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Old 08-31-2017, 08:44 AM   #1
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Ground Doesn't Seem Right

It doesn't appear my battery is grounded to the frame on my 2014, 19.
I used a continuity/volt meter tester to test the cable connection to the frame by scrapping some paint off the frame to expose bare metal and putting the voltmeter contacts on the battery ground wire and on the bare frame...I get a ground. But when I move the tester to the rusty bolt holding the wire to the frame, I get nothing. I assume the flange on the ground wire isn't contacting the painted frame under it. Does this mean I have no ground? Whenever I plug in to shore power, at home or a campground, my electronics indicate "open ground".
If I don't have a good ground, how do I fix it? I could put in a new bolt to replace the rusted one but don't know if that's the long term "fix".
Thanks for the help,
Gary
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:03 AM   #2
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The attachment to the frame is the negative side of the 12 volt circuit, its not really a ground. I'm not sure why its necessary, because I think everything 12V is wired with two wires (+ & -). I checked my trailer and its got the battery bonded to the frame as well so it must be necessary. The open ground shown on your electronics is the 120 volt circuit which has a real ground. It needs connection to the actual ground which it achieves (or not) through the connection to the external power source which is supposed to be bonded to a plate or rod buried in the ground. An open ground, if it happens everywhere, is likely caused by a fault in your extension cord. Check your cable with a continuity meter.
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:28 AM   #3
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Great assessment Dave, pretty much what I was thinking.
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Old 08-31-2017, 12:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by davescape View Post
I'm not sure why its necessary, because I think everything 12V is wired with two wires (+ & -). I checked my trailer and its got the battery bonded to the frame as well so it must be necessary.
Not at all. The most important item on the trailer, the brakes rely on the ground circuit passing through multiple ground connections with the potential to rust.

I hated the ETI method of creating a ground. First, a short cable with an attachment to the frame that could rust and create a poor connection. Then, about 18" away, another cable from the frame up to the panel. Every connection to the frame has the potential to rust and make a high resistance connection.

In my case I ran a copper bonding wire from the rear forward and picked up every ground that attached to the steel frame. My brake circuit ground is now copper, not a rusty bolt into the frame. Not a difficult mod to do and helps ensure that the brakes will keep working without being inhibited by a rusty connection.

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Old 08-31-2017, 01:14 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by pkgman51 View Post
I used a continuity/volt meter tester to test the cable connection to the frame by scrapping some paint off the frame to expose bare metal and putting the voltmeter contacts on the battery ground wire and on the bare frame...I get a ground.
That means that the "ground" wire is electrically connected to the frame.
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Originally Posted by pkgman51 View Post
But when I move the tester to the rusty bolt holding the wire to the frame, I get nothing.
Doesn't this just mean that the bolt head is so rusty that you are not getting good contact with it? It's the wire which matters.
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Old 08-31-2017, 01:45 PM   #6
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Many trailer manufactures connect the equipment bonding / grounding conductor to the frame using a self tapping sheet metal screw .
The use of sheet metal screw to bond or tie the equipment grounding conductor to a metal enclosure or piece of equipment is a code violation and is a very poor practice .
If you look in a metal junction box it has a 10x32 threaded hole in the back of the box for connecting the equipment grounding conductor.

The trade / best practice would be to drill and tap a hole into the frame (Fine Thread) , scrape the paint from the frame , attach a brass lug approved for a wet location with a rust resistant bolt and lock washer coated with conductive grease to the frame ,and connect the copper equipment grounding conductor to the lug and torgue the set screw in the lug to the manufacturer's specs.
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Old 08-31-2017, 02:55 PM   #7
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I found this on the web. It hurts my brain to read and I wish to inflict similar pain on others in this discussion

https://www.w8ji.com/negative_lead_to_battery.htm

I must confess that I don't know what he's talking about but he seems competent.
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Old 08-31-2017, 03:04 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Not at all. The most important item on the trailer, the brakes rely on the ground circuit passing through multiple ground connections with the potential to rust.

I hated the ETI method of creating a ground. First, a short cable with an attachment to the frame that could rust and create a poor connection. Then, about 18" away, another cable from the frame up to the panel. Every connection to the frame has the potential to rust and make a high resistance connection.

