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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Check Your AC Outlets! - Right Voltage? Polarity? Ground? - It's Easy!

    When I have access to 120 Volt AC power, whether by using my generator or connecting a shore power cable, I ALWAYS make sure the power I am receiving/using is up to snuff. Does it have the correct Voltage? The correct Polarity? Is it Grounded? In extreme cases, improper wiring at a campground or other power source could fry your electrical system and lots of expensive components. It's easy to check before you connect so....why risk it?If you think it's a P.I.T.A. (Sound it out...Pain In The A...) then these two inexpensive simple devices will make it easy!

First off is a $4.75 Polarity and ground checker. These come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Mine is Yellow, don't you know. They have three lights on them and a small diagram telling you what those lights mean. Typically, you get the two right most ones lit and instantly know the receptacle is wired correctly. It's really easy to use. Just plug it in to the outlet and look at the lights that illuminate. For me, ANYTHING that isn't "CORRECT" won't be receiving my shore power plug any time soon. Some incorrectly wired receptacles are worse than others. It really never pays to gamble with your expensive electrical system. A few seconds of testing could save you a whole lot of grief and money.


Once the wiring has been checked and is OK to use. I test the actual electricity coming out of the socket. Namely, the Voltage and the Frequency. Everyone knows about what the correct voltage is. It should be around 120V, sometimes as high as 124V or as low as 110V. Anything above or below those numbers could very likely damage things plugged in and operating. Frequency is a bit more complicated. In the United States we use 60Hz power. Not to get overly technical, that just means that the power oscillates back and forth (Alternates) from the power station to you. 60Hz just means 60 times per second. Some of the rest of the world uses 50Hz. Most modern power supplies can use either. If it's WAY off you shouldn't use it. This can be an issue with your generator as its speed will directly affect the voltage and frequency. I use a Kill-A-Watt meter to check both. As a bonus, it will tell you how much power (amps) your device  (that's plugged into it) is drawing among other features. At about $20.00, it's well worth it!

Again, a tiny bit of work before you plug in, can save you a world of hurt. I'm all about enjoying my RV and each and every minute of each and every trip. If I can prevent something from going wrong, I'm way ahead. Every moment I get to travel is precious to me. What's that worth in dollars?? Priceless!!!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

6 comments:

  1. If its useful, my own discussion of pedestal safety testing is at https://youtu.be/p37z_G9CLRo

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  2. I was wondering if the Polarity and ground checker can be used with a 30 amp adapter? Or does checking the 20 amp verify that the wiring is correct?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, a 3 or 4 light tester writers the same when connected to a 30 amp receptacle... There are still ground neutral and hot wires which we want connected to the correct feeds from the distribution panel. Use a cheap adapter to test the TT30 if you aren't using probes.

      NO, while *more* confident, testing the pedestal duplex does not guarantee the TT30 plug was wired right - the mistake could be in the pedestal between outputs.

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    2. As usual, Wolfe is Spot on!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    3. Lol... If you're not careful, people will start thinking I know what I'm talking about. I better start putting random and highly dangerous advice in my comments...

      "Always check the unknown pedestal with a paperclip held in your teeth..."

      Delete
    4. Wolfe,
      Hmmm I've always wanted REALLY curly (and smoking) hair!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete

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