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Old 03-06-2020, 06:02 AM   #1
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Confusing electrical question

Greetings! Thanks to anyone willing to shine some insight on something I am very novice in. Long post ahead, bare with me.

I have a 2020 22FB Caravel rated for 30amp. I have been staying in a park since January for a travel nursing gig. I have not encountered any electrical issues until just recently.

I had an unrelated issue with my furnace (due to leaving the switch in the off position after cleaning the sail switch) and was running a 1500w space heater and one side of an electrical sunbeam blanket (maybe 120w). The furnace was off. Everything else was off/unplugged. Woke up at 0530 to a cold trailer. After checking my main breaker (inside) and the pedestal breaker neither had tripped but I didnít have power. Once the maintenance man came and looked at the campsite main breaker box we noticed that a breaker had been tripped. None of my neighbors lost power even though it was explained to me that we were on a Ďshared breakerí. Evidently I was on my own, re-flipped, power on, went inside plugged in my space heater, breaker tripped. Asked not to plug anything else in until an electrician could assess.

They finally had an electrician out 2 days later to look at the box. During this time I was asked what I had running, if I plugged in too many things etc. it was relayed to me during his assessment and fix, that they had now tied me into my own breaker, a 50amp at the main (pedestal is still 30). ó later that evening , cooking dinner using gas, nothing plugged except for a dehumidifier pulling maybe 2ampsó I go to put something in the microwave and notice I donít have power.

My breakers inside never trip. Not on the converter, and not at the pedestal, but the RV park main breaker does, and this time also knocked out some of my neighbors. The camp maintenance manager insists this is due to something pulling more wattage / amps then it should from my rig.

Can someone explain to me why my breakers havenít tripped then, and if I am on my own breaker (she said Iím an island) why I canít plug anything in, and why itís affecting the other rigs around me? It doesnít make sense to me.

I totaled my amp usage and I canít seem to get over 30, even using the space heater/dehumidifier combo, and microwave once in awhile. And although I try not to run everything at the same time, it has happened in the past before and I havenít had any issues until this last week almost 2.5 months into living here.

Thank you if you made it this far, I just donít want to be bullied by this camp manager, and want to know if itís truly my doing.
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:09 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

This is somewhat above my pay grade, but in my lay opinion, the problem is in the campground's electrical system, and not in your trailer or your electrical draw. Are your neighbors drawing power simultaneously, which makes the breakers beyond your site trip? One or more breakers in the CG system could be bad.

Is there another pedestal nearby you could plug into? That might remove one variable.

I think that a more thorough inspection of the entire system is in order.

Good luck,

Peter

PS -- When reading the first paragraph of you post, I was thrown off by thinking I was going to have to "bare" something . . .

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Old 03-06-2020, 06:12 AM   #3
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If you are not tripping the 30 amp breaker at the pedestal then you are drawing no more than 30 amps. Unless there is some kind of ground fault system in place I’d say the problem is on their side.
I hope that when they find the issue you report back with the resolution.
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:16 AM   #4
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Some more information would be useful. What is the rating of the "shared" campground breaker? If the total loads from your neighbors and you, all on that breaker, exceed that rating, the breaker could trip even though none of the individual breakers trip. Agree that it is probably a campground wiring issue, but you are not exceeding 30 amps if you are not tripping your pedestal breaker. The campground should not be wired such that the main breaker trips before a pedestal breaker so stand your ground.
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsbrodsky View Post
. . .
The campground should not be wired such that the main breaker trips before a pedestal breaker so stand your ground.
. . .
Good call, Larry.

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Old 03-06-2020, 06:22 AM   #6
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Yep, I would agree. Sound most likely to be a problem on their side. Could be a bad breaker or quite possibly a loose wire causing increased resistance in the circuit.
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:28 AM   #7
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Thank you for the validation! I will report back once the electrician rechecks things on their side hopefully today.. I too was under the impression that if my breakers are not tripping then I’m not pulling more than that, but just didn’t know how to convey that. I’m unclear of the level on the ‘shared breaker, but yesterday she told me I was placed on an individual breaker with a 50amp capacity? But obviously that is incorrect because if I was, the units around me wouldn’t lose power like they did. I’ll be back with updates.

Thank you!
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:41 AM   #8
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Varnerdy, welcome to the Airstream community and forums!

I would agree with the other posters - the problem is with the campground's electrical system, not your trailer's usage.

That said, time to invest in a good EMS-Surge protector like one from Progressive Industries.

Without one you're "whistling in the graveyard". All it would take is a surge or brown out to permanently ruin your new trailer's electrical system. The units from Progressive will protect against over/under voltage and current. They will take the hit before your trailer.

Last year while camping in Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Colorado), our unit tripped for under-voltage. Had it not, our AC unit would have continued to run, the amps would have gone up and eventually failed.

Don't leave home without it
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRA15 View Post
Welcome to the forum!

