Every RV user will stumble upon this term 30-amp and 50-amp service and might get confused. Here is all you need to know to clear your confusion on RV power usage.
A 50 amp RV generally has a lot of big appliances to run. To power these devices, you will need a large size generator.
So, if you are using a large 50-amp service, you should know which is the right sized generator for your RV. Let’s dive right into the details.
What size generator for a 50 amp RV?
A 50 amp RV will require a high capacity generator to run smoothly. In order to buy the right generator you should calculate the energy needs of different appliances first.
You can use the owner’s manual for this purpose. Then calculate the total energy consumption inside your RV. According to this value, choose the right size generator.
A 4000 to 6000 watt generator is ideal for a 50-amp service. It would be bigger in size because along with the power increases the size.
Most of the RVs have built-in-generators. But if you don’t have one, you can get it from a nearby RV accessory shop.
You can also easily find portable generators. It is generally powered using the shore power or solar panels.
A 1000 to 2000 watt generator will be sufficient for smaller RVs. But since you are looking for a generator for an RV that consumes a lot of electricity on a daily basis, you will need a 6000 watt generator.
Let’s get started with the basics of RV electrical systems. They are powered by 120-volt AC and 12-volt DC power systems.
AC stands for alternating current and DC stands for direct current. AC is powered when it is plugged to shore power in RV camp grounds or house power.
DC’s power is stored inside batteries and when the RV is connected to an external power source, it will charge the batteries automatically.
Big appliances run on AC power whereas small electric devices like light fans run on DC power.
Batteries also come handy when you are boondocking in remote places. The converter will convert DC to AC and power essential electric devices when necessary.
Depending on the size of your RV, it could support 50-amp or 30-amp. These are the common RV connections.
You can also resort to lower power sources, but it might turn out quite ineffective and dangerous to your RV.
50-amp is mostly found in heavy-duty RVs with huge power consumption. The normal RVs with standard energy usage would do well with 30 amp power sources.
When you are connected to shore power make sure that you have turned ON the circuit breaker to ensure that it will prevent and nullify any voltage variations.
Can I Plug a 50 amp RV to a 30 amp?
It is safer to plug in a 50 amp RV to a 50 amp power source. But if you don’t have access to a 50 amp service, you are left with no other option.
Here is what you should do.
Plug into a 30-amp shore power. Yes, you heard me right. If your campground doesn’t offer 50-amp service you can still benefit from it and charge your RV.
You can plug a 50 amp RV to 30 amp power sources, if you use the right adapter i.e., 50 to 30 amp adapter plug.
You will need a 120 V 50 amp plug on one end and a 120 V 30 amp socket on the other. You can then plug it to the 30 amp service.
When you are first plugged into 30 amps, it will start to load bulk power. Give it a couple of hours charging time or turn off the circuit breaker to free the amps.
This will prepare your RV to run on 30 amps when you are in a 50 amp coach.
Keep in mind a few things before plugging it to a 30-amp source.
Make sure that you turn on the circuit breaker before charging. These breakers will ensure that your RV is safe from any potential electrical overload.
When you plug into a 30 amp service there is a fat chance that it would trip the load and burn the plug up if you don’t choose the right adapter.
What are the major differences between 50 AMP & 30 AMP service?
As I have mentioned earlier, a 50-amp service is used in big rigs that uses multiple power-hungry devices like multiple air conditioners, heaters, microwaves, etc.
This would require a lot of electricity and only a larger electrical system can help it run smoothly. A 50-amp service can support around 6000 watts in one go.
But if you don’t have such huge energy requirements 30-amp service is more than enough for you. It will run basic appliances like an air conditioner, microwave, heater, refrigerator, other small power outlets etc.
There is also a difference in the type of adapter plugs and sockets. A 30-amp adapter is three-pronged and the power pedestal will have a 120V hot wire, a ground and a neutral wire.
Whereas in 50-amp services plugs are four-pronged.
The sockets will have two 120 V hot wires and a ground and neutral wire as usual. You can 120 V or 240 V at the same time if you are using both the hot wires.
A 30-amp RV can power up to 3600 watts whereas a 50-amp service can power up to 6000 watts or 12000 watts ( if you are using both the hot wires to draw power). So this makes a 50 amp service more powerful and capacitous.
Other things you need to consider
Always make sure that you know your RV electric systems well, if not you will be in trouble with unwanted short circuits and power breakouts.
You have to be very conscious about the amperage you are using. If it goes beyond 30 amps it will pop the breaker.
Read your owner’s manual carefully before starting to operate the electric devices.
It has detailed information about the actual amperage of appliances for both 120-volt AC and 12-volt DC power systems.
Appliances like air conditioners, microwave draw larger amps. So use them sparingly. Do not turn on all the appliances at the same time.
If you are using a 12-volt DC outlet as your power source make sure that the appliances connected to it consumes less than 5 amps of power.
I hope you are clear about the RV power service types and electrical systems. If you have any more doubts, read your owner manual.
Contact your RV manufacturer, if you have more specific questions regarding your RV.
Because even the slightest disadvantage can cost you a hundred dollars for maintenance and replacement of your valuable devices.
Last but not the least, use electricity wisely. Be an eco-friendly, fuel- friendly traveler.