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!

Your RV Water Heater Anode Rod – DIY!

If you have an RV water heater anode rod, then you have a Suburban water heater. There are two main brand names of RV water heaters. One is made by Suburban and the other is made by Atwood. Both are fine water heaters and last a long time with regular maintenance.

But a Suburban water heater has a porcelain lined steel tank. This kind of water heater tank is very similar to the kind used in your home water heater. The only problem with this kind of tank is that it can corrode inside over a long period of time if it is not maintained properly. But to make the tank last a long time an anode rod is inserted into the tank. This anode rod attracts the corrosive elements in the water and sacrifices itself to protect the tank lining. So every so often you need to replace the corroded anode rod with a new one.

Annual RV Water Heater Maintenance

It’s generally accepted that you should inspect your Suburban water heater once a year. This involves draining all of the water out, flushing it thoroughly, and replacing the anode rod if needed. It may sound like a lot to do but the truth is that it is fairly simple and most RV owners can do it themselves.

As you get started, be sure to turn off the water heater itself. It often has a power button on the tank side, so just turn it off. But I always recommend to also turn off all of the power to the RV at the same time. This is just a precaution. Then turn off the LP gas at the tank too. Finally, turn off the water source to the RV. If you are connected to a city water connection, turn off the faucet. If you are using water from your fresh water tank, turn off the water pump. Then let the water in the heater tank lower in temperature until it’s comfortable. This may take a while so I often turn off the water heater hours before I inspect it.

Inspecting Your Suburban Water Heater

Pull the pressure relief valve straight out to release water from the tank

With all of the preparation done, open the pressure relief valve at the top of the water heater. Just pull it straight out. Let the water that escapes drip out until there is no more coming out of the tank. Now you can begin to remove the RV water heater drain plug that has the anode rod attached to it. You will need a 1- 1/16 socket with an extension and attach it to either a socket wrench or a breaker bar. I prefer the breaker bar because sometimes the drain plug can get really tight. This is where the breaker bar helps provide more force to remove the plug.

Remove the drain plug at the bottom of the water heater to see the condition of the anode rod

Once the plug is removed you should be able to see what kind of condition the anode rod is in. If it is lightly corroded, you can use it again. But if it is heavily corroded, be sure to have a spare RV water heater anode rod handy for replacement.

The next step is to thoroughly flush the water heater tank with an RV water heater flush wand. These can fit right on the end of a garden hose and you insert it into the tank for flushing. Once the tip is inside the tank move the water stream around in all directions. But pay particular attention to stirring up any sediment that may have fallen on the bottom of the tank. By doing this the sediment is blown up into the water that is escaping at the drain plug. Make sure that you flush the tank thoroughly for a while!

Replacing The Water Heater Anode Rod

After the tank is completely flushed, you can re-insert the old anode rod if it is not badly corroded. If it is in bad shape, just replace it with a new one. And be sure to use plumbers tape on the threads of the new anode rod. How tight should the anode rod be? Just snug, don’t over-tighten it!

At this point you can turn on the water to the RV again. But be sure to leave the pressure relief valve open as the water goes into the tank. That way the air has somewhere to go as the water fills up in the tank. When the water starts coming out of the pressure relief valve, you can close it. At this point the RV water heater tank is full.

Now you turn on the faucets inside the RV to remove trapped air on the hot water side. After that is done, you can turn on the LP gas at the tank again. And then finally the power to the RV can be restored. At this point you should be able to turn on the water heater again and in about 20 – 30 minutes you will have nice hot water in your RV. And your annual RV water heater maintenance is done!

I hope you enjoyed this article on Suburban water heater anode rod inspection and replacement. Have happy and safe travels my friends!

RV Stripes And Graphics – Easy Removal

RV stripes and graphics can make a plain RV look fabulous. And if they are painted on the RV you just have to maintain the painted RV surface. But if the RV stripes and graphics are made from vinyl material they will eventually wear out. This is because the sun’s UV rays dry out and crack the vinyl exposing the adhesive underneath.

old rv stripes and graphics
An example of old RV stripes and graphics that are peeling away and leaving the adhesive behind

So how do you remove old RV stripes without investing a ton of time and energy? Well I am going to show you 2 methods of RV stripe removal that will make the job much easier.

Remove Old Stripes With Heat

If you try to remove old vinyl stripe material without heat, you are in for a difficult project. But if you use a heat gun like the ones often used to remove wallpaper, it gets much easier. And it doesn’t have to be an expensive heat gun either. Even a cheap model will produce enough heat for the job at hand.

But when you remove the stripe with heat, most likely it’s going to leave the old adhesive behind. And this is where the going gets really tough. Many RVers use all sorts of products to remove the adhesive. Everything from mineral spirits to lacquer thinner. But the professionals use products that work much better than those chemicals. And are easier on the RV surface.

For several years I have used a product called “Rapid Remover” by RapidTac. It is not made to remove the vinyl stripe, just the adhesive it leaves behind. And it does an outstanding job of that. Just spray it on, wait a few minutes for it to soak in. Then remove the adhesive with a plastic squeegee and a paper towel. You can also use plastic blades but you have to be very careful if you do. It will still take some effort but nowhere near the poor results of other methods. Click on the image below for information about Rapid Remover.

Rapid Remover rv stripe and graphic remover

Remove RV Stripes With A Decal Eraser Wheel

Another professional method for removing old RV stripes and graphics is to use a decal eraser wheel. These have been in use for several years now and they can make a difficult job much easier. They will not only remove the vinyl decal but the wheel will also take off the adhesive at the same time. This makes it a real time saver!

The decal eraser wheel simply attaches to any household drill and uses the power of the drill to do its work. You can’t use it on plastic surfaces or painted aluminum, but it’s safe to use on most other painted metal surfaces. Just test on an inconspicuous painted area first, just to be sure.

This product alone can turn days of drudgery into a much smaller project in no time. If any adhesive residue is left over, the Rapid Remover product listed above can take care of that easily too. Click on the image below to learn more about a using a decal eraser wheel.

Whizzy wheel rv stripe and decal eraser wheel

When To Remove Old RV Stripes And Decals

Unfortunately, I have seen many RVers wait until their old stripes and decals are heavily cracked and faded before doing anything. That is a big mistake! When vinyl stripe material starts to crack and fade, the sooner you get it off the better. This is because as time goes on the vinyl cracks become worse and the pieces of material become smaller. Then it takes much more effort to remove them no matter what method you use.

However, if you want to make your RV stripes and decals to last as long as possible, I recommend using 303 Aerospace Protectant on a regular basis. This product is an exceptional UV inhibitor. So it prevents the sun’s UV rays from doing much of its damage if you use it often enough. I recommend applying the product at least once a month on vinyl RV stripes and graphics. If you do, you can extend the life of your RV decals considerably. Learn more about this exceptional product by clicking on the image below.

303 Aerospace Protectant UV inhibitor

I hope you learned something valuable from this discussion of how to remove RV stripes and graphics that are old and peeling. 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!