My scamp tripping the breaker at a campground - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-12-2016, 09:50 AM   #1
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My scamp tripping the breaker at a campground

Hi guys. My scamp trips the breaker when I plug into land power at the campground. Tripped when I plugged into a land power at the last one as well, so that rules out one particular source.

Before this trip had it plugged into a gfc on the side of my house for weeks, no issues. I've checked a look at everything, no shorts that I see. My two 15a breakers in my box are off when I plug in. Fridge is off also. I have tools and a multimeter, can start removing things and debugging. Just curious, is there something different about land power at a campground versus my house?

Thanks in advance from custer, sd.
Dan

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Old 07-12-2016, 11:25 AM   #2
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It would seem that there is a short circuit somewhere in the trailer between the breakers and the plug on the end of the trailer's cord if the breaker in the CGs keep popping, and the trailer breakers are off.


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Old 07-12-2016, 02:08 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Curbfeeler View Post
Hi guys. My scamp trips the breaker when I plug into land power at the campground. Just curious, is there something different about land power at a campground versus my house?

Thanks in advance from custer, sd.
Dan

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Your house and your trailer have slightly different systems.
Your house has a hot or 2, a neutral, and a ground directly wired.

Your trailer has a hot, a neutral and an indirect ground. Your power, neutral and your ground come in and exit out your power cord. This is called a bonded system. Your trailer is not its own independant electrical circuit it is a branch circuit protected from the main circuits at your camp ground supplier.

It is just An imbalance of power going in and out the cord is probably where your issue is. The ground coming in through your power cord must continue to all your receptacle grounds same with the neutrals. Your power connects to the hot side of the breakers and then splits off to the hot side of each receptacle. Sharing a ground with the DC side in a trailer can cause GFI issues if not wired properly. There are codes in the NEC books on what is required for a trailer electrical system.
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Old 07-17-2016, 04:51 PM   #4
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Thanks Steve for the reply. I wasn't able to pull myself away from the hiking trails long enough to troubleshoot this while still at the campsite. Now that I'm home I plug into my gfci and no probs, power to both circuit breakers and fridge all good.

It hasn't worked at any campsite I've tried (three total) so I know there is an issue. Just can't very well debug unless I go to a campground to troubleshoot.

I did notice when I dug into the breaker box that the ground and commons were all tied to the same block. Kind of freaked me out until I was able to read on the Internet and see its normal.

Will update this when I have more info. I think the next step will be to head to a CG and remove the fridge and both breakers and put it all back one by one.

Dan

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Old 07-17-2016, 05:21 PM   #5
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Thanks Steve for the reply. I wasn't able to pull myself away from the hiking trails long enough to troubleshoot this while still at the campsite. Now that I'm home I plug into my gfci and no probs, power to both circuit breakers and fridge all good.

It hasn't worked at any campsite I've tried (three total) so I know there is an issue. Just can't very well debug unless I go to a campground to troubleshoot.

I did notice when I dug into the breaker box that the ground and commons were all tied to the same block. Kind of freaked me out until I was able to read on the Internet and see its normal.

Will update this when I have more info. I think the next step will be to head to a CG and remove the fridge and both breakers and put it all back one by one.

Dan

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In a trailer panel the grounded conductor (neutral / white )
and the equipment grounding conductors ( bare or green ) go to separate terminal bus bars. They are supposed to be isolated from one another except at the main service. Tying a neutral conductor to a bus bar that is bonded to the trailer frame is creating a shock hazard. The neutral / white is a current carrying wire by design.
The equipment grounding conductor / bare does not normally carry current ,it is there for safety

Grounded conductors and grounding conductors are only allowed to be connected / bonded together at the service entrance not at a sub panel such as is in your trailer
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Old 07-17-2016, 07:32 PM   #6
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Hmm, my wiring is a mess... the three prong plug has a green, white, black, and the black goes to the breakers. The white is tied back to the green in the block.

They used red wire to extend some short runs so the whole thing is a mess. I have enough wire on hand to just pull this and re-do it all.

