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We are saddened to announce the passing of Gary Bunzer on April 17, 2020. We hope the RV Doctor website will continue to provide helpful information for you. Thank you for your interest and support for the RV Doctor - Debbie, Heather and Gretchen

Monday, December 16, 2013

RV Hot Skin

I read in a recent issue of Family Motor Coaching your advice to Michael regarding the use of a proximity tester. I am a retired electrician with almost 50 years on the job. Almost 20 years in hospitals and the rest in industry, some construction and the rest maintenance.

Your advice about the proximity tester was a bit off base. That type of tester is a great troubleshooting tool in the hand of a professional, but not so good for the novice. A far better choice for the novice is a circuit tester/ ground monitor. The device is not much bigger than the plug on the end of an extension cord. These testers will check reverse polarity, open ground, open neutral, reverse hot and ground and open hot. 

This tool can be used at the end of an extension cord, at the 120 volt outlet or inside the RV. It is safer to use and gives more information. Like all electrical safety testers this tool should be tested on a known good circuit before testing an unknown circuit. In this case to be sure all of the lights are working. Dave S.

With all respect, I beg to differ Dave. Those three-light testers cannot identify a certain scenario containing reversed polarity along with a bootleg ground. Those two faults, when coupled, even fool digital volt/ohm meters and ground loop testers and all the RV surge protectors now on the market. And results in everything metallic in and on the RV becoming electrified; what we call a hot skin condition. We’ve found that by measuring the voltage with a reliable volt-meter and then verifying that voltage with a proximity test device is the safest way to determine the true polarity of any receptacle. Remember, on RVs, the ground and neutral conductors are isolated from each other. Only at the voltage source is the ground and neutral bonded.

My buddy Mike Sokol (a frequent contributor here), had an interesting article published in EC&M magazine. All serious RVers need to check it out; it explains the reasoning behind our recommendation.

The other advantage using the non-contact proximity test device, which is totally safe for the novice by the way, is that no conductors need to be exposed or circuits interrupted. All you have to do is get close. It’s perfect for testing for a hot skin condition.

Mike has produced a bunch of videos that show the advantages of hot skin testing using the proximity test device. I feel this topic is so important, every RVer needs to read through all the reference sources.



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