yes, a Leslie. The organ/guitar interplay is excellent. They rock hard.

    1. A B-3 and Leslie was my weapon of choice in the 70’s. I tricked mine out with an extra over-drive tube so I can play Deep Purple. I rewired the lower manual with the bass pedal notes so I do play the Doors, and I added reverb and a kill switch on the motor so I could do Argent and Santana. With a B-3 and a Rhodes piano I can play most any song and contribute something tasty to the mix. Oh yes, my Mini-Moog let me cover ELP. Good times…

    2. My fave Petty song featuring a B-3 and Leslie has to be his duet with Stevie Nicks “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”. It’s in the back of the mix except for when it plays the signature hook. Great stuff!!!

  5. Jeffrey Lefevre

    Last night we had a short thunderstorm while camping at Pinchot State Park in Pennsylvania.
    The electrical outlet which we use for CPAP units we fine the back of the camper but the 3 outlets in the front of the camper stopped working.
    We have a 2012 Starcraft 187-TB.
    Jeffrey Lefevre
    jglefevre515@gmail. com

    1. Did you have any sort of surge protector on your RV? I’m guessing that the 3 outlet that are out are on a GFCI branch circuit and a lightning spike fried the GFCI. But it just might need to be reset, so give that a try. And get a surge protector before something else happens that fries your RV’s electrical system.

  6. Michael

    As a sound provider to many commercially successful bands in the 70’s, I can attest that they never heard about a semi-silent stage. Emerson, Lake and Palmer never heard of it. Not even an artist like Bonnie Raitt. My damaged hearing and hearing aids are the result of it.

    1. That’s because it was difficult to do back then, and I had to invent and design all the gear for it. Plus getting a guitar player to get rid of his Marshall stack was next to impossible in the 70’s. I’ve only been writing about this idea for the last two years, so it’s a new concept for the pro-sound industry. But it’s really pleasant to play on a stage that’s only 85 to 90 dB SPL, and a lot safer for your ears.

      1. Kevin

        I too am a keyboard musician and the “sound engineer” and started down the same path of creating as much quietness onstage as possible, eliminating onstage amplifiers and putting a surround on the drummer. I custom built a wired earphone system for my group. There was a lot of resistance at first but the results of the higher quality of our front of house sound eventually won them over.
        I’ve read that at Woodstock, the musicians had a difficult time hearing themselves onstage so speakers were set up onstage facing them. That’s when monitor systems and feedback was invented. ????

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.