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Old 06-28-2013, 12:37 PM   #1
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Shocking question

Working underneath the FW at home last night, lying flat on my back in the grass, I felt a little shock when I touched metal. Not a hard jolt, just a little tingle. I unplugged the shore line and no more tingles. I've got continuity in the ground wiring for the shore line all the way back to the breaker box in the shop, but apparently I'm getting a current leak in the RV somewhere that isn't making it's way back to ground circuit. Anybody ever had a similar experience?
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Old 06-28-2013, 12:41 PM   #2
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Bad connection on ground and/or neutral at the RV or house. Actually had a Airstream that about killed me with a bad connection and wet grass.
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Old 06-28-2013, 12:44 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by menoble View Post
Working underneath the FW at home last night, lying flat on my back in the grass, I felt a little shock when I touched metal. Not a hard jolt, just a little tingle. I unplugged the shore line and no more tingles. I've got continuity in the ground wiring for the shore line all the way back to the breaker box in the shop, but apparently I'm getting a current leak in the RV somewhere that isn't making it's way back to ground circuit. Anybody ever had a similar experience?
If you have a multimeter, check the amount of voltage you felt. Touch the red lead to the frame and stick the black lead in the ground next to you. Set the multimeter on AC. You should not see much voltage at all. I had a wire loose in my main and I actually had a 97v. leak. Check all your connections in you main box, and in your unit. I suspect you have a loose neutral or ground somewhere. Be careful.....
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Old 06-28-2013, 04:59 PM   #4
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If you have a multimeter, check the amount of voltage you felt. Touch the red lead to the frame and stick the black lead in the ground next to you. Set the multimeter on AC. You should not see much voltage at all. I had a wire loose in my main and I actually had a 97v. leak. Check all your connections in you main box, and in your unit. I suspect you have a loose neutral or ground somewhere. Be careful.....
Drove a steel tent spike in the dirt for a good connection and it tested 0.5V AC frame to ground. The DW says I've been a little sensitive lately, but I doubt that's it. (Jeez, everybody cries watching Old Yeller.) I had it plugged in because the battery was low, it was charged up tonight so I'll cycle it back down and test it again tomorrow.
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Old 06-28-2013, 05:09 PM   #5
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Drove a steel tent spike in the dirt for a good connection and it tested 0.5V AC frame to ground. The DW says I've been a little sensitive lately, but I doubt that's it. (Jeez, everybody cries watching Old Yeller.) I had it plugged in because the battery was low, it was charged up tonight so I'll cycle it back down and test it again tomorrow.
Was the grass wet when you were lying down the first time you felt a tingle?
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Old 06-28-2013, 05:48 PM   #6
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You are only getting 0.5V because you have a very poor ground via the tent stake. I bet you are getting a lot more voltage than that. I had this problem due to a dealer's erroneous repair of my ATS. I couldn't get a voltage meter to read anything using a probe in the ground. There is a fellow named Mike Sokol who has a website called No Shock Zone. Try holding a NCVT (Non contact voltage tester) against the metal parts of your RV. Mine lit up like a Christmas tree even though the regular voltage meter showed zero. Don't do like me and just ignore it for a while. Take it seriously. It can be a very dangerous situation. I was at a race in Missouri during tropical storm Isaac and the tingle became more of a ZAPP!
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Old 06-28-2013, 11:12 PM   #7
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Try holding a NCVT (Non contact voltage tester) against the metal parts of your RV. Mine lit up like a Christmas tree even though the regular voltage meter showed zero.
I'm Mike Sokol, writer of the NoShockZone articles noted above. Thanks for posting the link to No Shock Zone. I think it's sometimes difficult to measure an actual chassis to ground voltage because of paint and corrosion issues. However, a Non Contact Voltage Tester (NCVT) such as a Fluke VoltAlert doesn't care about paint or corrosion and will beep/blink if the RV chassis/skin is at least 40 volts. That's about the threshold of feeling a shock if your hands are dry, so it's a very good "quick" proximity hot-skin test. Please see the video below where I electrify a 40 ft RV with various voltages and test it with a Fluke VoltAlert. Hot Skin RV proximity test full scale - YouTube

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Old 06-29-2013, 06:43 AM   #8
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Was the grass wet when you were lying down the first time you felt a tingle?
Not wet, but with all the rain we've had it's green and lush. Truthfully, I probably should have been mowing yard instead of tinkering with the rv, but you know how it is.
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Old 06-29-2013, 06:46 AM   #9
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I'm Mike Sokol, writer of the NoShockZone articles noted above. Thanks for posting the link to No Shock Zone. I think it's sometimes difficult to measure an actual chassis to ground voltage because of paint and corrosion issues. However, a Non Contact Voltage Tester (NCVT) such as a Fluke VoltAlert doesn't care about paint or corrosion and will beep/blink if the RV chassis/skin is at least 40 volts. That's about the threshold of feeling a shock if your hands are dry, so it's a very good "quick" proximity hot-skin test. Please see the video below where I electrify a 40 ft RV with various voltages and test it with a Fluke VoltAlert. Hot Skin RV proximity test full scale - YouTube

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Thanks Mike, Good information!
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Old 06-29-2013, 07:04 AM   #10
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BTW, if you are going to check your connections, with no power applied and house connections unplugged, the set-screws should be LOOSENED at least a 1/2 turn and then re-tightened. If you can't loosen the set-screw, it has seized due to excessive heat from a poor connection.