Dan

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Old 07-17-2016, 10:37 PM   #7
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Just found a thread that i thunk explains my issue. http://repairingyesterdaystrailers.yuku.com/topic/4476. They emphasize keeping the Commons away from the grounds, and the last post describes my exact issue. Instant trip of the gfci breaker.

I am going to pick up a new breaker box and separate the commons and grounds, then will double check that my box is grounded to the frame. Guessing this will solve my issue at the campgrounds and be safer in the long run besides.

Thanks to all for helping me figure this out. Will post pics of the updated wiring.

Dan

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Old 07-18-2016, 12:30 AM   #8
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Wow Dan, that pic is scary . I agree with starting over and not mixing colors.
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Old 07-18-2016, 06:39 AM   #9
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Just found a thread that i thunk explains my issue. How To Wire A Load Center Correctly in Vintage Trailer Discussion Forum. They emphasize keeping the Commons away from the grounds, and the last post describes my exact issue. Instant trip of the gfci breaker.

I am going to pick up a new breaker box and separate the commons and grounds, then will double check that my box is grounded to the frame. Guessing this will solve my issue at the campgrounds and be safer in the long run besides.

Thanks to all for helping me figure this out. Will post pics of the updated wiring.

Dan

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Your trailer frame is not the grounding source for your panel
The equipment grounding conductor in the service cord is connected to your metal panel enclosure , branch circuit equipment grounding conductors and is also connected to the trailer frame. Just running a wire from the panel enclosure to the trailer frame bonds the panel to the frame but does not ground them.
It appears you do not really understand "Grounded " --"Grounding"--"Bonding" --"Neutral" -- "Equipment grounding conductor"
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Old 07-18-2016, 01:21 PM   #10
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Once you get the wiring straightened out in your trailer then I would also revisit the GFI in your house. Your trailer failing the GFI test at several campgrounds opens up the question why it didn't fail at home if there was a real problem. An improperly wired GFI is not protecting anyone.
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Old 07-18-2016, 03:22 PM   #11
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Which only begs the question...Is there a GFCI outlet at home when plugged in, or is it just a standard (non-protected) outlet? If it is not a GFCI, then it won't recognize a current imbalance and probably wouldn't trip.

But that being said, I agree, that many people (wrongfully) equate a system ground wire with a system bonding wire, and yes, they are different. Your GFCI will tell you so by tripping, (if you have one.) Electrical circuit grounds and appliance/frame bonds are not one and the same.
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Old 07-18-2016, 03:30 PM   #12
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I do have a gfci outlet on the outside of my house, yes. I don't know why it's not tripping when the campgrounds trip immediately. It's not a gfci breaker, just a store bought gfci-enabled drop-in box with a rain cover.

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Old 07-18-2016, 05:10 PM   #13
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I do have a gfci outlet on the outside of my house, yes. I don't know why it's not tripping when the campgrounds trip immediately. It's not a gfci breaker, just a store bought gfci-enabled drop-in box with a rain cover.

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Newer GFCI receptacles are required to have a self testing function and if the GFCI fails the internal self test you cannot reset the GFCI
The older style GFCI did not have this self test function and you could reset the GFCI even if the GFCI was not functional and provided no ground fault protection.

There was a period of time several years ago when several of the big box home improvement stores were selling GFCI receptacles made in China that were just standard receptacles with a test / reset button on the front but the GFCI circuit board was missing.
The UL label on the GFCI was a forgery.
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Old 07-18-2016, 05:36 PM   #14
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Start with the easiest thing you can do for troubleshooting, a little plug in idiot light tester that cost under$10.00. Go to the hardware store and buy a 3 prong outlet tester. Get the one that will test GFCI. plug it in at your house and see what it reads. They test for 6 conditions with LED readout lights.

There is such a thing as coincidence such as running into 2 campgrounds that have receptacles not properly wired.

The tester is worth having around and you can take it with you on the road. You can check all the 110v outlets in your home and your RV.
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