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Old 03-30-2016, 04:40 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by rogerkathy View Post
I have also noticed most of the testers are for regular 110/ 15 or 20 amp outlets. I am not (yet) convinced that just adding a 50 amp adapter would allow the tester to accurately test the outlet. Comments?
The link that Doug provided in post #10 shows how to build a plug-n-play tester for a 50 amp outlet.

You must first understand what a 50 amp RV is and how it utilizes a 120/240 volt split phase outlet. In basic terms, the 50 amp outlet is comprised of TWO separate 120 volt hot legs (called L1 and L2), each at 50 amps. The RV uses each of these legs separately so they always remain only at 120 volts. Everything in your RV is 120 volts whether on the L1 or L2 side of your RV.

If you combined the L1 and L2, you would have 240 volts, but your RV does not combine them and uses them separately.

You can use the 120 volt circuit testers to test the L1 side, and it's neutral and ground....and then use one to test the L2 side with it's shared neutral and ground........since they are being used only as 120 volt. This is what everyone is pointing out to you.

These links may help better than I can explain it:

Electrical Tutorial - Chapter 3 - 30 Amp versus 50 Amp

AC Electricity

This site below has a left hand tab on outlet testing, that shows how to build the one in post #10, as well as how to use a multimeter for same.

RV Electric

Once you understand how the 120/240 volt split phase service works, it'll be easy to see how the link in post #10 works.

Hope this helps
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Old 03-30-2016, 04:49 AM   #22
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Please be careful with these little testers they have limitations and have seen two of them (different brands) explode when the voltage was off......... .. They will not show high or low voltage they just show voltage is there. They will not show quality of a ground.......

Also they must be tested before use on a know proper source as the bulbs do burn out.

They are meant for home use standard 110V outlet only to show voltage, reversed polarity, and a ground . Will not show quality, quantity


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Old 03-30-2016, 08:18 AM   #23
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Thanks for all your valuable input! I think I will just get a multimeter since it seems to be the most versatile, and a receptacle tester with the 3 lights that I can plug into the trailer outlets for a quick check on them also. I can purchase the receptacle tester at Harbor Freight for under $7, plus I have a 20% off ANY item purchased, AND a FREE multimeter with any purchase. Looks like a win win for me!
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Old 03-30-2016, 09:56 AM   #24
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That outlet tester cannot report only report a few anomalies. It can even imply a good receptacle power when some defects exist. It cannot report defective earthing, excessive voltages, or other more common problems in a campground. In some cases, it cannot even report a floating neutral.

Even a digital meter for $5 or $14 provides more useful information.
Yes, if you know what you are doing. I am guessing the OP doesn't or he would not be asking this question.

He is looking for a cheap way to do what a good PSI surge protector can do. Without the good background there isn't one. Even with a good meter and a good background there isn't any way to constantly monitor the pole outlet, unless you want to stand there all day and night.

Jim
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Old 03-30-2016, 10:05 AM   #25
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Even with a good meter and a good background there isn't any way to constantly monitor the pole outlet, unless you want to stand there all day and night.
And that is the point; isn't it. Does not matter what a three light tester reports when conditions change and nothing is done to avert potential damage. A protector not only detects an anomaly and reports it. It also makes an appropriate change to avert damage.

Meter is a powerful tool. But it cannot, for example report large voltage changes (L-N, L-G, N-G) that occurs later as campground loads change dynamically.
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Old 03-30-2016, 10:37 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by oldtool2
Even with a good meter and a good background there isn't any way to constantly monitor the pole outlet, unless you want to stand there all day and night.


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Originally Posted by westom View Post
And that is the point; isn't it. Does not matter what a three light tester reports when conditions change and nothing is done to avert potential damage. A protector not only detects an anomaly and reports it. It also makes an appropriate change to avert damage.

Meter is a powerful tool. But it cannot, for example report large voltage changes (L-N, L-G, N-G) that occurs later as campground loads change dynamically.
And that is why the only recommendation I would make is a good surge protector. No they are not cheap, but can be much less expensive than the damage that can be caused by not using one. This is not to mention the ruined vacation or trip.

Jim
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Old 03-30-2016, 10:38 AM   #27
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While a good EMS is the way to protect yourself while you are plugged in, there is merit in using a tester/meter before you plug in.

I for one would like to know if the site's wired wrong before I back in and start setting up. Once I know it's wired ok and safe to setup, I then depend on the surge guard to handle changing conditions like voltage, etc...


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Old 03-30-2016, 11:01 AM   #28
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He is looking for a cheap way to do what a good PSI surge protector can do. Without the good background there isn't one.

Jim
Not really, if you read the original post he is wanting to know if the pedestal is wired correctly before plugging in, he is not looking for voltage protection.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:05 AM   #29
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While a good EMS is the way to protect yourself while you are plugged in, there is merit in using a tester/meter before you plug in.

//snip//
Seems you make a good argument for a PORTABLE device like the SurgeGuard versus a hard-wired one.

With the portables you can plug it in to the pole and test before plugging in your camper.

