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Traveling man
I've read some reviews where the quality of a park's electric is mentioned, even giving the actual voltage, indicating that they check this at their site.

How important is this? I've never checked it, but never had any indication of a problem in parks electrical, other than an outlet that did not work at all (always check before I unhook).

If the current is outside of an acceptable range, could you do damage or do you just experience problems such as dim lights etc. Has anyone experienced any problems due to a park's electrical or is it so rare it shouldn't be a concern.
joez
I am certainly no expert (ex=has been, and spert=drip under pressure) but electrical issues are not unusual in campgrounds, especially low voltage. Many parks have older electric infrastructure located underground and there can be problems. Low voltage can cause serious issues with air conditioners, as well as, electronics and other appliances. We, and many others, use a surge supressor that also monitors for low voltage and will actually shut the power to the coach off if voltage is too low. This happens with some frequency especially in the summer when everyone's air conditioners are cranking full blast, or during a cold spell when a lot of space heaters are in use. My next purchase will probably be an autoformer to help compensate for low voltage. IMO, it is very important to check the voltage at the pedestal.
John Blue
I agree with power problems. We have an EMS system in motorhome and last month I found a code E2 on a site in KS. This tells we the ground return in missing on the 50 amp power. This will power up everything that runs on 120 volts to 240 volts and you now have a big problem called burn out. Everything like TV's, microwave, roof A/C units, battery charges, ice machine now all dead. This happen to a million dollar motorhome in Las Vegas one year, we were in the park. Open ground on the 50 amp outlet and tow truck pulled him to repair shop to replace all the damage parts.

I went out and check the outlet and yes the pin was open to wide. I fixed it on the spot and them EMS powered up the motorhome with no problems. We have had it shut down due to high Hz, low Hz, low voltage, high voltage, roll over in wring, and other odd ball problems. Power is a problem if you travel to wrong places and best part is you will never know to it is to late to act.
Skymessenger
QUOTE(jim crowl @ Nov 14 2010, 04:17 PM) *

If the current is outside of an acceptable range, could you do damage or do you just experience problems such as dim lights etc. Has anyone experienced any problems due to a park's electrical or is it so rare it shouldn't be a concern.


I found this webpage to be a good insight to this matter! Hope it will help you!

http://www.myrv.us/electric/





Florida Native
Having a good surge protector between your coach and the park's power source is essential. They are about $200 for a 30 amp and $300 for a 50 amp. One problem will make this seem like a small price to pay.
Denali
Low voltage is the most common electrical problem at camp sites. In our eight years of full time travel, we have encountered it many times, always in older parks with 30 amp hookups, plus in Mexico, Canada, and Alaska.

Low voltage can cause some appliances, especially air conditioners, to draw high amperage. That high current draw can damage those appliances.

We carry a 30 amp Hughes Autoformer in the basement. If the incoming power falls below 108 VAC, it boosts it by 10%. I only need to use it a few times a year, but it is sure worth it when we need it.

We also have a hard-wired electrical management system that detects the more uncommon, but potentially more dangerous, electrical problems like floating neutral, open ground, etc., in addition to high and low voltage. Aside from low voltage situations, that device has only blocked power a few times over the years, but the times that it did that it saved us from potentially dangerous and damaging situations.

If you are only an occasional camper, you probably don't want to invest the hundreds of dollars these devices cost. A good compromise is a power checker like one of these, in addition to an inexpensive multimeter to monitor for low voltage.
RLM
I am not an electrician, but I do have a formal background in electrical engineering. The theory here is called Ohm’s Law. Instead of boring everyone with the details, you can Google it and learn how it applies to your power input and possibly damage to the rig in low voltage situations. There is a National Electric Code for voltage standard. Again, one can Google that to learn the high and low values. It is an accepted standard that if the voltage drops below 110V then there is a possibility of appliance damage (High voltage can also damage but isn’t as common).

You can buy some expensive protective inline equipment, as mentioned in the other posts, but the cheapest and most simple solution is to buy a $15 volt meter that plugs into one of your electrical outlets inside the rig. Being able to monitor the level of the voltage will allow you to decide what appliance to turn on or off. Those meters are marked with a green arc that represents the National Electric Code standard. Anytime the needle is outside that green arc, then you have a potential problem and a decision to make. One of which is never to visit the campground again!

