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 > Shore power...GFI protected

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Acampingwewillgo

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Posted: 01/19/03 01:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think in this month's Trailer life or Motorhome Magazine this might be addrssed somewhat but here goes. I have not installed a 50 amp dedicated circuit at home yet to plug in the MH..but when I plug in the MH via the appropriate adaptors into a 20 amp GFCI outlet, it trips the GFI everytime(at home). At present, I plug into a non GFI outlet assuming that the MH's GFI's do the job there suppose to. I'm curious whether shore power at campgrounds, be it 20, 30 or 50 amp is GFI'ed. The magazine suggest that you power down all your 120 volt circuits(trip the breakers) and then plug into shore power and turn the breakers back on one at a time, stating that you are less likely to trip your GFI circuit. I just don't want to end up at a campground, plug in and find out it doesn't work. Any words of Wisdom? Thanks as always..Dwight


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Mountain Jack

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Posted: 01/19/03 02:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Howdy, Dwight;

Our MH is 30 amp. I turn the MH main breaker, OFF, before i connect the 12 gauge shorepower extension cord, to the MH 30 amp cord. Then turn main breaker back ON.
The Times i didn't turn MH main breaker OFF, it didn't trip anything, but when i connected the Plug, there was a Spark(surge of Power).

Most Rv Parks we've been to, the Shorepower pedestal, had a Note stating- Turn OFF Breaker, before Connecting, to Prevent a Surge.
Happy Camping. Take Care. Jack......


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DutchStar3670

Amarillo, TX 79102

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Posted: 01/19/03 02:38pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Every Instruction Book for MH, 5er, trailer I have read states to turn breaker off both when plugging in and unplugging.


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Jon W.

Knoxville, TN

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Posted: 01/19/03 03:07pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Our company manufactures electrical power outlets under three brand names for use in campgrounds and in Rv parks. At the present time all 20 amp outlets are GFI and a requirement for 30 amp outlets to be GFI is pending.

Currently 50 amp outlets are not GFI.

You should not be tripping the GFI.

nrf

Morrow, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 01/20/03 06:13am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

there may be a problem with one of your appliances. while I agree with turning off the MH main breaker when doing it, once you turn the main back on any tripping Could Possibly be a problem. in our case the fridge had an issue, so we unplugged it until we could get it fixed.



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Avion Guy

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Posted: 01/20/03 07:28am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The National Electric Code requires that only outlets up to 20a 120V need to be GFCI protected in outdoor applications. A campground offering 30 and 50A receptacles will not GFI protect them. In fact supplying GFI protection above 30A is a specialized protect. Hubbbell-Wiring.com and click on the on-line catalog for more information on the types of products available. Concerning protection of the inside of your trailer. The only requirement by code is to protect the kitchen and bathroom outlets. You can accomplish this using GFI receptacles but the boxes in many RV's are too shallow. Extender adapters are available by some manufacturers. The best way to protect outlets in an RV is to use GFI breakers. You converter may already have a GFI breaker in it to protect required applications. To protect the entire unit, simply remove any standard breakers and replace them with GFI breaakers.
Concerning nuisaance tripping:
The first thing to consider is that it may not a nuisance trip, but an actual fault. The second thing you must take into account is the small leakage level on GFCI's required by UL. That being + or - 5 milliamps. That means a manufacturers product can be UL listed at as little as 4 milliamps. It doesn't sound like much but 5 milliamps taken leg to opposite arm can kill a person if they have a weak heart. Portable cord has a certain amount of capitance leakeage to ground. 100ft of SO cord will leak the 5 milliamps to ground. To help prevent nusiance tripping you should limit the length of your cord as short as possible to the receptacle campgrounds power center. Unfortunately that means carrying mutliple cords.
Finally,
Regardining plugging in at home. Humidity does affect GFCI performance. The higher the humidity the less it may take to trip the GFCI.
My suggestion would be to run a new line from your panel with proper size wiring for 50Amps. This will meet code requirements because it is about 20A. This will give you the ability to operate all of your air conditioners, refrig, etc., while you are loading to leave.





Capt Vern

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Posted: 01/20/03 07:44am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I once helped a friend who was having a GFI tripping problem in his kitchen on a 15 amp circut. Turned out that the circuit with GFI was also and extension connected to another GFI on the other side of the kitchen. Only the original was required and removal of the second one solved the problem.

