Reducing hot-skin shocks – Are we there yet?

Reducing hot-skin shocks – Are we there yet?

Dear Mike,
 “The No Shock Zone may have saved my life! I never heard of a ‘hot skin condition’ until I read about it in the No Shock Zone section of RV Travel. When hooking up last year I received a slight shock when I touched my travel trailer. My rig was fairly new and I was quite alarmed. After no avail trying to figure out what might be the problem, I was lucky enough to get a mobile RV electrician to come out the afternoon of July 3rd!

“After he spent significant time problem solving with my rig, and almost giving up, through his determination he found a defective ground on my 30-amp power cord. Not having one on hand I raced into town and was able to purchase a replacement just as an RV dealership was closing for the holiday. Many thanks to Mike Sokol for this life saving information and RV Travel!” —Robb Drellich, Stuart, FL

Dear Robb,
You’re very welcome. And I’ve had a few hundred emails like yours over the last 8 years from when I first started writing about RV power and grounding issues. That’s when editor Chuck Woodbury and I ran our first survey together in July 2010 and asked this simple question: “Have you or anyone who has traveled with you been shocked by your RV or another recreational vehicle?” Here are the results from 2010:

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

Now let’s fast-forward to February 2018 and see how we’re doing – that is, are there fewer of you reporting getting shocked? I know this isn’t a statistically valid comparison, but at least it might show a trend.

From our February 2018 survey [this is a screenshot, not the active survey]:

So from almost 22% of you reporting ever feeling a shock from your RV back in 2010, we’re down to 11% reporting ever feeling a shock last month. That’s great because it’s at least hinting that my No~Shock~Zone articles and videos about how to  avoid a hot-skin voltage are having an impact on the RVing public.

In review, here are two of my extended articles about detecting a hot-skin voltage: RV Grounding and Hot-Skin Testing

Here’s one of my articles about the differences between low-, medium- and high-current hot-skin conditions: Little Shocks

Here’s how to use and where you can get a Non Contact Voltage Tester (NCVT), that’s the easiest way to detect a hot-skin voltage BEFORE you feel a shock: Mini RV Hot Skin and Klein NCVT-1. [If you click on the Klein link, it goes to the Amazon page and defaults to a Klein NCVT with Infrared Thermometer. There are four boxes near the top of the description – just click on the one you want to check out.] Fluke must be discontinuing the exact model VoltAlert I normally use, so until they send me some new test samples to evaluate I can’t recommend another of their replacements listed on Amazon. I use the Klein NCVT-1 as a backup and know that it also works great for this application.

And finally, even though I’ve written it a hundred times (at least), you should NEVER feel an electrical shock from any RV or electrical appliance. A little static shock is OK, and I’m sure you can tell the difference between a static jolt and a sustained shock you feel when touching something plugged into an electrical outlet.

So are we there yet? Do ALL of you understand how serious it is to feel a shock from your RV and know what to do about it? We’re not quite there yet, but at least we’re moving in the right direction. So if you’ve ever used one of my testing methods to discover a hot-skin voltage, please let me know below.

Let’s play safe out there….


Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.



2 thoughts on “Reducing hot-skin shocks – Are we there yet?

  1. Traveling Man

    Wouldn’t a 50A GFCI breaker installed in the Park for each location not solve this issue?

    I realize many parks are outside a JHA (Jurisdiction Having Authority) and many parks may under some kind of grand-father clause, but as litigious as many are today, this extra protection would seem to be a benefit to Park owners and it SHOULD help reduce insurance rates.

    Your thoughts?

    1. Mike Sokol

      In theory it would, but there are many problems with this sort of system. The problem is that all appliance leakage currents are additive, and all appliances leak a little line current to their chassis. In fact, up to 3 mA of leakage current is allowed by UL and the NEC. So the problem is that several moderately, but still code compliant,, appliances in your RV can add up enough leakage current to exceed the 6mA threshold of most GFCIs. Even a simple surge strip with MOV devices will leak 2 or 3 mA on their own, so plugging two of them on the same GFCI circuit will result in all sorts of random tripping. The proper way to deal with this is ether with a high threshold GFCI with a 30mA trip point, or individual 6mA GFCIs on each branch circuit. There’s just no single solution that works in all circumstances. I’ll work on a video about this over the summer, and should be able to demonstrate how it works in my No~Shock~Zone seminars coming to a city near you. Hope to see you soon.

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