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Author Topic: We'll be boondocking more to short-circuit electrical problems on the road.  (Read 7231 times)
DavidInWilmNC
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« Reply #60 on: January 26, 2008, 09:25:44 AM »

Here's what I've got planned.  Three analog meters - two 0-150 volt and one 0-300 volt.  The 0-150 volt meters are wired hot to neutral for each leg.  The 0-300 volt meter is wired hot to hot.  Not only will this allow you to read the voltages of each leg, it will read between legs for when one is connected to a (real) 50 amp circuit with two hot legs, one neutral, and one ground.  I suppose another meter could be wired ground to neutral if one wanted to know if there was an open neutral.  If the 0-300 meter doesn't read anything, you're connected to 120 volts only, even though it may be supplied to each leg. 

Our neutral conductors are only capable of carrying 50 amps, so this could be an issue if, say, 35 amps were being pulled through each hot leg of our cables.  Our Neutral would then be required to pull 70 amps - not a good thing.  Has anybody experienced a power pole that has the two hot legs on the same 'side'?  If so, it would probably be a good idea to make a 50 amp adapter which connects both output hots to one input hot (like having a 50 amp, 120 volt generator) to keep this from being an issue.  Just an additional thought...

David
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H3Jim
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« Reply #61 on: January 26, 2008, 09:41:36 AM »

Sean,

good point, I'm glad you brought it up.  Kind of embarrasing not to have thought of it myself.  And I thought I was being clever. Thanks.

Mostly I never plug in anyway, but all it takes is once to destroy a lot of expensive equipement.

JIm
« Last Edit: January 26, 2008, 10:24:55 AM by H3Jim » Logged

Jim Stewart
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« Reply #62 on: January 26, 2008, 10:45:18 AM »

I'm in the process of building a modified version of this (2 meters, diff design etc) which looks pretty much like what everyone has been talking about. Also want to make one that is static mount, non portable although my thoughts are that it might be nice to go sniffing out a pole with the proper wiring if you find a bad one.  Probably all are bad though if one is.

Thoughts?

http://www.myrv.us/electric/Pg/tester_50amp.htm
« Last Edit: January 26, 2008, 10:48:30 AM by Paladin » Logged

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John Z
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« Reply #63 on: January 26, 2008, 12:17:16 PM »

hmmm, might be time to revisit Gumpy's post on the 1st page of this thread about using a 4.00 multimeter. Also Len's post about the how to test the power outlet at campgrounds on the same page. I can't see how it would take much longer to use the multimeter tha n it would to plug these devices in and read them. Does anyone still have Len's drawing on how to do the test?
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« Reply #64 on: January 26, 2008, 12:27:22 PM »

I have a number of DMM's and I use them on a regular basis for my work but I've also used one of these and properly setup they are very quick and easy.
Personal preference per use I guess.


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Sean
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« Reply #65 on: January 26, 2008, 04:56:04 PM »

Wow.  Well, I really did not intend to fully resurrect a thread that's more than a year old -- I just wanted to point out what I felt to be an important safety issue.

As long as people are still posting, though:

Dave in NC -- your three-meter solution has the same problem that I pointed out with using two three-light testers at once:  if the two hot-to-neutral meters are identical units, they will both read a "good" 120 each when on a 240 service, even if the neutral is "open."  You really need to isolate the meters so that only one is connected at a time, or, better yet, save the cost of one meter, and use a dpdt switch to switch it from leg1 to leg2.  If you want to get really fancy, you can use a dp3t rotary switch and a 0-250v meter and just have one meter.  Putting a meter between ground and neutral, BTW, will not help you with this particular failure -- the meter will read very close to zero if the neutral is connected, but it might also read very close to zero if the neutral is open.

Paladin -- your photos also show the same liability.  You need to use the three-light tester on one side at a time in order to get a valid test.

You just can't beat even a cheap voltmeter for getting the best indication of a bad pedestal.  Keep one with your power cord, and get in the habit of using it every time.

