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Author Topic: Electric Hookup Question  (Read 440 times)

dlb53151

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Electric Hookup Question
« on: July 13, 2019, 06:45:23 PM »
I have an error light on my surge suppressor indicating “open ground”. My lights in the camper are flashing at times and fridge turns off every so often.   Any ideas?  This is a real-time question - in middle of a camping wkd trip.  Thanks


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DavidM

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2019, 07:11:14 PM »
If you haven’t had this problem before, then it could be your shore power pedistal has on open, ie disconnected ground on its end. Most campers wouldn’t notice it.

There is a < $10 tester that you can plug into the shorepower outlet (with a 15/30A adapter) that will tell you if that is the problem.

David

dlb53151

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2019, 07:24:05 PM »
Thanks David!   I will have to get that tester in my Amazon cart ;)  Hopefully it is an issue on the pedestal versus my camper ;). Meanwhile I hope it doesn’t cause an issue for my camper wiring or appliances.


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DavidM

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2019, 08:28:07 PM »
Yes, it will cause an issue. It is unsafe!!! The ground wire carries any fault in an appliance from its frame to the ground system. Without the ground being available if there is a fault and you touch the frame of the appliance you can be shocked even killed. I would not use shorepower with an open ground.

I noticed I misspoke about the adapter. The tester is a three prong, normal 15A plug that goes into your typical 15A outlets. To use it on a 30A shore power socket you need a different adapter, opposite to what is normally used and not one that is normally available. Some power pedestals have both 30A and 15A sockets and if so you could plug in the tester to the 15A socket and see what happens. But having a normal ground on the 15A socket doesn't mean that the 30A is ok.

This or a similar tester is what I was talking about: https://www.amazon.com/Sperry-Instruments-GFI6302-Receptacle-Professional/dp/B000RUL2UU/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=outlet+tester&qid=1563060052&s=gateway&sr=8-3

Here is a pic of the tester:

David
« Last Edit: July 13, 2019, 08:32:12 PM by DavidM »

dlb53151

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2019, 09:42:30 PM »
Thanks Dave.  I complained again to the site host, who keeps telling me it is a problem with my camper.  I explained to him that if the pedestal gives an open neutral error code on my surge protector without a cord connected to it, the only way it could be a camper problem would be if space aliens are involved.  He then doubled down to tell me I must be drawing too much power.  Again, I had to explain that would be impossible without my camper plugged in to my surge protector.  What an idiot. 

Yes, when my camper is plugged in and fridge is turned to AC power, my fridge is going on and off but that is a result of an open neutral issue, not because my fridge is drawing too much power....   



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Merlin

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2019, 12:12:40 AM »
In case DavidM is not on here tonight, I’ll jump in based on your additional info. The 3 wires in your plug are hot, neutral, and ground. Your system will operate without the ground, but it would be unsafe in a camper, as DavidM noted. Your system will not operate without the neutral. In your posts above, you started out writing you had a flaky ground and then changed to having a flaky neutral. Your symptoms are of the latter. It could be the camper, the cord, or the pedestal. Can you borrow a cord to swap that out temporarily? Can you plug your cord and camper into another pedestal temporarily? Can you get to a store like Walmart that will have both the 30A-15A adapter and the tester shown above?  If none are possible, can you run off battery and propane this trip? To be honest, I would not use a flaky electrical system in a camping situation, regardless of where the problem lies.
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DavidM

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2019, 08:23:07 AM »
To be honest, I would not use a flaky electrical system in a camping situation, regardless of where the problem lies.

+1,+1, +1

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dlb53151

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2019, 03:29:35 PM »
It was only a “open neutral” issue the whole time.  (Based on the error code on my Camco surge protector).  I thought that meant the same thing as that the ground was malfunctioning but sounds like that is not the case. 

Regardless,  I tried the campsite host’s suppressor and got the same error code.  In both cases, the same error code appeared without my camper plugged into the protector so the issue has to be at the pedestal. 

So the host strung together a couple 100 foot basic extension cords with 30 amp adapters and plugged me into an open pedestal, so that mitigated the open neutral problem but an ounce of common sense seems to tell me that you don’t want to push 30 amps through 200 feet of medium duty household extension cords.  The camp host said he talked to an electrician who said it would be fine.  What do I know, I guess.  I am an accountant not an electrician.....

Regardless, for the benefit of other newbies on the forum, the moral of the story is, if something doesn’t seem to pass the “smell test” (no pun intended),  be persistent.  The host knew I am a rookie hence he initially tried to convince me it was a problem with my camper even though the error code appeared without my camper being plugged into the suppressor.  He said they have never had that problem before.  Well, dude, not many people invest in and use good surge suppressors so I am guessing this didn’t just happen when I appeared. 

My only other option would have been to pack up on day 1 and leave, since the other sites were taken, which I didn’t want to do.  On a good note, they gave me credit for 2 of 3 nights of my stay.....


DavidM

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2019, 04:44:07 PM »
With 200' of what- 14 gauge cables hooked together, don't try to run your A/C. It probably won't start, but if it does it will overheat and maybe destroy the A/C compressor motor. You will get a 15 volt drop with that much cable trying to run an A/C, much more as it tries to start.

Only use small 12V loads with that rig: lights, water pump, etc. Just use the 120V power to keep your batteries recharged. Any more and you risk damage to any 120V appliance

David

Sylvain

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2019, 07:52:03 PM »
Great information, thanks for sharing.  Can anyone suggest a good surge suppressor please.

dlb53151

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2019, 11:24:00 PM »
Update:

My LL is now back home and plugged into my 30 amp outlet.  Lights flicker and go dim when I turn on one ceiling vent fan and have fridge on AC power.  Gets worse with more things turned on. 

Thoughts?  Did the weekend issues with open neutral trash my converter?  Not sure where to start....






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Merlin

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2019, 01:03:51 AM »
Great information, thanks for sharing.  Can anyone suggest a good surge suppressor please.

I use and like this one

https://www.rvupgradestore.com/RV-Energy-Management-System-30-Amp-p/emshw30c.htm

A much less expensive plug in version is also available.

There are good write ups on here about installing one.
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Merlin

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2019, 01:11:51 AM »
Update:

My LL is now back home and plugged into my 30 amp outlet.  Lights flicker and go dim when I turn on one ceiling vent fan and have fridge on AC power.  Gets worse with more things turned on. 

Thoughts?  Did the weekend issues with open neutral trash my converter?  Not sure where to start....






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In a word, yes. Both the flaky neutral and the “fix” of using the ridiculously long extension cord could have caused damage. I lost the neutral line at my house a few years ago and as it failed it did $1000s in damage to electrical stuff. Since the campground host documented the pedestal failure and supplied you with a terrible solution, the owner should pay for damages. Of course that’s only in my dream world. In reality if you are having continuing problems you’ll need to get your system tested and probably replace the converter.
Michigan

Pinstriper

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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2019, 04:56:06 AM »
We had the same symptoms when camping this weekend.

Plugged in, a few lights were on, switch the reefer from DC to AC, reefer wouldn’t stay on power, kept switching itself to gas. Lights would dim and flicker then recover.

Back at the pedestal, the 30 amp plug was not fully seated. Doh !




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Re: Electric Hookup Question
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2019, 08:40:41 AM »

Back at the pedestal, the 30 amp plug was not fully seated. Doh !





My last trip where I had hookups, a rarity for us, - the 30A receptacle was just plain worn out- very loose fit with crackling and arcing.
Luckily I carry a 30-50 adapter I've never used.   
Used it to get a good connection to the pedestal. 
Reported the bad receptacle to the host upon leaving...no idea if they addressed it.