Although it isn’t always necessary, connecting your RV to a power outlet while you aren’t using it can be helpful.
Most US trailer parts have ports where you could plug in 30 or 50 amp cords, which is the perfect amperage for using all of your RV appliances comfortably.
A 30-amp cord might not be able to power all of the appliances at the same time in a large RV.
Here’s how you can plugin in your RV:
You can plug your RV into any electrical system. However, if the amperage of the cord that you’re using is too low, you might have to tone down your usage of certain electrical appliances such as heaters, air conditioning units, and even electrical units that take too much power.
Can I Plug my RV into my House?
It is possible to plug in your RV to the electrical system of your house to keep your battery-powered.
What makes this method inadequate, however, is that you won’t be able to use all the electrical appliances in your RV, since the outlets in typical US homes are commonly the 15-amp ones.
There are two ways in which you can do this:
Method 1: Contact the Electrician
If you’re going to be plugging your RV into your home’s electrical system, it’s advisable that you contact an electrician and have a 30 or 50-amp receptacle installed in your house.
Although a great solution for the long term, this process is a rather expensive one and is only recommended if you keep your RV parked in your driveway very often.
Method 2: The Simple Way
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on this, you could also connect the RV to your home’s standard 15 or 20-amp outlets, and this will do the job just fine as well.
Since you won’t be able to use most of your appliances in this setup, you should consider using the appliances available in your house instead of the ones in the RV.
While connecting your RV to a standard domestic outlet, you’ll also be needing an extension cord and a 15 or 20-amp adapter.
Make sure that the extension wire isn’t longer than the required length, as it will overheat and become inefficient.
How Can you Connect your RV to your Home Outlet?
Make sure that you switch off all the appliances in your RV as well as the breakers in your home before connecting the extension cord to your RV’s hookups.
Then, reset your breakers, and you can expect your RV to be connected to electricity. However, if this doesn’t work, unplug everything, and repeat the steps all over again.
If your RV is still not connected, you might want to refer to your RV’s manual or get help from a professional.
Can I Plug my RV into a Dryer Outlet?
Most people make the mistake of doing this because dryer plugs are extremely large, and RV plugs are about the same size.
However, the two of these run at completely different voltage levels.
You can’t plug your RV into a dryer outlet, and if you try to do so, you can potentially risk ruining the batteries of your RV and even damage the electrical system of the entire place.
Dryer units consume a large amount of electricity and thus have a high voltage, i.e., 240 volts AC. That’s twice the voltage level of the other appliances of your house run. RVs, too, typically run at 120 volts AC.
Now, if you connect your RV to the dryer outlet, there will be twice the amount of electricity running through it than it normally requires.
This will overload your RV’s batteries and damage them, and it can even cause your electrical system to break down or even start a fire.
Can I Plug my RV Into a Generator?
Plugging your RV into a generator is a highly advisable practice.
It is very convenient to plug in your RV to a generator while you’re traveling.
This is to be able to keep it charged, as well as be able to use the appliances on it while you’re on the go and don’t have access to an electrical system.
How Do you Plug in the Generator to Your RV?
Plugging your RV into a generator requires a lot of knowledge about your generator and model beforehand.
Make sure you know exactly what your generator requires before beginning, and if you aren’t completely sure, contact an electrician for their help.
For this example, we will talk about generators that use a grounding rod.
Plugging in Your Generator:
In the place where you’d like your generator to sit, drive your generator’s grounding rod into the ground with the help of a hammer or drill.
Make sure that you go at least 8 feet deep into the ground while you’re driving it in.
- Connect the copper wire on the grounding wire to your generator’s copper rod.
- Make sure that the generator’s exhaust is vented away from your RV.
- Plug in your RV with the generator by using its generator cable.
Your RV should now be connected to the generator, and you’ll be able to use the RV’s electrical appliances and charge its batteries as you normally do by connecting it to an outlet.
Can I Plug my RV into Outlets Without Grounding?
You can run your RV by connecting it to an outlet without a ground connection, but you’ll be putting the vehicle at risk for facing serious damages.
It is also highly unlikely that you’ll be able to do so with most modern RVs since the EMS is simply going to shut it down.
The risks that you’ll be putting the RV under by connecting it to an outlet without grounding are quite grave. The ground connection helps your RV by transferring excessive energy away from the circuit and into the ground.
If it isn’t present, the RV’s parts could potentially break due to a surge.
Why Do I Need Grounding?
Besides fuses and breakers, grounding is one of those things that protect you and your appliances from electrical surges.
These happen when an excessive amount of energy goes through your electrical system. When this happens, you will need a place to remove them, or the stored excess energy will travel to your appliances and ruin them.
Worse, the surges might form arcs and leap out of the wiring. If this hits something flammable such as the plastic coatings of wires or the wooden boards inside your RV, they can cause a fire.
As it usually does, batteries store energy, and they can store this excess electrical energy from the system.
The problem here would be overloading the batteries, which could cause a fire.
Can I Plug My RV into a 110 Volts Outlet?
It is alright to plug in your RV to a 110 volts outlet since it is somewhere around 8.7% lower than 120 volts, which is the voltage level that most RVs withstand.
However, you might have to face some minor issues with using your appliances in the RV due to the slightly low voltage.
These usually involve your appliances working less efficiently, especially those with motors.
Which Appliances are at Risk When Using 110 Volts?
For the most part, you will definitely want to protect appliances with motors when plugging your RV to a 110-volt outlet.
That’s because running them at low voltage makes them spin slower, and motors work best when they spin at their normal speeds.