I agree with some other posters that checking for things like open grounds, floating neutrals, etc is the ultimate in self-protection. It just depends how much work you want to put into the effort beyond the basics of monitoring for low voltage. It seems to me that $15 and a few power management tricks would be worth the little effort to do it.
Florida Native
The link below tells you about how to use a multimeter to check the parks power before you hook up your coach.

http://rvnow.rvtravel.com/2007/12/use-your...ck-that-rv.html
Tom
We are weekend campers, and don't depend on electronics when camping (we don't need computer / internet access).

I don't test the electric hookups, beyond a visual inspection. We just wants lights in the camper, sometimes the microwave, sometimes the air conditioner. Even air conditioner use is rare for us here in New England, especially in shady campgrounds.

If we needed electronics, or were long term campers, I certainly would test electric hookups.
Florida Native
The problem is that some electrical connections at RV parks can fry everything in your RV. Many times these electrical pedestals are installed and maintained by shade tree mechanics and don't get it right or even close. Once, we had an electrical connection that didn't work and called the owner. He came out with an antique table lamp and plugged it in. It worked and he said everything must be OK. We switched to another site.
RFCN2
Checking power when you plug in is just another one of those should dos. Just last weekend we stayed at a semi private park that does not get much use. I plugged in and check both branches of the 50amp service to see what voltage was coming in. 94 & 97. Way too low. So I went out and jiggered the plug a bit and then it registered the proper volts. We also have a surge protector in our coach.
MelindaK
Wow, it is amazing the things I learn from reading post on this site! I love all the information provided by the full timers. I have the surge protector, but never thought about using a multimeter to check voltage. I started using a surge protector after a camping trip where the electricity went out at one end of the camp ground. I had issues with the refrigerator not wanting to come back on. For some reason the state park was having some electrical issues. I now make it a habit to always use a surge protector. In the other post I noticed that 120 was mentioned a lot. I have a TT that use 30 amps sometimes I pull the TT to family or friends homes to visit. They are always telling me they have 110 and I should be fine. Of course on these execursions I do not run the A/C. Am I okay on 110 using all the other appliances (refrig, microwave, lights, etc.)?

Melinda
dog bone
QUOTE(MelindaK @ Nov 29 2010, 01:03 AM) *
Wow, it is amazing the things I learn from reading post on this site! I love all the information provided by the full timers. I have the surge protector, but never thought about using a multimeter to check voltage. I started using a surge protector after a camping trip where the electricity went out at one end of the camp ground. I had issues with the refrigerator not wanting to come back on. For some reason the state park was having some electrical issues. I now make it a habit to always use a surge protector. In the other post I noticed that 120 was mentioned a lot. I have a TT that use 30 amps sometimes I pull the TT to family or friends homes to visit. They are always telling me they have 110 and I should be fine. Of course on these execursions I do not run the A/C. Am I okay on 110 using all the other appliances (refrig, microwave, lights, etc.)?

Melinda


All the plugs, either at a campground or your friends house, will be 110 voltage. That is unless there is a problem to create a low voltage situation, but it should be 110. The amps is what you are looking for 50, 30, 20 or 15. Campgrounds mostly have 30 or 50 amp service. You will be able to use just about everything with this service. You will have to watch what you turn on, at the same time, with the 30 amp though.
Your friends house, unless they have a special outlet, will only be 15 or 20 amps. It will run your trailer, with limitations. ac might be a problem, everything else will work, but not at the same time. You will be getting the same 110 voltage, at your friends house, as you do at a campground. The difference will be the amperage.
I'm not an electrician, but I have tried to explain it for you. Someone else will probably jump in here and help further. I didn't want to get into to much detail and confuse you.
Tallboy
We have a surge guard. In six years of full-time RVing it has kicked off the power at four parks.

1. Manager, moved us to a different site.

2. The owner fixed the problem.

3. A guy next to me had it kick off at the same time. He had a surge protector too. We went up to the office about it and the gal behind the desk really didn't seem to care.

4. Maintenance guy said it wasn't the park's problem but the cities problem. Yeah whatever, is what I thought. That night it kicked off three times. Was off anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. Decided to move on the next day.

Now we do workamp summers and winters so don't travel as much as full-time RVs who don't workamp. But a surge guard is well worth the money.
Denali
QUOTE(MelindaK @ Nov 28 2010, 11:03 PM) *

Wow, it is amazing the things I learn from reading post on this site! I love all the information provided by the full timers. I have the surge protector, but never thought about using a multimeter to check voltage. I started using a surge protector after a camping trip where the electricity went out at one end of the camp ground. I had issues with the refrigerator not wanting to come back on. For some reason the state park was having some electrical issues. I now make it a habit to always use a surge protector. In the other post I noticed that 120 was mentioned a lot. I have a TT that use 30 amps sometimes I pull the TT to family or friends homes to visit. They are always telling me they have 110 and I should be fine. Of course on these execursions I do not run the A/C. Am I okay on 110 using all the other appliances (refrig, microwave, lights, etc.)?

