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Old 07-13-2019, 06:11 PM   #1
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Could have been electrocuted!

So bear with me, this may get a bit long since I am a bit peeved at the moment.
My Cedar Creek came pre-wired for a generator with a transfer switch in the front storage compartment. I usually travel with a Honda 2000i that I plug in when boondocking to do small stuff like charge the batteries, ceiling fan, tv, cpap, etc. Lately I have been thinking more about adding a larger generator and exploring options from the Onan 5500 to possibly sitting a Honda 3000i, or larger, in the front compartment (mostly impractical).
On that note, I decided to pop the cover off the transfer switch box to see what would be involved in making up a generator connection. Pretty straight forward, generator connects in the middle, shore power on the right, load panel on the left. Small switch inside to set for instantaneous bypass or a 20 second delay (that is the default position, allows a gennie to throttle up).
I made up a small pigtail to simulate a generator lead, mainly to see if the transfer relays were working after these several years with no use. I unplugged the shore power and then plugged in the extension cord pigtail to simulate a generator coming on. Went inside the camper and had no power to the microwave or the dehumidifier that I have plugged in while at home. I checked the lugs in the transfer box and sure enough, the power was going to the side that was labeled "load panel".
So then I took my multi meter to my shore power cord that was lying on the floor where I unplugged it from my service in my rv building. The other end was still attached to the side of the camper to my power inlet. Sure enough, the positive blade was hot at 123 volts. Had I picked up that plug in my hand I would have been electrocuted. If a generator had been installed and running and someone unplugged the shore power cord from a pedestal and touched the blades of the plug they likely would have been killed.
I unplugged all power, and swapped the electric cables in the transfer box to the correct sides. You can see the cables are identical so I really don't know if CC has a method to test the orientation. After swapping them to the correct sides, I again plugged in my extension cord pigtail that simulates a generator, 20 seconds or so went by and I heard the contactors click in. I went inside the camper and all was working correctly.
Thanks to my guardian angel today for not allowing Cedar Creeks mistake take my life.
Pictures attached show the transfer box after I swapped sides with the cables to the correct orientation.
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:57 PM   #2
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Is this the factory installed transfer switch, or was it replaced by a repair shop? If factory, I do think you should contact Forest River and let them know what you discovered.

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Old 07-13-2019, 10:00 PM   #3
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Yes, it was installed that way from the factory. Pre wired with the Onan harness to a remote start switch and hour meter.

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Is this the factory installed transfer switch, or was it replaced by a repair shop? If factory, I do think you should contact Forest River and let them know what you discovered.

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Old 07-13-2019, 10:19 PM   #4
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Go ahead and send this info to FR and have them contact me with any questions. Have you looked to see if your RV had any recalls?
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Old 07-13-2019, 10:38 PM   #5
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No, I don't know about any recalls. The dealer I bought it from is near me in Huntsville, Al. Not sure how I would go about contacting FR?? Any guidance on that?

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Go ahead and send this info to FR and have them contact me with any questions. Have you looked to see if your RV had any recalls?
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Old 07-13-2019, 11:40 PM   #6
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Try Steve Brandenberger at FR. I can't find his direct number at the moment, but here is his email:

sbrandenberger@forestriverinc.com
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Old 07-14-2019, 06:00 AM   #7
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I have a contact at the FROG rally that might be able to point you in the right direction. I'll look it up later today.
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Old 07-14-2019, 10:51 AM   #8
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Try Steve Brandenberger at FR. I can't find his direct number at the moment, but here is his email:

sbrandenberger@forestriverinc.com
Thanks! I sent him an email. I sure wouldn't want anyone to get bit by this if there was anything I might have been able to do to prevent it.
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Old 07-14-2019, 02:28 PM   #9
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Fatal electrocution

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Had I picked up that plug in my hand I would have been electrocuted. If a generator had been installed and running and someone unplugged the shore power cord from a pedestal and touched the blades of the plug they likely would have been killed.
Electrocution (death via electric current) generally occurs when there is current through the heart. This might be current flow from hand to hand (one hand on a hot terminal, the other on a grounded point) or from an arm (on hot terminal) to wet feet on wet surface).

If you "picked up that plug in [your] hand" as you suggested you would likely NOT have been electrocuted but could have possibly suffered a severe burn on your hand.

That said, you've done a good piece of detective work. Thanks for posting it and alerting others.
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Old 07-14-2019, 04:41 PM   #10
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If 110 volts could kill people by touching it in dry conditions, then all electricians would be dead. I was a sparky for about 3 years. We had to trouble shoot 110 hot all the time. We had to trouble shoot 220 hot sometimes. We had to make connections with 440 that was hot once in awhile. No one ever got seriously injured.

Professionals do not take electricity lightly. Exploding copper is something to carefully avoid. Wet conditions make everything much more dangerous. "Getting shocked" comes with the territory.
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Old 07-14-2019, 06:45 PM   #11
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If 110 volts could kill people by touching it in dry conditions, then all electricians would be dead. I was a sparky for about 3 years. We had to trouble shoot 110 hot all the time. We had to trouble shoot 220 hot sometimes. We had to make connections with 440 that was hot once in awhile. No one ever got seriously injured.

Professionals do not take electricity lightly. Exploding copper is something to carefully avoid. Wet conditions make everything much more dangerous. "Getting shocked" comes with the territory.
I don't know where you trained or who trained you but any "Professional" Electrician does NOT consider "getting shocked" part of the territory!!

Avoiding "Getting Shocked" is what professionalism in that business is all about!!

"Test BEFORE you touch" is ALWAYS a good idea in that business. After all, you are only dealing with your life............YOU decide what it worth!
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Old 07-14-2019, 11:34 PM   #12
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I don't know where you trained or who trained you but any "Professional" Electrician does NOT consider "getting shocked" part of the territory!!

