Should you go with the 30 amp or the 50 amp plug in your RV?


RV Checklist 460

RVing around town is a fun experience and is more memorable, especially if with the family. And “if you own a recreational vehicle that has a 50-amp electrical system and you’ve pulled into a campground where both 50- and 30-amp service are available, please pick the 50-amp service”, an advice from Jim Finch, Assistant Vice President/Technical Services of KOA.

“Hooking up a 50-amp vehicle to a 50-amp power pedestal whenever possible will help protect the long-term dependability of appliances in your rig”, Finch says. “Plus, making the 50-50 match will show consideration for fellow campers, allowing them to get an adequate electrical supply, and boost the reliability of the campground’s power system” he added.

However, if there is no other option but to go with the 30 amp, it’s fine, although you are limited to what you can use around your RV to avoid electrical overload. Also, it is more economical to go with the 50 amp, rather than the 30 amp that once strained will even cost more for repairs or parts replacement.

Here’s what Steve Roddy, a Master Certified RV Technician, can say on understanding the RV 50 amp and 30 amp:

Learn more from BetterRVing

So, go with what will make your RVing experience more worthwhile and hassle-free.

  • Next month we will be in a RV Park in VA that doesn’t have 30Amp service just 50. I purchased a RV adapter for 30 (female) and 50 (male) Can I use this adapter without damaging my 30 Amps in my RV? If so what can I purchase in order to have electricity while at that park?

  • Ray, It will work just fine. The 50 Amp circuit just allows you to draw more current as the wiring is heavier to the pedestal. As your rig will only draw a maximum of 30 amps, you’ll be just fine.

  • You can use 50 amp service with a 30 amp adaptor. Your breaker box will limit the amount of electricity to each circuit. Think of a water system. You have a water pipe in a river and it will only pull out what it needs.
    The problem is always with having too much demand but not enough electricity (or water). Example: Trying to run a AC unit on a 15 or 20 amp service. Or 2 AC’s and/or washer dryer combo on a 30 amp service.

  • The 50 amp breaker will trip when more than 50 amps of electricity is being used. If your camper has a 30 amp plug, it probably will not use more than 30 amps of electricity even when all your electrical appliances are on and working properly. The breakers and fuses in your camper should trip/burn out if excess current (short circuit) is being used on the circuits in the camper. This is similar to the electrical system in a home where the breaker box will have a main breaker of 100 to 200 amps with smaller amperage breakers below them. Short answer: With the adapter you have purchased there should be no problem unless your camper breakers or fuses fail.

  • The flaw in the use of a “Y” cord to create 50 amps, is there’s no guarantee the campground has sufficient power at the power post.
    They may have a 30 amp outlet and a 15 amp outlet, but both fed off the same 30 amp service.
    I camped where they were digging and installing new power. Every post had a 50 amp outlet, but the main distro box had a 200 amp breaker for 8 campsites. When I inquired, the electrician said there was a formula to know everyone wouldn’t be drawing 50 amps. Maybe that’s why the main tripped at midnight.

  • Some of these articles are silly. If you have 30 amp service you will use the 30 amp receptacle. If you have 50 amp service you will use the 50 amp receptacle. They are not interchangeable. The 30 amp plug will not go in the 50 amp recepticle and visa versa. If you have 30 amp service and there is only 50 amp service available a splitter / adapter will work just fine. It has one less prong that plugs into the 50 amp receptacle so you are only using one pole of the 50 amp side which breaks down to 30 amps. Easy enough.

    • I have been to parks in Florida that only have 50 amp . They will lend you an adapter, done it many times . 50 male to 30 female.