“Cleaning RV Pedestals in the age of COVID”

A few weeks back we received an email from a RV Park franchiser asking how RV Pedestals should be cleaned to limit the possibility of spreading the COVID-19 virus.  We thought, Great Question.  We called all the major pedestal manufacturers and even Underwriters Laboratories (UL).  UL maintains a standard for power outlet panels (UL 231 is the standard) which includes RV Pedestals and Boxes, Marina boxes, etc. The answer was the same from all parties, no one has addressed the issue.

How do you balance the issues of electrical safety, usability, and reducing the spread of the virus?  Can you hose down (spray) the outside of the pedestal, after all the pedestal is made to be rain tight? Well, no you cannot just spray the pedestal.  While designed for rain tight operation the assumption is the rain is generally falling and the pedestal is upright in its properly installed position.  High pressure water spray from the side rather than above could introduce water into energized portions of the equipment.  This is a shock hazard and could cause damage to the equipment. RAIN TIGHT IS NOT WATER TIGHT.

How about using a fogging device that we see in news reports on other equipment? In a document issued by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) titled: ‘COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfecting Guidance for Electrical Equipment’ dated May 13, 2020, NEMA tells us that these fogging devices could allow disinfectant solutions to contaminate internal components and damage these components.  This also goes for disinfectant sprays in hand held bottle or cans.  Furthermore, the National Electric Code states ‘Some cleaning agents and lubricating compounds can cause severe deterioration of many plastic materials used for insulating and structural applications in equipment’. (Note 2 to Article 110.11)

How about Ultraviolet (UV) light?  According to the NEMA document above: ‘UV sources are also used to disinfect the air and surfaces of critical areas in hospitals, laboratories, group facilities, and public spaces. Electrical equipment installed in areas subject to UV light disinfection will be exposed to UV radiation at various intensities and time durations, depending on the design of the disinfection system. Materials used in the fabrication of electrical equipment may degrade when exposed to UV light. Consult the electrical manufacturer to confirm the application and acceptable use of artificial sources of UV light for disinfection on equipment.’  Well… The electrical manufacturers I spoke to on this subject did not have any data on UV light and the acceptability for use.

From the NEMA document issued this week:

NEMA recommends the following steps for COVID-19 related cleaning and disinfection of electrical equipment:

a. Ensure all required electrical safe work practices are followed before accessing any electrical component for any reason, including cleaning;b. If possible, de-energize electrical equipment before cleaning;c. Allow hot surfaces to cool before cleaning;d. Let cleaning solutions dry before re-energizing;e. Have equipment users and maintenance personnel follow all CDC recommendations to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, including washing hands diligently, using an appropriate hand sanitizer, and using face coverings and personal protective equipment;f. Consult the equipment manufacturer for instructions regarding equipment cleaning;g. Do not use disinfecting products, including foggers, sprays or other types of atomized cleaning agents on any electrical equipment components of any material type: plastic, insulating, molded, painted or metallic unless specifically instructed by the manufacturer of the electrical equipment; andh. If you have specific electrical equipment questions regarding cleaning and disinfection, please contact the equipment manufacturer.

Summarizing, as we have seen the manufacturers of RV Pedestals generally did not have recommended cleaning instructions.  So, in many instances the only approved method for cleaning various types of electrical equipment may be to use a lint free, DRY, clean cloth which provides mechanical cleaning but not disinfection.  We do what we can.

The NEMA document NEMA GD 4-2020 is a copyrighted document and is available on their website

If you have a question for the Wizard of Watts please submitted here.

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