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.
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!