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Open Ground


Steve Hepfer

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While recently camping we experienced what seemed like a short cycle on the front A/C. I then noticed that the Progressive EMS panel gave me an error code of PE2 which is an open ground. I reset the breaker at the pedestal and it didn't occur again. Any ideas on why it would read as an open ground and then go away? Is this likely something to do with the campground or our coach? TIA

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Steve, most likely with the pedestal. Or it could simply be an electrical gremlin.  (think corrosion/loose connection/dirt inside the pedestal) If it were a true open ground, it wouldn't just go away. However, be sure to inspect your plug for any corrosion and clean the prongs. I wouldn't worry about it unless it does it again...Dennis

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 Inspection of the Plug prongs for sure, both male and female.

 Just unplugging the cord and reinstalling it could have corrected the problem for a time.  

You may want to inspect  the ground connection .

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A typical 50 amp socket in the pedestal will be engaged and disengaged hundreds of times each year. My experience is that most campgrounds don't give these plugs a second thought until a customer makes a compliant. It is most likely the source of the open ground. It is imperative that we RV owners have a device such at the Progressive Industries to protect our units against low voltage and open grounds.

 

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Do any of you test the pedestal outlet before plugging in?  I made a tester using a short 50A plug and a two-gang outlet box (separating the two “legs”) and allowing use of a simple Greenlee plug-in tester to identify any polarity, open neutral or ground issues before plugging in and relying on my Hard-wired SurgeGuard ATS/Surge Protector.

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I always check the pedestal before plugging in. I also use the Hughes Autoformer. I made, probably the same tester as John that I use. If anyone is interested, I'll see if I can find the parts list and instructions. I have them in a pdf file somewhere. I purchased everything at a local Home Depot and it wasn't very expensive. It's saved me a couple times already. I also found a 50amp plug at  a campground wired as a 30amp. Yeah, I made them change it out. If someone's interested, let me know and I'll go search my log files......Dennis

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On 6/16/2020 at 12:38 PM, johncvandoren@gmail.com said:

Do any of you test the pedestal outlet before plugging in?  I made a tester using a short 50A plug and a two-gang outlet box (separating the two “legs”) and allowing use of a simple Greenlee plug-in tester to identify any polarity, open neutral or ground issues before plugging in and relying on my Hard-wired SurgeGuard ATS/Surge Protector.

I test the pedestal even before pulling into the site just in case we have to move to a different location due to problems.

I build Power/ Pedestal Testers for RVer's who are electrically challenged or prefer not to deal with putting it together themselves. I build two different models, one basic and one a little more custom. I have attached a photo of my Digital Custom Power/Pedestal Tester. It tests for proper polarity, ground, neutral and displays the voltage on each leg. It also has a RED indicator light on top which checks for authentic 50 amp service versus Fake 50 amp service. Fake 50 amp is really two 30 amp legs not two 50 amp legs. With Fake 50 amp you will only have 7200 watts of power to use versus the full 12,000 watts of power with an authentic 50 amp service.

 

609622763_Power-PedestalTesterDigitalModel-06.thumb.JPG.5b9a4e4ca17aebb2e9e28260fad8ea37.JPG

Edited by Dr4Film
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4 hours ago, johncvandoren@gmail.com said:

Do any of you test the pedestal outlet before plugging in?  I made a tester using a short 50A plug and a two-gang outlet box (separating the two “legs”) and allowing use of a simple Greenlee plug-in tester to identify any polarity, open neutral or ground issues before plugging in and relying on my Hard-wired SurgeGuard ATS/Surge Protector.

I do.  Richard Smith @Dr4Film makes a really nice pedestal checker that's easy to use.  I only got it in February and it's already saved my bacon once.

Richard - you might want to put info about your pedestal checker in the Vendor section! You should use the motto "30 seconds can save you $30,000!"  

