Hooking Up At Home

Discussion in 'First Time & New Camper Owners' started by Toedtoes, Nov 4, 2018.

  1. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    I'm starting this thread in response to Jennifer Furr's "First Timer" thread question about hooking up at home.

    The first thing you need to identify is your camper's shore power hookup. There are three basic types:

    15/20 amp - this will be a standard household plug like you see on vacuums, etc. You can plug into any standard household outlet. These are most common on older and small RVs with no air conditioner.

    30 amp - this is a 3-prong plug that looks similar to an electric dryer plug. WARNING: DO NOT PLUG INTO A DRYER OUTLET! A dryer outlet is a full 240volt outlet. Your 30 amp RV is a 120volt system. They are not compatible.

    50 amp - this is a 4 prong plug. The system will have 2 legs - each 25 amps at 120 volts. Most commonly used on larger RVs. One leg will usually power the air conditioner and the other leg will power everything else. On rigs with two air conditioners, the legs will usually each power an area of the RV (one leg powers the front half of the rig, the second the back half). Each leg will have its own breaker, so you can verify what is powere by which leg by shutting off a single breaker.

    Now you know what your RV system is and it's time to hook up to shore power.

    A 15/20amp system can be plugged into any 3 hole standard household outlet. However, just like when plugging in any other device, you can overload the circuit if too many devices are plugged into the same outlet or on the same circuit breaker. Just remember that everything plugged into the outlets on the RV, and every appliance in the RV that uses electricity, that is turned on at the same time will pull power from that single outlet and circuit breaker that you plugged the trailer into.

    For a 30 amp or 50 amp RV system, if you plug directly into an outlet of the same amperage (30 amp RV into a 30 amp outlet) and turn on the RV air conditioner and use your RV microwave, and/or other electrical appliances in the RV, at the same time, you may reach or exceed that 30 or 50 amps. In that case, your RV circuit breakers will trip. Easy to fix by resetting the breaker and reducing the number of appliances turned on at once.

    HOWEVER, there is another catch. If you use a dogbone or puck adapter or an extension cord to take the 30 amp or 50 amp RV system and plug it into a standard 15/20 amp household outlet, you have limited the power pull to the 15/20 amp circuit breaker at the house. So, you cannot run the amount of items as you could if you were connected to a 30 amp outlet.

    So, you have to choose:

    1. You can install a dedicated outlet of the same amperage as your RV to your house electrical system. If you have a 50 amp RV, install a 50 amp outlet on its own dedicated 50 amp circuit breaker. If you have a 30 amp RVRV, install a 30 amp outlet on its own dedicated 30 amp circuit breaker. WARNING: MAKE SURE THE INSTALLER UNDERSTANDS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A 240VOLT 30AMP OUTLET AND A 120VOLT 30 AMP OUTLET AND INSTALLS THE CORRECT ONE - OR YOU'LL BURN OUT YOUR RV SYSTEM. This solution is the best because you will be able use your RV to the full capability is has.

    1a. If you have a 50 amp RV, you can install a 30 amp outlet with a dedicated 30 amp circuit breaker. This will allow you to use less power at once than with the 50 amp outlet, but is usually enough to run one air conditioner at a time.

    2. You can limit your power consumption in the RV when at home to the minimal 15/20 amp outlet. If you do this, you want to use an outlet and breaker that have no other items connected to it. If you plug into the same outlet or circuit breaker as your daughter's hair dryer (for example) and she starts drying your hair while you are vacuuming the RV using one of the RV outlets, you may blow your circuit breaker and create a disaster of epic proportions in your daughter's world.

    In order to hook up to a standard 15/20 amp household outlet with your 30 or 50 amp RV, you will need an adapter. There are several options:

    Dogbone - these are a short length of cord (6 inches on average) with a male plug on one end and a female plug on the other. The cord is usually rated for the highest powered plug on the dogbone. So, a 30 amp to 15/20 amp dogbone will have a cord rated for the 30 amps. A 50 amp to 30 amp dogbone will have a cord rated for 50 amps. This is important. If the cord is not rated appropriately, it will overheat and possibly melt and/or start a fire. If you want to go from 50 amps to 15/20 amps, you will need two dogbones (one 50 to 30 amp and one 30 to 15/20 amp) and run them together to make the drop.