Avoiding "Getting Shocked" is what professionalism in that business is all about!!

"Test BEFORE you touch" is ALWAYS a good idea in that business. After all, you are only dealing with your life............YOU decide what it worth!

Evidently you've never been an electrician or worked in the building trades.
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Old 07-14-2019, 11:51 PM   #13
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X2

The plant electrician at a company I worked for was electrocuted and died one evening because he was careless.
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I don't know where you trained or who trained you but any "Professional" Electrician does NOT consider "getting shocked" part of the territory!!

Avoiding "Getting Shocked" is what professionalism in that business is all about!!

"Test BEFORE you touch" is ALWAYS a good idea in that business. After all, you are only dealing with your life............YOU decide what it worth!
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Old 07-15-2019, 04:47 AM   #14
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Evidently you've never been an electrician or worked in the building trades.
Ive got a son who is a Union Trained Electrician............not some jackleg.

I KNOW the correct procedures are not always followed, but they exist. Deviate from them, take shortcuts........... at your own peril.
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Old 07-15-2019, 06:30 AM   #15
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If 110 volts could kill people by touching it in dry conditions, then all electricians would be dead.
PPINE, with all due respect what you're saying isn't true and helps promote the dangerous attitude about electricity that leads to hundreds of deaths by electrocution every year in the USA alone. (IIRC some 1,100 people were electrocuted in 2017). I not only teach electrical safety to technicians and manufacturers , I'm also an expert witness in court cases involving electrocution, and have talked to many accident investigators, sheriff departments and reporters about how "only 110/120 volts" could kill someone.

While it is true that a shock across the hand from an electrified male plug probably won't be deadly, in this instance the person getting shocked would likely be standing on the damp grass plugging a cordset into the portable generator while the RV was also plugged into shore power. That would likely cause a hand-to-foot fault current that could easily be deadly. Fact of the matter is that in nearly every electrocution case that I've consulted on, they were feeling "little shocks" many times for weeks or months leading up to the actual electrocution. Because we've been told so many times that "110 won't kill you" this leads to a state of complacency that's extremely dangerous. The first time you feel a shock and live through it should be the big warning that something is wrong with the wiring and it needs to be fixed NOW. Oh the stories I could tell about victims feeling these precursor shocks and ignoring the warnings, only later to be seriously shocked or electrocuted. Don't accept feeling a shock, even a little one.

I write the No~Shock~Zone articles on RVtravel and RVelectricity have begun republishing my original 12-part series on RV Electrical Safety with the latest updates. I first started writing about this for the RV industry in 2010 and over that time I have received hundreds (maybe up to a thousand) emails detailing how my NSZ articles have saved them and their family from electric shock, and possibly death by electrocution. I would suggest that everyone here sign up for my RVelectricity newsletters and start reading my No~Shock~Zone series which I'm republishing a new part every two weeks. It's up to Part III so far.

See Part I here: https://www.rvtravel.com/rv-electric...he-beginnings/
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:23 AM   #16
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I don't know where you trained or who trained you but any "Professional" Electrician does NOT consider "getting shocked" part of the territory!!

Avoiding "Getting Shocked" is what professionalism in that business is all about!!

"Test BEFORE you touch" is ALWAYS a good idea in that business. After all, you are only dealing with your life............YOU decide what it worth!
When you work systems that are hot, troubleshooting for instance, it is inevitable that people get shocked once in a while. Pros wear cork shoes, they work with one hand. They are careful what they stand on. There are lots of habits that keep them safe. I have known guys that use their hand as a Wiggy to test if systems are hot. You have no idea what you are talking about.
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Old 07-16-2019, 01:03 PM   #17
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thanks to jmsokol for his remarks.
Safety is really important in the electrical trade.
I used to ride a service truck. We worked on commercial and industrial sites.
When a business is open and has customers, or we were working in a hospital, there is no such as shutting down the circuits we were working on.
Sometimes we worked on wiring that was not installed according to code. No one expects a green wire or a white wire to be hot when the hot wire is disconnected. Stuff happens. You try to be as careful as possible. The public has no idea what it is like to work with live electricity for a living.
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Old 07-20-2019, 07:30 PM   #18
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Lots of comments and observations here and I appreciate the positive notes. FYI, I worked in residential electricity in the 70's, wiring new construction in Florida and later doing HVAC installations, repair of same and light commercial installations. I changed trades in the early 80's to aerospace/defense and retired as an engineer with General Dynamics (32 years).
I try to never take electrical safety awareness for granted. That being said, I am most often barefooted around my campsite and my last thoughts about this shore power (hot plug blade) was when I disconnected from the 50 amp pedestal at Eastfork lake after being there in the rain for eleven days! Which by the way, resulted in about a thousand ants swarming out of the receptacle of my EMS 50. What a mess that was.

On another note, I did contact FR and it is my fervent hope that they seriously address this issue with Cedar Creek fifth wheels manufactured around this time frame.
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Old 07-20-2019, 07:59 PM   #19
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The post OP got sidetracked in a hurry. I agree with the OP's comments. You don't know what might have happened, elderly with heart conditions, toddler or pet could have come in contact. Fact is that it was wrong and significant risk. But it would have only been a problem if a generator was hooked into the bypass, Is that right?
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Old 07-22-2019, 08:10 AM   #20
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The post OP got sidetracked in a hurry. I agree with the OP's comments. You don't know what might have happened, elderly with heart conditions, toddler or pet could have come in contact. Fact is that it was wrong and significant risk. But it would have only been a problem if a generator was hooked into the bypass, Is that right?
That is correct. With a generator (or any other external power source) hooked up to the transfer switch, the power was feeding back to the shore power connection instead of the camper load panel.
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