Severe weather is common in many areas at this time of year. However, lightning isn’t the only potential problem when it comes to electrical hazards and your RV. They can come from unpredictable conditions at the campground as well. You may not have control over the external electrical hazards that can be found at a campground, but there are ways to prevent major problems. See our full selection of RV electrical supplies
Something that you can control is how much you have running at once. Running too many appliances, especially in hot weather, can lead to electrical issues if your system can’t handle it. The RV’s 12V battery controls systems like the water heater, furnace, fridge, and lights. The 120V hookup controls electrical devices like the TV and small kitchen appliances. Be aware of what is running on what system. Campground electrical pedestals are exposed to the elements and not always closed correctly. Other problems such as open ground, open neutral, or reverse polarity can also occur. The whole RV park can also pull on the same electrical grid. That can make the voltage available to your RV potentially unpredictable, and of course, nearby lightning strikes can also affect the local electrical grid in the campground.
One electrical problem for RVs is something called ‘hot-skin’ condition. This occurs when there is electrical current moving through the chassis. The chassis is therefore at a different voltage than the ground, making it dangerous to come in contact with it. This can be caused by unsafe connections at the campground. If you are outside and the ground or your hand is wet, this can be especially dangerous. Hot-skin isn’t something you can see, but you don’t want to risk electrical shock simply by touching your RV. Luckily, there are ways to prevent that from happening.
Power surges can damage anything you have plugged into your motorhome and it can fry the wiring of the RV itself, which becomes a very expensive repair job. An RV surge protector between the campground pedestal and your motorhome provides protection from this problem. Portable surge protectors can be used when you need them but are susceptible to theft. Surge protectors that are hardwired are protected from the outside but are a permanent installation. Be aware of whether your RV would need a 30 or 50-amp unit. Depending on the types of protective features your surge protector has, it can stop power from coming to your RV until the problem is fixed. The
Surge Guard 34850 is an example of a 50-amp portable unit that provides protection from overheating, open ground, open neutral, or low/high voltage problems. For a feature list of available surge protectors, see our RV surge protection comparison guide.
Surge protectors aren’t the only devices available for RV electrical safety. Using a voltmeter, for instance, can test your RV for potential hot-skin conditions. Other types can test the interior outlets of your RV to make sure the voltage is within a safe range. The
Hughes Autoformer Digital AC Voltmeter plugs into your RV outlets and gives a digital readout of the current voltage. It can read between 90 and 132 volts, so you’ll know if the outlet has over or under voltage problems. A polarity tester can help you verify that your outlets are wired correctly with proper polarity and grounding. The Prime Products Polarity Tester displays the outlet’s voltage so you can make sure it’s within a safe range and uses LEDs to show you polarity errors such as reverse polarity, open neutral, or open ground. It plugs into any 3-prong wall socket.