Issue 8 • June 24, 2018
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By Mike Sokol
Thanks for reading RV Electricity Issue #8. Readership continues to grow with more than 9,100 subscribers. Plus many more of you read it after finding it through Google searches or from friends. Of course, I continue to publish a weekly No~Shock~Zone article in every RVtravel.com newsletter on Saturdays, so you should subscribe to it as well. Sign up for either or both of the newsletters here.
While my lead article below will seem more technical than most things I write, it’s necessary because we’re comparing generator noise. I’ve watched and read hundreds of videos and articles on the “interweb” about generator noise levels, and I’m a bit embarrassed by how little the average self-proclaimed “expert” knows about sound. But that doesn’t stop them from making blanket statements about generator noise that are completely wrong. So read my piece on Generator Noise Pollution below a few times until it sinks in.
The takeaway is that a generator that measures 62 dB versus one that measures 56 dB isn’t an increase in sound of only 10%, it’s actually a 400% difference in sound levels. Why? Read on….
Let’s play safe out there…
Generator Noise Pollution – Part 1
I’ve had several recent emails about noisy generators bothering nearby campers. I guess it’s that time of year when everyone needs air conditioning in their RVs and no sane amount of solar panels and house batteries has enough power to run an air conditioner for more than a few minutes. So unless you’re connected to shore power, you need a generator.
Read the rest of this article here.
Save your propane!
Easily convert to electric heat!
SAVE $$$! Until now, the standard for heating recreation vehicles of all types has been to use bottled propane (LPG). With the CheapHeat™ system there’s a better option. Now you have a choice to change the central heating system between gas and electric with the flip of a switch. When you choose to run on electric heat rather than gas, your coach will be heated by the electricity provided by the RV park. Learn more.
If you’ve been following along with this series, you already know about voltage, amperage and wattage. But what about that 800 lb. gorilla in the room, Voltage drop?
Rumors and innuendo
We’ve all heard about how hooking up an RV on too long or too skinny of an extension cord can force its appliances to run on 100 volts instead of the regular 120 volts, thereby burning out the motors or other components. While this may happen only rarely in your home, that’s because the electric company works very hard to keep the voltage levels constant no matter how much current you’re drawing. However, that may not be the case when you’re using your own extension cord running from a campground pedestal.
But before we get into the reality of what happens to electrical gear that’s running on 100 volts rather than a full 120 volts, let’s figure out why this voltage drop thing happens in the first place.
Read the rest of this article here.
Truma AquaGo®: Instant, Constant and Endless Hot Water
The revolutionary Truma AquaGo® hybrid instant water heater provides instant, constant and endless hot water. The Truma AquaGo® is the only RV water heater that can be decalcified to extend product life and maintain performance. And its “Easy Drain Lever” makes winterization simple. Use the Truma AquaGo® to replace any 6 – 16 gallon water heater. Find a dealer at www.truma.net.
In case you missed it, Bobby Raatz from Southwire/Surge Guard was a guest on the RV Daily Report podcast last week. He discussed the reasons why you need a surge protector on your RV and how this technology works, including basic MOV (metal oxide varistor) operation. I highly recommend that you listen to his technical interview, which is NOT a sales pitch for Southwire by any means. Listen to it here.
Also, I was a guest on the RV Daily Report last month and discussed lightning safety and hot-skin voltage dangers. Listen to my interview here.
Never Stop Learning… — Mike
What kind of generator do you use?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. We’ll post the final results in the next RV Electricity Newsletter.
Stop rust and corrosion
Of the many gremlins that attack your RV —like mold, mildew, leaks and black streaks — rust will attack your hand tools, spare parts, door hinges & other vulnerable metal surfaces & moving parts over time. STA-BIL® Rust Stopper prevents rust & corrosion by protecting metal surfaces with a long-lasting barrier while lubricating parts & tools to stop squeaks & sticking. Learn more.
survey results (see right):
Well, it looks like I’m hitting the middle of the bell curve, so steady as she goes. Anytime you think I should write a variation of an article to make it much harder or softer, just let me know. Click to enlarge the survey results.
