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Old 03-14-2010, 01:19 PM   #1
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Smile Electrical Safety - Public Service Announcement

Over the last few months, I have seen several posts stating in one way or another, "I have little or no knowledge about electricity, but please help me troubleshoot this electrical problem".

What follows is my advice about what to do if you can make the above statement or anything similar. I hope everyone will accept it as it is intended. That is; to save someone from injury, accident, or worse.

Don't try to find/repair electrical problems if you are not familiar with electricity and how it is used in power wiring circuits. 115 volts easily has the potential to kill a person. Under certain circumstances, 12 volts can certainly at least cause pain, and due to the high current often used in 12 volt circuits, it can easily start fires. I know it is tempting to get at a problem and save a few bucks, but the price could end up being very high. If you can not find a friend locally who has the necessary understanding of electrical circuits, then hire a professional. Answers and advice given remotely via the forum or other means, generally tells you what is suggested that you do, but not how to avoid injury or accident while doing it. This danger is exacerbated in an Airstream, because nearly every structure around you is grounded metallic conductor.

I will now remove my grandmotherly bonnet.

I do not now or have ever made money repairing electrical things, so that is not my motive.

Regards,

Ken

PS: this equally applies to propane systems.
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Old 03-14-2010, 02:17 PM   #2
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ditto.

and watch out for advice you get from supposedly knowledgeable sources

a recent example is that of rewiring a small portable 120v genset to connect the 'neutral' to the frame ground. By code, there is no neutral in such gensets. The manufacturer knows this but there it goes, a friendly RVer thinks he knows more than the manufacturer. Not good.

Many systems in your RV can be hazardous. Older RV's may have problems from the wear and tear of age as well as doing things in a way that we know today are not a good idea.

'Codes' for electrical, gas, and other systems are often developed from learning the hard way. Modern equipment implements these codes as they exist at the time of manufacture. Modifications or other improvements should not just assume better knowledge.

Take care in your maintenance and modification efforts and maintain a healthy skepticism regarding advice you may receive.
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Old 03-14-2010, 02:43 PM   #3
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This is not a WBCCI sponsored comment

Perhaps this forum needs to post a prominent statement similar to the one Tim has on his web page:
Quote:
Originally Posted by theVAP
theVAP and its licensors makes no warranties, expressed or implied, as to the completeness, accuracy, or practicality of such procedure or any information contained in this program. Be sure to always exercise reasonable caution, follow applicable codes and regulations, and consult with a professional if in doubt about any procedures.
Just a thought,
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Old 03-14-2010, 04:17 PM   #4
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I see your point. On the other hand, one gains knowledge by asking and gathering information. Most of this is within the grasp of reasonably bright people who take the time to sort out what they are doing.
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Old 03-14-2010, 04:43 PM   #5
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There are Type I errors and Type II errors.

Type I errors are described by OP, where someone follows bum advice and gets in over their head.

But there are also Type II errors, several have been mentioned here, where an experienced professional has wired somebody's shore power connection to 240V, or bonded the ground and neutrals.

The safe course is Boondocker's. Educate yourself.
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Old 03-14-2010, 04:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boondocker View Post
... Most of this is within the grasp of reasonably bright people who take the time to sort out what they are doing.
Reasonably bright people who take the time to sort out what they are doing are not the focus here. The Internet audience, between those people and everyone not as reasonable, is something I keep in mind everytime I post about a potentially hazardous issue.

If nothing else, I'd feel bad if markdoane went off & kilt himself while acting on bad information from me.


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Old 03-14-2010, 06:20 PM   #7
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. . . If nothing else, I'd feel bad if markdoane went off & kilt himself while acting on bad information from me.


Tom
Now I think you're trying to take advance credit for something I'm perfectly capable of doing on my own.
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