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Old 04-19-2014, 12:49 AM   #1
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"hot skin" when plugged in

I recently purchased a used SMB and am trying to chase down some electrical gremlins.
1. chassis becomes "hot" (electrical, not temp) when plugged in
2. smoke detector beeps when plugged in and for a while after I unplug
3. power inverter has red error light next to "overload"

Other than that everything seems to work. I only get about a day of camping with the refrigerator running before it runs out of juice. Not sure how long it should go. Would love to know where to find the fuse to the smoke alarm. Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Old 04-19-2014, 01:03 AM   #2
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Re: "hot skin" when plugged in

Have you checked the "hot skin" problem at other outlets? Any possibility of the outlet being faulty?

Power inverter error could also be caused by switched leads in the outlet (or maybe even in the shore power wiring). Another common fault is an open Neutral wire.
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Old 04-19-2014, 08:49 AM   #3
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Re: "hot skin" when plugged in

I'm not sure what you mean by checking the other outlets. The problem occurs when I plug into shore power. the entire chassis becomes electrified. I've felt the charge when I was turning a wrench on the bumper bolts and when grabbing the door handle. Thanks for the input, I don't have a clue where to start.
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Old 04-19-2014, 09:51 AM   #4
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Re: "hot skin" when plugged in

One of your AC wires is shorting out on the metal of the van. It either came loose or was rubbing and broke through the insulation. Unplug the van from shore power and turn off the inverter. Take it to mechanic before someone gets hurt.
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Old 04-19-2014, 10:31 AM   #5
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Re: "hot skin" when plugged in

Ditto the above. You have two problems. One the short that is making the "skin" electrically hot. And two the skin should be grounded via the three wire power cord you are using (?) to plug the van in with.
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Old 04-19-2014, 11:15 AM   #6
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Re: "hot skin" when plugged in

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltydog
I'm not sure what you mean by checking the other outlets. The problem occurs when I plug into shore power.
I mean your shore power source. Does this happen anywhere you plug into shore power? Campgrounds are pretty notorious for faulty pedestal wiring.
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Old 04-19-2014, 12:54 PM   #7
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Re: "hot skin" when plugged in

AC has polarity so before jumping into a bunch of troubleshooting go buy one of those inexpensive power quality testers and make sure the shore power, home made extension cord if you have one and any of the plugs have reverse polarity.


These will test for a variety of problems.




That's where I'd start. After that what the other members posted should be looked over. Even a screw through a hot leg might cause your problem if the ground is poor.
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Old 04-19-2014, 12:59 PM   #8
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Re: "hot skin" when plugged in

It sounds like either your power source or your cord or your van have the hot and ground reversed. My first guess would be the cord.

Get an ohmmeter and check the grounds. What you describe is potentially very serious. If you don't have the tools or skills to check it, find someone who can, even if you have to pay an electrician.

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Old 04-21-2014, 11:12 AM   #9
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Re: "hot skin" when plugged in

Not to hijack, but...

Some of the above posts talk about reversed polarity of the 120v causing a hot chassis? If everything is correct inside the van, why would a reversed polarity shore power cause the chassis to be electrified?
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Old 04-21-2014, 01:44 PM   #10
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Re: "hot skin" when plugged in

It shouldn't if the ground is good in the van and at the shore panel. But grounds can be compromised and reversing the polarity makes the neutral hot which is tied to the vans ground. If you stand on earth ground there can be potential between the vans body and earth ground and you become the conductor. If one of the wires on a plug has come loose it's also possible as well if the shore power ground is poor. Stray voltage can also come from the source voltage and energize the ground going into the van and produce the same results when nothing is wrong with the vans wiring.
I'll admit potential between the bumper and the door is strange as most of anything bolted to the van should be somewhat in continuity with each other. It might not even be an AC problem. Not sure but I think some of those high tech headlights might produce higher voltages.

First step would be to test between the shock points then disconnect from shore power and see if it goes away. After that the hunt is on. Dust and moisture can even allow tracking between neutral and hot legs. It can happen at a plug or the breaker panel. Same with a crushed wire, loose wire or screw through a wire.
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