Tools and Other Devices
Sprinter Torx bits
If you drive any kind of a Class-B Sprinter, then you should consider carrying a set of metric Torx sockets and bits. You can use these for everything from adjusting a door hinge to changing the fuel filter. And if you get stuck on the road with only a hometown garage to help with your repair, then having the right sockets can really help get you repaired and going faster. I speak from experience, having driven my Sprinter some 300,000 miles back and forth across the country numerous times. I can’t find a duplicate of my old Craftsman set, but this looks like it should do the job. Learn more or order at Amazon.com.
Last Month’s RVtravel.com Posts
Don’t come up short!
Sometimes your 50-amp power cord is not quite long enough! That’s when this 15-foot extension cord will come in very handy. Sure, you can use a wimpy orange extension cord with an adapter — and risk burning up the cord, ruining appliances, or maybe even burn up your rig! With this cord along you’ll be all set. Learn more or order. Need a 30-amp extension cord? It’s here.
Q&A’s from Forums
I spend a lot of time on dozens of other RV forums answering questions about electricity. Here are two of them:
From the No~Shock~Zone:
Q: On Jun 14, 2018, Alan and Karla West wrote:
I ran across your No∼Shock∼Zone article on using a neutral/ground bonded plug with portable inverter generators to power an RV when using a Progressive Industries power monitoring system. Super informative! I also watched your YouTube video on the subject. Really appreciate you putting out this helpful content. Thanks!
I have a Honda EU2000I and an EU2000I Companion 30 amp. I parallel these together to run the AC in our 5th wheel. When I run these paralleled together, do I need to have a neutral/ground bonded plug plugged into each generator or just the one that has the 30-amp receptacle?
Thanks for your response in advance. —Alan West
A: Dear Alan,
That’s an easy one. You only need to use a Neutral-Ground Bonding plug in the generator with the 30-amp outlet. That establishes the proper Neutral-Ground bond on the outlet feeding the RV. The other generator will go along for the ride and do whatever the Companion generator does. Be aware that the parallel kit for the Honda generators is non-polarized, which means you can connect them in or out of phase (Hot to Hot and Neutral to Neutral OR Hot to Neutral and Neutral to Hot) but that’s no big deal because the generator outputs are totally floating. But if you put a 3-light outlet tester in the non-bonded generator there’s a 50/50 chance it will read reversed polarity. Again, no big deal but don’t get worried if you test both generators with a 3-light tester and one seems reversed. I usually mark the parallel kit with some colored electrical tape once I determine proper polarity. But that’s just due to my own tendency to over-test everything I do.
And here’s a video I made about neutral/ground testing and bonding of a Honda EU3000iS generator. —Mike
From the Airstream Forum:
I just finished reading your book “RV Electrical Safety“. Does the aluminum structure of an Airstream create a Faraday cage? Does a Faraday cage require ferrous metal to generate magnetic field? —Cordially, Larry Determan
Yes, it should act like a Faraday cage. No, ferrous metal isn’t required. Anything conductive will work to generate a magnetic field. Consider that a loop of copper (which is non-ferrous) will generate a magnetic field if any current passes through the wire, and vice versa, of course.
For those of you who don’t know, a Faraday cage is simply a metallic box that forces an electric current (like a lightning strike) to flow around the outside of itself, and prevents that current from getting inside of the box. The most common example is your car, which will protect its occupants from a lightning strike by bending the lightning around the outside of the car. And no, this doesn’t have anything to do with the rubber tires on the car, and no it doesn’t work with a convertible. —Mike
Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.
The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. He’s taken his 40+ years of experience to write this book about RV electricity that nearly anyone can understand. Covers the basics of Voltage, Amperage, Wattage and Grounding, with additional chapters on RV Hot-Skin testing, GFCI operation, portable generator hookups and troubleshooting RV electrical systems. This should be essential reading for all RVers. Learn more or order