    Puck Adapter - these are a simple plastic/rubberized oval or round piece with a male plug on one side and a female plug on the other. These are cheaper than the dogbones for a reason. By eliminating the cord between the two plugs, the electricity doesn't have any time to dissipate. Which results in the puck overheating, possibly melting and/or starting a fire. These are not recommended by experts.

    Extension Cord - if you need to go further than your RV power cord can reach, you will want to use an extension cord. Most people will automatically choose to attach a dogbone adapter to the RV plug and then run a heavy duty outdoor extension cord to the household outlet. This can result in overheating the extension cord and may melt it and/or start a fire.

    Instead, the best way to use an extension cord is to run one rated for your RV's amperage and then use a dogbone adapter when you reach the household outlet. It is more expensive to buy a 30 amp or 50 amp extension cord but it will be the safest. If you have a 30 amp RV, you can buy a 30 amp extenstion cord that has a 15/20 amp female end and eliminate the need for the dogbone.

    This is just a basic understanding. If anyone has a correction, let me know and I will update this post accordingly. Please feel free to add on more details as desired.
     
  2. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Nice , i would add , if running off an extention cord to a normal outlet, you should only run the ac , and nothing else. Or everything else and not the ac. A 20 amp outlet is recommended. I run 2 extention cords, 1 to the pup and 1 to the ac when working on it in warm weather.

    And great write up.
     
  3. Matt Benoit

    Matt Benoit Active Member

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    I would also add, if you're hooking up at home make sure the blinds are closed...your neighbors might complain! Sorry, I couldn't resist. Great write up BTW.
     
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  4. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    Some neighbors enjoy the view... ;)
     
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  5. BillyMc

    BillyMc Active Member

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    Running a RV air conditioner on a 15amp circuit isn't the best idea. You will be pretty much maxing out a 15amp circuit. There is a reason they are on 20amp circuits in the camper. I do run my AC at home when doing something in the PUP, but I have a 20amp circuit and a 20amp adapter. Continuous loads shouldn't be more the 80% of rating. For a 15amp circuit that's 12amps. My unit draws 14amps running and 18amp on startup. A 20amp plug will not plug into a 15amp outlet, it has one vertical, one horizontal, and one round connection. If your AC came with this type plug it should only be plugged into a 20amp circuit.
     
  6. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    I had one house that only had a 15A outlet in the garage. I could run the AC if the breaker for the Converter was off when I started the AC. I think it may have been the battery was charging . After the AC stared I could start the Converter. Never had an issue with a 20 amp outlet running the ac and converter at at the same time.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
    Raycfe likes this.
  7. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    I generally do not have an issue at the house either, but it is always one or the other. I am always concerned about pulling too many amps through the house wiring. Definitely want to have a dog bone type adapter - I started off with a cheap puck adapter which was fine if just running lights, maybe a fan or two. With the A/C running it got hot pretty quick. I don't have the same issue with the dog bone.

    Amazon does sell a 20 amp to 15 amp converter. I had to get one this summer when my converter fried during a 12 day stay in Austin. I had to use the converter in order to plug into a heavy duty extension cord so I could at least keep the A/C running.

    You also do not want to use a coiled up extension cord. Those ones with the spring rewind or the kind that you just wrap around something. I had a buddy who had a coiled cord and just plugged the ends in. Cord got hot, and wasn't able to dissipate the heat since it was tightly wound like that, and melted the insulation together. Thankfully he caught it before it got worse, and no shorts were noticed, but a valuable lesson was learned that day.

    I think a lot of campers don't really appreciate the nuances of energy consumption and current, and it is especially true for us pup owners. So many of us are first time owners for any sort of camper, and the learning curve can be steep sometimes. Then again - I have seen a disproportionate amount of idiocy exhibited by the big RV/5th wheel crowd as well, so it can happen anywhere. You just don't see as many stored at home due to the size, although I have seen a few parked in the front of a house with extension cords running 50-100' to the outside, or inside house outlet to power the A/C and coach in preparation for a trip.

    This site has been, and continues to be an invaluable resource for first timers, seasoned campers and everyone in between.
     
