RVelectricity – Newsletter #7 May 2018
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By Mike Sokol
I just got back from the RVillage Rally One in Elkhart, Indiana, where I had a lot of fun presenting two No~Shock~Zone seminars. Thanks to Southwire/Surge-Guard for their support and supplying me with Southwire tools and Surge Guard protectors.
The first seminar was on Advanced Surge Protectors and why you need one. There are lots of reasons why Advanced Surge Protector technology is important to the health of your RV’s electrical system, which I’ll cover in another issue. In the meantime, be sure to read my article on how MOVs work in a basic Surge Protector HERE.
The second seminar was on RV Hot-Skin Voltage, how it happens, how you can find it, and why it’s dangerous to ignore. I’ll cover more on that topic next month, but for now you can watch this video to see what happens to my action figure (it’s not a doll) Flash, when he gets between a hot-skin voltage on a mini-RV and the ground. Yes, he blows his top, which is a real flash bulb. FLASH VIDEO
Right now I’m scheduling seminars at the Thor Diesel Pushers Rally in Goshen, the FROG (Forest River Owners Group) Rally, also in Goshen, and the Hershey RV show (America’s largest RV show) in the town of Chocolate Kisses.
P.S. And just a quick note that this newsletter is made possible by the voluntary pledges of the readers of RVtravel.com. We could not bring this to you without their support. If you deem what we provide to you here and at RVtravel.com to be of special value and would like to be a part of our effort, please consider pledging a voluntary subscription. More information is here. We will include you in special emails, articles and videos exclusively for our supporters.
As promised, here’s the next installment of my Basic Electricity Course. Class is now in session….
If you’ve been reading along this far you already know about voltage (electrical pressure) and amperage (current flow). But one without the other is useless to us. In the end it all comes down to wattage.
Get to Work
We’re going to put voltage and current together and make them get to work. If you notice in the first illustration, there’s a lot of pressure at the bottom of the water tank. However, unless that pressure gets to move something, it simply sits there as stored energy just like the compressed air in a tank. Electricity works exactly the same way.
You’ll typically have around 120 volts of electrical pressure at an electrical outlet, but the air around the outlet has such high resistance to electrical flow that the electrons just sit in the outlet waiting for a connection. So there’s no current flow unless you connect something that completes the circuit. Read the rest of the article HERE
Klein Tools Electrical Test Kit — Essential!
Every RVer should have this aboard their RV. The highly-rated, updated electrical test kit contains MM300 (manual-ranging digital multimeter), ncvt-1 (non-contact voltage tester) and the RT105 (receptacle tester). The ncvt-1 automatically detects standard voltage in cables, cords, circuit breakers, lighting fixtures, switches, outlets, and wires. The RT105 detects the most common wiring problems in standard receptacles. Learn more at Amazon.
Troubleshooting 101: Over-current
I have a question but, as I said at the RVillage Rally, it’s a little long. What would cause a pair of 2kW generators to overload when charging my batteries? Looking for your guidance in what actions I need to do to either the generators or the trailer to allow me to charge my batteries with the generators.
Read Mike’s answer HERE
Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.
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.
National Electrical Code changes for 2020 – An update by Wade Elliott
Every three years the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) repeats a process to evaluate and change the National Electric Code (NEC) to enhance safety, provide clarification and guidance to Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). The NEC is a standard by which states and municipalities (and others) can establish common “rules” by adopting this NFPA standard. The 2020 code cycle started with a number of recommended changes (known as Public Inputs) submitted in late 2017 to the NFPA.
Eighteen separate code-making panels went through a first draft process this past January. This process has a number of people from many disciplines collaborating on evaluating these Public Inputs. The panel then agrees to adopt, discard or modify the recommendations. If the recommendation is adopted, a vote is taken which requires a super majority of the panel to pass. This work is then made available to the public for comment; for this cycle, that will be starting in the summer. Following the gathering of these comments, the panels will then evaluate the comments in the fall for submission to NFPA for final approval in 2019. Read the full article HERE
The Goldilocks question
Do you think my electrical articles are written at a good technical level for you? Please take the Goldilocks survey below and let me know if I need to adjust my writing style.
