A 50 Amp To 30 Amp Adapter – Is It Safe?

50 amp to 30 amp adapters

This article is about using a 50 amp to 30 amp adapter when you have a 30 amp RV.

In a previous blog post I discussed the possibility of needing to adapt a 30 amp campground service to a 50 amp RV. This is a very common scenario in many campgrounds.

But a less common scenario is just the opposite. And that’s when you need to run a 30 amp RV from a 50 amp campground pedestal.

So can you use a 50 amp to 30 amp adapter safely in this case? Let’s see!

Disclosure: Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means – at no additional cost to you – I earn a commission if you make a purchase using our affiliate links. I only link to products and companies I use and feel comfortable recommending. The income goes toward supporting the free content on this website.

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Why Is An Adapter Needed?

There are a lot of RVs on the road that are wired for a 30 amp electrical service. To understand what this means, it’s good to have a mental picture of what an amp is. And while we are at it let’s also do the same for volts too.

The best analogy I have heard to describe the relationship between amps and volts is to picture a water hose. There are different sizes of water hoses, some big, some small.

For instance, a garden hose will put out a steady stream of water. But a fire hose is much larger and therefore will put out a lot more water at the end.

Volts are like the water pressure that goes into the hose. There has to be some water pressure to move the water along.

But if you have a consistent water pressure, the fire hose will move more water than a garden hose. So in RVs, a 30 amp service is like the garden hose. It moves electricity along to the appliances in the RV.

But a 50 amp RV service can move a lot more electricity at the same time because the wiring is much larger and more capable.

The difference between a 30 amp and a 50 amp RV service becomes especially apparent when using air conditioners. A 30 amp service will usually only allow the operation of one AC unit in the RV.

But a 50 amp service can run more than one AC unit and even provide plenty of extra power at the same time. Why? Let’s take a look at a very useful electrical formula to understand why 50 amp RVs can do that.

A Useful Electrical Formula

The volts at the campground pedestal should remain at 120 volts no matter what RV is plugged into it. So we can determine how much difference there is in consumable power between 30 amps and 50 amps by using a common electrical formula.

It says that you multiply the amps times the total volts. Then you will know the maximum simultaneous power capability of any electrical system (the watts).

So if we multiply 30 amps times 120 volts, a 30 amp RV can consume 3600 watts of power at one time. But a 50 amp RV has two legs of service going into the rig instead of just one.

So if you add the two lines of 120 volts, that is a total of 240 volts. Then multiply that by 50 amps for each line and you have 12,000 watts of consumable power at one time.

Clearly then, a 50 amp RV uses a lot more power than a 30 amp RV. So what happens if you use a 50 amp to 30 amp adapter for your 30 amp RV?

How Does A 50 Amp To 30 Amp Adapter Work?

Since a 30 amp RV has wiring that can only safely handle 30 amps of power, you don’t want to overload it. If you were to somehow plug the 30 amp RV service into the 50 amp campground pedestal without an adapter, it could easily overload.

So there is a need to step down the power of the 50 amp campground pedestal to the 30 amp RV service.

How To Avoid Buying An RV Money Pit

That is where the adapter comes in. It does that work for you. Even though there is a lot more electrical power available at the pedestal, it restricts the total output.

That means that it steps it down to the usable 30 amps of power that will not harm your RV or your devices. Think of it as an adapter at the end of the fire hose that steps down the water stream to the size of a garden hose.

Click on the link below to find out more about 30 to 50 amp adapters like this one.

Click here for a 50 amp to 30 amp RV plug adapter

(This is an affiliate link for the product on Amazon. It does not cost you any extra to buy the product using my affiliate link if you choose to do so)

What does All Of This Mean For Your 30 Amp RV?

So what does this mean in terms of what you usually do with your RV? Does this adapter change the way you use your appliances or devices? Not really.

Since you still have the full 30 amps of power that you always use, nothing will change when you plug into a 50 amp service with an adapter.

On the other hand, RVs with a 50 amp service that plug into a 30 amp receptacle will have to make changes in their power usage. Otherwise, they would easily overload the electrical service and could blow some of the RV panel breakers.

But not those who have a 30 amp RV who plug into a 50 amp pedestal. You don’t get any additional power , but you don’t lose any power either.

I hope this helps you understand how RV electrical services work and how adapters help in special situations. Let us know if you have had any interesting experiences with 50 amp to 30 amp adapters in the comments below.

Have safe and happy travels my friends!

7 thoughts on “A 50 Amp To 30 Amp Adapter – Is It Safe?”

  1. Richard jernigan says:

    That was an excellent presentation!
    I have discovered my 30 amp camper performs
    Better when I plug in a 50 amp to 30 amp converter.
    Then plug into the camper.
    I get pure 30 amps into the camper and my electric items
    Will all work at the same time.
    Example: AC, hot water heater and coffee pot all
    When using straight 30 amp from pedestal I had to turn something off to run coffee pot.

    1. That’s an interesting idea Richard. I’m glad it’s working for you. Thanks for mentioning that. It might be something that benefits others having the same issues.

  2. Steve Christison says:

    Thanks for the explanation. I am using this tip right now in a time of need—as our 30A connection has failed — and this explanation is really reassuring. It makes sense when you think about it, but it certainly is nice to be hear it from someone with expertise. So far this has been more consistent, and with really cold temps and using electric heaters as much as possible, we are putting a strain on our capacity. So thank you.

  3. Craig Spink says:

    i don’t think you get 50 amps on both legs of a 50 amp service. i think you get 20 amps on one leg and 30 amps on the other. I mean if you had 50 amps on both legs why would you need two legs to power a 50 amp trailer? And if you were providing 50 amps on both you would have a 100 amp service. and the bit about doubling the voltage to 240 volts. misleading because nothing in the rv runs on 240 volts. I will give you the 3600 watts for 30 amp service. but adding 20 more amps should only give you 2400 watts more. You doubled your amps and quadrupled your power?

    1. Actually Craig, my article is correct. I know that it may be a little difficult to understand, but there are indeed two lines of 50 amps coming into the RV at the same time. Both are operating on 120 volts. So, one leg is capable of handling 6000 watts of power (50 amps X 120 volts) and the other leg is capable of doing the same. That means that a 50 amp RV service can provide up to 12,000 watts of simultaneous power to the rig. Here is a link to an RV electrical expert who explains the whole matter in even greater detail – https://www.rvtravel.com/rv-electricity-power-principals-50-amp-shore-power/

  4. Steve Sanders says:

    Thank you for a very informative article. I am just getting interested in the RV lifestyle and I hope to indulge myself when I retire in a couple of years. In the meantime I am trying to do as much research as I can to learn. This article is very well written and easy to understand for a newbie.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hi Steve. I’m so happy that the article was helpful. A lot of RVers have questions about electrical issues. And you are doing exactly what you need to do by getting as much information in advance as possible. It will shorten your learning curve dramatically when you actually start RVing. I wish you fun adventures and happy travels on the road ahead!

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