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shore power with gfci breaker(30A) tripping


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first time I've been in a campsite with gfci breakers in the power box, and it's tripping. I've tried turning on my unit breakers one at a time to try to determine the source of the problem, but no luck. sometimes I can get power on one of the circuits inside(5th wheel Cougar), but then it will eventually trip. not sure where to start looking. any suggestions?

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  • I often see GFCI protection on the 15 or 20 Amp RV pedestal receptacles, but not on the 30 or 50 Amp ??? You sure ???... Its a GFCI on the RV parks power pedestal that's tripping you're saying, not in the RV right ?

 Are you plugged to a 30 Amp NEMA TT-30R with an adapter (doesn't sound like it) ??? Orrrrrrrr the 15 or 20 amp outlets NEMA 5-15 R or 5-20 R  with an adapter (doesnt sound like it)  ??? Orrrrrrrrrr the 50 Amp NEMA 14-50R with an adapter (doesnt sound like it) ??? Orrrrrrrrrrrr the 50 amp straight with no adapters (does sound like it lol) ??  Since you say you can get power "on one of the circuits" that sounds like you're plugged to 50 Amp which has two legs of 120 VAC with respect to the common Neutral, IS THAT RIGHT ??    

 Here's the deal,  1) It ONLY takes like 0.005 Amps or so of fault current to trip a good working GFCI and that's not much. 2) Even dust or moisture or a fault, especially in an outside receptacle (or an appliance or cord or elec water heater) can cause it. ALSO 3) Ive see a lot of GFCI breakers go bad and  trip when there's no actual fault. Also 4) There could be a wiring problem in the pedestal  5) Ive seen a microwave or coffee maker or charger cause GFCI's to trip 

 ALSO, BOTH 120 VAC CIRCUITS IN THE RV COULD HAVE A GROUND FAULT ONE WORSE AND TRIPPING BEFORE THE OTHER, AND THE PARKS PEDESTAL (if actually GFCI protected) MAY BE WORKING FINE TRIPPING LIKE IT SHOULD ???????? IE I cant say if the problem is the park or your RV ????????? try a different pedestal  

 I dont recall seeing 50 Amp GFCI RV pedestals. If you get one leg  but NOT the other that would mean each leg has its own independent GFCI. See if it happens if you plug to a different pedestal to try and determine if its a problem in your RV or the pedestal ?? If you try one RV breaker at a time, that should locate a faulty circuit if it doesn't trip until that breaker is on buttttttttt if it trips with ALL of them off including the main, that sounds like a problem in the RV pedestal or your power cord?????????

Sorry not being there and with little info I cant say what the cause is.

Try a different outlet,,Start with the MAIN breaker off then on then one at a time turn on the branch breakers,,If it still trips even with all in the RV including main turned off, sounds like a power cord or park pedestal problem...... 

 John T

 

 

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It may be a main break with GFCI as they are becoming more common.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTYE6CF9v6PDI-km5sIoHv   shopping?q=tbn:ANd9GcR-IpdQQTjYt9_1p8McW

4 hours ago, James Bartelt said:

sometimes I can get power on one of the circuits inside(5th wheel Cougar), but then it will eventually trip

That doesn't sound like what I have shown above, but I may be misunderstanding. Do you have a volt/ohm meter that you can do some troubleshooting with?  There are several possible causes of your problem and one that I have experienced is for the 120V distribution panel in the RV to have the neutral and the grounds bonded together, as they would be when used as a primary panel. The neutral and ground should not be bonded in the RV since it is a subpanel for the one that supplies the outlet that you are plugged into and if it is bonded that will cause a GFCI circuit breaker to open. Even if there is no bond anyplace that ground and neutral are connected at all can cause this to happen. 

Edited by Kirk W
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The 30 amp RV rec is not a convenience rec like a 15 and 20 amp found in a pedestal so it dosen't require a GFCI breaker. Years back somebody at the COE decided to install them on their 30 amp outlets and here locally it caused a lot of problems and I actually made some good money from service calls but I finally showed them in the code book the error of there ways and I made more money changing them out. We go to a lot of COE CG and I still carry a standard 30 amp breaker to change one out while I'm there because my 5KW built in generator will trip one because of the way it's wired. Not a big deal for me but all it takes is the bar ground wire to come in contact with the neutral or the heater in your refrigerator or water heater to have a little leakage and they will trip. Turning off breaker only break the hot side so any contact between the ground and neutral is still there.