Pffft!  right after I posted this I saw where Richard had just posted info on it... 🤦🏻‍♂️

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Ok, I found the files. IMO, everyone who has a 50amp coach should have one of these. It shows open neutrals, correct wiring, voltage and more. I've included the link to the tester and a pdf file with all the instructions etc. along with the SKUs from Home Depot. It's easy to build yourself and it could save you tons of money down the road....Dennis

50 Amp Tester Link

50 Amp Tester.pdf

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41 minutes ago, bobdinsmore said:

If I have a Progressive HW50C why should I also use the Pedestal Tester? I need some basic education on what the HW50C misses. Thanks.

Bob, your EMS HW-50C does everything that MY Power/Pedestal Tester does except for testing for a Fake 50 Amp pedestal. The only advantage of testing the pedestal with a tester is only if you do it BEFORE spending the time to get into your site only to find a problem with your power pedestal that would require you to move someplace else.

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Comment....and Richard's device is cool.  Have the Progressive HW50C (hard wired with remote).  NEVER EVER DECIDE that the Progressive is "faking you out".

Mine would NOT let me have power.  SAY WHAT?  It won't give me power.  So, I fume and fuss and call Tommy Fannelli, the past owner of Progressive.  He says....you got an OPEN Neutral.  O COME ON NOW>>>>>>that can't be.  SO.  I go under and pull off the cover of the ATS and the Progressive.  Do my VOM's.  BINGO....I have 240 VAC from L1 to L2 on the Progressive terminal strip.  I have 120 VAC from L1 to GROUND and same from L2 to Ground.  

I have NO VAC from L1 or L2 to Neutral.  I have NO BONDED Ground or continuity from Neutral to Ground.  YES....I have a problem.  SO, I use the Genny for the rest of the trip.

NOW....I had opened the OTHER side or bay door (mine swing OUT, not up or down) and barely BUMPED the shore plug.  I then pulled out the shore plug enough to get meter readings on the pins.  SURE ENOUGH....i have ALL my voltages and continuity on the plug.  SO, the Pedestal is OK.  Somewhere between the plug and the Progressive....I have an OPEN connection on the NEUTRAL line.

Fuss and fume.  I have 50 amps at home.  I tighten every lug.  I find where the hose reel (electric) line goes to the Feed to the Progressive.  NADA.

OK....either a LOOSE wire or nick in the power cord or MAYBE the contact rings on the reel.  A PITA to trouble shoot or repair.  WHY ME, LORD?  

BUT, It hit me.  I BUMPED the plug.  You DO NOT suppose that the high quality crimped connection from the power cord to the molded connector opened up?  SO, i stole the 50 Amp Camco connector from my standby Genny line cord (I backfeed my house via the MH's 50 AM circuit).  Cut off the MH's plug.  Put on the used one.  I have been running that for about 7 years....  NEED to replace it....but I carry a spare.

BOTTOM LINE.....if you loose the NEUTRAL, the HW50C is SUPPOSED to NOT give you power.....do NOT override it....  Saved me a really ugly problem.

Have since found out that several Monaco/HR owners have reported some faulty crimped plugs.  SO....my advice....as well as TRUSTING the HW50C, carry a SPARE plug....I also have a tube of Dow Chemical Potting compound to seal it.  I did my on the cheap and use GE Silicone.  It has worked well.  I have spent over 700 nights in my motor home....we stay out about 60 days per season.  SO, it gets USED....not full timing....but USED..

The Tester is great.  But, if you don't have one....then be handy.  

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  • 7 months later...
On 6/16/2020 at 2:42 PM, Dennis H said:

I always check the pedestal before plugging in. I also use the Hughes Autoformer. I made, probably the same tester as John that I use. If anyone is interested, I'll see if I can find the parts list and instructions. I have them in a pdf file somewhere. I purchased everything at a local Home Depot and it wasn't very expensive. It's saved me a couple times already. I also found a 50amp plug at  a campground wired as a 30amp. Yeah, I made them change it out. If someone's interested, let me know and I'll go search my log files......Dennis

I'd be interested in making the pedestal tester you made.  Could you please post the parts list and instructions to make one.  Thanks!

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8 hours ago, veraken said:

I'd be interested in making the pedestal tester you made.  Could you please post the parts list and instructions to make one.  Thanks!