Bear in mind that even that will not protect you fully. See http://ourodyssey.blogspot.com/2007/08/my-turn-to-catch-up-on-photos.html (and the other posts referenced within it.

We've encountered enough miswired pedestals and ones with bad breakers that I now carry some extra 6-gauge wire and spare 50-amp double-pole and 30-amp single-pole breakers, so I can get most bad or non-functional pedestals working in a pinch.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com

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DavidInWilmNC
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« Reply #66 on: January 26, 2008, 05:51:02 PM »

Sean,

My setup is actually more for monitoring.  It's mounted in the kitchen with with the gen. switch and other controls.  I'll keep it as-is for it's intended purpose (I keep forgetting about the current flowing through one meter to the other with an open neutral).  I do use one of those quickie testers - when I can remember where it is - with the camper and a couple of times with the bus.  Otherwise, I use my old Fluke meter, as I alway know where that is. 

David
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mike davis
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« Reply #67 on: January 27, 2008, 03:19:32 AM »

So, there we were, going through Oklahoma.  Late night.  We want a place to pull over.  We see a campground in the guidebook.  Says it is being renovated.  If we pull in, we don't need to run the generator all night to keep furnace running, batteries charged. etc. 

Power pole looked suspect.  No matter.  "We've never had a problem before." I thought to myself.  Hahaha.  In retrospect, many times I wonder what was going through my head to think such thoughts.  Anyways, I can't find my 50 amp cable, so I plug in the 20 amp cord (no 30 amp service - what was that about?)  to keep the batteries charged up. 

In the morning, all is good, but I decide to plug in to the 50 amp service so I can run the electric heaters & save some of our propane, and some of the $$ to buy the propane. 

Within 5 minutes of plugging into the 50 amp service, we all smell smoke.  Electrical smoke.  What could be going on?  We've never had an electrical problem before.  Finally, I see the connectors to the water heater have melted.  Smoking. ?  OK.  Maybe it was time for the water heater to die.  I switch the water heater to propane.  So much for saving on propane. 

My wife turns on the blow dryer.  Sparks shoot out.  YIKES!  Turn OFF the blow dryer.  Unplug.  Then I decide enough is enough, and unplug from the campground power.  A few minutes later, I notice the furnace doesn't seem to be igniting as it should.  Hmmm.  Interesting.

Later we had a mobile RV repair guy come to the bus down in Texas.  Still no furnace ignition.  Diagnostics show the circuit board was ka-put. 

So, during that stay, within 5 minutes of plugging in to the power, we lost a blow dryer, water heater board, furnace circuit board.  (replaced with a dino, so not all bad there). 

Looking back, the generator looks pretty inexpensive.  Nothing wrong with a truck stop overnight.  I like the sound of the generator.

I know there are surge protectors for 50 amp service, but they seem very pricey.  $500+.  I don't know if we'll go that route.

We are going to stick with boondocking unless we are going to stay at a well-known campground, with good ratings. 

My thoughts on campground power.  Be careful!

Of course, I'm eager to hear what other folk are doing to protect themselves from problems with external power problems - especially of the 50 amp variety.

Kind Regards fellow-busnuts,

Phil




If you look at the box on the receptacle will have 2 blades and a lug (little haft moon looking thing) If you test each blade to the lug you should get 110-120 v

It sounds like the lug was hot So it was running 120 v through the lug and a blade It might light ,lights but any electrons it will blow out GFI breakers will trip if that happens( improper ground) there about $20 each

           

 as per amperage The only way to test for that is under load

                mike
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rwc
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« Reply #68 on: January 27, 2008, 05:41:19 AM »

I logged out and logged back in and I still do not see anything to click on in Len's post.
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Stormcloud
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« Reply #69 on: January 27, 2008, 05:43:30 AM »

Me also. No sketches or photos, only dialogue.

Mark
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Mark Morgan    near Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
1972 MCI-7     'PapaBus'  8v-71N MT654 Automatic
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