Denny

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We had a state park in Illinois that had 30 amp gfci on the post and our new trailer kept tripping it. One guy said that a lot of times it’s the water heater. We took the wires off the heater but still tripped. So we moved to a fifty that had no gfci

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1 hour ago, D&J said:

Years back somebody at the COE decided to install them on their 30 amp outlets and here locally it caused a lot of problems and I actually made some good money from service calls but I finally showed them in the code book the error of there ways and I made more money changing them out.

 Thanks for the info Denny, hey it doesn't surprise me that the COE would do that. I'm rusty on the latest codes having been retired from Power Distribution Design too many yearsssssssss lol. Ive been to a ton of RV parks all over the US COE included and didn't see 30 or 50 Amp RV Park Power Pedestals that were GFCI protected HOWEVER we cant say from here what the OP  has encountered ????? If he hooks up with his Main and all breakers OFF then Main ON (branch breakers still all off) then branch breakers one at a time, he may figure it out. If it still trips at the pedestal with NOTHING on in the RV (main or branch) then I suspect a problem in the pedestal,,, or its breaker is bad (that happens),,, or even his power cord,,, or RV panel wiring has a fault...

 Indeed if the current flowing OUT is over 0.005 Amps greater then that being returned back IN, THERES A FAULT and the GFCI should trip..Again maybe the pedestal and its breaker are all fine but his RV has a fault and the GFCI is just doing its job ????

 One problem Ive see with RV genset wiring is if they have a Bonded or a Floating Neutral which can cause problems..

 Its a pleasure sparky chatting with you Denny, thanks again for the info...

 John T

     

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As has been stated campgrounds don't require GFCI but all residential outside and garage receptacles are now required to be GFCI protected. Even 30 and 50 amp circuits.   I think many more are going to have problems keeping their RV's plugged in.  Often when any circuit is used a ground fault in another circuit may trip a GFCI.  A very small current may backfeed from the common neutrals back through a ground.  GFCI's are so sensitive it sometimes will register this.  In my experience removing the neutrals seems to be the best way to isolate the problem.  The mini split we installed will trip a GFCI as soon as the compressor starts.  According to the manufacturer it is a known problem.

Edited by Randyretired
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3 hours ago, Randyretired said:

but all residential outside and garage receptacles are now required to be GFCI protected.

Hey there Randy, good to hear from you. That's the way it is or was at least in the jurisdictions where I practiced power distribution engineering and even a pole building that was more like a house if it had a concrete floor the convenience receptacles required GFCI protection. With an RV and all its external receptacles and possibly electric water heaters and inverters (sometimes with improper Neutral Ground Bonding) and generators (sometimes NOT correctly configured) and chargers, its no wonder or surprise to me a GFCI with its low 0.005 Amp fault current threshold TRIPS OUT OFTEN grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr True SINGLE POINT GROUNDING with ONLY ONE Neutral Ground Bond may help, but in an RV with all I mentioned hmmmmmmmmmm good luck lol

PS   FYI  there was a time when the NEC allowed a freezer in a garage NOT TO BE GFCI protected HOWEVER the receptacle into which it plugged had to be a SINGLE (no duplex) and it had to be located/hidden in a "non readily accessible location" like hidden way back behind where you couldn't easily plug in say a drill or a saw etc NO WARRANTY THATS STILL IN THE NEC  

 John T Also retired     

Edited by oldjohnt
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thanks for all the replies.  I had never seen a gfci breaker at a park before either, but this was in an older Army Corp. park in Il., so that may be the reason/problem. anyway, I'm up in Wis. now, tried my Generator when we got here and everything is working fine on that.  Sounds like removing the neutral wires 1 x 1 will help isolate to a circuit.  I'm new to  rv'ing  & escapees, so this is a good experience. Wasn't sure just how the site worked as far as posting questions. Everyone have a great day.   

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  Thanks for the update James. Just a FYI as to how a GFCI operates. The Hot Line (an UNgrounded Conductor)  and the Neutral (a Grounded Conductor) pass through a Torroid Coil. If the current is the SAME in both they cancel each other out so there's no net voltage induced into the coils windings HOWEVER if there's a ground fault in which case ONLY 0.005 Amps is being returned elsewhere other than the Neutral (IE a ground fault) a voltage is induced which triggers GFCI to open......The theory is since as little as 0.050 Amps of current in the heart can cause fibrillation its shut off if it rises over 0.005 to 0.006 TO SAVE YOUR LIFE . The problem is in an RV with its exterior receptacles, dirt and moisture, inverters gensets and all other sorts of electrical gadgets, some of which may or may not be properly configured (including grounding and bonding) its easy to get 0.005 amps of fault current grrrrrrrrrrrrr Removing/isolating circuits one at a time is a way to find a faulty leaking current path. Start with ALL including the RV main and branch breakers off, then try the main, then one at a time the branch breakers to see if and when the GCCI trips?? If it still trips with EVERYTHING off when you plug in,  I suspect the GFCI breaker, or your power cord, or a wiring problem in the RV panel or parks power pedestal BUT WHERE ????????????????

