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Old 10-12-2015, 01:55 PM   #1
2010 20' Flying Cloud
Lakeside , Montana
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To throw or not to throw, the breakers

Weíve all pulled into a campsite and found the circuit breakers to be thrown (turned off) on the pedestal, so here are my proís and conís on this.

Reasons to leave the circuit breakers on:
1. Sign on pedestal says LEAVE CIRCUIT BREAKERS ON (Iíve often seen this).
2. Newbie bothers host with complaints that thereís no electricity at their site (you know it happens).
3. You have to throw on the breakers to have electricity at your site (youíve done this).
4. Constant throwing on and off circuit breakers eventually weakens the breaker resulting in premature tripping (heard that somewhere).

Reasons to turn the circuit breakers off:
1. (please fill in blank)

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Old 10-12-2015, 02:11 PM   #2
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Circuit breakers off

When one connects a plug with a lot of voltage and amperage, there is inevitably an arcing of the contacts as the plug is inserted. The circuit breaker/switch is designed to minimize risk during connection and IMO should always be off when the RV line is plugged.

Also, should one have an unforeseen connection with the metal plugs as they are inserted, with the breaker off this is of no concern. Breaker on and one could find themselves dead or severely injured by electrical shock. Most of us are standing on the ground when we plug in, so....

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Old 10-12-2015, 02:29 PM   #3
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I don't care what a sign says. If breakers are on when I arrive I turn them off, plug in my circuit tester and fault detector, wait the 145 seconds for it to check everything and tell me all is ok, then I plug in our wire from the AS.

When I leave I turn the breakers off prior to pulling plug.

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Old 10-12-2015, 02:42 PM   #4
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Most circuit breakers are not designed or intended to be used as switches and I believe the NEC prohibits their use as such unless specifically marked as intended for that (SWD). It will cause the breaker to fail quicker, although it is debatable what the life derating actually is.

Unless one is in the habit of connecting to the pedestal with the AC, microwave & water heater on, there is not a huge amount of current to cause destructive arcing.

Worrying about the risk of electrocution while plugging into the pedestal strikes me as right up (down) there with getting killed by a meteor. There is a much higher chance of slipping and falling in the shower and hitting your head, but I don't think most of us would advocate wearing a helmet in the shower

My personal opinion is both the wear and safety arguments are fringe concerns. The bigger issue is convenience and making it easier on the hosts since you would be amazed the number of folks who don't think to check the breaker when they hook up.
Keith & Barb
2016 30' Flying Cloud
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Old 10-12-2015, 02:54 PM   #5
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I have never seen a sign saying leave the breakers on, in fact just the opposite. Plug in both ends and flip the breaker on. Prevents arching and sparking at the trailer plug end. Common sense to me.

Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:16 PM   #6
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To throw or not to throw, the breakers

Breakers off both before I plug in and unplug to avoid arky-sparky. Particularly important in 50 amp as it can create damage if negative lead disengages before positive leads. The only leave on stickers I have seen are for the occasional 20amp that power the sight lights (overhead or pedestal) or a heat tape for the water riser.

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Old 10-12-2015, 06:36 PM   #7
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Breaker OFF all connections made before energizing the circuit. Breaker OFF before disconnecting.
I have only been in one privately owned RV. Park where there was no way to shut the power off at the pedestal.
In that case one should shut the main breaker off in the coach. But that will not prevent you from getting electrocuted while plugging in or unplugging.

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Old 10-12-2015, 07:09 PM   #8
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To be honest, I have never worried about it (maybe I'm way too lazy!)

I just plug in and then ask my "Mrs" to tell me if both lights are lit on the polarity checker that I keep plugged in at the galley 110 outlet in the trailer.

If they are on, great, if they are not on, then I check the breaker at the post and flip it on if needed - usually no need, as the last occupant has usually left it on anyway!

Again, not to say that this is the way to do it by any means ..... and I will accept any criticism and perhaps even change my ways .... but it's what I do! A a rule, all major power consumption devices such as AC, water heater, etc., are off when I plug in, so no significant current flow anticipated.

Brian & Connie Mitchell

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Old 10-12-2015, 07:26 PM   #9
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I always shut them off before connecting my Progressive Dynamics surge protector and tester. I wait until it cycles through and tells me nothing is wired incorrectly BEFORE unhitching. If the site's electrical is a mess, I want to know that before setting up.

But I think the procedure should change. I start that way, then connect my 30a cord to my trailer receptacle and then plug in to the PD box - but at that point, the breaker and PD box are on. Even though nothing significant is on in the trailer, it may be worth testing first, then shutting the breakers off, then connecting the cable and then turning the breakers back on to avoid any risk of electrocution. Will think about that for next season.
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Old 10-13-2015, 08:24 AM   #10
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Electrocution at a power pedestal is a real danger.
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Old 10-13-2015, 11:46 AM   #11
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I deal with high amperage equipment for a living, not to mention running the vacuum around the house.
This relates to the AS how?
Best practices.
1) Turn off the shore powered items in the trailer prior to disconnecting shore power.
This reduces load at unplug and re-plug.
2) Leave the breakers on the pedestal alone. High amperage breakers will age, more quickly when used as a "switch". My experience is 30-50% life reduction.
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Old 10-13-2015, 12:12 PM   #12
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Sounds like "life reduction" is the crux if the matter. But there is disagreement whether the emphasis is on the life of the circuit breaker or the life of the operator.
See: RV Electrical Safety: Part IV ‚€“ Hot Skin | No~Shock~Zone
"Having differences makes a difference"
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Old 10-13-2015, 12:22 PM   #13
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Actually, see the 3rd bullet point under the section "Reruns" at this site for a more definitive answer:
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Old 10-13-2015, 02:51 PM   #14
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I am the maintenance man at my rv park, have 175 sites all wired for 20,30 and 50 amp service, by far the biggest electrical problem I have here is from people who hookup or unhook their plugs without turning the breaker off. If everything in the rv is turned off there is no problem, however many people have lights and air conditioners turned on and it does cause some serious damage inside of the electrical boxes, outlets burned, wires melted and breakers fried. I shudder to think what is happening to the computers that many of the new motor homes have. My step father was an electrical engineer and he drilled it into my head at an early age - turn off before unplugging anything electrical.

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