Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: RV Hot Skin (Exterior electrification)
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 > RV Hot Skin (Exterior electrification)

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No paticular place.

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Posted: 07/21/21 06:23am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Unless you are using an old 2 prong cord with equal size prongs, there is no issue with using a household extension cord (for limited amperage suitable to the smaller cord of course). There are 3 prongs and the hot & neutral are different size, so you can't plug it in backwards.

The only way this would be an issue is if you wired the adapter and mis-wired it. Plugging into a 30amp outlet is unlikely to change anything.

So now the issue is to find the fault. Several good suggestions have been made already.

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new mexico

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Posted: 07/21/21 08:30am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A very dangerous situation. Be careful and get it fixed asap


Elgin, IL

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Posted: 07/21/21 08:45am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

larry cad wrote:

Please stop blaming the green wire! It is not the problem. Think about this: half of the stuff you have in your RV, and/or house does not even have a green wire! And yet, it all works ok. If the green wire is so bad an actor, why isn't is required EVERYWHERE????? The answer is that the green wire is not necessary for a safe electrical system. It is not an active component in an electrical system. The green wire is a redundant safety device which can come into play when there is ANOTHER problem. In this case, there is another problem, probably the white and black wires are reversed in the power line from the house because the OP is using a two wire extension cord with no ground pin to insure it is plugged in correctly. Remember the comment about all the equipment in your RV and house that doesn't have a green wire? That means it also doesn't have the ground pin on the plug. Think about this. In the code book, the white wire is referred to as "the GROUNDED conductor". If the white wire is connected properly along the power path, by default, the black wire is also connected properly. If both are connected properly, no shock hazard exists. If a white wire connection gets broken, and IF there is a green wire connected properly, there is not a shock hazard. (Obviously touching the black wire by accident will give you a shock no matter what)

You're half right. The "green wire is "just" a safety. The missing "green wire" connection allows the hot wire to touch something it typically would not (like the metal frame of the camper) making it into a "hot skin" If there had been a ground connection the hot wire touching the grounded metal frame would have tripped the breaker.

there are 2 problems to fix.

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Posted: 07/21/21 08:51am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I take exception to any suggestion to use a 2 prong extension cord or any power plug without the third ground connector for RV power. If the OP's RV was properly grounded his wife would not have been hurt because that third wire is a backup safety device. Yes his ground fault condition is one problem and the open ground is the second problem.

The problem is NOT just the correct connection of the hot and neutral wires as appiances are the most likely cause of a ground fault. The primary problems are the 120V refer, hot water and outside plugs all of which have more exposure to water. Outside plugs and all plugs near sinks in a RV should be protected by a GFCI in the RV.

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Southern California

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Posted: 07/21/21 08:54am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

sgtsteve wrote:

The trailer was plugged into an outlet on my garage. So how did this happen? It seems we have been doing something wrong for many years. I plug the RV power cord into an exterior household extension cord which I then plug into an exterior outlet on my garage. In doing some research, I found the topic of "RV Hot Skin" which relates to the electrification of the exterior of the trailer. Apparently, using a household extension cord in combination with the RV power cord is a no no.
Is the garage outlet GFCI protected?
Get a outlet tester for $10 and post the results.

I think you have a bad ground connection and possibly reverse polarity. Nothing wrong with an extension cord with an RV cord as long as everything is in good shape and the source is good.

There is no need to go to an RV park to test. You need to test at home and resolve the issue right there. Start with the outlet tester at the garage outlet then use the tester in the RV. Post the results.

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San Diego Ca

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Posted: 07/21/21 09:49am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Just to be clear this is the outlet tester that is being suggested above. And at nine dollars for a two pack at Home Depot you can put one in the RV and keep one at home.

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Brevard, NC

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Posted: 07/21/21 12:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I was washing the trailer and when cleaning the bumper got a small tingle. Checked with meter and was about 2 volts.
Replaced adapter between extension cord and camper.
Solved the problem.

Also, on a different trailer, thought I smelled electrical fire one
night but neighbor was burning trash.
A week later found that extension cord to trailer cord adapter was burned.

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McKinney, Texas

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Posted: 07/21/21 02:16pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The green safety ground wire has everything to do with hot skin. The safety ground wire ties the RV frame directly to earth ground preventing it from maintaining any voltage differential to ground and therefore no hot skin. A hot wire fault to a grounded frame will trip a breaker.

Devices with plugs with only two prongs (no ground wire) are inherently designed to be shock protected. Most have plastic cases.


Belleville MI

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Posted: 07/21/21 04:08pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A friend at our primary campground got poked one night. Park owner spent quite a bit of time tracing the issue source. He was quite literally shocked to find out the transformer on the pole was leaking to ground. Power company was out first thing the next morning to replace the transformer.


Davison Michigan (East of Flint)

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Posted: 07/21/21 05:44pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It is not uncommon for the "Skin" of an RV to have 60 volts RMS on it. Now you ask why.
People do not understand the value of the 3rd Wire.. (Safety Ground) and you have an open ground.. A Three Light Outlet Tester should show two Green and NO red lights. if it shows only one green or all 3,,,, You have an open ground.

If you plug in at home to an old two wire outlet using an adapter. You have an open ground

If the Green wire breaks. Open ground

If some (exeplative deleted) switched a 2 wire outlet to 3 wire so you could plug in Open ground

GFCI power source you MAY have an open ground but in this case it should trip soon as you touch the RV. (no shock, Have tested)

Well most folks when thinking of electricity think DC and usually that's good but AC has a few Quirks.. one is that it can travel THROUGH insulation in some cases.. The device is called a capacitor or condenser (Capacitor is the more proper name)

It consists of two pieces of metal with an insulator (or air) between
Like the Black Wire, and the Bare wire in a piece of ROMEX cable
Or the Bare wire and the White wire.

The Bare wire is hooked to the frame/chassis/ground
The black and white have 120 volts between them so you have

0---| | |---120

Well the wire in the middle.. 60 volts.

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