RV Electricity – Tired pedestals are dangerous

Hi Mike,
We just spent a long weekend at Disney’s Fort Wilderness for our grandson’s birthday. Everyone talks about the very high prices for everything Disney, and I agree. But I was appalled to see that money not going into the most basic of upkeep and safety. 

This is a photo of our power pedestal there, site #505. Our RV uses the 30A, so not a problem for us. But I would not want to plug a 50A motorhome into this. —J.C.

Dear J.C.,
All I can say is wow, that’s pretty scary! There are at least two major code violations in this picture, and both of them are dangerous. First of all, note that the 50-amp outlet has a big chunk of the insulation-housing missing, so one of the 120-volt contacts is directly exposed. If the circuit breaker was turned on without something being plugged into it, a child (or even adult) could easily touch the metal contact and box (or wet ground) at the same time and be shocked or electrocuted (killed). 

Second, there’s no GFCI on the 20-amp outlets. That’s been a code requirement for a good many years, but I’ll have to go back through the NFPA electrical code history and find out exactly when that was required. I don’t think that a commercial facility like a park can have this grandfathered in, so it’s possible that an inspector could red-tag this box and shut down the park until all pedestals are upgraded to GFCI protection on the 20-amp outlets. 

And, of course, this pedestal appears to be worn so badly that there’s likely very little tension left on the outlet contacts, and I’ll wager that the brass connections have a lot of oxidation. If that’s the case, then an overheated/melted shore-power plug feeding the RV is highly possible. That’s really dangerous especially on the 50-amp outlet since if the neutral on the 50-amp/120-240-volt service is lost, then the incoming 240 volts won’t split evenly into 120/120 volts, and half of the electrical appliances in your RV could be fried with 160 to 200 volts. Yikes. 

I’m going to send this post to Disney corporate and see if I get a response. Should be interesting.

[Update: I’ve heard nothing back from Disney in more than a week.] 

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.

 

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9 Thoughts to “RV Electricity – Tired pedestals are dangerous”

  1. Karin S.

    I would be afraid to even use the 30amp plugin!! Even with my Progressive EMS.

    1. Me too. There’s no telling what else is going on inside this pedestal, and the rest of the distribution wiring is suspect as well. I’ll ask one of my electrical engineering colleagues in Florida if he knows how inspection works in that state. But I assume that Disney can pretty much get away with whatever they want. More to study on this, but if any of you visit this campground, please take pictures of any pedestals around you. I can’t believe this is an isolated example.

  2. John Connaughton

    As I mentioned in the other thread, I did inform a maintenance man I saw in the park. I was lucky I only needed the 30A connection. And mentioned it again on my campground survey after our visit.

  3. Kevin

    Thanks for the efforts. If you could publish the code reference for the GFI outlet for 20amp. I had to go check the pedestal I’m hooked up too. It has GFI! As I recall a few CG I stayed in this summer didn’t have GFI but I admit I wasn’t really looking.

  4. Sc00ter

    All I can say is wow. Never seen anything like that. Yes please keep us up to date if you get a reply.

    1. I suspect that they may quietly fix the worst looking pedestals, but won’t respond to my query since that would be an admission that something was wrong. But if that’s what it takes to get worn and dangerous pedestals repaired, then I’m OK with it…

  5. Betty

    Please keep us up to date on this. It is very concerning that a major corporation would allow this situation to continue.

    1. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. I get pictures all the time of pedestals that look like this, and worse. That’s the main reason that Chuck and I started the Stray Voltage Patrol.

  6. Leo Suarez

    You should send it to the local TV news outlet and copy Disney, I’m sure the response from Disney will be quicker.

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