 Best wishes take care BE SAFE and know what you're doing, if not, hire an electrician or RV tech... 

 John T 

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thanks all again. question-if I can isolate to a particular circuit/check the ref. heater(seen that mentioned a lot)-is it easy to read with a fluke meter(i.e. res. to end/heater casing?  I have a fluke &also an old Simpson meter. Guess the real tricky part is figuring out which circuit I would be taking the neutral wire loose from. Oh well, patience, eh?

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I copied the following from a site on electrical construction engineering. It confirms what a friend of mine who holds an EE license told me. He says that the RV problem comes from the length of the power cord and associated circuits. 

Quote

"Nuisance Tripping" can trip you up!

A ground fault circuit interrupter is a device that detects any leakage current in an electrical circuit and trips the circuit whenever the leakage is too great. Three types of GFCIs can be used at worksites: a GFCI receptacle, a portable GFCI or a GFCI circuit breaker.

When GFCIs are used in construction activities, they should be located as close as possible to the electrical equipment they protect. Excessive lengths of temporary wiring or long extension cords can cause ground fault leakage current to flow by captive and inductive coupling. The combined leakage current can exceed 5 ma, causing the GFCI to trip.

 

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13 hours ago, oldjohnt said:

Hey there Randy, good to hear from you. That's the way it is or was at least in the jurisdictions where I practiced power distribution engineering and even a pole building that was more like a house if it had a concrete floor the convenience receptacles required GFCI protection. With an RV and all its external receptacles and possibly electric water heaters and inverters (sometimes with improper Neutral Ground Bonding) and generators (sometimes NOT correctly configured) and chargers, its no wonder or surprise to me a GFCI with its low 0.005 Amp fault current threshold TRIPS OUT OFTEN grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr True SINGLE POINT GROUNDING with ONLY ONE Neutral Ground Bond may help, but in an RV with all I mentioned hmmmmmmmmmm good luck lol

PS   FYI  there was a time when the NEC allowed a freezer in a garage NOT TO BE GFCI protected HOWEVER the receptacle into which it plugged had to be a SINGLE (no duplex) and it had to be located/hidden in a "non readily accessible location" like hidden way back behind where you couldn't easily plug in say a drill or a saw etc NO WARRANTY THATS STILL IN THE NEC  

 John T Also retired     

Hi John. The NEC allowed larger receptacles such as the 30 and 50 amp used for RV's to be excluded from the GFCI requirements until recently.  Now nearly every outdoor or garage circuit, not just receptacles require GFCI protection.  For instance AC circuits run outdoors require GFCI.  The single receptacle for specific appliances tripped me up a number of years ago.  I put a built in vacuum with the main unit up high in the garage but failed to use a single receptacle.  The inspector didn't  miss it.  Now of course it will require GFCI protection.

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In 2012 I stayed at the Trail of Tears State Park in MO, and they had GFCI breakers on all (15, 30, & 50 amp) receptacles.  Don't remember the name, but on another MO state park stop a few years later I found the same.  

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  1. I kinda hate to say this, but as an electrical engineer plus an attorney, I wouldn't be surprised if the RV park corporate (or even NFPA) lawyers were involved regarding GFCI protection out of fear of liability if someone were electrocuted, but the NEC of course is the primary driver...When I had to attend their update seminars when a new code version was published I learned many changes were brought about because of a fire or an electrocution which is right  and justified, their purpose is to prevent fires and accidents.    

     Oh well even retired I still love this topic, it was much of my lifes work and a rewarding career...

 Best wishes be safe yall

 PS Randy, Im sure you like me were involved time to time with "good" as well as maybe "not so good" inspectors, but it was kind of like THEIR BALL GAME what to do grrrrrrrrrrr  

 John T

Edited by oldjohnt
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While it won't help any when we run into GFCI in RV sites, the following is taken from the website of Utility Supply Group.  The latest version of the electrical code is from 2020.

Quote

In the 2020 code RV pedestals are explicitly excluded from the need for 30- and 50-amp GFCI protection for the following reasons:  

— The 30- and 50-amp power on the RV pedestal are considered feeder circuits (those circuits that feed another panel) and not branch circuits. The changes made in 2017 applied to branch circuits, such as the 20-amp receptacle on an RV pedestal, not feeder circuits.

