A Must-Read Guide To The Basics Of RV Camper Electricals

July 06, 2018

A Must-Read Guide To The Basics Of RV Camper Electricals

RVs are an essential part of the American culture, and it comes as no surprise that almost 6.75 Million families own one. However, your home away from home can put you in tricky situations, especially if you happen to be the boondocking kinds. The trailers today come equipped with a whole lot of modern features. Therefore, it becomes incredibly important to give them your undivided attention.

The most important aspect that you need to take care of is the RV Camper Electricals. This includes your RV wiring or circuits as well as the electrical appliances you use in the camper. Although this can be a little tricky for most people out there. We will attempt to break it down to you in simple everyday language. 


What Powers Your RV?


Your RV Camper Electrical system uses a combination of AC and DC power sources. There is a 12-Volt DC electrical system powered by your trailer’s battery and a 120-Volt AC system hooked to a generator (or other sources). Both these systems have their own share of responsibilities. The 12-Volt system is responsible for powering your lights and your engine control units much like a regular vehicle. The chassis air conditioning and heat blower both source their power from this outlet.

However, it is the 120-Volt AC power that transforms your RV into a home. Everything in your trailer that you wouldn’t usually find in a conventional vehicle sources its power by this electrical system. This includes your kitchen appliances, your TV, and other power-hungry appliances like the hair blower.


RV Electricals


Dealing With Limited Power


The traditional RV battery needs to have a total of 12 Volts. There are two ways you can achieve this. One way is to go the conventional way and purchase a single 12-Volt battery. However, there is a slightly better alternative to it. You can choose to connect two 6-Volt batteries in a series circuit which will essentially work as a 12-Volt setup. The reason this works better than a single 12-Volt battery is because it has a deeper discharge time. This translates to a much longer battery life, thus saving you precious bucks.

Of course, there is a significant downside with this alternative. The two 6-Volt batteries will take up more space in your RV than a single 12-Volt unit. This is especially concerning for those who happen to own a Class B RV.

Now we come to the most significant problem that trailer owners face on the roads – the limited RV Camper Electrical power. Since you will never have access to unlimited energy, especially while on the road, it becomes vital for you to do some calculations. We all have at sometimes tripped the circuits of our RV. This happens because we use more appliances at the same time than what the power source can handle.

For instance, your Fridge, your Coffee maker and your Microwave are all appliances that put a heavy load on the trailer’s power source. Switching them on at the same time is a sure way to trip your camper’s circuits. So if you do not want to be stranded on a secluded piece of road, ensure that the total wattage of your appliance never exceeds the recommended limit.

Watts = Amps x Volts

Most of the appliances that we use come with their power information including the required current (in Amps) and voltage. Use the above formula to calculate how many devices you can leave on at any given point in time.


RV stranded


What About RV Camping Parks?


Most RV parks offer electrical hookups that we know as shore power. There are three main types of outputs that RV parks provide – 20 Amp, 30 Amp and 50 Amp. What type of hookup should you choose depends entirely on the kind of RV you own. For instance, smaller trailers like Class B RVs, pop-up campers and travel trailers mostly use the 30 Amp power setup. On the other hand, a 50 Amp setup remains to be a standard for Class A RVs and Fifth Wheels.

The major difference here remains to be the number of appliances you can use at any given time. The 50-Amp setup can power more appliances in your bathroom and kitchen than the trailers with 20 or 30-Amp capacities.

However, most RV parks today make do with 20 Amp shore power. But before you start worrying about that let us tell you that you can still source power for your 50 Amp setup from the 20 Amp outlets. Since the different outlets have different prongs, you will need to keep some adapters handy. A 50 Amp plug has four prongs while a 30 Amp plug has only three. The adapters will help you source power for your RV Camper Electrical system from whatever setup the RV Parks have on offer.

Do keep in mind that a trailer with 50 Amp capacity can be adapted to use a 30 Amp cord. However, a camper with 30 Amp capacity can never be adapted to use the 50 Amp power cord.


What do we Recommend?


If you happen to be the kinds who never liked the idea of camping at RV parks, then your need for reliable backup increases significantly. For some people, the entire idea of being on road means ditching the roadside motels and getting away from the crowd. If you like the idea of boondocking then you need to have ample power on board to keep you on the road.

For starters, you could consider switching to LED lights for your RV. The LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) use considerably less power which translates to only 1/10th of their traditional counterparts. What may seem like an investment initially will translate to long hours on road. Additionally, they have an average life of 25,000 hours or more which means you won’t have to change them often.

Another way to ensure you never run out of electric power for your appliances is investing in Solar Panels. Inspired by Into the Wild are you? Well, only this time you could have that experience with your appliances working just fine without a traditional power source.

While most RVs today come equipped with LED lights and Solar Power Panels straight from the manufacturer, there are numerous aftermarket options available for your existing trailer.


Always Use Extreme Caution!


To ensure that you do not have to go through uninvited inconvenience then you need to be that extra bit of care when it comes to your RV Camper Electricals. Make sure you switch off all the appliances before connecting your trailer to an external power source.

If you are someone who has very little experience in dealing with electrical wiring and circuits, it is best not to indulge in any kind of self-repair work. Seek the help of professionals and only hire licensed mechanics to service your vehicle.

In fact, it makes up for the perfect practice to hire your preferred experts to inspect your vehicle before you hit the road. Your RV could have been lying in the garage for months untouched. Even if you haven’t hit the road in a long time, your trailer still might need some repair. Your wheels, lubricants and other mechanicals make up for some of the crucial aspects that might need your attention. 

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Join The Coolest Low Voltage Network.