This adapter might save the day
You’ll be glad you have this along if you need to plug your 30-amp cord into an ordinary 110 outlet. Just use this adapter. You’ll need to watch your energy usage carefully, of course, but at least you’ll have enough power for basic needs. Learn more or order.
Last month’s survey results: See right.
Tools and Other Devices
The Southwire 21050T is a great clamp meter that’s reasonably priced and available at any Lowe’s store or on Amazon.
Last Month’s RVtravel.com Posts
• More random GFCI tripping.
• Elkhart RVillage Rally seminar topics.
• RV’s power outlets are melting. Help!
• Surges and Joules and MOVs, oh my!
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.
Q&A’s from Forums
I spend a lot of time on dozens of RV forums answering questions about electricity. Here’s a comment received from an attendee at the recent RVillage Rally:
From the RVillage Rally
Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us RVers about electrical shocks in Elkhart at the RVillage Rally. Learned a bunch. Bought a non-contact tester as you recommended. No more RPBG’s for this RVer. Thanks!
A: You’re very welcome. As you saw from my demonstration, an RV hot-skin voltage is completely invisible to the eye, without any of a blue glow or sparks that you see in the movies. But it’s really dangerous to touch any vehicle that’s electrically energized. If any of you want a review of what an RPBG is, HERE’s something I wrote about this dangerous miswiring condition along with links to additional articles I’ve written for the contracting industry.
Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.
The best book on RV electricity, hands down!
RV Travel contributor Mike Sokol is America’s leading expert on RV electricity. Mike has 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
Let me introduce you to a new company I’m working with that can be a great source of gear for you and your RV. I just met Eric and Tami Johnson from TechnoRV at the RVillage Rally in Elkhart, and found them to be very knowledgeable about Surge Guard products as well as all kinds of other electrical gear for your RV. Plus they’re compassionate about service and support including pre- and post-sales training. If all works out, then they’ll be supplying Surge Guard products for sale at my future No~Shock~Zone seminars. Check out their website.
Camco Store at Amazon.com
There isn’t much you need for your RV that Camco doesn’t have. If you think we’re kidding, then click through to the Camco store on Amazon where you’ll find some of their best-selling products — all for your RV or for you to make your RVing better. Click here and you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store.
My Other (previous) Life
I was talking to a new electrical engineering colleague last week, and he was having trouble envisioning me back in the ’70s with a rock band, long hair, and jumping through fireballs. Really, I did. I had a Hammond B3 organ (400 pounds) with a 122RV Leslie (200 pounds), a Mini-Moog Synthesizer, and a large stable of other pianos and string synths. Never had a Mellotron, but boy I really wanted one.
So here’s a drawing of me from a promotion we did for my band “Draco” back in 1976. While all the other bands in town had little 200-watt PA systems, I built a 5,000 watt PA that would be up to par with many modern systems. I also designed and built a 50kW (yes, 50,000-watt) lighting system with 1,000-watt PAR lights that we used in small clubs, plus my own handbuilt 2,000-watt-second strobe made from a commercial microwave oven transformer and a surplus airport runway strobe.
While we were really loud out in the room, I pioneered the concept of what I call the Semi-Silent Stage, where all guitar and bass amplifiers were eliminated from the stage. Now this was 1976 and everyone else had stacks of guitar amps on stage. But all the guys in my band were on headphones or used small speaker monitor wedges, which allowed us to keep the sound levels on stage to around 85 dB SPL. Interestingly, this idea of the Semi-Silent Stage is just now coming into acceptance, so I currently write articles about how I did it in the ’70s, and show how modern gear makes it easy to turn down the sound levels on stage while letting the room rock. To read my current Semi-Silent Stage series go to ProSoundWeb HERE.
New & interesting finds at Amazon.com
See what really cool stuff Amazon is featuring today. It’s a whole lot of fun just browsing through all these great items. The selection changes every day, so check back often. You never know what you will find, which is part of the fun of visiting here. Check it out.
While driving to Elkhart the other day I decided to play a mental game with myself and pick out the top six dead people I would like to spend the day with. You know, chit chat a bit… maybe have lunch and a few drinks with them, perhaps spend some time in their lab or office or whatever. A few possibilities immediately jumped to the top of the list, but the rest of them took a few days to sort out.
So here’s my 6-Pack list along with a few notes on why I would like to spend some time talking with each of them. Read the article.