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Friday, July 11, 2014

More RV Electrical Info

After attending several RV shows and joining you for a few RV Doctor seminars, my wife and I have purchased a Fifth Wheel (a 2010 Peterson Excel Winslow. We are very happy that we did our homework and now have a high quality RV that will hopefully last many years.

 My first maintenance related question is electrical. I have purchased a Progressive Industries 50-amp surge protector that plugs in at the pedestal and has a digital readout of voltage, amps being used, cycles and error codes. It will trip the power to the RV if power has the wrong polarity, and has several other features to protect the RV. 

At the Seattle RV show, you said it was a necessity to have a non-contact proximity tester, but with my surge protector, I think I am covered. Please confirm. I will probably pick up a Fluke volt meter for general usage.

Also, another question: When plugging in the surge protector to the adapter, the weight of everything tends to pull the plug out of the socket. I used a bungee cord to wrap around the pedestal to keep it tight. The other issue when it rains in the northwest is wet, not dry. Can I use a waterproof cover over the entire pedestal, adapter and surge protector to keep the connections dry?  Mark & Cindy A., (Bainbridge Island)

Mark & Cindi, the Progressive surge protector is a very good device and is certainly recommended for serious RVers. What we have found, however, is that neither the Progressive nor the Surge Guard models can protect against the dual fault situation called Reverse Polarity/Bootleg Ground (RPBG). It has been well documented by my buddy, Mike Sokol. Check out how and why the RPBG situation can even fool expensive ground loop impedance devices and those inexpensive three-light testers that everyone relies on; read this article carefully and be sure to click on the internal links!

The only sure-fire way to verify the polarity of incoming voltage from a campground pedestal, and the most logical and safest for RVers, is the use of a non-contact voltage proximity test device. I consider it cheap insurance....that might just save your life.

Also, I’m not a big fan of plugging a 50-amp RV into a 30-amp receptacle for the simple reason that it eliminates at least one of the safety devices built into the design of the pedestal. It’s certainly better if you have an EMS (energy management system) controlling your distribution inside the RV, but you may find that only using one leg of the incoming 120-volt AC electricity limits what circuits are actually activated inside the coach. Now that said, in some cases with the smaller or older campgrounds, you may have no choice if all they have are 30-amp pedestals. In those instances you simply deal with it until you can get connected to the proper source voltage once again. Always use a quality 50-30 reducing adapter (I recommend the ones that have a short piece of cable running between the male and female plugs rather than the big chunk of rubber with both connections molded into one plug). Also, ya gotta keep that connection clean, dry and tight no matter what, somehow! Bungee straps, plastic baggies, etc., can all help. Have you considered the unit that installs permanently inside the storage bay rather than the portable unit that attaches at the pedestal? Just a thought...



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