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Stray Voltage or Hot Skin and The Dangers of Miswired or Damaged Ground Wires on Campers

Question:

I have a camper trailer and when you touch the side of it you can feel the electricity it shocks you but not bad I got this copper rod grounding rod and I have the wire how far underground does it need to be and where do I attach The Wire helicopter ride trailer at

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Expert Reply:

What you are experiencing is called Hot-Skin and it is extremely dangerous. Hot-Skin occurs when the ground wire on a Camper's shore power feed is interrupted somehow. That allows even normal leakage currents inside of a camper to create a stray voltage on the entire RV, including its “skin,” chassis, wheels, hitch and tow vehicle. So whatever you're touching on the camper is hot and that's what's giving you that tingling feeling. Your leakage must be coming from a low voltage short because higher voltage leaks can lead to more than just a small shock to your hand. You have to have a broken ground wire somewhere in the circuit path back to the service panel.

Lets address a couple solutions to your problems and make sure your camper is operating safely. You have definitely lost your shore power safety ground officially called the EGC or Equipment Grounding Conductor by the National Electrical Code. I wouldn't worrying about trying to bury a copper rod or how deep it needs to be to use as a ground every time you go camping. I recommend purchasing a surge protector that will restore your campers grounding capabilities. Without knowing whether you will need a 30 or 50 amp surge protector I am recommending The Hughs Autoformers Portable Power Watchdog Surge Protectors. There is a 30 amp surge protector item # HU67FR and a 50 amp surge protector item # HU87FR.

Once you have solved the main problem with your grounding issues you can start going through your individual circuits and figure out which one has the bad ground. You should start with any extension cords, shore power cords, power adapters, and even the Ground-To-Chassis bonding connection inside of your camper’s circuit breaker panel. It could be a poor ground in the home outlet itself. I would start with testing your outlet for proper grounding with a basic 3-light tester you can pick up at any hardware store, then move on to testing each power cord connection for continuity in its ground wire. As noted above, you can’t have any hot-skin voltage on your camper if you have a solid ground connection. Without that ground any and all leakage inside of your camper will electrify the camper skin, and not trip the circuit breaker like it’s supposed to do. This is why addressing the grounding at your hook up is so vitally important.

Once you have checked all of those possible sources if you still have not identified where the leakage is occurring you will need to get into your trailers wiring and see if you have a loose, corroded, or missing ground connection somewhere.

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Jerred H

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