Yes, we have 200 SVP members signed up
The Stray Voltage Patrol has now reached 200 members. So for those of you just joining us, this is a grassroots effort to collect data on campground electrical systems across the country, then put the information into an online database that anyone can search to find out if a campground they’re planning to visit has acceptable power or not. Only RV Electricity readers who have signed up to be a patrol member are allowed to post information about low or high voltage, open grounds, loose outlets or whatever, as well as if the campground management was responsive about fixing any problems.
Yes, we want you to report the good and the bad
Our Wunderkind programmer Jess added a bunch more drop-downs to the SVP reporting page, but I forgot to tell her to add a selection for “no problems detected” as well as “other.” Here it is with the latest edits. (Click on the image to see it full size.)
If you can report when pedestals are properly wired (as well as miswired) we’ll be able to get some actual percentages of pedestal power problems in a few months. And if you do find a failure I haven’t thought of yet (duh!), then please add it in the comments section of f your report. I need everyone’s feedback to make sure we’re gathering every piece of data possible.
However, this entire process isn’t an overnight endeavor, especially since Chuck and I don’t have any sponsorship for the Stray Voltage Patrol beyond your generous contributions – which also help keep all the rest of these newsletters running. Now please don’t think this is a pitch for more support from you, our readership. What we really need is manufacturer support so that I can afford to devote more time to writing about RV electrical hookups and traveling to RV trade shows (such as Hershey), rallies (such as FROG) and performing campground inspections. I’m sure a grant or major sponsor will come along at some point, but in the meantime this database process is going a little slower than we would like. But as I’ve noted a few times recently, Chuck and I want to create this database in the best and most useful way possible, not rush into things that waste all of our time. With your help and input this will become a very important resource for ALL of us. So, steady as she goes, as it were…
Yes, I have a preliminary test protocol
Here it is. This isn’t a tutorial on how to do a pedestal test. But it shows the proper testing sequence to gather data. More training will follow later.
Now for why we do this
We just received these pictures (click on them for a full-size photo) of a pedestal at a campground in New Mexico. Now, we’re not going to start naming names (yet), but this is just one example out of thousands of similar (or worse) pedestals in the U.S. Plus I’ve been receiving emails and pictures of pedestals from my readers in Canada, which look even worse (yikes!).
First of all, this is just one more reason why you need an intelligent/EMS surge protector and a NCVT (Non Contact Voltage Tester), and be prepared to run from a generator or battery power if things are too bad at the pedestal. But as long as we all accept this level of poor pedestal maintenance at campgrounds, then it will continue. Only after enough of you refuse to check in or leave the campground early and tell the management WHY you left will anything be done about it.
I assume that some older campground owners just assume that the pedestals should last forever, and maybe a handyman will fix one that’s sparking (yes, I’ve received that in an email recently). And maybe newer campgrounds that expanded beyond their original electrical system capacity didn’t get good advice from a contractor who “upgraded” their power distribution system incorrectly.
But in any case, these are dangerous situations – dangerous to your RV’s electrical system, and dangerous to you and your family. Chuck and I are dedicating a lot of bandwidth to help correct this situation every way we can, so thanks for your patience. But these latest SVP reports and pictures have been a real eye-opener for both of us.
Keep sending us your pictures of pedestals behaving badly, and sign up for the Stray Voltage Patrol HERE. Once you’re signed up, begin entering information on badly installed and maintained pedestals HERE. I’m trying to get a quick “attach” function running on the report form so you can begin uploading pictures as well. Hopefully in a few weeks we can begin formatting the search function so you can begin to see the data that’s been entered so far. But I’m not going to get ahead of things just yet since that could spoil the end product. You all know me well enough that I won’t write about something until I’m 100% sure of the facts. But it’s getting really close.
In the meantime, as I’ve written hundreds of times already on dozens of other forums – you should NEVER feel a shock from an RV that’s plugged into pedestal or house power. If you do, then your RV’s grounding system (specifically, your Equipment Grounding Conductor) is broken, loose, corroded or disconnected, and the next shock could be fatal. So if you DO feel a shock, even a tingle, unplug your RV from shore power immediately until the source of the Hot-Skin/Stray-Voltage can be found and corrected.
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.