Grounding Your Camper Part II

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Grounding Your Camper Part II

Postby Ira » Sun Mar 26, 2006 9:20 am

I know this was all covered below, but I'm having trouble figuring out what I did or didn't do wrong. So a brief background:

One of the power sources at my boatyard is a nightmare, so I've been working with a 12V battery and inverter to do all my installations. Everything has been working cool.

Yesterday, the battery took a crap (I haven't charged it since I bought it), so I had to hook up to a SECOND power source. Unlike the first source, this time, everything worked fine--nothing tripped on the panel.

But...

As I touched a metal receptacle, I could sense the current. Mild shock, but call me crazy--I don't want ANY. To compound matters, the three outlets all tested fine with the tester.

There's one other factor to keep in mind, and this is that there was a lot of rain on Thursday, and my TD floor was a bit wet.

I know I shouldn't assume, but let's DO assume this second power source is all screwed up. How do I deal with this if it happens at a camp site? Should I have grounded the main panel to something?

I just knew that my electrical headaches hadn't gone away forever.
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Postby madjack » Sun Mar 26, 2006 9:51 am

...without being there to look over your shoulder it is hard to tell BUT your panel and receptacles should all be grounded back to the source (green or bare copper wire)...also as you know electricity and water do not mix, the wetness may have caused a bleed off of electricity that you felt as a tingle and there may be no fault in your wiring...do you have any GFI protection on your system...if not you should get one of those yellow GFIC extension cord thingies shown on another thread...they are available at your local box store...a wet "short" will not necessarily trip a breaker but would trip a GFIC
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Postby GeorgeTelford » Sun Mar 26, 2006 2:34 pm

Hold the phones.

Sorry I have not seen your system so bear with me,

Have you not got a GFIC in Place?

Where were your feet when shock occured?

Of course the panel needs bonding to earth.

Ira provide photo's box and its wiring and listen carefully to the advice given.
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Postby mikeschn » Sun Mar 26, 2006 2:49 pm

All this talk of GFCI, I figured I'd throw in a picture of my setup just for good measure...

The orange line is the feed from the outside source.

The next, short, line is the gfci line, and finally, it goes into the extension cord box. That's it! I've made it as simple as some of the other simple arrangements I've seen here! ;)

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P.S. Oh, the other 2 lines? The black one goes to the 12V power supply, and the gray one goes to the cabin outlet.
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Postby Ira » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:23 am

Everything is grounded correctly (on MY inside end), I'm SURE. So can this be a case of the SOURCE not being properly grounded. But if that's the case, would it test okay like it did?

No, I don't have the GFI extension thingy yet, which I totally plan to get. When I touched the box, either my little shoes or fat ass were on the damp carpet.

But here's my concern with the GFI:

Let's assume I buy it tomorrow, and it DOES trip. How does this help me in a real-life camping situation? I seem to remember someone who reverse-grounded, reverse polarized an adaptor for these situations.

But where should I start with this? Like, does this sound like a plan for Saturday?

I hook up to the battery and inverter. If all is okay, I can assume --I know I shouldn't use the word assume--that the problem was the original source, OR that it dried out.

If I still feel a tingle, it could still be wet, OR something is wired wrong. But I'm 99.999999% sure everything is wired correctly. For God's sake, I spent WEEKS on this, and the marine panel has incredible safety/redundancy features built into it for just this danger--water and electricity.
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Postby madjack » Mon Mar 27, 2006 10:09 am

Ira, as I stated...I am not there to look over you shoulder so.......odds are that your wiring is OK and the source is OK. The problem tingle you had is PROBABLY a result of water and electrical leakage(yes electricity can "leak") and this is what a GFIC detects and trips for. Your leak(water) has somehow gotten into your electrical system and become energized, this might actually help you find the source of the leak since it has come into contact with your electrical system...how about your porch lights, they sound like a likely culprit to me...Joanne, had the electrical tester and reversed polarity plug you are talkin' about...GET SOME KINDA GFIC PROTECTION
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Postby GeorgeTelford » Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:17 am

Hi Ira

What Jack said......

But when you try it in the weekend, PLEASE use a meter between damp carpet and earth to see if there is a Voltage, testing with your fingers for tingle is for the birds and I truly would miss your posts........

Mike coupla points, The extension is still wound, its never a good idea to run an extension that way it causes heat, I have seen to go up in flames through being used wound......

