RV PRO

June '17

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88 • RV PRO • June 2017 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S usage on the power grid rapidly decreases. • Low voltage: As with high voltage, 120-volt equipment is not designed to withstand oper- ating in low-voltage conditions. Low-voltage conditions are very common at campgrounds and typically occur as a result of exces- sive power consumption. • Reverse polarity: Reverse polarity is an electrical condition where the hot and neutral wires are incorrectly wired. This can lead to equipment damage and poses a potential shock hazard. • Open neutral: In an open neu- tral condition there is a break in the neutral wire run either at or before the pedestal. This situation prevents the flow of electricity to return to the power source. The electricity becomes trapped inside of equipment, leading to imme- diate damage and a potential shock hazard. • Open ground: Open ground is a condition where electricity does not have a direct path back to the earth (ground). The electricity will find the path of least resis- tance to the earth and will utilize RV jacks, leveling legs, etc., to ground itself. This is what leads to the presence of "hot skin" on an RV/trailer, where the person touching the metal part becomes the path to ground. • Mis-wired pedestals: Wiring issues within a power pedestal that can create a power feed with no ground, no neutral, reverse polarity, or a 240-volt receptacle. When any of these conditions are present, damage is being done to elec- trical components and the risk for shock is present. While immediate damage to the components may be visible, there may not be noticeable short-term con- sequences from an electrical fault. Even though components may o p e r a t e n o r m a l l y, t h e l i f e s p a n i s impacted anytime the RV is plugged in to one of these conditions. When converters, inverters, A/V electronics, or any other component with a circuit board fails prematurely, it is most likely due to repeated exposure to one or more of these conditions. Wear and tear on the campground equipment is a major factor in the pres- ence of most of the power conditions referenced. Damage to the wiring and/ or the receptacle is what causes the con- dition, which can be a result of driving off while plugged in, frequent plug- ging and unplugging to the receptacle, broken power box cover exposing recep- tacles to the elements, and damage to underground wiring. Compounding the issues related to the physical wiring components is the growth in RVs manufactured with 50-amp service. The added power con- sumption demands that the higher-amp draw RVs require place a tremendous strain on the existing power supply at campgrounds. The power supply systems were designed and installed with the expecta- tions of a smaller mix of 50-amp service needs than what the industry is shifting to. This is the primary driver behind the frequent presence of low voltage conditions at campgrounds. There are multiple product types currently available that can either be installed at the OEM level or purchased as an aftermarket accessory. These prod- ucts include various levels of protection and functionality to provide a solution to fit the wants of RV owners. The entry-level product type is a portable surge protector with indicators for the incoming wiring status. From there, portable and hardwire products are available with complete electrical protection that disconnects the power supply when a fault is detected. The final product option that is available is automatic transfer switches that include electrical protection features. RV owners are not always aware of the potential risk that they face due to electrical issues. Consumers do not understand the need for electrical pro- tection, as their belief is that camp- ground power is as stable as residential power. With that said, most people will purchase surge protectors for their elec- tronics at home – the same should be true for their RV. Solutions are available to protect the entire RV, whereas the residential surge protectors only cover the individual outlet. Fortunately, suppliers make a variety of products designed to mitigate the risk that power surges and other electrical issues will damage RV electronics or pose safety risks to RVers.

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