Understand the Electrical Systems in Your Manufactured Home

Congratulations on purchasing your manufactured home. Once you move in, you will want to understand how your home works so you can keep it in good condition for years to come. You will want to know how to prevent moisture issues in Florida’s tropical climate, how to prepare in case of a storm, and how the electrical systems work in your manufactured home. 

While reading the following, keep in mind you should never attempt electrical work of any kind, under any situation, unless you are qualified to do so. Otherwise, you could risk your safety and your family’s safety.

Your Home’s Electric Power Supply

Like all modern dwellings in the United States, the electrical system of a mobile home must comply with applicable sections of the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70, ANSI C-1). In addition, the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code) have other requirements for the electrical system, which are intended to make your manufactured home safe and durable.

Warning: Only a qualified electrician should be employed to handle the electrical installation or repairs of ANY home. Inexperienced persons might cause serious or fatal accidents.

The size and rating of wire for electrical service must meet the National Electrical Code for the ampere rating of the electrical service panel board.

Power Supply for a Manufactured Home

Before moving your home to a community or intended home site, check to see that the electric power supply available meets the requirements of your manufactured home. Wiring of inadequate capacity can result in low voltage to the home and a drop in efficiency of lights and appliances. Motors may burn out and you may be paying for electricity that you do not use.

If you add electrical appliances (both major and hand appliances) to your home, be sure your wiring is adequate to provide the appliance with electricity. The more appliances added, the larger the wiring entering the home must be.

Grounding Systems

For protection of its occupants, it is vital that the manufactured home is properly grounded whenever it is connected to any source of electrical power. The manufactured home has the protection of a grounding type wiring system. Notice the receptacle outlet in the wall has a third hole instead of the conventional two slots. The third hole provides a ground for any device that is plugged into it. These grounding receptacles have been required in homes since the 1960s.

Now, take a look at the plug on your refrigerator cord. It has a three-terminal post instead of the old-fashioned two-bladed type. The rounded terminal is the ground. This cord also has a third wire from the grounding (rounded) post to the outer shell of your refrigerator. With this system, if the outer shell of the refrigerator should accidentally become energized, the power would be directed outside of your manufactured home (through the wiring system), instead of hurting someone who touched the energized exterior of the refrigerator. All major appliances, electrical equipment and metal parts of any manufactured home built by Jacobsen Homes are grounded for your safety and the safety of your family.

An extra conductor coming into the home provides 115/230 volts for the entire manufactured home. For that reason, four conductors enter the electrical distribution panel board: one serves as the neutral or return (white wire), one serves as the ground (green wire), and two serve as "hot" wires. The neutrals and grounds must remain isolated from each other throughout the home and out to the source or supply from the branch or utility pole.

It is extremely important that the neutral conductor (white wire), NOT be grounded in or anywhere on the manufactured home or the manufactured home service entrance cabinet.  Grounding through the manufactured home hitch caster or metal stabilizer is not safe. The only approved method of grounding the home is through an electrically isolated grounding bar located in the electrical distribution panel board. This bar bonds all non-current carrying metal parts of the manufactured home for grounding to a single point. Your electrical installer should know the proper method of installation to conform with the National Electrical Code.

Electrical Distribution

Your Jacobsen Home has another safety factor in its electrical distribution panel. It contains electrical circuit breakers rather than a fuse-type electrical panel. The non-fuse panel has a series of breakers, which eliminate the need for fuses. The breakers protect the manufactured home against overloading of the wiring. 

Should a circuit be overloaded or shorted, the breaker automatically breaks the flow of current in the circuit. The affected breaker may simply be switched back to the "on" position to restore service after the cause of the short or overload has been corrected. It is important that the rating of the breaker not exceed the current carrying capacity of the conductor it is protecting.

For example, No. 14 copper wire (the conductor) is rated at 15 amperes. The breaker for this size of wire must therefore not be rated greater than 15 amperes. If a circuit continually trips breakers in short periods of time, consult a qualified electrician. It’s likely you have problems with a short or an overloading circuit.

NOTE: The electric distribution panel board has a main shut-off switch you can use if it is ever necessary to cut off electricity throughout the manufactured home. Every member of your family should know the location of the main electrical shut-off switch before an emergency arises.

GFCI Receptacles

A GFCI receptacle is a safety device installed to protect people from electrical shock. You will find them in place for

  • All exterior receptacles (excluding the heat tape receptacle)
  • All bathroom receptacles
  • Any receptacle within six feet of any sink or lavatory (excluding receptacles designated for specific appliances)

If a short or an overload condition occurs on a circuit protected by a GFCI, the GFCI "trips" and disrupts the flow of current through that circuit. Once the GFCI trips to the "off" position due to a fault in the circuit, the receptacles that it services will not operate. The reset button on the GFCI will reactivate it. You should periodically test the operation of each GFCI by pressing the "TEST" button.  When you press the button, the GFCI should trip to indicate proper operation. You may press the "RESET" button on the GFCI to restore electricity to the circuit.  

If a handheld electrical appliance were to fall into the water, these types of circuits should trip.  However, electrical devices can be extremely dangerous and caution should still be exercised. In the event that an electrical device falls into water, DO NOT reach into the water to retrieve it, even if it is connected to a GFCI receptacle. ALWAYS UNPLUG the device before retrieving it from the water. Always use caution when using any type of electrical device near any water.