RV shore power

RV Shore Power fundamentals.

RV shore power

Shore Power – 30 Amp/50 Am

Understanding RV shore power is essential to properly manage your electrical usage in camp. Motorhomes, depending on size, may be capable of using a 30-amp or a 50-amp service maximum. With adaptors, all will operate on a 15/20 amp, albeit a minimum service.

There are three basic service sizes provided in campgrounds in North America.

• 15/20 Amp Duplex will provide 15/20 amps at 120 volts or about 1,800/2400 watts of power

• 30 Amp RV receptacle will provide 30 amps at 120 volts or about 3,600 watts of power

• 50 Amp RV receptacle will provide 50 amps at 240 volts or 100 amps of 120 volts or about 12,000 watts

You will notice that going from a 30 amp to a 50 amp increases the available power by 333%. That’s over three times more power. This is due to the 50 amp service has four contacts. These are ground, neutral and two 120 volt hot lines.  Providing these two hot lines, L1 and L2 are out of phase, they will deliver 240 volts when used on a 240 appliance, like a dryer. Though the out of phase 240 service is the standard used in 50 amp campground pedestals, a cheater 50 amp can be encountered in some camps. This is two 50 amp hot lines both off the same bus in phase. Both standard and the cheater 50 amp service are capable of delivering 100 amps at 120 volts, but the latter cannot deliver any 240 volt power. Many larger motorhomes are equipped with 240 volt clothes dryers.

RV Shore Power — Managing the Juice

Some motorhomes come with an EMS (Electrical Management System) that automatically shuts down specific loads should the demand exceed the available power. They restart those loads once ample power is once again available. This feature relies on being enabled and set at the selected power service. These work quite well with the possible exception of the 50 amp mode. Unfortunately there are some EMS products that sample from only one side of the split 50 amp hot lines. Therefore it has a tendency to reduce power in some cases where, in fact, no such reduction is necessary.

I used 120 and 240 volts as the standard input. In reality these can vary from 110 to 125/220-250 volts or so, depending on the resistance and other local power factors. Keep in mind, any change in voltage has an equal effect on the wattage output.

Generally the circuit breaker for the RV shore power is located at the pedestal you plug into. Be sure to switch it off for plugging in or disconnecting the shore power cord.

So, get plugged in and sit back and enjoy.

Peter Mercer – Keeping You Plugged In

Leave a Reply


  1. Vickie

    I am living in my RV in a RVPark. I use there 30 amp pedestal. Do I need to unplug my inverter? I noticed that it is in the off position, put it is making a noise. It is plugged in.

  2. Anonymous

    I am a newbie to RVing and just bought my first class-B. The RV comes with 30-amp cord. How could I shore charge its batteries from my garage outlets. I only have standard home 110v outlets in the garage. Are there adaptors to allow for 30-amp connection. Thank you and kind regards.

  3. Peter Mercer

    Have you checked the GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter)? There are usually one common for a group of duplex outlets. The “Test” and “Reset” buttons can be found on the face of it. Hope this is of help.

  4. Anonymous

    I have no 120v AC in my slide out lights or receptacles. No wiring diagram is available. No circuit breaker are tripped. Possible wiring connection in slide out unit?
    Thank you

  5. Peter Mercer

    Plugging a 30 amp service via a “dog bone” adaptor into a 50 amp RV service will work fine. However, the line from the pedestal to your RV is sized for only 30 amps. Because of this, I can not say it is totally without an element of risk. Providing you only use what would operate on a true 30, all would work fine.
    Are you sure there are not 30 amp service receptacles there? I’ve never seen a camp that has 50 amp service, but no 30. Check and make sure your neighbor is not occupying your 30 service.
    I hope this helps.

  6. Anonymous

    I have a travel trailer with a 30 amp cable. If I encounter a campsite with only a 50 AMP receptacle, can I safely plug into it with an adapter (dog Bone).

  7. Peter Mercer

    Two A/C’s plus appliances? Well, I would think a 5000 watt generator would be the minimum needed, however, I would recommend a 6000 watt or larger. Keep in mind, there are additional loads on your power source such as your battery charger/converter.
    Hopefully this answers your question.

  8. Anonymous

    What size generator should I purchase to run 2 ac units along with appliances, etc?

  9. Peter Mercer

    Yes, 50 amp RV service will run pretty well everything. Two, three, or even four roof air conditioners will operate fine if connected to an RV pedestal supplying 50 amps. Remember that 50 amp RV service actually supplies 100 amps at 120 volts. The roof A/C units operate on 120 volts. I hope this answers your query. Thanks for entering into the discussion.

  10. Anonymous

    I am wondering if you have a class A with 50 amp service and multiple air conditioners, can both be run at the same time from shore power