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Old 05-01-2016, 02:35 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by palehorse89 View Post
Your block heater is on all the time your Coach is plugged in?
It doesn't have to be on. Modern GFCIs will trip if there is a neutral/ground fault. This makes finding the fault more difficult because shutting off the breaker does not disconnect the neutral so even with all of them off (including the main) a GFCI will still trip if there is a neutral/ground fault. The only way to find the bad circuit is by disconnecting the neutrals (which, of course, unplugging the block heater did).

A properly wired RV should be able to plug into a GFCI circuit with no problems. If it trips one, something is wrong. You may be able to get away with connecting to a non GFCI outlet, however it can create a shock hazard. If the ground (green) wire is missing, broken, etc, the fault that is causing the trip is likely to make the metal chassis of the RV hot to the earth, presenting a shock to someone touching the RV.

Another problem is there are a few campgrounds that have ALL receptacles (including the 30 & 50 amp) on GFCIs. Rare, but I've found them in some Missouri State Parks - Trail of Tears being one of them.
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Old 05-01-2016, 02:46 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by vermilye View Post
It doesn't have to be on. Modern GFCIs will trip if there is a neutral/ground fault. This makes finding the fault more difficult because shutting off the breaker does not disconnect the neutral so even with all of them off (including the main) a GFCI will still trip if there is a neutral/ground fault. The only way to find the bad circuit is by disconnecting the neutrals (which, of course, unplugging the block heater did).

A properly wired RV should be able to plug into a GFCI circuit with no problems. If it trips one, something is wrong. You may be able to get away with connecting to a non GFCI outlet, however it can create a shock hazard. If the ground (green) wire is missing, broken, etc, the fault that is causing the trip is likely to make the metal chassis of the RV hot to the earth, presenting a shock to someone touching the RV.

Another problem is there are a few campgrounds that have ALL receptacles (including the 30 & 50 amp) on GFCIs. Rare, but I've found them in some Missouri State Parks - Trail of Tears being one of them.
If like mine the outlet switch for the block heater outlet is inside, and when it is switched off, no power to the outlet, hence no imbalance.......
Am I thinking right? Most block heaters on DP's have a 120v outlet in the rear compartment, and that outlet is switched on/off from the inside control panel.
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Old 05-01-2016, 02:49 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by palehorse89 View Post
If like mine the outlet switch for the block heater outlet is inside, and when it is switched off, no power to the outlet, hence no imbalance.......
Am I thinking right? Most block heaters on DP's have a 120v outlet in the rear compartment, and that outlet is switched on/off from the inside control panel.
Only if the switch is a double pole that switches both the hot & neutral. Most will have a single pole switch that only switches the hot. If the neutral is left connected, a fault can exist between the neutral side of the heater element and the grounded engine block. That will trip a modern GFCI.
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Old 05-01-2016, 02:51 PM   #18
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Only if the switch is a double pole that switches both the hot & neutral. Most will have a single pole switch that only switches the hot. If the neutral is left connected, a fault can exist between the heater element and the grounded engine block. That will trip a modern GFCI.
Interesting! Thanks Jon........
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Old 05-01-2016, 03:30 PM   #19
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FWIW anyone who reads the code for motor homes should know that the safety ground and neutral are not bonded in the unit. Bonding in the unit violates code except when run on generator. That is why the generator side of the transfer switch is bonded to the neutral.

It quite possible to be properly wired and correctly working and still trip a GFI as some leakage is allowed in some places. Enough to total the 5 ma needed to trip a GFI. That is why there is a GFI on the bathroom circuit but not on the panel main in the unit.
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Old 05-01-2016, 03:42 PM   #20
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FWIW anyone who reads the code for motor homes should know that the safety ground and neutral are not bonded in the unit. Bonding in the unit violates code except when run on generator. That is why the generator side of the transfer switch is bonded to the neutral.

It quite possible to be properly wired and correctly working and still trip a GFI as some leakage is allowed in some places. Enough to total the 5 ma needed to trip a GFI. That is why there is a GFI on the bathroom circuit but not on the panel main in the unit.
A modern RV should not trip a GFCI. While some of the older converters generated enough leakage to cause more than a 5ma fault, there is something wrong if a modern converter & the rest of the RV trips one. Again, you may find campgrounds with GFCIs on the 30 amp receptacles.

Any fault current is being carried by the ground conductor (or, if it is missing, someone touching the RV). While 5ma is conservative, it is enough that a tickle can be felt by many. If the fault is over 30ma, depending on what part of the body it crosses, it may be fatal.

