A ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI is an outlet or device that can detect the current in your RV is not flowing along the desired path, rather through water or a person and will shut off the power supply at the outlet. GFCIs work by monitoring for an imbalance between the neutral wires and the hot wires and any breaks in the circuit. Circuit breakers do not always trip quickly enough to protect people and buildings from harm. A Ground Fault Circuit interrupter is faster than a circuit breaker and this makes it more effective. It’s important to safety – especially in wet areas.
Several outlets installed in your RV are GFCI protected generally installed in wet areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, and outside. Often times it’s hard to tell which outlets are GFCI protected as one main outlet inside will have the test and reset button but others are connected to the main outlet with what’s known in the RV industry as “dummy plates” which have no buttons.
When a GFCI outlet is wired in a circuit, there are often other outlets and electrical devices sharing the same circuit and breaker. Properly wired RV GFCI outlets trip the other devices down the line from them. The other outlets lose power at the same time. Devices on the circuit that come before the GFCI are not protected by its special extra-quick detection qualities. A GFCI that is improperly wired won’t protect either downstream devices or upstream devices.
To test a RV GFCI outlet press the test button. If the outlet pops but the outlet still has power, the outlet is miss-wired. It’s essential to fix miss-wired outlets immediately. When you press the reset button it should restore the circuit. When pressing the test button does not work, it’s time to replace the RV GFCI.
It’s also important to understand which outlets are hooked to the GFCI circuit. Trip the main test button inside and test all outlets inside and out. If an outside outlet is not working, it may just be a GFCI button inside that has tripped.
Now that you have an idea how an RV GFCI works, come see GFCI testing in action.