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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Low Voltage?

I just got a used Alpenlite 5th Wheel. I noticed when I plugged into shore power the outlets all tested at 117-volts versus the 119-120-volts coming in at the extension cord. Is this normal and will it affect the longevity of my appliances?
Jim, (Bothell, WA)


Jim, 117-volts AC is not abnormal on many utility electrical grids, especially in campgrounds. There is also always some voltage drop through all the conductors and devices inside the RV and especially through any extension cord used. But most components are safely operated anywhere in the 103-volt to 125-volt range. Your current voltage poses no threat to your appliances. Keep monitoring the voltage though and if it continues to drop or vary considerably, have an experienced RV technician perform a hi-pot test on the AC system as well as a hot skin test. Oh, be sure any extension cord you use in conjunction with the shoreline power cord be sized correctly!

Something you can do in the meantime; with the voltage disconnected, tighten all the connections at the breaker box inside the coach and double-check any wire nuts in the system. You'll probably find some in the "J" box where the shoreline cord ends inside the RV. Though not mandated by code, I always recommend applying a wrap or three of black electrician's tape around all wire nuts just in case the constant jostling loosens them.

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