When you are planning a camping trip in your RV, like any other trip, you will always want to make sure you plan for what services will or will not be offered at your destination.
One of the biggest things to think about when planning a trip in your RV is what types of hook-ups you are going to have when you get there.
Most campers require four hookups: water, electrical, sewer and cable.
Knowing what type of services and hookups to expect while camping can make a huge difference when you are planning your vacation.
Check out our guide to campground hookups!
What are the Available Hookups Found at Campsites and How Do I Hook them Up?
There are a few different types of RV hookups that you can find at different campsites. Some campgrounds offer multiple types of hook-ups and some others only offer a certain type of hookup.
Below, I have described what types of hookups you can expect to find at varying campgrounds.
One of the most important hookups that you will need while you are camping in your RV is water.
Water can be essential for cooking, dishes, washing your hands, showering, and even using the bathroom. Without having water in your RV you will have to walk to the shared public facilities that are offered by the campground.
Getting water working in your RV is a little more complicated than just turning on the faucet. You will either need a full water tank in your RV or camper, or you will need a water hookup.
If you are at a campground that offers a water hookup, you will be able to confidently have water at any time during your vacation.
Hooking up the water hookup is not overly complicated. The steps to hookup your RV to water are as follows:
- First, you will want to make sure that you have a clean hose for your freshwater hookup with you. Your hose should be certified for potable water and is usually blue or white in color. You can buy a hose that ranges between 10 and 50 feet.
- Before you attach the hose to the hookup you will want to attach any filters or pressure regulators that you have.
- Screw the loose end of your hose into the water supply hookup provided at your campsite.
- Set your water system to pull from the connection, often labeled “city water position” instead of your water tank.
- Make sure your RV water pump is switched on to get the desired pressure to come out of the sinks and shower.
For water pressure regulators, see item 14 on our article, 15 Really Helpful Accessories For RVing!
You will also want to make sure you have an RV water heater. This will ensure that you have hot water that is needed for showering and cooking.
Electrical is also a highly important hookup that is needed when you are camping in an RV.
The electrical present in your RV is responsible for running everything from lights to water pumps, and other amenities.
There are different electrical service levels that are offered at RV campgrounds. These include 20, 30, or 50 amp services.
Some campgrounds offer a variety of these levels, but a majority of campgrounds, including State Parks, offer a 30-amp service.
Before you hook up your RV you will want to make sure you can tell the difference between the services. The different types of electrical services are listed below:
- 20-Amp Plug: These are the standard plug that you would see in your house that has 2 straight, flat prongs and 1 round prong.
- 30-Amp Plug: These are made with 2 flat prongs and 1 round prong as well, but unlike the 20-Amp prongs the flat prongs for a 30-Amp hookup are placed at an angle.
- 50-Amp Plug: These are made with 3 flat prongs instead of 2 and, like the others, also come with 1 round prong.
It is important to know what kind of hookup you need, and what kind of hookup is offered at the campsite you will be visiting.
If at all possible, you will want to have adapters that will allow you to convert your connection. This is most important if you require a 50-Amp hookup as most parks offer a 30-Amp hookup.
Hooking up the electrical hookup is the easiest hookup that you will have with your RV and is basically like plugging something into the wall.
Make sure you CUT THE POWER from the power supply before you plug yourself in.
Most power boxes at campsites have a breaker switch right on the box that you can turn off yourself so that you do not have any issues when connecting yourself to power.
After you are firmly plugged in, you can switch the breaker back to the “on” position and enjoy your power.
It is also a good idea to utilize a surge protector between these connections to make sure you do not have any damage to your vehicle and its electrical components.
See item 4 on this list – 15 Really Helpful Accessories For RVing!
Sewage is a necessary evil for all activities including RV camping.
Because of the nature of this job, dealing with the sewage in your RV can be the most dreaded job while you are living in your home away from home.
If your campsite offers a sewer hookup this will be the hookup that you want to be the most careful with, whether it is connecting it to the hookup, or emptying it on your way out of the campground.
The steps to handling your sewer hookup are:
- Put on gloves. This is a very important step for your health and hygiene. Some people use gloves that they save and wash, and some people use disposable gloves. Which type you choose is up to you.
- Make sure both your gray and black water tanks are secure and closed.
- Grab your hose and connect it to your RV drain spout.
- Place any support that is needed for your hose from your RV all the way to the sewer drain. Then you will want to place the hose properly.
- Attach the elbow to the end of your hose that will hook up to the sewer drain. You should attach the elbow to the drain using the treads whenever possible.
- Open your valves and allow the tanks to drain on their own.
Having a sewer hookup will save you from having to empty a full sewage tank on your way out of the campground.
If your RV has more than one bathroom it can be safe to say that it also has two sewer hookups.
This is often because RV manufacturers like to have the black water tanks right below the toilet. With this setup, you might also have two gray water tanks also.
This can make your hookup process a little more challenging. You might need an adapter that can create a sealed connection between your sewer hoses and the campsite connection. Doing this means that you can empty both connections at all times instead of having to do one or the other.
Some RV parks even offer a cable hookup for your RV.
This can be an added luxury, especially on any rainy days where you are forced to stay inside. This hookup is the least likely to be available at campgrounds, so if it is important to you, you may want to call ahead and inquire about its availability.
This hookup will be the easiest hookup for you. Even easier than your electrical hookup was.
If you have ever hooked up your cable in your home, you should know exactly what to do when it comes to hooking up your RV’s cable.
