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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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Wow!
Glad you guys are safe.

Wow, that's scary. Is it safe to assume the average RVer is not skilled enough to do the troubleshooting you guys methodically went through to locate the problem and then analyze the environment?

Glad it turned out well and that there was no fire in the fifth-wheel.

Travel safe.

A quick internet search of rope light fires has some very interesting results. In our fire station, we used to use rope lights to light up our two stair cases at night. Of course, our rope lights are the 120-volt variety and not the 12-volt like yours. After two separate situations, just like yours, we decided to go another direction. In our case, we were on station when the rope lights shorted out. We were lucky!

I'm so glad your potential disaster was averted. We've had three near fire disasters in three years:four months after we had a fireplace installed I smelled something burning and we traced it to the wiring; I heard clicking in an outlet in the kitchen area and G found that a plug deep in a cabinet was charred and recently he smelled our electric blanket getting too hot. It does worry me a little.

Really glad you wrote about this and super glad you are ok. It's a good reminder for everyone. As a side note I have been using a heating pad pretty frequently and Lee noticed at some point the connection had melted a little. I never noticed. It's a good idea to check your wires on your appliance items as well.

Wow! You were very lucky to catch it when you did! Some of the lights in RVs are so cheaply made, I'm not surprised they are a significant cause of electrical fires.

Good advice to know your system. We've had issues with loose connections in some of our rigs that also required some detective work. It's always good to learn to do this kind of troubleshooting yourself, good going!

Thanks for the detail here. I didn't know Linda was your electric expert. Wow! I'm impressed. I know I couldn't do this. Will have to ask David if he could. So glad nothing was damaged except those little lights.

Hope your Smoke Detector works!
Nuetral wire nut/connection to my Water Heater (by the Kitchen Sink) failed one night and started smoldering the foam insulation. Also melted the hot wire to the switch on the outside of the WH.
Fortunately I keep the Bedroom doors closed so the smoke alarm went off before any smoke would have gotten into the Bedroom. Made quite a mess of the kitchen cupboards after I turned off the Breaker for the WH and used the Fire Extinguisher on it.
Was able to salvage the WH by rewiring it directly to a 20AMP residential switch I added inside, eliminating the pathetic outside switch and the junction box on the WH. Also replaced the WH breaker since it failed to turn the WH off when it caught on fire.

We had the same thing happen. I smelled hot electricity took us awhile to find it, but didn't wait for anything bad to happen we took it in for service and it was the 12 volt panel. Totally melted. I'm so glad you found it and were home.

Strings of rope lights are notorious for shorting. The conductors are small, close together and often have minimum insulation. Never use a rope light string where it is subject to continued flexing or bending; keep the strings firmly mounted along their entire length. The fact that most strings are manufactured "off shore" casts suspicions on the quality. There are some quality strings on the market (at least 120 volt type) that are high quality and carry a UL or CEA certification. However, they are more expensive than those you can buy at the "big box" store.

Bob,

I'm afraid your assumption is probably accurate.

"Is it safe to assume the average RVer is not skilled enough to do the troubleshooting you guys methodically went through to locate the problem and then analyze the environment?"

Yes, our smoke detectors work. In fact we added a smoke detector to make us safer. Plus we have five fire extinguishers - kitchen, bedroom, driver side exterior compartment, passenger side exterior compartment, and our truck.

If we replace the lights, they will be LEDs - no more regular rope lights for us. :)

Looks like the connector may have seen some stress and broke some of the strands. You can see two of them poking out on the picture. This will overheat the wire as the wire is now under gauged for the load. Looks like the fuse is pulled on LP gas circuit (#18). Glad all is well. Stay safe!

Glad you 2 are safe and were awake at the time. I do not know the amp draw of a shorted rope set. I would have thought you would have blown a fuse before causing that amount of burning, continuously.
Yes, LED is the way to go. Very low amps and plenty of soft light through colors.
Thank you for sharing!

Glad it all worked out with no fire, but scary to think how fragile some of these cheaply made components can be, and what trouble they might cause. I have had trouble with both rope and LED Christmas light strings. In the Christmas light set the conductors are only slightly more robust than a hair. I have done the two switches to one light in the 120V AC setting, and agree the wiring and special switches made it easier to figure out than to explain. Thanks for your tips on prevention. Sherry has the nose of a beagle, so I rely heavily on her to alert me of any unusual odors like "smells like something is burning".

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