I have been thinking about these extension cord set ups, the Gray goes to a socket, usually the backplates of sockets are earthed, so can any see a reason not to bond this earth to chassis and any metal work?

That cord look like RJ 45 Network stuff (on the inline GFCI), surely thats not rated for mains?
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Postby Ira » Mon Mar 27, 2006 12:22 pm

GeorgeTelford wrote:testing with your fingers for tingle is for the birds and I truly would miss your posts........



Okay--I'll get my wife to do it then.

SEE, MRS. DALE!!!

It's always ME with these kinds of posts--not HIM!
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Postby s4son » Mon Mar 27, 2006 2:38 pm

mikeschn wrote:All this talk of GFCI, I figured I'd throw in a picture of my setup just for good measure...

The orange line is the feed from the outside source.

The next, short, line is the gfci line, and finally, it goes into the extension cord box. That's it! I've made it as simple as some of the other simple arrangements I've seen here! ;)

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Mike...

P.S. Oh, the other 2 lines? The black one goes to the 12V power supply, and the gray one goes to the cabin outlet.


This looks like the simplest way to add 110 to your trailer. I am pretty much a novice at all things teardrop and this includes electricity. I like this approach because everything just “plugs in.” What does everyone else think of Mike’s setup?

Scott F.
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Postby Gerdo » Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:47 pm

Play it safe. Don't wait. Get a GFI.

Also take your volt meter and check voltage: (start at the boatyard outlet)
Across the two flat blade holes in the outlet, you should have 110-120 volts.
Across the small flat blade (hot) and the roundish hole (Ground), you should have 110-120 volts.
Across the large flat blade (neutral) and the roundish hole (Ground), you should not have any volts.

If the above scenario is different then the outlet is miswired (DON'T USE IT)

They also sell a tester plug that all you do is plug it in and two green lights is good, a green and a red is bad. A cheep quick test.
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Postby madjack » Mon Mar 27, 2006 7:54 pm

Scott, Mike's set up is about as simple, clean and functional as you can get...KISS to the max and it'll work just fine...there is no ground to the frame/skin with that set-up and you might wanna run a ground to frame/skin
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Postby bledsoe3 » Mon Mar 27, 2006 8:51 pm

madjack wrote:Scott, Mike's set up is about as simple, clean and functional as you can get...KISS to the max and it'll work just fine...there is no ground to the frame/skin with that set-up and you might wanna run a ground to frame/skin
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Jack, From where to the frame would you connect the ground wire?
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Postby madjack » Mon Mar 27, 2006 10:44 pm

Jim, since any such system would be be individually different but on the picture/description Mike shows give I would say one of 3 places...1st) a jumper added to the ground lug on the orange source cord...2nd) possibly a grounding lug on the outlet box(maybe even open the box)...3rd)from the grounding lug on one of the outlets that is being fed by the outlet box...1 r 2 would be much preferable due to always being in the curcuit...a receptacle fed from the box could be disconnected leaving the ground ungrounded...
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Postby Chuck Craven » Mon Mar 27, 2006 10:54 pm

Yep that’s a super simple power system. That’s it the ground wire goes to the outlets round hole only. No ground to frame or aluminum outside panels. Good picture Mike!!!!! :applause:

Ira the best thing you could do with that boat yard power is to find an Isolation transformer. It plugs in to the shore power and the output is where you plug in the tear.
The transformer has to be a 1 to 1 ratio or 120vac input and 120vac output then no mater how screwed up the boatyard is you are isolated from there mess.
Now to mess you up, you need one with the voltamp ratting that you are going to pull off the boatyard. How to figure this out is 120v plus the max current in amps you are going to draw off the shore power. Normally rated in KVA (kilo volt amp), 1 KVA is 120v at 8 amps approximately. If you are using 220v you can get them for 220 single phase with neutral which will give you two 120v and the 220v all isolated from the supply power. Only the ground needs to be common all the way from boatyard to your power panel. Take a look at E-bay should be able to find one there. If you are only going to use it for low power, look for a small one. You can make one but I will go in to that only if you can’t find one at a reasonable price. :twisted:

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Postby Nitetimes » Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:20 am

Chuck Craven wrote: You can make one but I will go in to that only if you can’t find one at a reasonable price. :twisted:

Chuck



Sounds interesting...let's hear it! 8) 8)
Rich


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