Here you go! The prices may be different as they are a few years old, but everything else should work....

50 Amp Tester.pdf

50Amp Tester Pic_Page_1.jpg

Edited by Dennis H
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1 hour ago, Ivan K said:

Good idea and looks simple enough. Is there a miss wiring combination that a Progressive EMS would not detect and this one would 

Ivan, the point of the tester is so you can check the pedestal install BEFORE ever hooking up your coach. In that case the EMS is a non-issue. Most EMS systems would pick up an irregularity but then again you're going to potentially experience several things....your EMS would have to detect the irregularity and transmit that to you where you'd have to determine what was amiss....or the EMS would miss it and you'd fry some stuff in your rig. I'd rather check the pedestal BEFORE exposing my coach to any irregularities that may exist. Keep in mind what this tester tells you about the pedestal. One, voltage on BOTH legs, proper ground and open neutrals. It also will alert you to correct polarity at both legs. Cheap insurance as far as I'm concerned. A  bonus has been when we camp host. You'd be surprised at how most RVrs handle their plug ins. Additionally, not every rig has a EMS system on board, in which case this would be an immensely valuable tool....hope this helps....Dennis

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@Dennis, I built something very similar to yours; use it in suspected/unknown CGs but probably should use it every time. 

I'm puzzled by the term 'fake 50amp'.  I've run into some pedestals where both 'hot pins' on the 50 amp are connected to the same 120v leg,  I'll call this "Fake-50amp-1".   Normally the "hot" legs on a 50amp are have a difference of 240vAC between the two.  Then each leg serves as a return for the current drawn on the other leg with the neutral taking care of any imbalance.   If both legs of the 50 amp are actually on the same leg (the voltage pin-to-pin will be zero); any heavy current draw could overload the neutral which must serve as the return for both hot legs in that case.   I can test this on my device using a voltmeter between the 'hots' of the two outlets.

The other thing I've heard about, call it "Fake-50amp-2", is where the legs are opposite, but fed by wiring which has lower current carrying capacity than 50a, maybe one wire is feeding a 30amp receptacle and the other a 20 amp on a different leg but in the same pedestal.  Not sure how to test for that except to check that connections aren't getting hot.   

 

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I also built a similar test to what you have Dennis. I keep it mounted in the wet bay on the wall close to the cord reel so I don’t forget to use it every time. A couple differences that I thought were worth sharing is that I used digital volt meters on both legs/outlets and I also wired in a 220volt tester and wired it across the legs to assure the pedestal is not a cheater 50 AMP. Sorry that I am not near the Coach to provide a photo of the completed tester. Here’s a similar digital readout that I used and the tester also. I know had to put the digital readers at opposite ends of each outlet so they would fit  

F1739AB4-7BC8-4543-9516-8BCF992A3D46.png

C11C0263-3436-41C2-B3AE-5D97BBC4F885.jpeg

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55 minutes ago, rpasetto said:

I'm puzzled by the term 'fake 50amp'.  I've run into some pedestals where both 'hot pins' on the 50 amp are connected to the same 120v leg,  I'll call this "Fake-50amp-1". 

The other thing I've heard about, call it "Fake-50amp-2", is where the legs are opposite, but fed by wiring which has lower current carrying capacity than 50a, maybe one wire is feeding a 30amp receptacle and the other a 20 amp on a different leg but in the same pedestal.  Not sure how to test for that except to check that connections aren't getting hot.   

 

Did the "Fake 50 Amp 1" pedestal have a 50 amp breaker?  I haven't run into that although that's what a 50 to 30 adapter does. 

Your "Fake 50 amp 2" is what the cheater boxes do, I use one frequently for 30 amp 240 volt input.  It's rare to be able to use the 20 amp receptacle as they are normally GFI. 

My transfer switch/surge guard is a hardwired Southwire 40350-RVC which works well along with a Hughes Autoformer.  In Mexico the Southwire unit shut the electric off due to high voltage (140 VAC on each leg) at night.  It shuts it off above 132 VAC, I think the Progressive unit has the same parameters.

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