We use 120 volt shore connections because of the load requirements of our larger power consuming appliances. These will include air conditioners, microwaves, home style refrigerators and electric water heaters to name a few. Some of these items can be operated through the 12 volt systems with the use of inverters which we will discuss later. Because of the cost, weight and complexity of the inverter systems they are not as common. The best way to give us the power to run all of these appliances is by connecting to shore power provided by the campground.
Your RV has a shore cord that connects your 120 volt distribution system to the campground electrical system. This simple process of plugging in our cord to the campground receptacle is taken for granted all too often. Assuming all campground pedestals are safe is a common mistake costing owners thousands of dollars in repairs. There is a very simple way of preventing these damages from occuring. I recommend that every RV has a surge protecter.
There are several brands on the market. The main difference is whether the surge protector is connected on the end of the shore cord or wired in the electrical system of the RV. Both will provide the protection needed for campground pedestals that are incorrectly wired and some possible surges. When choosing a surge protector there are two ratings to compare. Every surge protector is rated in Joules. The higher the number, the more power it can absorb. The other specification to compare would be reaction time. The quicker the reaction time, the better the surge protector. If you choose a surge protector that is connected to the end of the shore cord be sure to get the optional lock.
If we do not protect ourselves when connecting to shore power we can experience several different electrical problems. These problems can cause physical injury or equipment failure. Even though the appliances are working after connecting to shore power it does not mean everything is safe. The RV is not properly grounded electrically without a proper connection to the campground pedestal. The 120 volt connection must include earth ground. The 120 volt electrical system is not grounded the the RV frame as many people think. This can cause what is called “Hot Skin”. This is a very unsafe situation causing the RV frame and metal to be electricaly charged. Other problems caused by unsafe pedestals would include open circuits or reversed polarity. All of these conditions can cause component damage, injury or even death.
Do not hesitate or wait for a problem to occur, make a surge protector part of your electrical system.