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Old 03-07-2013, 12:26 AM   #1
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Proper way to hook up shore power

Since being in Yuma for a few months now, and talking to lots of RV owners, it’s apparent to me, a few people don't know how to properly hook up their coach to shore power. The information below is for ANY RV, regardless of what kind it is! Two folks (one of which has been rv'ing for 12 years) I have talked to, have burned up control boards, and inverters/transfer switches by not doing it correctly, so here is how it should be done. Assumption 50A shore power cord on most any Motorhome is standard, some class C coaches, don't have the need for 50A, so they have a 30A cord.

If you have a 30A to 50A or a 50A to 30A cord adapter, and it has a little green light on it, turn off the circuit breaker on the 50A & 30A in the shore power panel, plug in the adapter cord, and turn on the appropriate circuit breaker, if the LITTLE GREEN LIGHT COMES ON “GREEN” this circuit is good, yellow or red light, circuit is bad.

If you don’t have that, you can use a VOM with the voltage range set to 200V+-AC and then check the individual 120V-AC connections (assumed 50A receptacle) (vertical holes) with the positive (RED) lead in one of those, and the (BLACK) negative lead in the ground or neutral hole. The neutral connection is at the top, the ground one (round) is at the bottom of a 50A receptacle. Turn off the Circuit Breaker in the shore power panel that would be either a 50A or 30A breaker inside the panel. If in Yuma, AZ in the foothills, this breaker is located most likely at the street, on the panel with the meter. Once you have turned off this breaker, you then plug in the Motorhome Shore Power Cord, now turn on the breaker again, and it’s done correctly. Some motorhome’s have a indicator panel inside, which tells them shore power is good or “qualified”, if it’s not, do not use that power source, it’s not wired correctly, has a bad neutral or ground, or one of the 50A-120V AC legs is not working correctly, don’t use it.

Now failure to do it the right way, can burn up any sensitive electrical/electronic circuits you have which normally are connected all the time, for instance any newer TV, Microwave oven, home entertainment system which is in standby status, the inverter/charger can also be damaged, the transfer switch/surge guard unit can also be damaged as well. One story we were informed of in school, was of a Beaver Coach owner who cooked all the electrical system in his motorhome, beaver then did a good faith repair, but sent out a technical bulletin to all owners on the proper way to plug in the coach. Don’t trust what the dealer told you; learn the correct way to hook up your coach. I think the repair place who worked on my coach, did not know the proper way to hook up RV's and burned up my inverter, because, I had to show them the correct way to do it.
Remember, breaker OFF, plug in cord, then breaker ON. To leave shore power, breaker OFF, unplug shore power, leave breaker OFF. Also remember, electricity can burn, injure or kill you, respect it please!!
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:17 AM   #2
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I suggest a PRogressive Industries EMS. It will do all of the power checks for you and will not allow power to the coach if there is any problem.
Saved me $3500 in the first month due to power surge.
$3500 is what it cost my neighbor after the power surge.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:24 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CampDaven
I suggest a PRogressive Industries EMS. It will do all of the power checks for you and will not allow power to the coach if there is any problem.
Saved me $3500 in the first month due to power surge.
$3500 is what it cost my neighbor after the power surge.
X2 RV We RV Mutants have PI EMS.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CampDaven View Post
I suggest a PRogressive Industries EMS. It will do all of the power checks for you and will not allow power to the coach if there is any problem.
Saved me $3500 in the first month due to power surge.
$3500 is what it cost my neighbor after the power surge.
True, but assuming the power is tested good, I think the message is:

Don't plug into a hot (breaker "on") pedestal. At the very least you will arc at the plug/receptacle and pit the receptacle and plug contacts. Same situation when unplugging .... set the breaker to "off" before unplugging.

Have a good look at your plug. If the prongs are corroded and pitted, clean it or replace it.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:44 AM   #5
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At every park I go to I see people who will just grab the elec. cord and pull it out.
As Old RV'er mentioned, when leaving the park, "TURN PEDESTIAL BREAKER OFF", REMOVE ELEC. CORD. When you arrive at a park, check to see if the breaker is off.
Then insert elec. plug and turn "ON" pedestial breaker. A lot of times when you look at your plug end and you see the blades are rust color or look burned and the pedestial plug-in looks burned, It can be because of improper hook-up & improper disconect by others.
This is one of the reasons we have to replace our 50amp to 30amp adapters about every 2 to 3 years or less.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:02 AM   #6
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I make sure the pedestal breaker is off before I plug or unplug my PI EMS. If on 30 amp, my adapters stay clean.
The PI waits about 2 minutes before passing power to the coach, making sure all is well.
In some parks, the PI has cut power to the coach due to high or low voltage. When all is well, it comes back on.
It gives me comfort.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:03 AM   #7
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Agree 100% with killing power before inserting and before removing the plug. Wet cords can be a killer even if the the wiring is correct.