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  8. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I wouldent try to use the ac on a 15 amp circuit. I dont know the exact draw but the strat up amps are probably a lot. Its also hard to wrap a heavy duty cord tight enough to get resistance heating. Im not saying it didnt happen, but most of the homeowner type cords are not heavy duty.
     
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  9. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    The 15 vs 20 amp argument is one of the reasons it's better to install a dedicated outlet and breaker for your RV's amperage. Nowadays, it is recommended you go straight for a 50amp so if/when you upgrade your RV you are good.

    I installed a single 30amp. Then I bought the FnR. So, I use a 30amp splitter and plug both the FnR and the clipper into the outlet. I only run the AC on one RV at a time, but it is enough to run both fridges and lights as needed.
     
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  10. Balthisar

    Balthisar Active Member

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    That's the truth! About 15 years ago, I left my cord in its winder for my exterior Christmas decorations. I'm surprised I didn't start a fire before I found it. Definitely not made to be turned into transformer coils.
     
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  11. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    The one he was using was just a basic light duty outdoor garage one on a reel. 50 or 100' of cheap cordage wound up nice and tight.
     
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  12. BillyMc

    BillyMc Active Member

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    Mine pulls 14amps with fan on low, I think startup was 18.something. Used a 15amp circuit to test the AC when I first got it. Seeing how much current in demanded I turned it off and didn't use it again until I had a dedicated 20amp circuit with a 30amp to 20amp dog bone adapter. Running electrical devises with less than the proper current damages them. An AC cost more than a 20amp circuit mounted to your outside breaker box and a 20amp dog bone.
     
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  13. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

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    We can run our A/C with the camper plugged in to a 15 map outlet near our fuse panel, but out in the yard 75 feet away never going to happen.
     
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  14. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

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    Hence my comment about using the proper gauge cord for the RV amperage. Using a standard outdoor cord rated for 20 amps is going to overheat. And you don't want to run 100ft when you only need 20ft to reach the outlet.
     
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  15. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    We use to just use the 30 amp shore power cord with 30A to 15 amp plug converter and plug into the outlet which has been either a 15 or 20 amp circuit in our past garages. This garage we wired a 120v 30A outlet.
     
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  16. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    I have never had an issue with properly rated cords heating up. But cords can be confusing. The gauge of extension cord can sometimes be misleading unless you read the cord's specs. My 12 gauge 50' cords are only rated for like 16 amps, Unlike 12 gauge housing wire that is rated for 20 amps. Using any amps over the rating of the cord will start to warm up.
     
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  17. emoney

    emoney Well-Known Member

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    +1 on checking the chords to make sure they're not getting hot. I got lucky and have a dedicated
    20amp circuit on a GFCI plug in my garage, so plug the TT into a dogbone into that 15/20amp outlet.
    It helps having a GFCI circuit, because should you inadvertently try to draw too many amps, the
    outlet itself will trip even before the breakers trip inside the camper. Just a little extra security so
    you eliminate some of the risk of damaging say your rooftop AC.

    I haven't had time yet, but I'm planning on running a dedicated 30 amp circuit to the outside wall
    of the garage so I can plug the TT directly in and not have to worry about "only using the AC or only
    using the fridge".
     
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  18. brwarrior

    brwarrior Member

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    A 2 pole breaker will have what is called a common trip. Now you could tie two breakers together with the appropriate handle tie (no, a 16d nail is not an appropriate handle tie). You should never remove the tie. Both legs should be opened together. Turn off individual breakers in the power center if you want to know what is powered by what. Generally the power will be distributed in sets. If it's a narrow breaker each two breakers will be on the name leg. If they are narrow, half the width of a wide breaker, then each two will be on the same leg. This only applies to a 50A 120/240V system.
     
  19. brwarrior

    brwarrior Member

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    The NEC calls for different ratings for different kinds of cords (your typical home exterior rated extension cord might be type SJTOW (Service, Junior (300V), Thermoplastic (the outside sheath), Oil Resistant, Weather Resistant). The manufacturer may also be derating if it's a long cord. Voltage drop at 120V isn't very good. Though 12VDC is crazy. And you shouldn't connect more than 80% on a standard thermal-magnetic circuit breaker.
     

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