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Old 05-08-2012, 03:13 PM   #1
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No breaker on Post - Can I use RV breaker instead?

Hi all - so I've read that you should turn off the circuit breaker at the post when pluggin in or unplugging from shore power, however the campground I'm at doesn't have a breaker switch.

Does turning off the main breaker in the RV accomplish the same thing?

Also, when exercising the generator is it a good idea to unplug from shore power? I know the transfer switch is supposed to switch over, but can't this cause a power surge and possibly damage something?

Thanks!
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:20 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forum!

I'm sure some of our experts will chime in soon on your questions but it is my understanding that it is probably a good idea (although it shouldn't be necessary) to disconnect from shore power when firing up the genny. I also think that using your main breaker in the coach to protect it while plugging in to shore power should work... although it would make me suspicious of CGs power if they don't have breakers on the pedestals. Hopefully you have a good surge protector to protect you just in case.

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Old 05-08-2012, 03:30 PM   #3
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Portable 30 amp GFCI Surge Guard with Shock Shield - Technology Research Corp 44740-004-012 - Surge Protectors - Camping World

I bought the above unit and use it at home and at the camp grounds. You hit the test button and it shuts off the power. After you plug in your camper, hit the on button and you are in service and protected. when you are ready to leave hit the test button and you are ready for the road.. worth the money. Oh by the way, Welcome to the group.!
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:44 PM   #4
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Howdy and welcome to the forum. Hope you enjoy the site and sure glad you joined us. Hope you enjoy all your future rv travels as well.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:06 PM   #5
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Howdy and welcome to the forum. Hope you enjoy the site and sure glad you joined us. Hope you enjoy all your future rv travels as well.
Thanks!

I do have a surge protector. I installed a Progressive Industries - EMS-HW30C - although it's installed before the transfer switch so it only protects from shore power. I figure that helps, but I still wanted to use best practices when plugging in and unplugging.

The park I'm staying at for the next month does have breakers somewhere I'm sure - they're just not at the post that I can see. There is another box at the post that's bolted closed, so perhaps they're in there.

I'm just curious if turning off the RV breaker accomplishes the same thing - which namely is to protect all electronics in the RV when pluggin in or unplugging.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:14 PM   #6
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The main ( no pun intended ) problem is what can happen to you. There is an arc of electricity present when you plug in or out of a live plug. The RV can be protected if you shut the main breaker( I think ) but you may get zapped. The CG should be able to show you where the breaker is. I've had them do this for me in the past.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:26 PM   #7
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The main ( no pun intended ) problem is what can happen to you. There is an arc of electricity present when you plug in or out of a live plug. The RV can be protected if you shut the main breaker( I think ) but you may get zapped. The CG should be able to show you where the breaker is. I've had them do this for me in the past.
That would not be good!

Got it, I'll ask the host. I wasn't thinking about getting zapped myself. I'd guess that 30 amps could put someone in the hospital.

Thanks for the heads up!
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:32 PM   #8
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the PI EMS will act as a time delay breaker. it will not let any power get to the rv until all parameters are good, namely voltage, frequency, correct polarity, neutral present, ground present. once all is deemed OK, there is a time delay (changeable with a jumper inside the EMS box) before voltage will be allowed through the box. any errors will be displayed on either the box itself, or the remote display.
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:50 PM   #9
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As to your generator question; the transfer switch allows the generator to come up to speed before switching over to gen power from shore power; its not instantaneous and there is no power surge.

You should NOT have any significant electrical loads plugged in (air conditioners, microwave, heaters, hair dryer, etc) for the first 5 or 10 minutes your gennie is running- let it warm up before putting the generator under load. When ready to shut the gennie down, turn off the heavy loads for a minute or two before shutting down the generator.

For longest and happiest generator life, make sure you run the generator with at least a 50% load (turn on at least one energy-hogging appliance) for an hour or so once a month.

Generators need regular exercise- "saving" the generator just increases the likelihood it will NOT work that one time when you really need it.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:28 PM   #10
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As to your generator question; the transfer switch allows the generator to come up to speed before switching over to gen power from shore power; its not instantaneous and there is no power surge...
Agree, and to clarify, the generator has priority over shore power. If both are on, it will choose the generator.
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:27 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by RichK View Post
Hi all - so I've read that you should turn off the circuit breaker at the post when pluggin in or unplugging from shore power, however the campground I'm at doesn't have a breaker switch.

Does turning off the main breaker in the RV accomplish the same thing?
Yes, it does, the idea is to "Break" the curcuit so there is no arcing, However I suggest you turn off the park's breaker for two reasons.

1: It is right there, next to the plug, very handy.
2: Eventually turning it off and on may damage/wear out the breaker, If you use YOUR breaker then YOU have to buy a new one.. Or the park can buy a new one.. The last park I was in bought a new one. (It failed).


Quote:
Also, when exercising the generator is it a good idea to unplug from shore power? I know the transfer switch is supposed to switch over, but can't this cause a power surge and possibly damage something?

Thanks!
Well, you do not want to "Hot-switch" between Shore and Generator, This is a case where turning off the MAIN breaker in the motor home might not be such a bad idea.. At the very least turn off Air Conditioners, water heaters and other BIG TICKET items before switching over.

As to the need for unpluging from the shore.. That depends on how much you trust your Auto Transfer Switch.. I've seen mine in pieces (Well the same make and model) and I trust mine to not switch both Generator and Shore in at the same time.. I've seen others.. not so sure I'd trust those. (in fact. I'm sure I would not since the failure mode that the switch was in was "Connect before break" so it was conecting the shore power to the inverter output and flaming the inverter on the coach Owner ended up installing a manual switch.. ATS in my coach can not do that, different design).
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:37 AM   #12
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I camped at a place in Texas that didn't have a breaker at the pedestal. The breakers were in a service panel about 300 feet from the outlet.

I'd be astounded if there wasn't a breaker located somewhere that was accessible.
Have you asked at the campground office where it's located?

I also disconnect from shore power if I'm going to run the generator. I repaired electronic equipment for 40 years and saw a lot of "Oh that can't happen" things go wrong. Simple prevention is to unplug.

Yes, you can unplug while hot but what will eventually happen is the blade connectors on your power plug will become burned and eventually create a hot spot and possibly melt. You will see a spark when unplugging and that's what burns the contact surface. It's best to remove power via the breaker.
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:39 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the feedback everyone! I'll ask someone at the office where the breaker is. I'm sure there is one - it's just not at the post. I'd rather unplug before turning on the Genny - and yes I make a point of exercising the generator with the AC on for at least an hour every month.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:28 PM   #14
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One small apology to the OP.. In re-reading this thread I see there is no breaker on the post. So my comment that the breaker is "Right there" is out of line. Sorry.

Yes, if there is no breaker on the post, the MAIN breaker inside the RV is the next best solution.
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