Good idea also to check proper power setup before plugging anything into an unknown source.

Are there any living people who don't take proper preacautions when dealing with electricity? If there are, perhaps thier status might just change to dead before old age sets in.

This is from an Old and long time RVer in my 70,s and been RVing for >45 yrs and has come across some bad wired or just deteriated RV plugs. I suspect most of us have seen that. Some get so worn that a good connection is most unlikely. Just move on or have bad plugs corrected before plugging your rig in. Loose connections can cause big problems.

I once came across an excellent site that I wanted to stay for a couple of weeks but the plug was in bad condition. So I went to the office to see what could be done about it. His electrician was not available until the next day and I wanted that site. He had spare plugs so I volenteered to replace it. He was grateful and gave me a $30 discount. It was win-win.
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:51 PM   #8
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If you were wondering why you shouldn't do a hot plug in or removal.

There are two reasons.

The first has already been mentioned above, it causes arcing and damage to the plug and to the socket.

The second is that not all of the connector pins make contact to the socket at the same time.
--For 30 and 50 amp connections this means you have the potential to not have a grounded circuit. Read that as the whole RV is hot above ground if you have any internal wiring problems and the coach itself can be an lethal electrocution hazard. A very slim chance of happening though because the ground pin is designed to make contact first, but not a chance I want to take. The other thing that can happen is you can have a floating neutral for an instant. Once again, this shouldn't be a problem if your RV is wired correctly--but you never know.
--For a 50 Amp circuit when the the neutral is late to make a connection you can have 240 Volts across your 120 Volt circuits. This can easily happen if you tilt the plug while inserting.
--Sensitive electronics won't handle either of these cases all the time.
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Old 03-12-2013, 01:10 AM   #9
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DAVE - Thank you, that is what I wanted to say, but could not come up with a good description. As you mentioned, it will kill any sensitive electronics in the coach if the neutral is not plugged in at the same time as the hot leads, not a good thing to happen.
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Old 03-12-2013, 12:00 PM   #10
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Glad to help Monty.

In my 2000 Alpine Coach, I have a Sure Guard 41260 transfer switch. I don't know which years WRV installed these in Coaches or if mine was added by the previous owner. But these transfer switches check for wiring errors and will not connect to the shore power if faults are found. Mine is in the basement attached to the overhead (underside of the living area floor) on the passenger side, forward of the 'utilities' partition.

From the manufacturers web site:
50A Hardwire - Model 41260
Automatic Transfer Switch


120/240V, 50A, 60 Hz

Protects RV bumper to bumper from faulty park power.
Provides the following protection:
•Open neutral
•Reverse polarity
Multi-mode surge suppression.
3-4 second delay on shore power connect.
30 second delay on generator start up.

Mechanical interlocking contactors.
UL Approved ATS – full transfer switch rating, UL1008,
(not general control).
2600 Joules at 76,400 Amps.

The surge protection is a little wimpy, but that is better than nothing.

So if all Alpines have this transfer switch installed we already have basic protection from miswired RV-parks. Not to say that taking the precautions outlined in the previous posts is not needed. For me it means I have additional protection if I do make mistakes in hooking up--like when somebody interrupts the hook-up process.
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Old 03-12-2013, 12:36 PM   #11
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I totally agree with what's been said here. And have cautioned against plugging in with the breaker live. You risk not getting all pins connected at the same time. But the question I have often wondered about...When you flip the breaker on, aren't you experiencing the same conditions, but on a less risky scale - that is, not quite so likely to happen? Just wondering.

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Old 03-12-2013, 10:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
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I totally agree with what's been said here. And have cautioned against plugging in with the breaker live. You risk not getting all pins connected at the same time. But the question I have often wondered about...When you flip the breaker on, aren't you experiencing the same conditions, but on a less risky scale - that is, not quite so likely to happen? Just wondering.

GL Arnold
The breaker only switches the two (or single) hot lines. The ground and neutral are connected when the plug goes in. Using the circuit breaker as an on/off switch avoids the problems people introduce by making connections poorly or too slowly.

A RV park with a mis-wired hook up circuit with one of the hot and neutral wires swapped can still be a problem though--and the circuit breaker won't protect you from that. Which is why you measure the socket on the pole with a meter and/or have an inline detection gizmo to look out for you.

Clear as mud eh?

How about:
The circuit breaker protects you from your plugging in mistakes.
The protection gizmos (wired in, or on the pig-tail) protect you from the RV park's mistakes.
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