It is, of course, your choice to ignore the warning a GFCI presents when it trips, however determining that it is OK is a mistake.
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Old 05-01-2016, 04:05 PM   #21
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I can draw 5 ma across the plug and socket in damp weather like today. The connector is sitting on a plastic box sittiing on the asphalt pad under the MH. That is why I replaced my home GFI with a pair of wire nuts.

I don't feel like looking for it but there recently was a list of small items that can have a leakage current of a couple of ma but are commonly used in multiples. Think wall warts.

I could dig out some more examples but you can too. The simple answer is that if a GFI was expected to be reliable for a camper feed source the lawyers and the insurance companies would have had them in place 30 years or so ago. Since they have not done it I don't feel a need to defend my position overly much but I do see a need to challenge yours as it is only partially true. One can have a hot skin condition but more likely just has some damp or 3 cell phones plugged in.
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Old 05-01-2016, 04:28 PM   #22
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Bemus- Thanks for the follow up. Great thread. I had the same problem last year and thought it was the GFI. Now when I get a chance I'll check and see what's causing the same issue on my coach.
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Old 05-01-2016, 04:37 PM   #23
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It doesn't have to be on. Modern GFCIs will trip if there is a neutral/ground fault. This makes finding the fault more difficult because shutting off the breaker does not disconnect the neutral so even with all of them off (including the main) a GFCI will still trip if there is a neutral/ground fault. The only way to find the bad circuit is by disconnecting the neutrals (which, of course, unplugging the block heater did).
.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but if you are saying "neutral/ground" is what the GCFI checks, that not true.

A GFCI*monitors the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral. If there is any*imbalance, it*trips the circuit. It is able to sense a mismatch as small as 4 or 5 milliamps, and it can react as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second.
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Old 05-01-2016, 07:08 PM   #24
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but if you are saying "neutral/ground" is what the GCFI checks, that not true.

A GFCI*monitors the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral. If there is any*imbalance, it*trips the circuit. It is able to sense a mismatch as small as 4 or 5 milliamps, and it can react as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second.
That is all the original GFCIs did. While I don't have the exact year, the circuitry was modified so that they could also detect a neutral ground fault. This is because it is possible to get enough current from a neutral to ground connection (for current to flow through the neutral there has to be a voltage difference between the load & the ground/neutral bond at the service entrance). While maybe somewhat technical, this NEMA Bulletin points out the neutral/ground detection built into modern GFCIs. Here is another link that diagrams one of the methods used to detect ground/neutral faults.

And my answer to nothermark is that since there is no practical way the average user can tell the difference between a 6-7ma "safe" leakage and a dangerous 500ma leakage, both of which would shut down a GFCI but neither of which would trip a circuit breaker, I still say if your RV trips a GFCI, you should find out why & fix it. If for not other reason, you won't be able to hook up at some Missouri State Parks.
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Old 05-02-2016, 05:49 AM   #25
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My engine heater does not have a switch, it is plugged in, in one of the compartments in the basement. So the way we found it was unplug everything under neath then started plugging everything back in. We also tested each outlet to see which outlets are on which beakers. Mine are labeled wrong. This outlet is on a breaker with 3 other outlets in the coach.
If you go back through the threads there was a RV tech that said he bet it was something with a heating unit... well it was technically. I'll take to fright line and have them fix it. I have no idea if it's on all the time or not. Like I said this is all new to me. I just bought this used in Dec.
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Old 05-02-2016, 08:21 AM   #26
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Am I thinking right? Most block heaters on DP's have a 120v outlet in the rear compartment, and that outlet is switched on/off from the inside control panel.
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While the block heater receptacle in the rear compartment of my coach could be turned ON/OFF using the breaker in the 120V electrical panel, I never use a circuit breaker as a switch, (because IMO 120V circuit breakers are not designed to be used as on/off switches).

On the few occasions I've needed my block heater I turned it ON by simply plugging the cord from the block heater into that receptacle, (or into a 20A pedestal receptacle using an extension cord).

BTW, my block heater has never tripped a a GFCI receptacle.

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Old 05-02-2016, 08:43 AM   #27
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FWIW You continue to ignore the fact that a tripping GFI is only an indication something might be wrong. Worth checking, yes. Something broken, probably not. It does give me a reason to avoid the state of Missouri. ;-)
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Old 05-02-2016, 08:48 AM   #28
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we have a switch at the back of coach close to the fuse panel with a lighted switch for the block heater.
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