Thursday, July 2, 2015

Can I Connect my 50 Amp RV to a 30 Amp Service?

Can I connect my 50A RV to a 30A Service?

The short answer is yes, however there are some issues that you need to consider when you do this. The first thing to know is that if you are in a 50 Amp RV and there is 50 Amp service available then you should go to the site that is dedicated to 50 Amp service. Some people will try to save a few dollars by going to a 30 Amp site, and while you may get away with it, in the long run you could be opening yourself up to potential RV issues. So rule number one: only use a 30 Amp if 50 Amp is not available.

Now let’s get into the electrical considerations. If your 50 Amp RV is plugged into a 30 Amp service, you will not be able to use everything in your RV. You cannot count on the campground breakers to protect your RV from an overload situation. Let’s look at the numbers. A 30 Amp service will provide you with 3600 watts of availability. I arrive at this number because a 30 Amp service is run by one 120 volt line, so 30 Amps times 120 volts = 3600 watts (Amps X Volts=Watts).  Generally the breakers used in an RV park are not going to have a tight tolerance for when the breaker trips, maybe 10-20% over or under the 3600 watts. So doing some rough math, the breaker could reach its limit anywhere from around 2850 to 4300 watts. This won’t be a problem for a RV that is made to run on 30 Amps because they are built to run well within the limits, but for a 50 Amp RV, this wattage limitation can quickly become an issue.

So does a 50 Amp RV only require about 60% more wattage than a 30 Amp RV? After all, 50 is only about 60% more than 30. Not so in this case, because a 50 amp service runs on two 120 volt lines instead of the one 120 volt line that a 30 Amp RV uses, and therefore the equation is 50 Amps times 240 volts which equals 12,000 Watts of availability. WOW! That is nearly 3 times the amount of power for a 50 Amp RV than a 30 Amp RV. Again, some rough math, and I can possibly only use a third of what I may normally run on a normal 50 Amp service.  Now this is still doable if you need to. You will certainly be limited to one AC unit, and I wouldn’t be cranking out a 1200 Watt 
hair dryer while I am staying there. There are charts online that you can look at how many watts an average appliance uses, and this could be helpful. Keep in mind, an air conditioner may run on 1000 watts, but it could take double that to start it.

Now, there are 50 Amp RVs that are being run on 30 Amp service in parks every day, so don’t be afraid to do this if that is all that is available. Just take the advice of this article and be about 2/3’s more frugal on what you normally run in your RV. There will be times that you pull into a park after a long day of driving and find that a 30 Amp is all that is available. Just pull out your adapter plug, and make sure you do not exceed the wattage availability. You can always refer back to this article if you forget the calculations.

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