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Plugging class c power cord into 115v GFI.


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I now know that it doesn't work to plug in my class C power cord into 115v GFI, but I am looking for the electrical explanation as to why it trips the GFI.

Is it a grounding issue? My 25ft surveyor travel trailer didn't have a problem.

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When the electrical gurus come they might want to know what Amp the circuit breaker is, and is it a plug at your home or campground? As well are you using the same adapter as before?

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Quick answer, the neutral (white) and ground are likely connected somewhere on the RV. The most likely place is in the breaker panel, but it might be in the converter, the fridge junction box, or any other place where connections might be connected incorrectly.

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This is caused by a ground fault and is a common problem with RV's.  Usually it can be found and fixed but it may be time consuming. The fault could be something like a damp spider web somewhere or an electric hotwater heater element or ?.  RV parks do not usually have GFI protected receptacles for this reason.

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3 hours ago, PWW said:

I am looking for the electrical explanation as to why it trips the GFI.

   A GFCI trips if there's a difference of more than 0.005 Amps flowing out the Hot/Black Conductor versus that being returned by the Neutral/White. If the Neutral isn't returning all the amps flowing out the Hot, its being returned elsewhere  IE THERES A LEAK, A  GROUND FAULT. 

Typical ground faults might be dirt dust moisture, insects or spider webs etc such as that which might accumulate in outdoor receptacles CHECK ALL OF THOSE !!!!!,,,,,,,,,,Excess Moisture/Water in a receptacle,,,,,,,,,,A faulty leaking tool or appliance (Try unplugging any tools or appliances or microwaves etc to see if that cures the trip),,,,,,,,A faulty leaking elec water heater or fridge,,,,,,,,,,,,Faulty leaking plugs or electrical connections,,,,,,,,,,,,,,EVEN A BAD GFCI they do go bad. NOTE I once had an Inverter that tripped a GFCI and a faulty Converter/Charger could to the same  TRY TO DISCONNECT ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS ONE AT A TIME to find whats at fault.......

   If you reset the GFCI does it trip back the instant you re connect????????? Check any outdoor receptacles try to disconnect them and see if an upstream GFCI still trips.

 On many RV's there's a GFCI receptacle in the kitchen or bath and it feeds other downstream regular receptacles off its LOAD terminals and if there's a ground fault in those or whats plugged into them the GFCI trips.

 YOU HAVE TO SYSTEMATICALLY ONE AT A TIME REMOVE/DISCONNECT/UNPLUG electrical components, appliances, receptacles (especially any outdoors), elec water heaters or fridges, inverters, converters, to find where the ground fault is.   Where and what sort of a GFCI is tripping?????????????????  Having owned RV's for over 50 years IVE SEEN LOTS OF TRIPPING GFCI'S  So many wires and receptacles and possible dirt dust or moisture or elec components grrrrrrrrrrrrr

  NOTE an RV panel does NOT have the Neutral and Ground Busses connected, they are separate insulated and isolated form each other..........

John T

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, Wrknrvr said:

Is it possible the the ground fault receptacle in the rv, is causing the 15 amp ground fault you are plugging into,  

   Not sure if that was covered in John T’s response

   Good Morning, I don't know for sure what/where GFCI is tripping ?? If a GFCI INSIDE the RV had tripped open, I expect (unless the GFCI is bad ?? which can happen) that should cut off/remove any ground faults plugged into it or in any downstream load side fed receptacles. If a GFCI he plugs the RV power cord into is what's tripping, that happens in many RV's as we know so it's back to troubleshooting posted above to find it........Those darn RV exterior receptacles are the cause of many GFCI trips. As you know typically in RV parks its ONLY the 20 Amp Receptacle thats GFCI protected...

 As always fun sparky chatting with you, unfortunately I dont think we can find his problem from where we sit only offer advice, oh well we can only try our best.........

 John T

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   I had a regular customer in Arizona years ago. Did several different jobs for him over a few years.

   He called me for the same electrical situation you are experiencing.    I am no way a technical electrician. 

    So he said his rv is tripping his ground fault receptacle. So I get there and he has a fifthwheel sitting in his gravel where he use to have a class C would be. The class C is next to it.

   We took about everything apart we could think of to separate wires, or unplugged everything we could. He did not wash it since he bought it. It did not rain since he had it on his lot for a few weeks.

     It still tripped the ground fault receptacle he was plugging into on the side of his house.

   But plug his class C in and it was happy.

   So he plugged it into a regular receptacle.

   That’s confusing.

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1 hour ago, Wrknrvr said:

 It still tripped the ground fault receptacle he was plugging into on the side of his house.

   But plug his class C in and it was happy.

   So he plugged it into a regular receptacle.

 Unfortunate but NOT surprising. As we are all well aware, the more bells n whistles, the more sophisticated electronic components, the more gizmos and gadgets (especially electronic), THE MORE THINGS TO GO WRONG AND MORE CHANCES OF TRIPPIN A GFCI....... Obviously, his Class C must not have any ground faults, good for it........