Another problem would be with lamps. Whereas running with lower voltage might help incandescent lamps last longer, most halogen lamps would get a lower running lifetime when working in 110 volts or under.
Meanwhile, heaters and other heat-producing appliances would take some time before they properly heat up. That’s because, with lower voltages, there would be less electricity to convert into heat in the first place.
These are not expected to break at lower voltages.
Can I Plug my RV into a Regular Outlet?
Normally, electricity is brought into the house through 240-volt cables.
These cables are usually converted into 120-volt outlets once they reach the wall sockets. If you plan to plug your RV into one of these, then that will be alright.
There are some places where the sockets are not converted into 120 volts. Usually, these are the water pumps and HVAC units. Your wall dryer outlet is also one example, even though it releases 220 volts.
You can’t plug your RV into these.
These require a lot of power to work, that is why they use sockets with stronger voltage.
What Should I Look for in a Good RV Extension Cord?
Most of the time, you will like to have a few different extension cords for your RV.
A good rule of thumb is to use extension cords that are at least 10 gauge, and the lower the extension cord’s gauge, the better.
This is because larger gauges tend to decrease amperage, which would eventually reduce the power that your appliances could use.
This is more important if you are using power hogging appliances like heaters or air conditioning units.
Also, make sure to check the length of the extension cord itself. Longer cords tend to lose amperage along the way, especially if they reach as far as 50 or 100 feet.
How Do I Know if my RV is 30 amp or 50 amp?
This one is quite simple. The easiest way to do this is to check the plug.
For a 30 amp RV, there will be three prongs. Two of them are flat, and one is tubular. Meanwhile, for a 50 amp RV, you will have four prongs.
It still has the same single tubular prong, but this one has three flat ones.
Can I Plug my RV into a 220 Volts Outlet?
You should never plug your RV into a 220-volt outlet.
RVs are meant to use only 120 volts. Any more than that and the RV will be drowning in more electricity than it can handle. The first problem here occurs when the 220-volt current fires through the inverter.
This is the part that turns the AC current from the power grid into the DC current that most of your appliances need.
Running 220 volts over your 120-volt inverter will pop its fuse, cutting off all power to most of your appliances. But this is the best-case scenario. The worst case is if it does not pop the fuse at all.
Since the 220 volts of AC current will get converted into its DC current version as a whole, all of your appliances will receive more power than they are supposed to take.
Heaters and boilers will become twice as hot. Moving motors in electric fans and air conditioning units will double their speed. Their individual fuses may pop, too.
Plus, it might get to the batteries overloading it and evaporating its electrodes. This might start a fire if kept like this for too long, as the gaseous electrodes could leak out.
All in all, plugging in your RV into a 220-volt power source will decimate its inverters, batteries, fuses, appliances, and your wallet.
What Do I Do when my Inverter’s Fuses Blow?
When these things blow, you will need to replace them as soon as you can. Otherwise, you will not be able to use much of your RV’s electrical appliances.
The good news is, fuses are very inexpensive.
They are small dispensable tubes of glass with a wire inside that transports electricity to the rest of your electric system.
What they do is protect the rest of your system from a sudden surge of electricity by exploding. This breaks the whole fuse, cutting the flow of electricity and keeps most of your system intact.
Without fuses, your appliances will be in risk of large damage when a surge of electricity passes, such as when you plug your RV to a dryer outlet that runs on 220 volts.
Furthermore, fuses do not protect you from surges.
They are just there for damage control for when surges have occurred.
Can I Plug my 30 amp RV into a 50 amp Outlet?
It is possible to plug in a 30-amp RV into a 50-amp outlet, and to do so, all that you’ll be needing is a 30-amp to 50-amp adapter.
An adapter is a handy little device that basically changes the features of one electrical device to match the attributes of another one. It is generally used to connect two devices together, which are generally incompatible in their physical forms.
To plug your 30-amp RV to a 50-amp outlet, make sure that your adapter has 120 volts at both its male and female ends.
Connect the female end to your 30-amp RV cord and the male end to the 50-amp outlet, and you should be good to go.
However, if the voltage of the 50-amp outlet is 220 volts, such as in that of a welder plug, you should definitely not be doing this for the reason that we’ve mentioned earlier.
Can I Plug my 30 amp RV into a 20 amp Outlet?
20-amp outlets are your standard household outlets, and you can plug in your RV into them.
The line we mentioned in how the limitation on how many appliances you’ll be able to run in the RV due to the lowered amperage, you’ll be facing the same issues in such a connection as well.
Can I Plug My 50 amp RV into a 30 amp Outlet?
It is indeed possible to plug a 50-amp RV into a 30-amp outlet, and you might have to do that at some point in time if you have a 50-amp outlet since most RV parks offer only 30-AMP outlets.
However, the number of appliances that you will be able to use is going to be limited, and you could also be straining the pedestal to which your RV will be connected.
You should also bear in mind that this could trip the breakers in your RV and overheat the connection, so you should be cautious about the devices that you’ll be running.
Can I Plug My 30 amp RV into a 220 Volts Outlet?
You should never plug your RV into a 220-volt outlet even if it has a low amperage extension cord.
This means using 30 or even 20 amp cords will still damage your electrical systems and appliances.
The problem here lies in the fact that no matter how weak these cords push in electricity, they’re still pushing in almost double the usual load.
This might blow some fuses and circuit breakers.
When you think about it, you really can call RVs similar to tiny homes on wheels.
Like any house in the modern world with modern amenities, you will need electricity to run them all.
Modern electric companies make it so simple to use, that it’s easy to forget that electrical hookups take a lot of expertise and intricate attention to detail.
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.