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Old 06-21-2012, 12:54 PM   #1
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electricity

I am new to RVing and have just been reading lot's of information on well.... everything but I am still confused about the electrical aspect. Originally I had hoped to buy a motorhome but unfortunately none are for sale within 500 miles (with my tiny budget) so I am going to go with a Travel trailer. I am looking at one now that I like but I can't tell you anything about it (since I haven't bought it yet).
I plan on living full time and renting land;
I've read about 30 AMP and 50 AMP service and I understand that in order to take current off of a permanent house site (like for a mobile home) you need a breaker and a cord that can handle the electric current. However, it appears it's different for a travel trailer then a motorhome? Or maybe I just misunderstood. I was told it will plug into a household outlet.... doesn't that mean it's a 30 AMP (110v outlet)? It doesn't have much now, a gas stove (that looks like a regular house gas stove... can I use propane with that?) lights, HW heater (sorry don't know what size), roof A/C, and most likely a water pump. No fridge but I will get a cheap small one temporarily and other then my laptop and a clock radio I don't use that much electricity. I plan on, over the next 10 years completely remodeling the inside to my tastes and I do plan on putting in a washer/dryer, dishwasher, larger fridge ( but not full size) probably more lighting but I will low wattage cfl bulbs. I do plan on converting to 100% solar power in about 3 years when I move to California (and found a great schematic for a DIY system specifically for RV's) but I am guessing I need to make sure I have enough AMPs.
And what do they mean by a 12V system?
Too many terms why can't they keep it simple? LOL
Any explanation regarding electrical systems and terms (simplified) would be greatly appreciated... I think it's just too much info all at once... like cramming for a final that you never went to school for!
Echo
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:49 PM   #2
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I will take a shot at a simple reply.

30 amp service is most often on rigs with one AC. Two AC or other high power consumption devices require 50 amp. If you have a 30 amp and want to add additional equipment you may need to upgrade to a 50 amp.

A household plug is probably a 20 amp circuit. It will run the basics (lights, water pump, etc) bot not the AC.

12 v is when you are not connected to a power source and running off of your batteries.

Your stove will run off your propane tanks.

When you add a fridge are you going to add an RV fridge or a regular fridge? They operate completely differently and have different energy requirements. An RV fridge can run off the batteries but uses propane. A regular fridge will not run off the batteries. I suppose it may require a 50 amp circuit but am not certain about that. It may be size dependent.

I hope that helps. Good luck and enjoy the journey.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:57 PM   #3
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I didn't realize there was a difference between an RV fridge and a house one... I had planned on initially buying one of those small 3-4 cubic foot ones from Walmart. I guess I will have to research that and price them. I am on a really limited budget until October.
I am actually hoping to go 100% electric at some point since I want to go solar. I noticed electric ranges for Rv's are practically non-existent only cook tops seem to be available. I'm not a microwave user but I see convection microwaves for Rv's... is it an oven, a microwave or both?

I am also under the impression that a 30 AMP rv cannot use 50 AMP service but a 50 AMP rv can use 30 AMP (just can't run everything)? But there are converters that allow you to use both?
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:06 PM   #4
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The plugs are different for the 30 amp and 50 amp and regular 20 amp home plug. The 30amp looks like a 3 prong on a dryer and the 50 amp is 4 prong. The 30 is 120 volts and the 50 is 2- 120volt sides to get 240volts. The fridge will run off of 20amp circuit. They make adapters to plug the 30 amp plug into a regular home outlet. It will run everything but the microwave and air.
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:13 PM   #5
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SO if I rent a mobile home lot with regular home electric service should I have the electrician install a 30 amp breaker or a 50? Or both?
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:11 PM   #6
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I'd do both. That way if you need the 50 it's there. Plus if a breaker goes bad you have a backup. Your trailer will have breakers too so you are still protected. The cost will be in getting an electrician, not the breakers.