 As compared to a home that can have as many or more electrical devices, an RV is subject to MUCH MORE vibration dirt dust moisture rodents and insects,,,therefore, GFCI trips are more common. In an RV park where the 30 or 50 Amp receptacles are NOT GFCI protected that's one thing versus at home when plugged to a GFCI.  Another possibly contributing factor is chargers, inverters, gensets, transfer switches etc etc and their bonding or not bonding which is NOT a factor in our homes.  There can be ONLY ONE NEUTRAL GROUND BOND, if there's a second, return current is shared in those two conductors which trips a GFCI big time....

 Oh well best I have to offer not being there

John T

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1 hour ago, Darryl&Rita said:

You might be surprised. They're not supposed to be, but...

  AMEN X2 I AGREE  Having owned them over 50 years and being a past used dealer I RAN ACROSS SOME WHERE BILLY BOB OR BUBBA OWNERS OR EVEN THE FACTORY MAY HAVE WIRED THEM UNSAFE INCORRECT AND CONTRARY TO CODE grrrrrrr

  Talk about a situation that would cause an instant GFCI trip an RV might be plugged into  !!!!  If Neutral and the Equipment GroundING Conductor were in parallel sharing any return current carried out by a Hot  NOW WERE TALKING ABOUT GFCI TRIPPING BIG TIME LOL it takes ONLY 0.005 amps difference to trip ........

Nice sparky chatting with you Darryl&Rita

John T   Long retired n rusty EE but don't believe the code has hanged regarding this subject............

Edited by oldjohnt
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Darryl and OldJohn we agree from experience. There are some badly put together rigs out there. Our second rig a lemon, factory miswired and sloppy, neutrals all burned:

WjiREEGl.jpg

 

Later Lynn smelled burning plastic and we traced it to a badly wired connector. It was a four foot run from the breaker box to the water heater. They spliced two short cut offs of 2 and 2.5 feet rater than use a single four foot piece of Romex. We found a smoldering plastic connector on the plastic covered carpet under the sinkfire before it flamed just as it was starting to smoke. Thank goodness we were awake and it did not start in the middle of the night:

W824audl.jpg

This was in 2000 and the rig was two years old. Lots more bad design and very bad assembly errors from uncaring workers. I have all the pics yet but these are the only electrical ones.

That was a 1998 Damon Challenger.

 

 

 

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   RV, YIKES that could have developed into a fire and/or taken your life &^%%$$# Being in the industry most of my life I came to the conclusion that a stick built home, wired by union or non union PROFESSIONAL electricans, is superior to most RV's I've seen, and that's a lot of them. A loose connection develops resistance and the power generated when current flows through that resistance amounts to I Squared R. Trouble is it draws less than 15 or 20 amps so the breaker doesn't trip....Arc Fault protection can detect low current arcing and can be effective in preventing tragedy.

 Did that burned white connector have sufficient current rating  ?? Looks like it didnt ??

 With so many burned Neutrals, I wonder if the Neutral Buss Bar connection was bad/resistive ??

 Recently I purchased a Big Fuse 60 Amp fuse holder when I wired up my 40 Amp DC to DC charger and when operating it never drew much over high thirty amps. HOWEVER we detected that classic hot electric smell and low n behold the black plastic fuse holder assembly was melting grrrrrrrrrrr I replaced it with a DC circuit breaker which is working fine......

 Best wishes, be safe yall Makes me want to go out and check my RV panel and all its connections even though I've done it before !!!!!!!!!!!

John T

 

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On 6/2/2023 at 12:13 PM, oldjohnt said:

   RV, YIKES that could have developed into a fire and/or taken your life &^%%$$#

A loose connection develops resistance and the power generated when current flows through that resistance amounts to I Squared R. Trouble is it draws less than 15 or 20 amps so the breaker doesn't trip....Arc Fault protection can detect low current arcing and can be effective in preventing tragedy.

 Did that burned white connector have sufficient current rating  ?? Looks like it didnt ??

 With so many burned Neutrals, I wonder if the Neutral Buss Bar connection was bad/resistive ??

 Recently I purchased a Big Fuse 60 Amp fuse holder when I wired up my 40 Amp DC to DC charger and when operating it never drew much over high thirty amps. HOWEVER we detected that classic hot electric smell and low n behold the black plastic fuse holder assembly was melting grrrrrrrrrrr I replaced it with a DC circuit breaker which is working fine......

 Best wishes, be safe yall Makes me want to go out and check my RV panel and all its connections even though I've done it before !!!!!!!!!!!

John T

 

John,

We dodged a bullet we know.

I am familiar with low current arcing in Romex in walls building resistance until it burns in the wall. AFCIs can be a real can of worms for end users and folks without the experience to install and use them correctly.

