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Old 03-23-2010, 09:29 PM   #1
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Fitting extra GFCIs - a good idea?

On my trailer, only the circuit which includes the exterior 120v receptacle is covered by a GFCI. The kitchen and bathrooms are not so protected, even though they are close to water sources and wet hands. It seems to me that a useful upgrade for trailers like mine would be to fit GFCIs on the other two circuits. Receptacles including a GFCI are about $13 at Wal-Mart. Any reasons not to protect all three independent circuits?
Nick.
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Old 03-23-2010, 11:10 PM   #2
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The things to watch are the possibility of nuisance tripping and whether there's enough room in the wiring box where you're putting it.
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Old 03-23-2010, 11:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickcrowhurst View Post
On my trailer, only the circuit which includes the exterior 120v receptacle is covered by a GFCI. The kitchen and bathrooms are not so protected, even though they are close to water sources and wet hands. It seems to me that a useful upgrade for trailers like mine would be to fit GFCIs on the other two circuits. Receptacles including a GFCI are about $13 at Wal-Mart. Any reasons not to protect all three independent circuits?
Nick.
This is a fine idea. Depending on how you wire them, a GFI outlet protects either just that outlet, or all outlets past it on the chain. Remember that you don't want the GFI protecting the refrigerator (rain causes outdoor extension cord to trip GFI while you're away; fridge warms up.... ). If you have any outlets that are used with motors, those have in the past sometimes caused problems w/ false tripping.

GFIs will save someone's bacon; they're well worth using.

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Old 03-24-2010, 06:34 AM   #4
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That's useful information, thank you guys. It would be easy for trailer owners to assume that all outlets were protected, as the GFCI in my era of trailer is in the 120v distribution box, rather than in inividual outlets. The Owner's Manual shows and states that there are three separate circuits for 110v, and only the one including the exterior 120v outlet is GFCI protected. I'll look into the two options of replacing the other two circuit breakers with GFCI breakers, or installing GFCI outlets in the kitchen and bathroom. The latter option would avoid the issue Barts raised, nuisance tripping on the refrigerator, but, as Jammer pointed out, there is little space behind the outlets for even the existing outlets. Food for thought. Thanks again for the feedback.
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Old 03-24-2010, 09:11 AM   #5
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nick, wait for a few more replies before you start ripping things up. a check of the wiring might reveal that other lines were/are protected. i'd think that code requirements at the build date of your trailer, would require the bath and sink areas be protected.
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Old 03-24-2010, 09:20 AM   #6
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I would first check the 110 volt breakers in your converter box and see if any of them are GFCI's. You can have regular outlet controlled by a GFCI breaker and you have the same protection. As with the outlets, these breakers are a little more sensitive and experience false trips.

It maybe more reasonable to replace a couple of breakers in the box than a whole bunch of outlets.

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Old 03-24-2010, 10:47 AM   #7
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Pages G-40 and 41 of the owner's manual makes it clear that only one of the three circuits is protected by a GFCI, and the breaker box contains three breakers, only one of which is a GFCI. It also states that there will only be the one GFCI for an exterior outlet circuit if it is required under code in the state where the trailer is sold. I also tripped the GFCI, and confirmed that the kitchen and bathroom circuits were still live, before making my original post.
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Old 03-24-2010, 02:05 PM   #8
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manuals can be wrong but you've confirmed the facts. i'd sure want the bath and galley to be protected!
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Old 03-24-2010, 02:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickcrowhurst View Post
Pages G-40 and 41 of the owner's manual makes it clear that only one of the three circuits is protected by a GFCI, and the breaker box contains three breakers, only one of which is a GFCI. It also states that there will only be the one GFCI for an exterior outlet circuit if it is required under code in the state where the trailer is sold. I also tripped the GFCI, and confirmed that the kitchen and bathroom circuits were still live, before making my original post.
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Weird,

When the GFCI breaker trips in my Excella, not only does the outside outlet go dead, but so do the ones in the (side) bath, (rear) bedroom, and the outlet completely at the other end of the trailer—the one under the front window that supplies power to the converter formerly known as Univolt (now Inteli-Power).
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Old 03-24-2010, 02:43 PM   #10
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upgrade your electrical

some years ago, the gfci's were a PITA, not so today. Today Arc Fault circuit breakers are required. In Canada, the electricians are installing surge protection in all residential dwellings at the service entrance, not on an individual circuit basis-this is routine for commercial services. Your trailer could use either a dual 30 amp service or a 50 amp service as well. So, there are quite a few things you can do to upgrade your trailer's electrical system to current code.

Vaughn-my 85 excella is wired exactly the same as yours, not so wierd, just the way AS saw it-all the outlets protected in this manner can see ground faults-via the 12v dc (charger) a television antenna (the bedroom) or outside (rain) or in the toilet (water/sink); it wasn't the proximity to the water intially requiring GFCI, it was the idea of water vapor in the air-in addition to the sink. So, initially, GFCI was only placed in baths, not the kitchen-not so today.

I am hesitant to say a GFCI outlet will fit into an AS wiring box. Probably not, too shallow. So, the only easy way to protect a circuit would be to add a GFCI breaker. Not a bad idea. as mentioned, the outlets are about 13$ a breaker will cost you about $30 US.

I suspect a good rv park/national/state park will have surge protection and GFCI built into their system, depending on age of course. but protecting your trailer is a good idea.
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Old 03-24-2010, 03:44 PM   #11
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It would be interesting to know how modern Airstreams are equipped for ground faults. Is anyone reading this who owns an Airstream less than a couple of years old ? How is your trailer equipped?
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Old 03-24-2010, 04:49 PM   #12
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Mine has one GFCI in the panel; it protects FIVE outlets: bath, galley, below dinette, the one on the wall just aft of the fridge, and the exterior one.
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Old 03-24-2010, 09:33 PM   #13
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Thanks for that information, and for all others who contributed. That would seem to be a much better system. Extra GFCI protection will be my next upgrade.
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Old 03-24-2010, 10:03 PM   #14
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...
Vaughn-my 85 excella is wired exactly the same as yours, not so wierd, ...
All your points are good. What I thought was weird, though, was that in Nick's 1988 Excella the bathroom remained hot, unlike ours. All three are '80s Airstreams with only a five year spread from mine (oldest) to his (newest).

Regardless of age, I would expect the bathroom to be on the GFCI circuit.

I'll admit, I've considered adding a ground fault outlet next to the sink in the galley. There isn't enough room in my breaker box for another GFCI breaker due to their width, and the only outlet I'm really concerned about is next to the sink.
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