The Shocking Truth About RVs

Jul 22nd, 2010 | By | Category: RV Safety

Please help us by taking this short survey about RV Shocks:



We’ve been trying to locate a survey on just how many RV owners have been shocked by their recreational vehicles, but search as we might, nobody seems to have done a study. So last July we asked to run a simple 10-second survey directed to their 85,000 opted-in newsletter readers, and this is what we found.

We asked this basic question: Have you or anyone who has traveled with you been shocked by your RV or another recreational vehicle?

  • Yes, seriously:  0.68% (7)
  • Yes, but not seriously:  21.10% (218)
  • No: 78.22% (808)

The results of the survey were alarming. More than 1,100 readers responded, with 21 percent reporting they had been shocked by their RV at some time. A few readers claimed being seriously injured.

The magnitude of the problem isn’t obvious until you apply the 21 percent shocked number against the total number of families who use recreational vehicles in the USA alone. According to, more than 8.2 million American families own an RV: that’s nearly one RV for every 12 households who own a car. This means perhaps 1.7 million families have been shocked from an RV, with up to 500,000 being “seriously” shocked. Now, we’re not even counting the times RVers have burned up a power plug or have blown up a microwave due to an improperly wired or worn campsite pedestal outlet.

So let’s get something straight — every shock is potentially “serious.” It’s just a matter of circumstances coming together that can then kill you or a family member. If your hands and feet are wet, it can take as little as 30 volts AC to stop your heart. How many times have you walked back from the shower and touched the side of your RV while standing on the damp ground? Ever felt a tingle then? If so, you dodged the bullet that day, but the next time could kill you or a loved one.

With that in mind, RVtravel has partnered with the nationally-recognized HOW-TO Workshops and its chief instructor Mike Sokol, a technology instructor with 40 years experience in the professional sound industry. Together, they have begun an electrical safety program called the No~Shock~Zone, and are instituting a series of online articles and training videos on RV electrical safety, which we’ll post first at and then at the blog These how-to safety articles will cover everything from how to use a digital meter or non-contact tester to confirm the campsite power plugs are wired correctly to how to check your own extension cords for proper wiring. The articles will provide quick ways to confirm you don’t have the silent but deadly Hot-Skin problem, where your entire RV is electrified.

The No Shock Zone blog will ask for your continued comments about getting shocked by your RV or the times your gear was damaged at campsites due to incorrect wiring. You can contact Mike Sokol directly at mike(at) or visit for more information.

A few comments from the RVtravel survey:

  • OURS CAME IN OUR FIRST FIFTH WHEEL due to an improperly installed wire in the bedroom area. Due to vibration when we were towing, the insulation slowly wore through but nothing was noticeable for about five years after we had it. Finally it shorted out all together when we had it stored for the winter and water got in through the roof and hit the weak spot. Fleetwood admitted the error and gave us some reimbursement, but we were receiving shocks from the frame for two years, and I was blaming it on a faulty switch box that I was hooked into.
  • My issue was due to a improperly spliced extension cord.
  • Several years ago we were plugged into a spot for RV visitors in a mobile home park. At 9 p.m., with only a couple of lights on, I begin to hear electricity arcing and the lights blinking. Next the plug for the microwave caught fire and then the bottom of the cupboard caught fire. The 110 breaker box was close by and I killed the juice and got the fire out. The plug at the pedestal was wired wrong and consequently defeating the auto operation of the breakers. That park paid for the damage.
  • One of the problems that I have experienced while work camping is that one improperly wired RV can make every RV on a common loop hot skinned. This improper wiring is not always the result of some shade tree mechanic doing something stupid. Found this problem at a CG and the offending rig was a brand new unit that the owner was using for the first time. It was wired reverse polarity.
  • I connected with a 50 amp at a campground that tested O. K. but when a load was applied one leg dropped off due to a loose connection and my inverter/converter relay tripped off saving damage. Here again the box was well worn and the outlet was way beyond when it should have been changed.
  • Bad plug at a KOA in Springfield, daughter got a shock going into our camper. It also messed about with the power. Called the campsite owner over and he said, “Oh yeah, was planning on replacing that plug.” He brought power to us from another outlet. After that I now check.

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