The other day while I was puttering around the RV I noticed a tingling feeling when I touched some of the exposed metal parts. It felt just like a mild electrical shock, but my RV wasn’t plugged into shore power. In fact, it was in a storage yard. Weird.
I decided to test for the presence of electricity so grabbed my Fluke multimeter and Klein non-contact voltage tester and checked things out. Sure enough, the Klein tester lit up and beeped like crazy then held close to the rigs metal frame and attached components.
Next, I jammed the multimeter’s negative lead into the earth and touched the positive to the RV frame. I was flabbergasted to see a reading of 148 AC volts. What the heck? No wonder I was feeling some tickles when touching metal. Even though I couldn’t come up with any explanation how they could cause the 148 volts. I turned off all the circuit breakers in my battery, solar and inverter circuits. No dice the voltage was still there.
The Mystery Voltage is Solved
As I sat there bewildered, I started to look around the storage yard for something to explain it. Once I took a gander skyward, I had my answer! Almost straight above the RV are three high tension power lines. I learned later they are at 110,000-volt lines. They were causing the voltage to be induced into the frame of my fifth wheel trailer.
Maybe it’s due to the aluminum frame. I checked out a few other RVs in the storage yard. Class As and Class Cs and my truck were OK, no voltage but another fifth wheel and a travel trailer set my tester off as well.
Video Footage Showing My Electrified RV
I’m still amazed how the power was being transferred at such a distance. It’s a good lesson on how an RV frame can become energized. BTW, it’s always a good practice to check out the RV with a non-contact voltage tester when hooking up at a campground. It’s always possible for a miswired power pedestal to cause just what I was experiencing called an RV hot-skin condition.” In some cases, it can be deadly.
For in-depth RV electrical information, I recommend the No~Shock~Zone RV Electrical Safety eBook