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Old 10-01-2016, 09:33 AM   #1
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Campground Electrical Requirements

I hope this is the proper forum for this question. I wanted to search for such a topic, but the search function does not seem to work on my android cell phone.

Question; Should campground electrical pedestals have ground fault outlets in them? I have a concern about this since I had to use an extension cord to plug into the pedestal.

The electrical box itself is 'questionable' as to really being weatherproof. But my bigger concern is where the RV electrical cord plugs into the extension cord. That connection is exposed to the elements. So if that connection does get wet, shouldn't that be protected by a ground fault at the pedestal? (I have a 50 amp panel, and am using the 50 amp outlet)

Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-01-2016, 09:53 AM   #2
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Appreciate your concerns about the condition of the pedestal. Two things: 1-if you don't already, install a surge protector in your rig to protect your equipment from bad power issues [Progressive Industries is a great choice]. 2- if you have a surge protector, most don't like/accept ground fault connections. Not sure what other protections might be built in to a CG pedestal--probably none. Accordingly, not much to protect you from shock, except to make sure you turn breaker off first, plug in cord, then turn breaker on [keeping your fingers away from any metal parts].
PS--in bad weather, I usually wrap any cord connections I might need to use in a plastic bag and secure with ties.
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:30 AM   #3
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I'm not positive, but I don't remember seeing a GFI breaker in a campground pedestal!
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:45 PM   #4
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I've read on here that some CGs are installing 30 amp GFI receptacles.

The people posting about it are having problems with them tripping.
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Old 10-01-2016, 02:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jb60 View Post
I hope this is the proper forum for this question. I wanted to search for such a topic, but the search function does not seem to work on my android cell phone.

Question; Should campground electrical pedestals have ground fault outlets in them? I have a concern about this since I had to use an extension cord to plug into the pedestal.

The electrical box itself is 'questionable' as to really being weatherproof. But my bigger concern is where the RV electrical cord plugs into the extension cord. That connection is exposed to the elements. So if that connection does get wet, shouldn't that be protected by a ground fault at the pedestal? (I have a 50 amp panel, and am using the 50 amp outlet)

Thanks in advance!
GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor) is designed to trip with 5 (plus or minus 1) thousands of an amp (mA) of difference in current between Black (Hot) and White (Return) wires. This is also known as leakage current. 5 mA leakage current flowing thru a human or pet can cause a shock or worst case an injury. The 5 mA threshold is a National Electric Code (NEC) requirement.

GFCIs have to be deployed on branch circuits and not on the power feed to a RV electrical box or residential electrical box. Why?
Too many devices in a home or RV that all are allowed a small leakage current, they all can add up to more than 5 mA making a GFCI here on the main feed for multiple branch circuits a problem for false trips. No device that is defective or non-compliant with NEC or UL specs, yet the 30 A GFCI still trips because total leakage is above 5 mA. What can each device leak and still be compliant?

- Double Insulated hand held devices are allowed up to 0.25 mA each.
- Individual hand held devices are allowed up to 0.75 mA each.
- Movable but not hand held devices are allowed up to 3.5 mA each.
- Stationary devices are allowed up to 3.5 mA each.

So the combination of the TVs, Microwave, Hot Water Heater element, Air Conditioner, AC to DC Converter, etc. can easily exceed 5 mA and trip a 30 A GFCI feeding the entire RV.

RV Park Owners SHOULD NOT be feeding 30 Amp 120 Volt RV outlets from GFCI equipped breakers, it is NOT required by the NEC for good reason as I have explained above.

They SHOULD be continuing to feed the 15 A or 20 A 120 Volt grounded convenience outlet on pedestals with GFCIs as required by NEC. Hope this helps.
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Old 10-01-2016, 04:43 PM   #6
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The electrical code people don't seem to think its a problem that needs addressing. They require GFCI on 15A & 20A receptacles, but not larger ones. Some govenment parks are now using GFCI on 30A outlets, though.

The outlet is still grounded, so there is a safe path for an electrical short to take. It just lacks an auto-shutoff.

Don't unplug your 50A cord when standing in a puddle and you will be OK.
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Old 10-01-2016, 04:52 PM   #7
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"Don't unplug your 50A cord when standing in a puddle and you will be OK."

And don't unplug or plug in your cord with the breaker on!
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Old 10-01-2016, 05:02 PM   #8
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I haven't seen any NEC electrical code that requires the 30 amp and 50 amp RV receptacles to be GFI protected. However it does require all 15 or 20 amp receptacle in the shore power pedestal to be GIF protected.

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Old 10-03-2016, 08:39 AM   #9
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Thanks, that does help 'somewhat'. I was wondering specifically if the NEC required ground faults at the pedestals for RV plug-ins. One would think that special 30 and 50 amp ground fault outlets, (with a somewhat higher tolerance), would had been made for these 'numerous' applications. With 'cheater cords', various adapters, and extension cords being very commonly used these days, I personally believe that there should be that extra safety at campsites.
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:22 PM   #10
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Thanks, that does help 'somewhat'. I was wondering specifically if the NEC required ground faults at the pedestals for RV plug-ins. One would think that special 30 and 50 amp ground fault outlets, (with a somewhat higher tolerance), would had been made for these 'numerous' applications. With 'cheater cords', various adapters, and extension cords being very commonly used these days, I personally believe that there should be that extra safety at campsites.
jb60, go back and re-read powercat's excellently written post #5. GFCI protection is not required on power supply circuits, only branch circuits. And wanting GFCI protection on 30a & 50a circuits is asking for multiple doses of indigestion. As suggested, get and surge protector and use it religiously. And always ensure that the breaker on the pedestal is open/off before you plug your cord into it. Then, when you are disconnecting, always turn the breaker off before unplugging. The surge protector is a good investment.
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Old 10-04-2016, 03:05 PM   #11
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There are also technical issues with trying to provide GFCI protection on a 4-2ire 50A outlet. A GFCI works by comparing the output "amps" of thre hot wire with the return amps in the neutral wire. Without getting into the physics of electricity, you can't do that when you have two out-of-phase hots and a combined neutral. The amps that return is the difference between the two hots, so the GFCI can't just compare the two. I'm not saying it's impossible to design such a thing, but its much more difficult than a GFCI for a 3-wire circuit.
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Old 10-13-2016, 04:08 AM   #12
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I'm not positive, but I don't remember seeing a GFI breaker in a campground pedestal!
Just about everywhere I've camped this year, the pedestal has had a 20 amp GFI, aside from the 30 and 50 amp.
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Old 10-13-2016, 10:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdst51 View Post
Just about everywhere I've camped this year, the pedestal has had a 20 amp GFI, aside from the 30 and 50 amp.

I should have been more specific. I was referring to the 30 & 50 amp outlets!
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Old 10-13-2016, 01:01 PM   #14
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Regarding the extension cord issue. Home Depot and others have boxes designed to shield plug in connections for contractors who use heavy extension cords outside. I have seen some that are big enough for 30 amp cords. They might also work for 50 amp cords or maybe they have different sizes.

I used one when we had to use a 30 amp extension cord for a couple of months while we were parked at a relative's farm.
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