Originally Posted by danno2u
We've stayed at 65+ different campgrounds and I've only seen electrical issues at one (low voltage). My Progressive EMS checks everything before I hook power to the RV. So I'd say it's pretty rare to have a problem and not worth the extra worry of checking the pedestal before you start the set up process.
But definitely DO check the pedestal via one method or another.
I'm Mike Sokol, author of the No~Shock~Zone articles linked above. Thanks for posting them here.
Let me try to clarify the reversed polarity thing a bit. As other have stated, it is indeed when the hot and neutral wires have been swapped somewhere, typically in the outlet/receptacle. The reason that receptacles are polarized is that originally ground wires (the EGC) were not required until the last 1960's. In fact, there were many appliances such as tube radios and guitar amplifier frosm the 50's and 60's that didn't have a power transformer, with the neutral side of the incoming power line was bonded directly to the chassis. This allowed these old tube devices to run on AC or DC power and was cheaper to manufacture. So you can imagine that an appliance with the incoming neutral wire tied to the chassis would become dangerously energized if the hot and neutral wired were swapped in the outlet.
All modern appliances have some sort of power transformer that isolates their chassis from the incoming power line. That's right, everything from your iPhone to your hi-fi system is isolated from the power line. So in that case, it really doesn't matter if the neutral and hot are swapped or not. However, all repair technicians have to be aware of that possibility of the H-N swap since they might reach inside of a chassis and touch a white wire they assume isn't hot.
All modern RV power systems are supposed to have their neutral wiring isolated from their chassis/ground wiring. However, many years ago their neutrals were indeed bonded to the chassis. So in that case, a reversed H-N would result in a very serious shock situation with the chassis and skin of the RV tied directly to the 120-volt power line. But a properly wired RV will not be hot-skin energized by swapped Hot and Neutral wires, as long as the EGC Ground is properly connected.
But everyone should be aware that 3-light testers can easily be fooled and report that everything is fine, when there's really a problem. In fact, I've defined something I call an RPBG (Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground) condition that can occur when a DIY guy or unscrupulous electrician tries to add a ground to a non-grounded receptacle. See Failures in Outlet Testing Exposed | Contractor content from Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine
and The RV Doctor: Friends of Gary - Mike
for just why it's so dangerous and how you can test for it using a $20 Non-Contact Voltage Tester.
As to the question of testing in advance of accepting a spot at a campground, there are many campers who've been to hundreds of campsites without problems. While others have destroyed their RV's electrical systems or even been electrocuted (killed) by their RVs. But I do know that the dozens of of shock and electrocution incidents I've reviewed recently that nearly all of them had some kind of warning shock in advance. And those who did nothing then had their loved ones killed by something that could have easily been prevented. So if you do ever feel any kind of shock from your RV or an appliance, don't accept that as normal. Modern gear as manufactured has very low leakage currents and most will be protected by an EGC ground wire. I personally wouldn't trust a campground with a reversed polarity outlet on the pedestal because it shows incompetent electrical work, and there could be other things wrong as well. I suggest that you report the offending campground and pedestal number to any campground association they might be part of. And if you do receive a shock from a pedestal, I suggest you contact the local electrical inspector, generally at the county level. The problem is that a miswired outlet can exist for months or years, and will only become dangerous with the right set of circumstances. You don't want to pass on the problem to the next potential victim who camps there.
And finally, if any of these campground maintenance guys give you a hard time, tell them to get of copy of my book No~Shock~Zone RV Electrical Safety which is available in both paperback and Kindle versions. And put them in contact with me directly to confer about electrical testing of their pedestals. This is too important to ignore, so thanks for bringing up the topic there.