In parks sometimes the 30A breakers trip too easily so I connect to the 50A plug and trust my trailer breakers to do their job.
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:15 PM   #7
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Hi, I have been working on RV's for about 4 years, mostly older ones, and have a great book by Bob Livingston that has lot's of RV electrical system info, so maybe I can help.
Sounds like your not going to do much traveling in your trailer, you bought it to live in right? So I recommend you install 50 amp service on your lot. You will need 50 amp if you plan on installing a home type electric clothes dryer.
You can use the 50 amp service box to supply power for 30 amp.
It should not cost much more to have your electrician install both plugs.
You will need to install a 50 amp dryer plug in your trailer anyway, and you should ask your electrician about doing that as well.
It will consist of running 50 amp wires and plug from where your outside electric connection is, to a 50 amp outlet inside your trailer where you want to put your dryer. If you want an electric range, you will need a 50 amp outlet for that also.
You will then have 2 electric cords coming from your trailer, one for 50 amp service for your dryer and range, and the original 30 amp cord for all your other electric needs.
The original 30 amp service powers a converter that converts 120 volt to 12 volt for the 12 volt appliances. 12 volt is used for low energy appliances that can run from the vehicle type battery that is used when camping where there is no 120 volt electrical connection available.
If you plan to live in your camper, you probably won't use the 12 volt appliances, except for the 12 volt lights inside your camper.
RV refridgerators use a 120 volt heating coil, or propane gas to heat a liquid that removes heat from inside the refridgerator, thus making it cold. These are not energy efficient, and are made for camping convenience. You should install a regular 120 volt refridgerator, and that will work fine on 30 amp service.
Hope I covered everthing, and I recommend you check Amazon.com for RV electrical books by author Bob Livingston.
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:55 PM   #8
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Visit this site to get it all explained.....

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Old 06-22-2012, 10:21 PM   #9
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Thanks TX! Good website posting!
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Old 06-23-2012, 11:30 AM   #10
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You said "It appears different for a trailer than a motor home"

Nope, no difference.

Though a trailer can be 20,30 or 50 amp (20 is very small) and motor homes are normally only 30 or 50 they can all use the same outlets with the proper adapters.

There are some rules.

On a 20 amp (Standard wall circuit, though a 20 amp plug is a bit different most folks will just use a 15 amp plug, same contact area after all) you can run ONE big item (A/C, Microwave, Water heater, Battery charger if they are low. (If they are full that's not a big ticket item)

On 30, 2,

On 50 all you can eat in a 50 amp rig.

Both 20 and 30 amp outlets are 120 volt In fact you can get an adapter to plug into a TT-30 outlet to plug in a table lamp if you wish.

The 50 amp outlet is... different.

One final comment: We often see threads in the forums from folks who had a TT-30 outlet installed, and the electrician did it wrong and blew most of the electronics in their trailer.

Make sure you TEST the outlet with a volt meter (120 volts is the higest reading you should be able to see, that is flat blade to flate blade) if you see 200+ Do not pay the idiot. Make him re-do it at HIS expense.
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Old 06-23-2012, 05:08 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by roaminranchr View Post
You will need to install a 50 amp dryer plug in your trailer anyway, and you should ask your electrician about doing that as well.
It will consist of running 50 amp wires and plug from where your outside electric connection is, to a 50 amp outlet inside your trailer where you want to put your dryer. If you want an electric range, you will need a 50 amp outlet for that also.
You will then have 2 electric cords coming from your trailer, one for 50 amp service for your dryer and range, and the original 30 amp cord for all your other electric needs.
This is one of those "well Duh, Echo" moments!

OF COURSE! I had asked someone about converting the trailer to 50 AMP service so I can add the range and dryer and he said I'd have to rewire the whole trailer because there are more wires inside 50AMP wire than 30AMP but I hadn't thought about wiring separately. I feel really stupid now...lol

Just to clarify, my name really is Echo.



About 2 years ago, someone tried to steal my truck out of my front yard (but I have dogs (muahahah). The only lighting for a large yard was a single 40 watt porch light. So I added 2 ultra bright halogen motion detector lights to either side of the house and a flood light on a telephone pole positioned toward the front yard. I decided I didn't need a switch for the motion detected lights so I just wired them into a separate breaker that I added (I think it was a 15). I ran I believe 2-10 wire under the siding and around under the house up through the floor into the breaker box in the house. then I dug across the yard and ran normal house wire inside conduit to a box on the pole and added a 2 switch inside the house. One for the porch light and one for the flood. I also bought nice a 100 watt light fixture for the porch and removed the ugly 40 watt max one (which had lost it's protective cover). Needless to say, the whole front, back and sides of the house have the capacity to look like day in the middle of the night. I've put lights, overhead fan/lights and even wired our new garbage disposal that went out when I was a teen.
I've also done rough framing and done quite a bit of work on my cars (mostly because I didn't have the money to pay someone else). I've also done a bit of finishing work, like flooring some drywall (though I can say I'm not so great at making it look smooth).
I think I'm pretty mechanical and I've always wanted to own something I can put my skills to the test (I've never owned a house). SO I guess I should say 'let the headaches begin!'

I would also like to take moment to thank everyone here for all their answers. I've joined specialized forums before simply for questions I would like answered (I always seem to have a lot of those) HOWEVER, I had never joined one where so many people actually answered. Usually one or two people MIGHT answer. Most of the time I have to resort to internet research and reading (which I don't mind) but sometimes you don't know the right terminology, or the right wording for the question so you spend 15+ hours looking for the info.
SO thank you for the answered questions as well as the warm welcome I received in the newbie post!
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