Monthly Newsletter

GFCI: The Device You Love to Hate

In our January 2019 “Wizard of Watts” I wrote about the 2020 National Electric Code (NEC) and how to prepare for the coming changes. The take away from that newsletter was “the 30- and 50-amp circuits feeding the RV are not required to have GFCI protection.

Preventing the inclusion of GFCI protection of 30- and 50-amp RV site circuits is important and operators need to help prevent a future push to include them.

This summer an interest group was able to cause confusion and the outcome is that the language of the 2017 NEC will continue on into the 2020 code. This code does not address GFCI or whether it applies to RV pedestals. That ambiguousness is the problem.

If you find yourself trying to explain it to an electrical inspector or engineer, these two important facts should help your cause:

1. The RV pedestal provides power to an RV with a power supply assembly. The definition of a power supply assembly in NEC Article 551.2 and the definition of a feeder in NEC Article 100 clarifies that the power supply cord to an RV is a feeder.

2. NEC article 210.8(B) applies to branch circuits. The 30- and 50-amp service in RV site electrical equipment are feeder circuits and not branch circuits.”

The problem with putting GFCI protection on these feeder circuits is that the existence of multiple downstream GFCI circuits (operating within their specifications) could constantly trip the 30- or 50-amp GFCI breaker, called cumulative leakage by UL.

This could cause people to take unsafe actions to bypass the GFCI protection and really trigger a safety problem.

If you are a National Association of Rv Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) member you can find additional information on their website, www.arvc.org.

The statistic that was driving the move to more GFCI circuits outdoors is that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) can show that when more GFCI protection is used, electrocutions are reduced. I see this as an opportunity for RV park owners and operators to take the initiative to go looking for 15- and 20-amp receptacles outside or in wet environments (bath houses, etc.) and to place GFCI receptacles or breakers in these locations.

By doing a better job of showing concern about safety, you become a leader in your park and industry and you show your customers that it is important to be safe. Just like walking around and picking up trash, cigarette butts, etc. shows you care about how your park looks, doing the little things shows the bigger things are done as well.

If you are old enough to remember the TV show Hill Street Blues, the sergeant always told his people “… Hey, let’s be careful out there”.

Leave a Reply