PS -- When reading the first paragraph of you post, I was thrown off by thinking I was going to have to "bare" something . . .

Beeaaarrrr 🐻 🤪 I work night shift! Bear with me! 😝
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:43 AM   #10
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Thank you! Iíll invest in one.
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:50 AM   #11
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We have that same surge unit, it was a good investment and it has prote ted our trailer at least one time that I know of.

Based on previous experiences, your campground owner is most likely in defensive mode because most issues are caused by his customers. Maybe you could move to a different spot to help with the troubleshooting...
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Old 03-06-2020, 07:20 AM   #12
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If the campground said you were on your own 50amp circuit, but a breaker tripping caused others to lose their power as well... the campground obviously doesn't know what they are talking about. Stand your ground!

edit: but yes, realize the campground will be on the defensive because it's no fun realizing "your stuff isn't right." Staying calm and kind will help resolve the issue more quickly!
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Old 03-06-2020, 07:31 AM   #13
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I read the thread and great conversation and comments from all. From the descriptions and available evidence here is what I can surmise:

1) Your Trailer is not exceeding 30A, and your branch circuits remain below the 15 and 20A limits. Others have already affirmed this.
2) There is a "phantom" load on the campground branch circuit feeding your site. Phantom because the electrician and campground manager are unaware of it. I conclude this because the electrician, suspecting a bad breaker moved your branch to another feed and the problem moved with you. So it is unlikely a component issue.
3) The phantom load is not sourced from the campsite pedestal because that breaker is not tripping
4) The phantom likely load exceeds 30A-40A so it is not a small load. It also seems to be variable.

You need to encourage the manager to have the electrician test the branch loads while your campsite breaker is both tripped and set. This will help them focus on the real issue rather than continue to blame your site and it will eliminate your site as the issue. If they notice a load, they should trace it out. If they can't find the source of the load, they should "Meg" the branch cables to see if there is an insulation failure and ground fault.

Me? I would ask to move to a new site if possible until they resolve this issue.

Good luck

Note: "Meg" is an industry colloquialism for Mega Ohms which refers to determining the quality of insulation by estimating the resistance from the hot leads to ground. The common neutral need not have intact insulation for most residential configurations since they are all grounded already.
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Old 03-06-2020, 07:38 AM   #14
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Yes to the PD surge protector. Get it shipped in ASAP. Because it also measures voltage and current draw and gives a read out of those values. So you could show the electrician and the campground people you are not causing the failure. (or maybe are in some strange way?}

And the campground does not seem to have a clue. It is hard to see why it would trip a 50 amp main instead one of the 2 30 amp breakers down line. I had a similar situation at a campground but it was only for a couple of days and then we left.

Is the campground full? can you plug in to another source?
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Old 03-06-2020, 07:54 AM   #15
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I have seen lose electrical connections in the breaker box cause this. The connections might appear tight, but for functionality are not tight enough.

Agree with the others that the issue is more likely on the campground side wiring by way of resistance somewhere. Whether this is from a lose connection / corrosion or a failing breaker set-up is the question. An IR camera might help here, but with the likelihood of underground wires, might also miss a good section.

My vote is to politely ask the electrician to re-verify that all the connections in the pedestal going back to the main distribution point are tight. If all the connections are good, then it leaves the likelihood of some other form of resistance in the wiring.

As a last step, if nothing turns-up in the current site's wiring, consider moving over to another site and see if the issue follows.
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Old 03-06-2020, 07:57 AM   #16
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I also agree with others that regardless of how this turns out, everyone should invest in a high quality surge protector. many of us purchase the ones similar to the PD model because it also protects against reverse polarity, low and high voltage and has the handy diagnostics and readouts. Some people find the additional features a nuisance because the won't pass power when the source has minor issues.

I'll let you mull that one over one your own. Me, I would prefer to protect my appliances from these issues, but when its cold and dark and you want power, some people are willing to throw caution to the wind....
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:02 AM   #17
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Yes, it was cold and dark and wet and I unplugged the surge protector so that I could use what electricity that was available. But I was careful what I turned on. At least it kept the batteries charged. In fact I have done that several times with 20 amp circuit with low voltage. But I do not have a modern trailer with all the electronics to worry about.
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:03 AM   #18
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Like any other profession, education and competence in electricians is variable. The person working on your campsite's system may not be one of the best.

I agree with asking that the campground wiring be tested with your rig unplugged. And, I definitely agree with the Progressive Industries power monitor as soon as you can get one. It not only protects the equipment in your trailer, it protects you from wiring faults that can make the shell of your trailer "hot."

If you can move to another site, do so. If the problem isn't resolved soon, maybe the new site should be in another campground.
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Old 03-06-2020, 10:28 AM   #19
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JayTheCPA makes a good point, when connections are bad, voltage drops substantially across those bad connections and in order to meet power demand instantaneous current can rise quite a bit so it is possible the mentioned loads along with very poor connections could cause the described breakers to trip.
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