When Your RV Shocks
Have you ever touched something
in your Fifth Wheel RV and gotten
a small shock?
Sometimes it is just a slight tingling
sensation and sometimes it is a
If so then read on because that
might have been a warning of a severe
problem that few RV owners are aware
of and in this case knowledge is
what will keep you and any other
occupants of the RV safe if that
Many of us plug our RV into park
power or power at home with the
trust that where we are plugging
into is safe, has been wired correctly
and is free from any deterioration.
This unfortuately is not always
If a RV site has an incorrectly
wired power box or deterioration
has occurred in the power box or
to the wiring in your RV, a situation
can exist whereby your RV can become
electrified. Because the RV is sitting
on rubber tires which act as insulators,
it takes someone standing on the
ground and then touching the RV
to get a shock. If it has been raining
and a person standing outside on
wet ground touches metal on the
RV (like the stairs or the door
handle), the resulting shock can
When an RV becomes electrified,
one would hope that a circuit breaker
would trip or a surge protector
connected to the power box would
trip or alert us to a problem. This
is not always the case and and electrified
RV can exist whereby there is no
indication of the problem other
than the shock one gets when touching
a door handle or other metal surface.
This can be a small shock or it
can be deadly depending on the circumstances.
Is this an isolated condition that
actually occurs very infrequently?.
No. Almost 1 out of 5 RV owners
say they have experienced a small
shock when touching metal in their
RV at some point in their travels.
Had circumstance been different
for one of those RV owners, like
rain or water outside the RV, that
small shock could have become significantly
Rather than go into all of the technical
details about how the electrified
RV happens, we will provide you
with a very easy solution to test
for this condition which does not
involve messing with the power box
or having any knowledge of electrical
If you touch something in your RV
and you feel a slight shock, understand
immediately that you have a potential
problem that needs to be dealt with
right away. That slight shock means
a potentially dangerous condition
exists in your RV. There is a possibility
that you are plugged into a faulty
power box or your RV wiring has
a problem and your RV has become
electrified to some degree.
Do not think that if there were an
electrical problem a circuit breaker
would trip or something will warn
you as this is not always the case.
In some situations not even an expensive
voltage tester would alert you to
the problem, but the
will. For more in-depth info, see
the technical info link at the bottom
of this page.
Let all family members know to tell
you if they feel any small shock
when in the RV on a camping trip.
Many people think it is just their
imagination when they feel a small
shock the first time and ignore
is what to do.
First get everyone out of the RV
as a safety precaution, including
Remember that when you are standing
on the ground and then touch the
RV, the risk of a greater shock
is higher. If the ground is wet
outside the RV then the shock risk
goes even higher and can be fatal.
So once outside do not touch any
metal on the RV.
Have a Volt Alert available at all
times. Store one in the RV or truck
where you can easily find it.
Get your Volt
Alert (This has been determined
to be the best unit to test with
- available from this link)
1. Hold it firmly in the palm of
your hand - not with your fingers.
Your hand must have as much contact
with the unit as possible for it
to give a correct reading.
2. Make sure you are ouside the
RV and standing on the ground when
you test. Having your feet on the
ground is important to get a correct
reading. If you are in the RV and
test, the RV wheels will act as
insulation and you can get an incorrect
Touch the unit tip close to or onto
any metal surface outside the RV.
Metal stairs or the hitch works
well. If the unit shows red then
there is a problem. Switch the site
power box circuit breaker off and
pull your power adapter out of the
site power box to disconnect all
power to the RV.
Notify the RV park that there is
a electrical problem and either
move to another site or wait for
the problem to be fixed.
In some cases the electrical problem
could be a result of deteriorated
wiring or a fault with your RV.
If this is the case then you will
get the fault everytime you test
no matter where you are plugged
in. In this case an electrician
will need to determine where the
problem is in the RV and then repair
it. Do not use your RV until the
problem is repaired.
The most important thing to know
about electrical shocks is that
it does not take much of a shock
to send ones heart into fibrillation.
Don't risk it. Get the cheap test
unit and carry it with your RV at
Be aware that feeling a small shock
in the RV and ignoring it could result
in a much bigger shock should it rain
or the ground outside the RV become
wet and someone reaches up off the
ground and touches metal on the RV.
Depending how much you travel,
there is a very good chance that
you will experience a faulty power
box at some point. Keep the above
information in mind and know what
to do when it happens.
If you would like a more technical
in-depth explanantion of how an
RV becomes electrified here
is a link.