Breaking News on Stray Voltage
By Mike Sokol
Within hours of publishing my article Focus on Stray Voltage, we received this very interesting comment from Richard Iddins.
We just left a park in Alberta Canada. Where this morning when I was greasing the suspension on our trailer and when I touched one of the axles with my arm I felt a tingle. I checked the frame of the trailer with my non contact electrical tester and found it to be hot. I then checked the electrical pedestal and found it to be hot also. I then, with my volt meter stuck the black probe into the ground (Dirt) and the red lead to a screw on the pedestal. And found there to be 40 volts. I disconnected the camper and rechecked and found the same voltage.
I then checked other pedestals in the park and found all of them to show voltage to ground. (Metal pedestal to ground). The camper next to us was a metal skinned unit that was also showing hot. I checked from the skin of the unit to ground and found the same 40 volts.
When I notified the campground they were receptive and called an electrician who was there within the hour and after checking he called in the local electric provider who also sent in one of their guys.
Before leaving the campground I requested a refund for the night and they stated that they do not give refunds.
The question I have is why would my EMS system not have shut down and given a code to tell me that we had the condition. Also I us the yellow plug in testers that have the 2 yellow and 1 red lights that will look for Open ground, open neutral, open hot, Hot/ground reverse, hot/ new. Reverse and correct. This tester did not show a fault either.
Please let me know your thoughts. —Richard
Well, I have a potential answer for you already. That’s because I’ve been studying this phenomenon for the last 8 years or so. While EMS systems and 3-light testers can find maybe 99% of all hot-skin stray voltage, there’s a really big miswiring condition I’ve named a Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground (RPBG) and which can’t be detected by any current surge protector technology, nor can it be disconnected from the hot ground condition created by it. Pretty scary, isn’t it?
Interestingly when I first discovered this RPBG effect none of the test gear manufacturers knew about it, or that their meters couldn’t find it. That’s also when I developed the proximity test for an RV hot-skin stray voltage using a standard Non-Contact Voltage Tester.
See my initial article on it here, which was first published in Electrical Contractor and Maintenance Magazine where I introduced the concept of RPBG wiring to the electrical contractor and test industry.
I’m betting that’s what’s going on at this campground. If that’s indeed the case, then it’s a life-threatening situation that should be shut down and corrected immediately.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit NoShockZone.org for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.