Then it will continue to protect while camping.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:10 AM   #30
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Seems you make a good argument for a PORTABLE device like the SurgeGuard versus a hard-wired one.



With the portables you can plug it in to the pole and test before plugging in your camper.



Then it will continue to protect while camping.

That's exactly what I do, since I have a portable. But for those with the hardwired, which provides it's own benefits in both theft protection and the ability of inside monitoring, an additional check of the pole before accepting the site is usually a good idea.


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Old 03-30-2016, 11:36 AM   #31
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I have a hardwired Progressive EMS surge protector for the RV after plugging in. I just wanted a quick test for the site itself BEFORE I go to the trouble of setting up camp so I can move to a different location if needed.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:43 AM   #32
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I have a hardwired Progressive EMS surge protector for the RV after plugging in. I just wanted a quick test for the site itself BEFORE I go to the trouble of setting up camp so I can move to a different location if needed.


Yep, exactly the same here.
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Old 03-30-2016, 01:14 PM   #33
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Ok, just got back from purchasing a 3 light receptacle tester. Decided to try it out in my home. Boy, was I surprised when it showed the hot and neutral were reversed on the first outlet I checked! Other outlets tested OK. I guess I better check ALL my house outlets.
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Old 03-30-2016, 05:53 PM   #34
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I recommend Michael Sokol's book "No-Shock-Zone". It is an easy read and will point out some very important and potentially deadly situations to be aware of. He covers the use of inexpensive test tools, and which ones to get. Explains some of the Do's and Don't's of troubleshooting the pedestal and your rig. I plan to laminate the provided charts in the appendix, include a simple step-by-step process w/meter settings along with the test tools into a bag and it should be just a 5-10 minute test ...before dropping the landing gear.

For example, a 3 light tester nor an EMS will detect a RPBG (Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground).
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Old 03-30-2016, 07:51 PM   #35
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I guess I better check ALL my house outlets.
Appreciate what was discovered. Polarity is one of many 'layers' for human protection. Polarity is irrelevant to appliance protection; is only one of many features for human protection.

Other human safety defects can exist - a three light tester cannot detect them.

Back to the camper. Some (first) faults will not be apparent when using a meter. Others become apparent after drawing power from a pedestal. A properly designed protector will not connect power until first checking for those (first) faults. And will continue checking when other (second) faults can be detected - after a camper draws power. Checking (ie with a meter) before connecting power dies not detect all anomalies since some may only be apparent after a camper consumes power.

Best protector disconnects when either (first or second) anomaly is detected. Meter only detects a fault. As oldtool2 so accurately notes, human cannot disconnect fast enough.

Cost should always be secondary to solving an unacceptable problem Especially when a properly designed protector is so inexpensive.
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Old 03-31-2016, 08:38 AM   #36
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I know first hand the danger of faulty wiring (RPBG, but didn't know it had a name). I dodged the bullet and could have been killed. What got me was a situation where only when the water heater was on, was the skin or frame at a 120 VAC potential.

It is important to be aware that surge protectors and simple testers cannot determine faulty in some cases. Earth ground is expected to be 0 volts, but it might not be.

After dodging the bullet I made it a practice of testing a trailer frame to actual earth (dirt - with screw driver) with a good meter set to read high ohms. If I read anything, I don't touch it. If it is mine, more testing and a fix would be necessary.

Maybe we should test our trailer skin (frame) before assuming we are safe.

For you DIYers out there, understand that if a device has a ground lug, run a separate wire to frame ground and don't be tempted to strap neutral to it; neutral is the return path functionality and protection ground is there to protect us so when something goes wrong the skin or housing isn't at the potential of the supply or hot.
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Old 03-31-2016, 02:24 PM   #37
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Yep, it's more than just frying your electronics when all it takes is 10 to 20 milliamperes (=very small amount) to stop your heart. Doing things like opening a mis-wired pedestal with one hand and while plugging in the cord with the other (breaker on) or something else like touching your metal step frame while standing on wet ground can be do it. Awareness of this is important.

Happy and safe camping to all.
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:08 AM   #38
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Not really, if you read the original post he is wanting to know if the pedestal is wired correctly before plugging in, he is not looking for voltage protection.
The OP asks "Is there a simple item you can just plug into the campground electrical boxes to test if they are good or bad without using a meter or an expensive surge protector? ". The simplest way is an inexpensive meter. You can get one for under ten bucks. I do think the best way though is to plug in a PSI portable surge protector and use a meter, then you can cover everything.

I know many prefer the hardwired unit because of theft protection but you are going to need a very good set of bolt cutters to cut the lock and chain I use to fasten my portable unit to the post.

Jim
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Old 04-04-2016, 11:24 AM   #39
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he simplest way is an inexpensive meter. You can get one for under ten bucks.
The problem is- many of us aren't comfortable with a meter and stuffing probes in dangerous sockets. The idea scares the beejeebees out of me.
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Old 04-04-2016, 11:54 PM   #40
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I use this when I'm at campgrounds.




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