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

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. A less common scenario is just the opposite. 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?

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 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, 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.

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 image below to find out more about 30 to 50 amp adapters like this one.

30 amp to 50 amp adapter for RVs

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. RVs with a 50 amp service that plug into a 30 amp receptacle will have to make changes in their power usage. But not those who have a 30 amp RV and 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!

A 30 Amp to 50 Amp Adapter – A Good Idea?

There is often confusion about what happens when you try to use a 30 amp to 50 amp adapter (sometimes called a “dogbone”) at a campground pedestal. Actually, there is confusion when any adapter is used to adjust the electricity provided to an RV. But in this article we will discuss whether or not you should use a 30 amp to 50 amp adapter. And we will explain what happens when you do.

A 50 Amp RV Electrical Service – What Does It Mean?

If you have an RV with a 50 amp electrical service it means that you have a thick and heavy electrical cord. And at the end of that cord you have a 4 prong 50 amp plug. So what does all those prongs do? And why is the cord so heavy?

A 50 amp RV electrical service comes with 2 wires that are rated to supply 50 amps of power to the RV. Then there is also a neutral wire and a ground wire. That makes up all four prongs on the plug. And because wires that are rated to carry 50 amps are large, the cord becomes very heavy.

Essentially, you have 2 legs of 50 amp electrical service going into the RV. That is a lot of power. And if you multiply the amps by the total volts, you get the total power available to you in watts. In other words, the wattage figure that you get tells you how much power can be consumed at one time safely. So two legs of 120 volts equals 240 volts. If we multiply that by 50 amps that each leg can carry, that leaves us with 12,000 watts. This means that a 50 amp RV electrical service can run devices that total up to 12,000 watts of power simultaneously. And in the real world that means that you can run a lot of devices and appliances without overloading the service.

30 Amps To 50 Amps – What Happens?

So when you plug your 4 prong 50 amp power cord into a 3 prong 30 amp service, what happens? Well obviously, one leg of power has been taken away. This is because all electrical services need a neutral and a ground wire. And the positive wire has been stepped down to using only 30 amps at the pedestal.

A comparison of the 4 prong 50 amp plug and the 3 prong 30 amp plug

So does this create any problems for your 50 amp RV electrical service? Not at all. This is because the adapter adjusts the power going into your RV to use only 30 amps. And since 30 amps is lower than 50 amps, nothing will be overloaded. This is because the wiring used for 50 amps is much larger than what is used for 30 amps. If someone tried to run 50 amps through 30 amp wires, that could be a problem! But not the other way around.

30 Amps To 50 Amps – What’s The Difference?

So it is safe to use 30 amps of power going into an RV that has a 50 amp electrical service. But what does that mean in power usage? Well, now you only have one leg of 30 amp power times 120 volts. And that means that your total usable power at one time is only 3600 watts. What a drop in simultaneous usable power.

So for an RV that has a 50 amp service, you probably have a lot of power hungry appliances. You may have 2 or more air conditioners, a microwave, a washer/dryer setup, and more. If you now only have less than a third of the usable power going into the RV, adjustments must be made. This means that you probably can only safely run one air conditioner at a time. And you may have to limit how many other power hungry devices you use simultaneously. In most cases you can still use them, just not all at once.

It may take a little fiddling around with to determine what can be used and when, but you will eventually get it. Every RV is a little different, so you will learn where the limits are for your particular rig. Obviously if the main power fuse is tripped, you have gone too far. So it’s best to try to stay on the conservative side to prevent that from happening in the first place.

I hope this has cleared up some of the confusion about RV amp ratings in the RV and at the pedestal. Have safe and happy travels my friends!

30 Amp VS 50 Amp – What’s Best For You?

Maybe you have been wondering “What is the difference between a 30 amp vs 50 amp RV electrical service anyway?” But if you are like most people, these electrical terms just get confusing after a while. Well in this article, I want to help you understand the overall differences. That way you will know what kind of electrical service you need in your own RV.

What Does 30 Amp VS 50 Amp Mean?

Probably the best way to help explain these RV electrical terms is to use the illustration of a water hose. All water hoses conduct water. But some hoses are bigger than others and therefore can conduct more water. Think of the difference between a regular garden hose and a fire hose.

To get water to go through the hose you need some water pressure behind it. The more pressure, the faster the water goes through the hose. But the size of the hose determines how much water comes out at the hose end.

Now using that illustration think of the volts as the water pressure. Then think of the amps as the size of the water hose. The volts that we plug into at an RV campground is supposed to be 120 volts at all times. So how do we get more usable electricity for our RVs? We have to use an RV electrical wiring system that can carry more electricity. In other words, we need to make the hose bigger somehow.

A 30 Amp RV Outlet – How Much Electricity?

A 30 amp RV plug has 3 wires, 1 – 120 volt wire, 1 neutral wire, and 1 ground wire. Now lets use an electrical formula that says that if you multiply volts times amps it will tell you how much total power can be consumed, or watts. This means that if we have 120 volts and 30 amps, we multiply them and get a total of 3600 watts. This is the maximum amount of power that a 30 amp RV outlet can produce safely at one time.

30 amp rv plug
A 30 amp RV plug has 1 – 120 volt hot wire, 1 neutral wire and 1 ground wire rated for 30 amps

So what can we run on 3600 watts of power? Usually most 30 amp RVs have 1 air conditioner, a microwave, a television and a refrigerator. These are the main power hungry devices. But they also have several AC wall receptacles for use of other electrical devices. If you use too much power at one time by running too many power hungry devices, the system will be overloaded. And then it will shut down as a safety feature. So how do we get more power into our RV for more devices?

