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Old 09-06-2020, 08:11 AM   #1
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New Member WBGO Era - GFCI?

I am a new rver in my mid 70s. I need a place to ask my questions. Bear with me if they often sound dumb. My first one is, I was parked and hooked to a 110 plug in the garage on a long utility extension cord. It was hot and I wanted ac so turned on the generator. The gfi kept tripping and no ac. How do I understand this. I unplugged the shoreline reset the gfi, let it rest awhile, came back and turned on the generator ( no shoreline) and ac worked fine.
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Old 09-06-2020, 08:25 AM   #2
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I think the GFCI issue relates to the RV not being grounded, but the situation doesn't always develop. My GFCI doesn't trip.

GFCIs do not trip based on over-current.

Edit: I re-read and it's unclear if you were running the generator at the same time as being connected to shore power. You would only be running on one or the other, but I could see that might also cause a GFCI trip.

Also, if you do connect to shore power in this way the extension cord should be heavy gauge and as short as possible. Ideally the circuit would be a 20 amp circuit if you want to run A/C. Installing a dedicated 30 amp circuit would be preferred if you do this a lot or for long periods.
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Old 09-06-2020, 08:59 AM   #3
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Here's a site that discusses extension cord sizing/length.

Extension Cords - Electrical 101

Assuming you connect to a 15/20 amp outlet I would probably go with no smaller than 10 gauge and no longer than 50 feet, but 25 feet would be better. You could connect that into your 30 amp (or larger) RV cord with appropriate adapters. Note the wire size gets larger as the number gets smaller, so 12 gauge wire is smaller than 10 gauge wire.

The concern is two-fold. First, too small of wire (or too long of run) will lead to voltage drop. Second, too small of wire can overheat and become a fire hazard. Note the discussion of "derating" which is related to the second concern.
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Old 09-06-2020, 11:11 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Liz clough View Post
I am a new rver in my mid 70s. I need a place to ask my questions. Bear with me if they often sound dumb. My first one is, I was parked and hooked to a 110 plug in the garage on a long utility extension cord. It was hot and I wanted ac so turned on the generator. The gfi kept tripping and no ac. How do I understand this. I unplugged the shoreline reset the gfi, let it rest awhile, came back and turned on the generator ( no shoreline) and ac worked fine.
Kind of complex for the why but simple enough for what we should do, perhaps.
The normal household outlet is 15 or 20 amp and adding a cord reduces the amount of power we can use, so the 15 amp "may" run the AC but not well and when on a long cord, not good at all and I never do it as it has a number of risks. One is that low voltage is tough on the AC and I sure don't want to ruin it!
Second point is that when we are running the generator, we find it lasts better if it has a nice full load on it. They are built to work, not loaf along on half work or none, so when it's running load it and AC is a good one as it is a semi-high load and you won't normally have enough in the RV to overload the generator if you don't work at with AC, hair drier, toaster,etc. at the same time.
Simple idea? Run on cord for things like lights, starting the frig to cool, etc. but for the AC, start the generator after unplugging and load it pretty much any way you want. Generator with AC, toaster, hair drier, etc will begin to trip some breaker to let you know to back off and try different. No harm, just a nuisance!
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Old 09-06-2020, 12:25 PM   #5
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I was running the generator while plugged into shore power, I presume shorepower means household current. I will be looking into a 30 amp box placed in my garage. Thank you for your help.
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Old 09-06-2020, 12:48 PM   #6
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I was running the generator while plugged into shore power, I presume shorepower means household current. I will be looking into a 30 amp box placed in my garage. Thank you for your help.
Yes, shore power is kind of a hangover from boats and kind of dumb for RV but still common! A 30 amp box and plug is nice for when we do want the AC. What it takes to get one there is going to vary a bunch and much of it depends on where the main electrical comes into the house compared to where you want the box.
In my case, the main box is on the outside garage wall but I have to park in the back yard fifty feet away, so I make do without----so far.
Enjoy the trip, both before and after getting in the RV!
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