One more GFI topic.....

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Rye

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Jun 25, 2013
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Hey everyone,
I'm new to the RVing world...I've had my 2006 Keystone Springdale to two days! 

All systems seemed to work fine at the former owners location.  I pulled the RV home, plugged in the shore line and tripped the brand new GFI in my garage.  Began researching and trouble shooting.  I turned off everything in the camper and all of the breakers - no change, tripped the GFI.  I then plugged in the shore line to a non-GFI circuit, everything works - no problems, except for the non-GFI thing.  I read some more of the forums, then I found an 3 to 2 adapter (no ground) and plugged into the GFI.  It works fine. 

So, I'm thinking I may have a possible neutral to ground connection somewhere.  Thoughts?  Because the fault occurred with all of the circuits off in the RV, I'm thinking the problem is possible between the shoreline and the inverter?

Rye
 
I think you have it.  There was a thread a while ago where Lou S. suggested exactly that situation.  I have it in our MH and have to come up with a solution as one place we stop has 30 amp GFI's.

I solved the problem at home as I installed a 50 amp RV outlet.
 
That's exactly what you have, but finding it can be a challenge. It is not uncommon for it to be in the converter or inverter itself, or in the fridge electric heat element.  Turning off all breakers should stop those, except for an inverter that auto-switches the inverter on when AC power goes off. Some other possibilities are a bonded neutral-ground in the load center (it should not be bonded there in an RV), or  at the generator (which does bond neutral and ground, but supposedly only when operating. I've seen a neutral-ground connection in a transfer switch too.

The connection may not be overt - sometimes there is just a tiny leakage (high resistance short) where an insulator isn't quite up to par.
 
I had that problem at an Illinois State Park campground.  Turned out to be moisture in my connecting cable (the long #10 cable that plugs into the power pole).  This  was determined  by going inside the trailer and disconnecting the cable where it makes its connection to the trailer wiring. It still tripped the GFI. With the cable still disconnected inside the trailer, I removed the GREEN wire from its pin in the plug.  The GFI did not trip.  I found a few nicks in the outer jacket and used liquid tape to repair them after letting the cable sit in the sun to dry out.  Knock wood, we haven't had any more similar problem with this cable.
 
I've got a scheduled appointment to take the RV into a service center.  If I noticed the GFI thing before I bought the camper, I probably would not have bought it...or at least adjusted my offer to compensate. 

I've have the camper plugged into a nongrounded outlet just to keep the battery charched.  I went out last night and checked and received a small shock on the door of the camper.  So, the skin on the camper is hot - not the most technical method of trouble shooting.  The camper is currently unplugged.

Question: does the "hot" from the shore line run directly to the inverter/circuit box?  I'm thinking of the electricty in a house, all of the power comes to one main breaker before being sent to the house.  Is this the way an RV is wired?  I tried to find an electrical diagram but was unsuccessful.
 
Yes, the shore power for an RV goes to a load center (distribution panel) with a main breaker and individual breakers for circuits. It follows the same electrical codes as a house, though there are additional different rules that apply because the RV is considered a sub-panel within a larger system (the campground).

If you got a shock, definitely disconnect from the shore power until you can get it fixed. If you must, plug it in for a few hours to charge the batteries, but then unplug it again. A shock from the chassis could indicate a serious short to ground and not just some "leakage".

I hate to say this, but  an RV shop may not be your best bet to find an electrical problem. However, many pro electricians don't want to work on this sort of thing either.
 
Question: does the "hot" from the shore line run directly to the inverter/circuit box?  I'm thinking of the electricity in a house, all of the power comes to one main breaker before being sent to the house.  Is this the way an RV is wired?  I tried to find an electrical diagram but was unsuccessful.

* on edit.....oopps, Gary types faster than me!! But,  FWIW

The trailer wiring is very similar to the house method. From the shore power cable (and plug if it has a plug in cable), it should go to a 30 amp or two 50 amp circuit breakers in the power distribution centre (depending whether you have a 30 or 50 amp system). From there it feeds through the box bus bar(s) to the individual circuit breakers and out to the wiring multiples to sockets etc. In smaller 30 amp systems, you may often find circuit breakers AND fuses in the distribution centre, the fuses are for the 12V (Battery) side of the system.  The CONverter (a battery charger and 12V supply)  is often mounted on the back of these combination distribution panels but it should be still be powered though a 'branch' circuit breaker and not directly from the incoming line. The ground and neutral wires should NOT be bonded together at this panel.

To simply keep the battery charged you can use an independent battery charger connected directly to the battery(ies) themselves and leave the trailer unplugged until your problem is resolved.
 
Okay, that is great information guys!  Thanks!  So my problem is definetly between the shore line and conferter box.  The first easy place to check is the connection between the shore cable and the wiring system.  This connection is in an easy assesable location.  If the shore line was replaced at some point in time, this would be a possible error location. 
 
It would if the shore cord had a neutral-ground short. I believe the load center and the shore power ground is tied to the RV frame (to provide a ground path in the case of a hot-frame short).
 
The frame of your RV should be receiving an earth ground through the shore power cord.  If the door handle gave you a buzz, either the shore power cord green wire is open or not properly connected.  The other option is that the outlet you are plugged into has an open ground.
 

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