Vern


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MELM

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Posted: 01/20/03 08:50am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It's been a while since this topic has appeared, there were some threads on it several months ago. You can click on the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the screen and it will bring up a Search page. Look for GFCI and set the time for at least 6 months, and you should get some previous threads.

For what it is worth, the National Electric Code is implemented and enforced by local building codes. The local codes may not reference it, may use it as is, or may supplement or modify it. I doubt there are very many that don't use it, and I know that some do modify it. (When we built our house, we were told by the electrician that the local code did not allow use of 14 gauge wiring - 12 gauge and higher was required. That didn't really concern me, as I had no plans for any 15 amp circuits, so I didn't confirm it with the county folks.)

From a couple of the posts, my question has been answered - the NEC does not require GFCI on the 30 amp outlet (my newest NEC book is 1993, and I didn't know if the requirement had been added). However, a number of campgrounds have GFCI on both the 15/20 and 30 amp outlets. And some members with GFCI problems in their RV's have had trouble.

Some old RV's did not have the neutral and ground busses separate in the RV power panel, and they had to be "modified" to the present standard. Others had problems in the wiring - including a couple of brand new units.

Many of us use a circuit tester to check the campground receptacle. Then turn off the campground breaker, plug in and turn the breaker back on. That eliminates arcing our plug (and the campground receptacle).

From acampingfan's post, it appears that his MH has a problem. Finding a GFCI problem is often a tedious process because it often is the situation where a ground and a neutral wire are connected in the RV. Since all the grounds are tied together, and all the neutrals are also tied together, it is very difficult to determine at what point in the RV one neutral and ground are connected.

The GFCI trips when the current in the neutral wire is not equal to the current in the hot wire - as Avion Gus says, within 5 thousandths of an amp. This occurs when some of the current from either the hot wire or the neutral wire gets diverted to the ground wire. (The only place where the ground and neutral wires are tied together are at the main supply distribution panel. In a home, it's at the main circuit breaker panel where power comes in. In a campground, there'll normally be a large distribution panel with power going to the sites from it.)

I doubt that acampingfan's problem is a "short" from the hot lead to the ground, or the non-GFCI breaker would most likely trip. Yes, a small "leakage" type current could do it, but I don't think it's common.

The first test should be to use an ohmmeter to check the resistance between the neutral and ground at the MH plug. The connection should be open. My guess is that it is not. With the main breaker thrown in the MH panel, the hot to neutral and hot to ground should also show an open circuit.

You can throw all the breakers in the MH panel, and plug in. The GFCI should not trip. If it does, you have leakage between the hot and ground wires in the cable or MH power panel (or have something wired in without a breaker on it).

Turn on the breakers one at a time and see if the GFCI trips. Any breaker that does not have a load - such as one feeding outlets that have nothing plugged in, should not trip the GFCI. The confusion will come with appliances such as the converter or microwave that do draw current. If the problem is a connection between neutral and hot, any device that draws current will cause the GFCI to trip. So more than one can cause the trip, and the problem may not be in those devices cables.

Some common neutral/ground problems/solutions:

1. An appliance. That could be the power converter, inverter, water heater, refrigerator, air conditioner, microwave, TV, etc. - anything that runs on 120 volts. Unplug all that have plugs, and try the GFCI. If it doesn't trip, starting plugging them back in one at a time until the problem occurs.

2. Neutral terminal shorted to the uninsulated ground wire in an outlet or at a switch. The ground wire is not insulated, and when the wires are wadded up and pushed into the outlet box, the bare ground wire can touch the neutral wire/connection point. The task is to remove each one and visually inspect it.

3. Neutral shorted to ground. The MH frame, aluminum skin, etc. are grounded. If a screw or staple penetrates the electical wire and touches any grounded metal, that will cause the GFCI to trip. The same if a sharp metal edge wears through the insulation. To find the problem cable, disconnect each of the neutrals from the MH electrical panel and check the resistance between each and ground with an ohmmeter. They should all read open, but there will probably be one that does not; follow that cable to the problem.

OK folks, I wrote all this, and even tried to read it. If I have errors, please post and I'll revise it.

And I hope this helps.


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Acampingwewillgo

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Posted: 01/20/03 06:42pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you all for your replies...I had a notion as to what was causing the tripping and I am somewhat schooled in the electric field...I will be installing a properly fed dedicated 50 amp outlet for the motorhome just as soon as I upgrade my house panel from 100 to 200 amp...don't worry Im doing it to code with the permits and all...Thanks again

hairbrained

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Posted: 01/20/03 06:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks MELM

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