In my case I ran a copper bonding wire from the rear forward and picked up every ground that attached to the steel frame. My brake circuit ground is now copper, not a rusty bolt into the frame. Not a difficult mod to do and helps ensure that the brakes will keep working without being inhibited by a rusty connection.

Ron

Ron, My first thought was "that's a great idea". My second thought was "oh crap, now I have another project". Then I read that web article (see previous post) and wonder if that's the right way to go about grounding. Is there anything in the trailer that would cause a really big 12V current draw (ie. inverter) and is your copper wire big enough to handle a large amount of current if your stud in the frame fails?

This has been a good discussion. I'm learning some new things in the process.
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Old 08-31-2017, 03:09 PM   #9
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Doesn't this just mean that the bolt head is so rusty that you are not getting good contact with it? It's the wire which matters.
In my case, the original self tapping screw hole is at the 11 o'clock to my new stud. There is some visible rust starting on the frame and my trailer was less than a year old.

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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post

The trade / best practice would be to drill and tap a hole into the frame (Fine Thread) , scrape the paint from the frame , attach a brass lug approved for a wet location with a rust resistant bolt and lock washer coated with conductive grease to the frame ,and connect the copper equipment grounding conductor to the lug and torgue the set screw in the lug to the manufacturer's specs.
Yes, that's why I tapped a hole for a s/s stud. All cables have lug to lug contact. While the s/s stud does provide the original ground path there is likely a more dependable path with the lug to lug contact and no possibility of rusting.

Ron
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Old 08-31-2017, 04:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by davescape View Post
I found this on the web. It hurts my brain to read and I wish to inflict similar pain on others in this discussion

https://www.w8ji.com/negative_lead_to_battery.htm

I must confess that I don't know what he's talking about but he seems competent.
A summary (of the "grounding" or negative connection part) is that each device needs one negative (or ground) path, not multiple paths... and that one path needs to be adequate for the current.

It does make sense, although both very high currents and radio-frequency interference are generally non-issues in travel trailers. The exception would be the inverter (if so equipped) - that's why the inverter ground should go directly to the battery (or to the frame only if the battery has a high-capacity frame connection and all frame connections are well made), and not to another point such as the power centre. Escape does this properly, with dedicated cables from the inverter to the battery, and not to anything else.
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Old 08-31-2017, 04:22 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by davescape View Post
Ron, My first thought was "that's a great idea". My second thought was "oh crap, now I have another project". Then I read that web article (see previous post) and wonder if that's the right way to go about grounding. Is there anything in the trailer that would cause a really big 12V current draw (ie. inverter) and is your copper wire big enough to handle a large amount of current if your stud in the frame fails?

This has been a good discussion. I'm learning some new things in the process.
If the equipment grounding conductor is sized according to NEC Art 250 it will be large enough to handle the available fault current.
Equipment grounding conductors are sized so that a fault will cause the overcurrent device to open quickly and limit the damage .
An equipment grounding conductor is designed to carry high current for a very short duration so the conductor size does not have to be the same size as the circuit conductors.
IE : A #6 CU grounding conductor can safely carry 621 amps for 5 seconds.
Many times the code will spec oversized grounding / bonding conductors so that the conductors can withstand physical damage
Art 250 Grounding Electrode Conductors

If you are interested in calculating available fault currents and interrupting ratings , look in the NFPA 70 handbook
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:59 PM   #12
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Questionable Ground

Since there was so much corrosion on the self tapping screw and cable connector I decided to clean it up to re-establish a quality connection. I figured it was supposed to be connected such there was intimate contact cable to frame so it might be favorable to fix it.
I took some emery cloth to the frame, the screw flange, and the connector to clean up the rust. Then I bolted the cable connector to the frame and coated the connection with grease in hopes it will prevent future rusting.
Looks like I'll have to look for other frame grounds to make sure the grounds are valid.... Perhaps I've opened a can of worms?
Looks like I have work to do to find out why my 120v electronics keep faulting due to an open ground when connected to shore power.... I'll check the extension first....
Thanks for the input.
Gary
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Old 08-31-2017, 07:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by pkgman51 View Post
Looks like I'll have to look for other frame grounds to make sure the grounds are valid.... Perhaps I've opened a can of worms?

