How to Avoid a Bad Electrical Hookup When Camping

How to Avoid a Bad Electrical Hookup When Camping

Important Notice
You should know that while we do use and like any products discussed in this article, I do participate in various affiliate marketing programs. This means that I may receive a commission if you use one of my links to make a purchase. I thank you should you choose to do so!   -Denny

The problems with a bad electrical hookup when camping

Believe it or not,the photo above was our actual "power pole" at a campground near West Yellowstone. It is certainly the most questionable power source we've ever run into at a campground. We have however, found better looking power poles that had problems.

We're all in a hurry to get things setup when we pull into a new spot. While it's tempting to just plug in your electrical hookup when camping, you can easily destroy electrical components if the power source is bad. With a 30 amp circuit (what's common with most small travel trailers), the main problems that can exist with the electrical source are:

  • No power
  • Not properly grounded
  • The neutral line is open
  • The polarity is reversed
With a 50 amp circuit (used in large trailers, 5th wheels and motorhomes), you can also find:
  • No voltage on line 1 or line 2

Any of these problems can cause damage to your RV's electrical system or electronic components you may use. Some of the problems could be dangerous and present a shock hazard. In all cases, it's best to test the power and find out that you have a problem before you plug in your electrical hookup!

Once you know everything is okay and you're connected, you also need to be prepared for electrical surges. We live in Central Florida which happens to be the lightning capital of the world. Two things that come along with lighting are power failures and surges. A surge is when the power voltage spikes. It happens frequently if there is a lighting hit nearby, but can also be caused by other things.

Avoiding a bad electrical hookup when camping

To avoid the problems that can arise from a bad electrical hookup when camping, you need a device that will test for the various problems. In addition, to prevent power surges from damaging or destroying your RV's electrical circuits or any of your electrical components, you need a good surge suppressor. While there are many options available, the easiest solution is to get an inline surge suppressor with a built-in circuit analyzer. This device plugs into the campground's power pole, and then your RV's power cord plugs into the device.
Surge Guard diagrams

Surge Guard diagrams

There are a lot of good products available at a wide range of prices. The we use is the Surge Guard 30 amp Portable Surge Suppressor. It has three indicator lights that indicate the status of the power source. If all the indicators are green, you are good to go. If any of them are red, it indicates a problem. There is also a 50 amp model available should you have a larger RV that requires a 50 amp power source.

To use the Surge Guard you should first plug it into the campsite power source, turn on the breaker and check the indicator lights.  If they are all green, you can proceed with plugging in the power cord to your RV.  If any of the lights are red,  you should report the problem to the campground management.  In our case, any time we've had a problem the campground has always been willing to move us to another site.

Protecting yourself against a bad electrical hookup when camping should be a top priority. Don't hesitate to spend the money now and end up spending a lot more later. Be sure to send me a note if you have any questions.

- Denny

Click below to read more about these surge suppressors
and see Customer Reviews on Amazon.
30 Amp Surge Suppressor
50 Amp Surge Suppressor

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