— The leakage current allowed by UL for GFCI circuits when all the downstream GFCI receptacles are added together would be enough to constantly trip the pedestal GFCI circuit.  

In all the discussions the various code panels had during the debate and during the public commenting period the theme consistently emerging was — with more GFCI protection available, fewer electrical shocks are seen. You can bet that electrical inspectors will be paying closer attention. An electrocution in an RV park, which could have been prevented, could leave the owner or manager open to litigation.  

The message was explicit; GFCI is now a hot topic. Get ahead of the game and install GFCI protection on all circuits where required. NEC article 210.8 (B) is the place to find out where they are required.

Bottom line — the 30- and 50-amp circuits feeding the RV are NOT required to have GFCI protection. Preventing the inclusion of GFCI protection of 30- and 50-amp RV site circuits is a big deal and operators need help to prevent a future push to include them by GFCI protecting circuits that should be protected.

 

Edited by Kirk W
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1 hour ago, Randyretired said:

I should have specified the GFCI requirement is for residential properties and not campgrounds. 

No problem. In fact, I should thank you as it got me to go in and read some documents that I had previously saved for later reading and it seems to have taken more than a year for later to get here! I knew of the changes in the code but had never gotten around to reading them.

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5 hours ago, Kirk W said:

An electrocution in an RV park, which could have been prevented, could leave the owner or manager open to litigation

EXACTLY my point when I posted above while wearing BOTH my Attorney and Engineers hat...........

6 hours ago, oldjohnt said:

I kinda hate to say this, but as an electrical engineer plus an attorney, I wouldn't be surprised if the RV park corporate (or even NFPA) lawyers were involved regarding GFCI protection out of fear of liability if someone were electrocuted,

 Its been my experience as BOTH and engineer and attorney, the parks or corporations attorney may still push for GFCI as an added safety precaution EVEN IF ITS NOTTTTTTTTTTT REQUIRED BY CODE to reduce the risk of civil liability even if there are nuisance trips...The Engineer looks at the code (GFCI required or not) while the attorney looks to reduce liability (go ahead and use GFCI even though not required to be on the safe side) That scenario may explain why the COE parks installed GFCI ??????????????? 

Based on my NEC training albeit rusty, an RV Panel is a SUB PANEL fed by the parks power pedestal and as such it has separate insulated and isolated Neutral and Ground Busses. Its Branch Circuits can still have GFCI protection similar to those of a home such as bathrooms and kitchen sinks or outdoors etc. etc.

 Another issue that can contribute to nuisance GFCI tripping in an RV or anywhere is if there are multiple Neutral Ground Bonds and/or an improper configured Inverter in which case if some of the normal neutral return current is carried on the Equipment GroundiNG Conductor the GFCI obviously trips ITS JUST DOING ITS JOB

 Hope this helps, while I'm not accustomed to the 30 and 50 Amp RV park power pedestals being GFCI protected, its out there, maybe due to misunderstanding, maybe due to ignorance, maybe due to darn lawyers pushing for GFCI to reduce liability regardless if code required or not lol, so be on the lookout yall.

 Its fun sparky chatting with you Randy, even if we bore the others lol

 John T Longggggggg retired n rusty power distribution engineer SO NO WARRANTY but still love to help anytime I can KEEP SAFE EVERYONE. Don't take my word for it consult the NEC and trained professionals 

   

     

Edited by oldjohnt
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2 hours ago, oldjohnt said:
7 hours ago, Kirk W said:

An electrocution in an RV park, which could have been prevented, could leave the owner or manager open to litigation

EXACTLY my point when I posted above while wearing BOTH my Attorney and Engineers hat...........

You are editing what I quoted to make it appear that I made that statement. 

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16 hours ago, Kirk W said:

You are editing what I quoted to make it appear that I made that statement. 

Nope, I just copied and pasted from the quote you posted (The website added Kirk W said: don't blame meeeeeeeee lol). Hey were good sparky friends I'm on your side !!!!!!!!!!! we typically agree and both enjoy helping out. I never said YOU said, it I ONLY copied n pasted from your post and the website added that Kirk W said: language, not me.  

I understood it to be from that "Utility Supply Group" NOT your words or statement, but my point was it agreed EXACTLY with my thoughts....Yayyyyyyyyyyy Lawyers feared liability if someone was electrocuted so they may have been the ones who pushed for GFCI even if the NEC didn't require it. If you told the lawyers it may cause nuisance tripping they wouldn't have a clue lol

This site and its tools and copy n paste or quote selection isn't perfect, but hey its all we have to work with........I'm not complaining, I'm glad to help anytime I can 

 Take care now best wishes and be safe

John T

 

 

Edited by oldjohnt
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