Gary
That was my case when I started looking at individual grounds. This is one of the brake connectors, less than a year old. But that's the way of projects, one thing usually leads to another.

Ron
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Old 09-01-2017, 08:41 AM   #14
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I just want make sure there is no confusion on using the trailer frame as a grounding path for AC

At no time is the trailer frame to be used as the grounding path for 120vac. That is a violation of the NEC and for good reason. If the ground return to the power source was lost and a fault occurred to the frame, stepping on or touching the frame would make you the return path to ground resulting in shock or death.

The NEC used to allow building steel as the ground return for a short time until several fatalities occurred due to it's use. The saddest was a small child stepping on the threshold of a building using this method that died.

The trailer frame should be bonded to the electrical ground but not used as a ground path.

DC current using the trailer as a ground return is fine - AC is not.
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Old 09-01-2017, 09:38 AM   #15
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Inverter ground?

I recently installed an inverter and attached the external ground wire to the frame mounting bolt. (Which will now be removed.) What do I do with the inverter ground wire?
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Old 09-01-2017, 10:57 AM   #16
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Part of the problem is that people are using the term ground to mean different things

1) The " Grounded Conductor " is the neutral ( White Wire) and is intentionally grounded to establish a reference point.
The neutral is by design a current carrying conductor .
It is bonded to the grounding electrode at the service .
The neutral is isolated at any point beyond the service.
Neutral conductors are always insulated after they leave the service

2) The " Equipment Grounding Conductor " ( Green or Bare) is used to provide a path to ground to prevent you from getting a shock .
The equipment grounding conductor is normally not a current
carrying conductor.

They are not the same thing thing , they are not interchangeable and serve two totally different functions .

In your trailer
1 ) The line ( Hot) ( Black) conductor is connected to the load side of the main breaker ( IE: The breaker is back fed)
2) The neutral or grounded (White) conductor is connected to the neutral bus and is not bonded to the panel's metal enclosure.
It is Isolated
3) The equipment grounding conductor (Green) is connected to the equipment grounding bus which is bonded to the metal panel enclosure and to the frame of the trailer.

If you look at the breaker portion of your trailers panel you will see that all the white wires and the green / bare wires are connected to 2 different terminal strips.

Even though both the grounded conductor and the Equipment grounding conductor are bonded together at the service , they are 2 different systems beyond the main service.

Your trailer is basically a plug in appliance !!
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:03 PM   #17
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I recently installed an inverter and attached the external ground wire to the frame mounting bolt. (Which will now be removed.) What do I do with the inverter ground wire?
If by "ground wire" you mean the safety ground for the 120 V AC output side (bare wire, usually a green terminal screw), I assume that should go to the AC distribution panel's ground bus, but the electrical professionals can correct me if I am mistaken. It may even be routed through the transfer switch, if you are using one; Escape presumably uses the WFCO T-30 transfer switch, which has a ground wire bus on it (according to the manual).

If by "ground wire" you mean the negative connection of the 12 V DC input side, that should go directly to the battery negative terminal, with cable of the same capacity as the positive cable.
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Old 04-21-2018, 09:34 AM   #18
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How is 12 volt appliance/light negative returned to the battery?

I was just reading the Casita Forum, and Casitas have a 10 awg wire connected to the negative battery terminal and run around the trailer, that all the 12 volt appliances/lights are connected to. This is in place of using a bus bar for all the negative connections.

How does this work in the Escape?
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Old 04-21-2018, 10:09 AM   #19
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Your trailer is basically a plug in appliance !!
Good way of looking at it.

Where is the neutral bonded at a campground? I would imagine at their main service connection, correct? I am thinking the individual campsite pedestals are really just the female end of a fused extension cord.
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Old 04-21-2018, 11:18 AM   #20
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I know you are right on this assumption in many cases as I’ve seen the three wire buried wire being installed to power pedestals in campgrounds. The main ground you can often see coming out of the disconnect panel that ties all the sites together. In public parks we inspected the ground cable, it’s connection “Carney” to the ground rod and the assured existance of a 5/8 diameter ground rod each spring. Copper thieves would relieve the public of these components in a few remote locations every time the price of scrap copper and methamphetamines climbed. How did they pull that 8 foot long rod? I don’t know but they did. Due Diligence, takes time, prevents accidents.
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