By Chris Dougherty
Certified RV technician
As of 2011, approximately 8.9 million households owned an RV, and with numbers like that RV accidents are very few. That said, we were recently reminded that even a safe RV can kill if plugged into a bad electrical source. I was reminded twice.
RVTravel Channel viewers saw our special video where we reported that 3-year-old Landyn Gerald Keener of Amboy, Ill., was killed when he touched the side of the family’s RV. The investigation revealed that the coach had suffered a “hot skin condition” as a result of being plugged into a bad household receptacle. The video can be seen here.
On a similar note, the RV can be damaged severely by plugging into the wrong receptacle at home, or one that was installed improperly, as friends of mine learned recently. They hired an electrician to install an RV receptacle in their home, only to find that the electrician had never seen an RV before. Since the receptacle looked like a dryer outlet, that’s how he wired it. Dryer outlets are wired to 240 VAC, not 120 VAC. They plugged their class C in and fried the coach’s electrical system. It tripped out quickly, but not before taking out the TVs, GFI receptacle and microwave oven.
Most public camping facilities are wired correctly. All new RVs built by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association members are built and tested to National Electrical Code (NEC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulations. The problem usually lies with improper shore power connections, and most of those are at home.
If you are going to plug in your RV at home, please consider having a licensed electrician install a proper RV outlet on the side of your home, and ask them if they know about wiring an RV receptacle. One source for RV power outlets is RVpowerOutlet.com. They are great people and will help you choose the box you need. It’s a small investment that you’ll have as long as you own your home, and can add to its resale value!
Lastly, after you do plug in, we recommend using a non-contact voltage tester to determine if you have a hot skin condition. This is a small thing you can do which will make sure that at least you don’t have a dangerous situation going on with your RV’s skin.
Until next time, safe and happy camping!