A 50 Amp RV Outlet – How Much More Power?

At face value, it sounds like a 50 amp RV service has just 20 amps more power for use. But it actually has so much more. Here’s why!

A 50 amp RV plug has 2 – 120 volt wires, 1 – neutral wire, and 1 – ground wire. So that means that they did more than just increase the size of the one 120 volt wire of a 30 amp service. Instead, they made two 120 volt wires and increased the capacity of each wire at the same time. So lets use our formula for power consumption again. Now we have 120 volts times 2 which equals 240 total volts. Then we multiply that by the 50 amps capacity and we have a total of 12,000 watts. This is the amount of power that can be safely consumed by a 50 amp RV electrical system at one time.

50 amp rv plug
A 50 amp RV plug has 2 – 120 volt hot wires, 1 neutral wire and 1 ground wire rated at 50 amps

What Does It All Mean For You?

So what we have learned is that a 30 amp RV can safely consume 3600 watts of power at one time. But a 50 amp RV can safely consume 12,000 watts of power simultaneously. WOW! That is a big difference.

It means that a 50 amp RV can easily run more power hungry devices at the same time. For instance, 2 or more air conditioners. A whole entertainment center. A washer/dryer. Residential appliances, including refrigerators. As well as the microwave and wall receptacles for other devices. So what does all of this mean for you?

Well, if you buy an RV with a 50 amp service, expect to pay more simply because the heavier RV wiring costs more. Do you really need all of that power? It probably depends on your chosen lifestyle. Do you feel the need for a 40 foot diesel pusher? Or a huge fifth wheel? Or a toy hauler? Then you probably will also need the 50 amp service that often goes with those kind of RVs.

But what if you are happy with a smaller RV, perhaps a Class B or C, or a travel trailer? Most of these RVs have only one air conditioner which is one of the major power consumers. And then 30 amps of power should be just fine and you can save the extra expense of the more robust RV wiring. Either choice is fine. Just realize the limits of each RV electrical system, and work within those limits.

Happy and safe travels my friends!

Your RV Gas Mileage – 5 Tips To Make It Better

If you are concerned about your RV gas mileage, you are in good company. A lot of RVers have the subject of RV fuel economy on their mind at times. And no wonder, since RV fuel costs take up a large chunk of our RVing budget. So how do we improve our RV MPG?

The 5 tips I am going to share with you can apply to all RVs. This is because all RVs have an engine and tires. So you may need to improve your motorhome gas mileage or your travel trailer or fifth wheel gas mileage. It doesn’t matter, because these RV tips apply to them all. Now let’s get started!

Better RV Gas Mileage With Proper Tire Pressure

Maintaining the right RV tire pressure will have a big impact on your RV gas mileage. If your tire air pressure is low, the rolling resistance is greater. This means that it will take more energy to move your RV down the road. That means more fuel will be used to get you where you want to go.

Of course, you don’t want to over-inflate your tires either. This makes for an extremely harsh ride and can cause safety issues as well. So find the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure for your RV and maintain that pressure in your tires. Usually there is sticker in your RV that will list the correct RV tire pressure for your rig.

If you use a tow vehicle for a towable RV, make sure that you maintain the correct air pressure in its tires too. If you want the best RV gas mileage possible, you will be checking and maintaining your tire air pressure regularly.

Keep Your RV Weight Down

It’s a real adjustment to move from a sticks and bricks home to an RV. And one of the things that a new RVer has to learn is how to manage their RV weight. This is because in our former home, weight was not an issue. So we don’t tend to think about it much when we first start RVing.

But RV weight issues impact a lot of things. There are weight limits for every RV out there. And the closer we come to the limit for our rig, the more our RV fuel economy will drop. Of course, keeping our weight low is easier said than done. But the less weight we are hauling, the better our RV gas mileage will be.

Lower RV Highway Speed = Better RV Gas Mileage

Everyone knows that the faster you drive a vehicle on the highway, the lower your gas mileage will be. But it’s surprising to see how many people ignore that principle when they drive an RV. I often see rigs of all sizes exceeding the speed limit on the highway. And sometimes, they exceed it by a lot.

Generally speaking, if you want the best RV gas mileage, you should keep your speed around 60 – 65 mph on the highway. For every 5 MPH above that limit, your RV fuel economy will drop significantly. Not to mention that it is also inherently dangerous for most RVs to be going at that speed.

RV Engine Maintenance

If you have an RV on the road, somewhere there is an engine that is pulling it. It could be either gas or diesel, but all engines need regular maintenance. If the proper maintenance is not followed, many things can go wrong. But one thing that will most likely suffer for sure is RV gas mileage.

So keep your engine in good repair and maintain it according to the manufacturer’s specifications. This means that you have to be organized and plan ahead for RV engine maintenance. But if you do, it will pay you back in the long run.

Maintain your RV engine for better RV gas mileage
Maintain your RV engine for better fuel economy

Use Synthetic Oil In your RV’s engine

This actually could be part of the last tip I mentioned above. But it is so important that I am mentioning it separately. This is because the best synthetic engine oils on the market can do a lot of good for your RV engine. Once again, it doesn’t matter whether the engine is part of your RV or not. It could be an engine in your tow vehicle.

But generally speaking, if you want the best engine lubrication and therefore the best RV gas mileage, you should use a synthetic motor oil. It will cost you a little more when you change the RV engine oil. But it’s the best protection for your RV engine that you can get. And don’t forget to change the engine air filter regularly too for good RV fuel economy.

If you use all 5 of these tips, you are well on your way toward getting the best RV MPG possible. Have safe and happy travels my friends!