This method prevents the "oh, it feels tight" phenomenon when the set-screw is not tight but seized.
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Old 06-29-2013, 08:17 AM   #11
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Not wet, but with all the rain we've had it's green and lush. Truthfully, I probably should have been mowing yard instead of tinkering with the rv, but you know how it is.
There are news stories about RV owners being killed in their front yards while kneeling in the damp grass and reaching up to touch the side of the RV. In once instance I know of, the owner had plugged his RV into an ungrounded drop-light, just to charge his RV batteries. But there was internal leakage from the line voltage to the RV frame, and he died on his lawn from electrocution. NEVER plug your RV into an ungrounded power outlet even for something as simple as charging the batteries or running the television.

Your body has something around 1,000 ohms of resistance hand-to-hand, and only 20 milliamperes of current will cause every muscle in your body to contract and you won't be able to let go of the "live wire" you touched. So, if your hands and feet are wet, you can receive a severe shock with as little as 20 volts AC. If you're standing in a puddle of brackish water (sea water?) and your hands are also wet with salt water, then it takes only 30 volts AC to induce 30 mA (milliamperes) of current to cause almost certain ventricular fibrillation (no heart pumping action) and without immediate CPR and help from an EMT to restart your heart, you'll almost certainly die.

So I consider ANY electrical tingle to be potentially lethal. If your hands and feet are dry, then a tingle suggests you're touching at least 30 volts AC. And as you can see, if it rains or you come back from a shower and standing on damp grass, that same 30 volts AC can kill you or a family member or even a friend coming by to visit. So NEVER accept a shock from any appliance or RV. It's not normal or safe and could cause a serious shock or death the next time you play Russian Roulette with it.
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Old 06-29-2013, 12:24 PM   #12
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So I consider ANY electrical tingle to be potentially lethal. If your hands and feet are dry, then a tingle suggests you're touching at least 30 volts AC. And as you can see, if it rains or you come back from a shower and standing on damp grass, that same 30 volts AC can kill you or a family member or even a friend coming by to visit. So NEVER accept a shock from any appliance or RV. It's not normal or safe and could cause a serious shock or death the next time you play Russian Roulette with it.
I'm certainly not taking this situation lightly, just last weekend our 18mo. old barefoot granddaughter was playing with her toys on the RV steps, fortunately we were on a dry concrete pad. Just one of those things you don't think about until it's too late.
You know your stuff, what if I'm running the shore line off of my portable generators (tandem Honda EU2000s) sitting on the ground outside? Would it create the same hot skin condition?
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Old 06-29-2013, 01:26 PM   #13
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What if I'm running the shore line off of my portable generators (tandem Honda EU2000s) sitting on the ground outside? Would it create the same hot skin condition?
Actually, because generators are inherently "isolated" from the earth (ground) then they're typically safe and can't create a hot-skin condition. And most (if not all) portable generators below 5KW also have their neutrals floated from generator chassis ground. As a side note, if you can't get your voltage/surge protector to turn on because it knows you have an "open ground" on your portable generator, here's a quick $2 and 10 minute fix that shows you how to build a generator Ground-Neutral bonding plug to correct that problem. Generator Ground-Neutral Bonding | No~Shock~Zone

All that being said, I've figured out at least one scenario that could cause a generator that's isolated from the earth to create a hot-skin condition. I've never written about this before, but I'm pretty sure it's the case. Let's assume a portable (and earth isolated) generator is powering your RV, and you run an extension cord to something like a string of outside lights. If those lights fall into a puddle on the ground, it's within reason to assume that the hot side of the generator would have a leakage path to the earth, thereby elevating the G-N bonding point and skin of your RV above earth potential by 120 volts. Now, if you've followed all code and have a GFCI on the outlet it will probably protect you from a dangerous shock. That's the best reason to never bypass or replace any GFCI's in your RV. And I think that hitting the "Test" button on all your RV's GFCI outlets during your pre-season checklist is a great idea. Did you know you're supposed to check all GFCI's by using their test button ONCE A MONTH? I know that's never going to happen, but testing them once a year when the RV comes out of mothballs is an excellent idea.
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Old 06-30-2013, 07:47 AM   #14
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Wow great info, great video and well done.
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