We were full time and had no power so no diagnostics, I had planned to get the newer one with the better power supply and less issues with lights anyway so I had the right model and had one installed the next day. But worse they put a heat vent with a non-adjustable grate three inches or so from it and blowing hot air right into it:

S22Vc9Ul.jpg

They did not use fittings on the incoming city water, they left a flap of roof over the vent to the back of the rig. So no air in back. I thought it was the divider under the plenum that separates the A/C warm air intake and cold air to two ducts one covered. They stripped the upper screws on the window over the bed in the slide-out and it leaked but only into the slide  pan. Bearings were defective and burned on one side of one axle but fortunately the spindle was OK. Bathroom floor bowed with too little support in the basement. Much more wrong with it. I fixed the water inlet,  A/C vents/divider, replaced the water heater Romex with single piece. I hired installing the new converter and bearings since we were on the road and parks frown on working on engines and wheels in their spaces. Yes I have pics of everything but just stayed on topic stickup to the electrical topic.

I agree on some shabby and dangerous work on on some RVs, better on houses compared to some RVs.

Edited by RV_
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Thanks for sharing that RV, very interesting........ YEP you dodged a bullet. In my years of practice and studies in NEC seminars a place where I saw AFCI to be effective, was when cheap light extension cords were used in say the bedroom that got pinched under a piece of furniture or the dog or cat chewed up and arcs (insufficient current to trip a breaker) developed on top of carpet YIKES grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Resulting fires and destruction of life or property resulting from arcing contributed to the NEC and industry adoption of AFCI protection. While I practiced pursuant to the NEC as required I was NOT a fan of AFCI where not required (excess nuisance tripping) nor any dual purpose GFCI AFCI protection.......

 Sorry others for straying off topic, but this is still interesting to me although long retired, I sort of miss it

  John T 

 

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I think the problem the OP had is going to be seen more and more as all new outside receptacles, even 50amp now require GFCI.  This makes it really difficult to keep the batteries charged in some RV's.  Along with problems like spider webs and other ground faults some appliances just do not play well with GFCI.  Locating these problems can be frustrating.  

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13 hours ago, RV_ said:

John,

We dodged a bullet we know.

I am familiar with low current arcing in Romex in walls building resistance until it burns in the wall. AFCIs can be a real can of worms for end users and folks without the experience to install and use them correctly.

We were full time and had no power so no diagnostics. But worse they put a heat vent with a non-adjustable grate three inches or so from it and blowing hot air right into it:

S22Vc9Ul.jpg

They did not use fittings on the incoming city water, they left a flap of roof over the vent to the back of the rig. So no air in back. I thought it was the divider under the plenum that separates the A/C warm air intake and cold air to two ducts one covered. They stripped the upper screws on the window over the bed in the slide-out and it leaked but only into the slide  pan. Bearings were defective and burned on one side of one axle but fortunately the spindle was OK. Bathroom floor bowed with too little support in the basement. Much more wrong with it. I fixed the water inlet,  A/C vents/divider, replaced the water heater Romex with single piece. I hired installing the new converter and bearings since we were on the road and parks frown on working on engines and wheels in their spaces. Yes I have pics of everything but just stayed on topic stickup to the electrical topic.

I agree on some shabby and dangerous work on on some RVs, better on houses compared to some RVs.

Wow . Scary stuff. What model and year?

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47 minutes ago, GlennWest said:

A mini split will not operate a gfci. So why would an rv? 

Our RV did fine until I added the mini split.  We have a place setup to park but by code the 50amp needed GFCI since it isn't in an RV park.  So now I can't run the mini split or I have to change the breaker, which is a against code.  

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1 hour ago, palmeris said:

Wow . Scary stuff. What model and year?

1998 Damon Challenger fifth wheel. I heard a rumor that their plant was shut down for a bit before Thor took them over because of drug issues in the factory. Rumored by folks at the time who owned them. I think they resolved the in house drug use since. Still would not touch them with a ten foot pole.

I keep documentation on all defects and repairs and tips and tricks I learned like making my own heated water hose for winter and home made custom bug screens for water heater cover, furnace, and reefer covers. with expanded aluminum.

I had that one for burned and problematic neutrals so folks do look inside your converters by taking off the cover but don't stick your fingers in there just look for burned or overheated wires.

That same Challenger had a GFCI circuit on the outside 110 outlet. My power inside stopped working after I washed the trailer. Turned out that supposed outdoor rain cover leaked. I blew it out with air several times and it finally reset.

Edited by RV_
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57becky, that's a great article on GFCI's, thanks for the post, I certainly agree. Once I had a brief chat with Mike prior to attending one of his seminars at an RV rally, very nice and knowledgeable gentleman. Even an otherwise good RV can exhibit nuisance GFCI tripping, what with all the dirt dust moisture road vibration and insects plus converter/chargers/inverters (potential bonding and other issues) ITS NO SURPRISE.......When troubleshooting the cause I often have to start disconnecting loads and suspects one at a time which can be very time consuming.............

John T

Edited by oldjohnt
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