Simply grab your coaxial cable and connect one end to the cable supply offered by the campsite, and connect the other end into your RV where it is labeled “cable”.
When you are looking to supply your truck with a coaxial cable, you should look for one that is about 50 feet in length. This is sufficient for most of the RV parks that offer cable.
What is Considered a Full-Hookup?
When you are making your reservations at RV parks or campsites, you might be wondering what is included when they use the term “full-hookup”.
Even though most RVs are set up to function without a hookup, having a full hookup can be nice and can help your vacation feel stress-free without worrying about power or water levels.
Campgrounds often offer two different levels of hookups for their RV campers. These can include a partial or full hookup.
Partial hookups generally only include water and electricity hookups. These hookups are great because they allow you to use unlimited water as well as devices that pull more power like televisions or air conditioners.
Hookups include water and electrical hookups, but a full hookup also provides a sewage hookup for you.
There are also parks that offer cable and phone hookups as well as Wi-Fi services, though these are less common. These luxuries are not necessarily included, even in campsites that offer a full hookup.
It is always good to research what type of hookup you can expect at each location, that way you can plan ahead.
What Hookups do KOA Campgrounds Have?
KOA Campgrounds is one of the largest private campground companies, with over 500 locations in the United States and Canada.
These campgrounds offer many amenities and other services.
Among these services, this company offers full hookups for your RV. This would include water, electrical, and sewage.
The electrical offered at these campsites are either 30 or 50-Amp Service to match the needs of your RV.
Some KOA campsites even offer patios for additional outdoor appeal.
Can I Get Help With Hookup at Campgrounds?
Most campgrounds will have someone that you could ask for help if you need it when it comes to hooking up your RV at your campsite.
KOA campgrounds, in particular, have staff on hand to help anyone who has any issues with all aspects of their camping trip, which includes hooking up your vehicle.
Because these tasks can be highly important and no one wants you to do it wrong, most locations will have staff members that are available to help demonstrate or explain to you how your hookups work.
You will also likely be asked whether or not you think you understand your hookups when you show up for your reservation check-in. This is a great time to ask for assistance if you think you will need it!
What Can I Do If There Aren’t Any Hookups?
If you are camping in a campground or other location where you do not have any available hookups, there are still things that you can do to make sure you are able to use the amenities offered by your RV.
Most RVs come equipped with tanks that act as a temporary solution for each of the necessary hookups needed for a comfortable camping experience.
There are a few different types of tanks that can be found on an RV and each tank has its own uses.
The freshwater tank in your RV is used to hold the clean water than can be safe to drink, cook with, and shower in. This tank is normally hooked up to your sinks and shower. The fresh water tank can be used up very quickly, especially when it comes to showers.
When you shower you can use between 1 and 3 gallons of water out of your freshwater tank per minute. If you are solely relying on your water tank, and you do not have a water hookup, it might be worth it to utilize the public showers offered at the facility.
You also should have a semi-dirty water tank. This is also called your gray water tank. This tank holds any water that you wash down the drain, either from a sink or shower.
The final tank that you should have equipped on your RV is the sewage or septic tank. This tank holds the waste that comes from your toilet.
Each of these tanks should be properly filled, maintained, and then emptied. Often this is done after every camping excursion.
If your campground does not offer hookups, they might offer you a fill/empty station to service your RV and its tanks properly. Make sure you are properly filling and emptying these tanks to preserve the longevity of both the tanks and your RV.
Emptying Your Tanks:
Like previously mentioned, before you are done with your camping trip, you will want to make sure that you empty all the necessary tanks.
Most campgrounds have dumping stations to help you accomplish this on your way out of the campground.
Emptying these tanks can be done by following these steps:
- Make sure you put on a pair of gloves before you begin.
- Connect your sewer hose to the sewer hookup and the sewer or black water tank.
- Open the valve and allow the contents to drain.
- Make sure you close the valve completely and securely.
- Then empty the gray water tank and allow the wastewater to drain.
- Close the valve completely and securely.
- Flush and rinse the tanks to make sure they are clean.
These stations are very intuitive and easy to use, but if necessary, you should be able to find help if you need it.
Hooking up your RV when you go camping is not necessary to have a great experience, but it can make your experience even better.
Having your RV hooked up can provide peace of mind when it comes to using your water or electricity. Having an unlimited supply will allow you to take showers while still knowing you will have enough water left for cooking or dishes.
You can also use electrical objects that might utilize more power than lights and other base electrical devices. These objects can include televisions or even air conditioning units.
Having a septic hookup is also a big deal when it comes to your RV camping trip. Being hooked up for the duration of your trip will save you the task of having to empty the septic tank at the end of your trip, which can be a gross job that nobody likes doing.
Even if you only have a partial hookup, that can still be more comfortable than no hookup at all. But don’t let a lack of hookup stop you from going where you want to go. RVs are designed to be functional while off the grid and are totally manageable.
No matter what the situation is at the campground you plan to visit, you will want to make sure you call ahead so that you can properly plan. This is also a good idea to make sure you get a campsite that fits your RV and the features that you want.
Some RV campgrounds have both types of hookups but only for select campsites. If a full hookup is important to you, you will want to make sure there is a site available that offers it.
Speaking with the campground while you are making a reservation is the best way to make sure you get what you want when you are camping.
Camp with style!
Shelby Sullivan is our specialist when it comes to pontoon boats and recreational watercraft. She is often found sailing the freshwater lakes of Michigan. She is also a light-traveler who enjoys camping and traveling the world. Read more about Shelby here.