Protect yourself against campground wiring problems!
Please Note: I am a participant in several affiliate marketing programs and may receive a commission if you use one of my links and make a purchase. - Denny
You may have seen the photo on the right before in one of my other articles or on the website. But believe it or not, it was our actual "power pole" at a campground near West Yellowstone. While it was obviously a concern, we've found much better-looking power poles that had problems too.
There are two main electrical problems to be aware of at campgrounds:
Bad wiring of the power pole at the campsite
Power surges that occur during a nearby lightning strike
I really recommend that you spend the money for a good surge suppressor that has a built-in circuit tester (check out my article on Avoiding Campground Electrical Problems). But when we first started camping years ago with our popup, we were a bit overwhelmed with all the things we had to spend money on. If this describes you, there is a good low-cost solution that addresses the first (and most common) concern.
Bad wiring at the campsite
We're all in a hurry to get things set up 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:
Not properly grounded
The neutral line is open
The polarity is reversed
These problems can cause damage to your electronic components, not to mention that 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 if you have a problem before you plug in your trailer!
PLEASE NOTE: This all applies to a 30 amp power source. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of a low-cost solution for testing a 50 amp circuit should you have a larger rig.
Low-cost solution to test for campground wiring problems
How to test for campground wiring problems
The photo above shows the solution we used when we first had our pop-up camper. The black device on the left is an adapter that plugs into the 30 amp socket on the power pole and converts to a standard electrical outlet like you have throughout your home. The yellow device on the right is a standard electrical tester that will diagnose if there are problems with the wiring.
Once you've plugged these into the power pole and turned on the breaker the indicator lights on the tester will let you know the condition of the wiring. The label on the tester shows the various light possibilities and what each combination of lights means. For example, with our old tester shown above, if the first light is off and the next two are yellow, the wiring is okay and you are good to go.
Be sure to test the power pole before you plug in your trailer. In our case, any time we've had a problem, the campground office has always been willing to move us to another campsite.
As I mentioned from the beginning, this is a low-cost solution. It does not protect you from all the problems that you could run into, but it does a great job of identifying the most common ones. Other than if there is a bad lightning storm, I personally would feel pretty comfortable that I have things covered. - Denny
Denny loves traveling with his wife Fay in their Small Travel Trailer. In addition to all his blog articles, he's developed an entire website about Small Travel Trailers, including a freeBeginner's Guide to help those just getting started.
Our devices shown in the photo above are quite old. I've reviewed current products
on Amazon and found two that work exactly the same way as ours.
CLICK BELOW TO PURCHASE OR READ MORE ABOUT THESE DEVICES ON AMAZON
NOTE: You need BOTH of the devices above to test the 30 amp power source at a campsite.