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Hot Skin

I’m part of the Newmar Motorhome and Fifth Wheel Owners Facebook group and I came across this post:

Purchased our 2010 Ventana DP new we love it HOWEVER, we have developed a little problem I could use some help on. Each time we touch counters, sink, appliances (anything) we get a shock which in some cases is visible to the naked eye. Problem started a couple of months ago and am quite uncomfortable with the issue. Suggestions to why and possible solutions would be appreciated.

From there, I came across the term “Hot Skin”. This problem occurs when you get a shock by touching surfaces on your RV. The condition can cause a very dangerous and life-threatening electrical shock:

The reason we don’t notice this Hot-Skin condition until it’s too late is that an RV is basically a big metal frame sitting on rubber tires. And those tires act as electrical insulators just like the rubber surrounding the metal wire of your extension cord. That means that the skin of your RV can be electrically charged with 30, 60 or even 120 Volts with no visual indication of the problem until you complete the connection to the earth with your hand. Then because your own body provides a low resistance path to earth […], current will flow through you to the ground. How much current is really the subject of another article, but if your hands and feet are wet your body becomes a 1,000-Ohm resistor connected from your hand on the doorknob to your feet on the ground. This will allow over 100 mA (milliamperes) of electrical current to flow through your heart. Tests have shown that as little as 10 mA to 20 mA of a 60-Hz current (what comes out of your electrical outlet) can cause your heart to go into fibrillation (essentially a heart attack). So you can easily get 10 times the current needed to kill yourself from a 120-volt outlet.

This story highlights the tragic death of a young boy, Landyn Keener, only 3 years old, killed when he left the family’s RV.

Hot Skin is fairly common. Children and pets are particularly vulnerable to hot skin electrocution.

How does Hot Skin occur?

A Hot Skin condition can be caused by plugging into power that is not properly grounded or where the power has the polarity reversed. It can also be caused by wiring problems within the RV itself.

The important takeaway for me? Get a digital voltmeter or a non-contact voltage tester and check the coach every time we connect to power.