Melinda
The standard now is 120 volts AC (VAC). When voltage falls below about 108 VAC equipment, especially air conditioners, can be damaged.

A surge protector will not protect your rig from low voltage. It protects you from momentary spikes in voltage, often caused by lightening strikes or catastrophic failures in a park's (or home's) electric supply.

You are wise not to try to run an air conditioner when using power from a friend's home. In that case, you may well get 120 VAC when under no load, but using a standard wall plug the power will quickly drop under a heavy load like a microwave or air conditioner.
pianotuna
Hi all,

This is what I use to initially test power at a site, using the appropriate adapters.

kill-a-watt

watt meter

Outlet tester.

outlet tester

To further test the power I do this:

TEST: Shore power versus alternative power. Put glass of water in microwave and start, if voltage drops to 109 vac or less at same outlet as microwave is plugged into, end of test. Energy source is inadequate.

Stage 2 Same glass of water, start at room temperature with oven thermometer. Set timer for one minute high. Remove glass measure temperature on shore power

Stage 3 Do the same with alternative power source (inverter or generator) and compare temperature difference to test above.

If there is a large temperature difference, then your microwave is going to unlove you trying to suffer through inadequate voltage or waveform.

Of course if the power source fails--then do not run the air conditioner either.
RV Camper
QUOTE
I am not an electrician, but I do have a formal background in electrical engineering.
I am not an electrical engineer, just a simple electrician, but no $15 volt meter is going to protect you from anything, especially since it would be plugged into an outlet inside and it would then tell you that you have destroyed your RV electronics after the damage is already done, if it happens to be at the high end, as the damage will happen long before you can run inside to see what was wrong!

The meter don't do one thing to protect you from low voltage either because you would have to sit and watch it 24/7 to be ready to shut things down. In addition, a power surge that is large enough to destroy all of your electronic equipment, takes less than one second to destroy things, so how would this meter do anything for you?

Ignoring the fact that those meters are terribly inaccurate, they are still of little value. If you test one against a high quality digital meter, you will find that most of them are in about a 10% accuracy range at mid scale and more like 20% accuracy at the high and low ends of the displayed acceptable range. They are quite simply a false sense of security and a genuine waste of money.

The wise RV owner at least uses a good quality, digital meter and knows how to test the outlet before he connects his RV to it. Most professional electricians that I know who RV also use one of the line monitor devices such as those from Surge Guard or Progressive Ind.
John Blue
This information is correct. We use a Fluke 79 multimeter for testing and we have the EMS system hard wired into the 50 amp AC wiring and that may not stop the damage in all cases. The EMS will slow down lighting but I do think in all cases it would save all your 120 volt equipment in a hard strike. If you every have an open ground pin (top pin) on 50 amps all your 120 volts equipment will burn out in less than a second due to 240 volts on everything. Found one park in KS this year and EMS system would not power up due to an E2 code or open ground. Best to check/test before you plug in AC power cable if you do not have a EMS in place or you will need a lot of $$$$$$ for repair work.
RLM
QUOTE(Kirk @ Dec 11 2010, 08:06 PM) *

I am not an electrical engineer, just a simple electrician...

The meter don't do one thing to protect you from low voltage either because you would have to sit and watch it 24/7 to be ready to shut things down.

If you test one against a high quality digital meter, you will find that most of them are in about a 10% accuracy range at mid scale and more like 20% accuracy at the high and low ends of the displayed acceptable range.


I did not think it necessary to add that I completely wired my own house to code standard, and can install, trouble shoot, and repair most ac and dc electrical stuff in my house, car, and RV. I can even change a light bulb by myself. One of the reasons that I am not a certified electrician is because of the length of training and time it took to be one. Getting to that professional status in not simple.

I know that a plug in voltmeter isn't going to be as accurate as a quality digital true RMS multimeter, but just for grins, I checked the cheap one in the RV against my not so cheap Fluke 115. It is a bit less than 10% inaccurate. Or if you are one who sees the glass as half full, it is 90% accurate.

A plug in voltmeter is just another tool to help with the awareness of a pending problem. I stand by my original statement...”Anytime the needle is outside the green arc, then you have a potential problem and a decision to make.” That concept is much the same as monitoring one’s cheap and inaccurate analog gas gauge.

The posted replies to the gentleman's original questions at least give him, and perhaps someone else, the idea that the issue is important.
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