Rv shore power hook up
For safety, it's best to make sure all breakers are in the "off" position before plugging in AND unplugging. Also, you want to make sure that your appliances, especially the ones that draw the most electricity, are "off" when plugging in AND unplugging. Of course, the campground pedestal may not look like the ones above. It may have any combination of receptacles. Just match your power cord plug to the proper receptacle and plug in. Flip on the breaker that matches the receptacle. Now you can run your appliances. Okay, so what if your RV is a 50 amp RV with a four-prong plug, but the campground doesn't have a 50 amp outlet?
That happens often, so you should always carry a 50 to 30 adapter. Most RVers prefer the "dogbone" type adapter shown on the left. We like the "dogbone" style as well, but we prefer the more expensive type with handles, called a Power Grip on the right.
One RV, Two Electrical Systems
The handles make it easier to disconnect and make this adapter worth the extra money in my opinion. Your amp cord plugs into the four-prong receptacle on the adapter and then the three-prong end of the adapter plugs into the 30 amp receptacle on the campground pedestal. You can then run appliances in your RV, but you will be limited to the 30 amps from the power source.
So you will have to manage which appliances you run at the same time. Some older campgrounds only have 20 amp service or 15 amp service. So we carry a 50 to 30 adapter AND a 30 to 15 adapter shown below. We use both adapters together when we only have 20 or 15 amp service at a campground or when plugged in at someone's home. We plug our power cord into the 50 to 30 adapter and then the three-prong end of that adapter into the 30 to 15 adapter and THEN into the pedestal. We can't run many items at once on 15 amps, but at least we can use our appliances.
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Now, what if you have a amp RV and the campground has only 50 amp service we have seen this a few times? Well, you can get a 30 to 50 amp adapter. Many, many people do this and have never had a problem. Basically, you will have amp potential, but your amp main breaker in the RV should shut down if you try to use more than 30 amps. I personally don't like this option. It's done all the time, but there are enough risks that OUR rule of thumb is to never plug into a power source rated higher than our rig.
Now, our fifth wheel is a 50 amp rig. But we are on 30 amps at least 50 percent of the time and use our 50 to 30 amp adapter a lot. We get by just fine on 30 amps. Now, with that said, if you are getting a rig for full-timing, it is our recommendation to get a 50 amp rig. You will enjoy the peace of mind and ability to run all your appliances when you have 50 amps, and you can easily go down to 30 amps when necessary. If you search the internet and read RV forums much, you will run into stories where folks have ruined appliances because the campground's wiring was improper or because the campground's voltage dropped below safe levels or surged above safe levels.
Occasionally you will run into stories of people being shocked or worse due to incorrect wiring of the campground pedestal. How do you combat this? One option is to buy and learn how to use a polarity tester. If your polarity tester shows a problem, you notify the campground management and MOVE to another site! However, the Good Governor cannot continuously monitor voltage and it won't prevent electrical voltage drops or surges.
Such drops or surges can damage your expensive appliances and electronics. So, we recommend that EVERY RV be equipped with a power management protection device also known as a "surge protector with voltage protection".
RV Electrical Systems
You can get them for Amp rigs and Amp rigs Amp models work on Amp circuits as well. They are also available in models that can be plugged in directly to the campground pedestal and models that can be hard-wired into your coach. If you use the portable model that gets plugged into the pedestal, you simply plug it in and then plug your power cord into the device.
If you have the hard-wired model installed, you plug your power cord into the campground pedestal. With either model, there is a two-minute delay to protect your air conditioner. If there is a problem, no electricity is allowed in and warning lights are displayed.
Again, if there is a problem, notify the campground management and MOVE to another site. You may have to move to another campground! Once electricity is allowed into the rig, the device protects the coach from surges. Also, it completely shuts down power to the RV if campground voltage drops below or surges above certain levels.
RV Electrical: All the Basics You Need To Know!
This protects your appliances. The time delay keeps the air conditioner from short-cycling. If the compressor turns off and on too quickly it creates extreme stress and the compressor can be damaged. The time delay is just in case the air conditioner is "on" when plugging in initially or if the air conditioner was running during a power shut down. For the most part, the minimum you need to know is what we have discussed above. However, your RV uses battery power to run certain lights and other items. That just happens, but you need to know just a little bit about the battery system.
Most RVs will come with one or two "house" or "coach" batteries. These are batteries that provide electrical current to some appliances and some motors in the RV as opposed to the battery in a motorhome or tow vehicle that starts the engine. If you are plugged in to an electrical outlet most of the time, you don't have to be too concerned about battery charging. The equipment that comes with your RV includes a battery charger that uses campground power to charge the batteries - it happens automatically. Also, whether you have a motorhome or a towable fifth wheel or travel trailer , your house batteries get charged another way.
Basic RV Electrical
In a motorhome, the vehicle's alternator charges your batteries while the engine is running. If you are towing, the tow vehicle has to be plugged into the trailer so that brakes and lights on the trailer work. In addition, the tow vehicle's alternator is charging the house battery in the trailer while you are driving down the road.
As for maintenance, you should keep the battery terminals clean and make sure the water levels are kept up only use distilled water in batteries. If you don't know how to do either, just ask someone with experience or have an RV service department do it or show you how.
It's not that difficult, but sometimes the batteries can be a bear to get to. Not having electrical hook-ups makes our basic discussion more complicated. But we will keep it short and simple.
RV Electrical Systems
If you have a generator, you can run your appliances just like you are plugged in. Well, it's not quite that simple, but a generator produces the same TYPE of power as a campground pedestal. The issue is whether or not it produces as much power. If you don't have a generator, the only way to run the majority of your appliances is to use the power from your batteries. That requires something called an "inverter". Some motorhomes and higher end fifth wheels have an inverter, but most towable RVs do not.
If you are interested in more details on being without electrical hook-ups and more details on the electrical systems, keep reading. Otherwise, you have the basic information you need. We started our RV lifestyle with the basic understanding of RV electrical systems as set forth above.