30 Amp RVs vs 50 Amp RVs
RV electrical systems can be difficult to understand at first, but it’s important to know what you’ll get when deciding between a 50 amp RV or a 30 amp RV.
Related Product: See how level your RV is using an App on your phone with the LevelMatePro Wireless RV Leveling System (click to view on Amazon)
In this article, I’ll outline some of the key differences to help you get a better understanding of the two.
I’ll talk about what it would take to convert a 30 amp RV to a 50 amp.
Also, why you may hear 50 amp hookups referred to as 100 amp at some RV parks and campgrounds
RV 30 Amp vs 50 Amp Surprising Facts
A 50 Amp RV Get 3x More Power Than A 30 Amp RV
The first and most surprising thing about 50 amp vs 30 amp is that 50 amp RVs get over 3 times as much power as 30 amp RVs.
I know 50 isn’t a number that’s 3 times larger than 30, but the difference is huge.
If you look at it in terms of watts, 30 amp RVs receive 3,600 watts and 50 amp RVs get 12,000 watts.
That’s more than 3x as much power.
The reason for this is the power delivery system.
A 50 amp plug has 4 prongs and 2 of them give 50 amps of power each. A 30 amp only has one prong for power.
I’ll go more into detail about that further on in this article.
50 Amp RVs Can Run Way More Appliances At The Same Time
Another major difference is the number of appliances that can be run at the same time.
A 30 amp RV will barely be able to run one air conditioner and the microwave at the same time.
A 50 amp RV can run 2 air conditioners, the microwave, a washer or dryer, and a TV with no risk for tripping the breaker.
Different Power Centers
A 50 amp RV has two 50 amp circuit breakers (4 wire systems) because two of the wires supply 50 amps of power.
That’s why you can run so many appliances at the same time.
For instance, if you have two AC units, they may be run off of their own circuit and breaker.
That way, they don’t interrupt the use of a microwave and a washing machine, which will be run by a separate circuit and breaker.
A 30 amp RV only has one 30 amp circuit breaker and everything runs off of it.
For instance, a small 13,500 RV AC commonly found in 30 amp trailers will use around 1,600 watts when running and even more when starting up.
A microwave will use around 1000 watts when running. That’s 2,600 watts being used just by two appliances.
If you have your water heater on electric as well, it will use around 1000 watts.
At this point, you will have gone over the capacity of your 30 amp power center and flipped the breaker.
The wiring of the outlets is also very different.
A 30 amp trailer will have fewer outlets than a 50 amp one.
Even if you were to upgrade your 30 amp trailer to 50 amps, the amount of electricity that can be drawn from the outlets is still limited.
The way to get around this would be to add more outlets that are on their own circuit.
This may seem like an obvious one, but I wanted to elaborate on the different plugs.
The plug to a 50 amp RV has 4 prongs because they use a 4 wire system.
There are two prongs that run 50 amps of power each into your RV, which increases the maximum watts that can be used at a time in your RV.
A 30 amp plug has only 3 prongs to run the 3 wire system into one 30 amp breaker.
You can use an adapter to plug a 30 amp RV into a 50 amp outlet because the 30 amp power cord can draw 30 amps of power from the outlet.
Everything in your 30 amp RV will run as if you were plugged into a 30 amp outlet.
All you need is a good 30 to 50 amp RV adapter (click to view on Amazon).
You can plug a 50 amp trailer into a 30 amp outlet using an adapter, but things will run much differently in your RV.
It will be as if you suddenly have a 30 amp trailer. You won’t be able to use as many appliances at the same time as you normally would.
Even though it’s not optimal, 50 amp RV owners still might need to plug into 3o amp outlets every now and again.
Especially at older RV parks or small private ones.
I recommend always traveling with a 50 to 30 amp RV adapter (click to view on Amazon) just in case.
Can I Turn My 30A RV Into A 50A RV?
There are many benefits to having more power in your RV, travel trailer, or 5th-wheel, especially if you are an RV park full-timer who travels or lives in places with full hookups.
If you are a boondocker or dry camper, you won’t need or use the 50 amp capabilities as much because electricity will be limited to battery and solar capacity.
If you currently have a 30A RV and are finding yourself wanting more power, it’s possible to convert to a 50A system or do other things to get more power.
But converting a 30A RV to a 50A RV isn’t as easy as changing the size of the power cord or swapping out the breaker.
People who do this conversion often find that individual circuit breakers flip because the outlet system was only designed to handle 30 amps.
If you upgrade your RV to 50 amps, more outlets that are on their own circuit will need to be added.
Compared to changing over to a 50 amp power center, a simpler way to get more power is to add another 30 amp panel and change the main power cord to a 50 amp one.
You can then add more outlets and connect appliances to the second 30 amp system.
This can be a more affordable way to make your RV capable of running more appliances at the same time.
The electrical systems in RVs are very important to get right.
Unless you are extremely knowledgeable in that area, you shouldn’t try this kind of endeavor without professional help.
Hiring a licensed electrician to do the swap or give advice on how many outlets you should add and how you should transfer the power will be the safest way to turn a 30 amp RV into a 50 amp RV.
What Does 100 Amp Service Mean At An RV Park?
Some RV parks and campgrounds offer what’s called “100 amp service.”
Before I started full time RVing, I used to wonder what kind of RVs use 100 amp service.
After these years, it has now been pointed out to me that 100 amp service means the power pedestal has 50 amp, 30 amp, and 20 amp outlets.
That’s 100 amps if you add them together.
A good quality RV surge protector will stop most kinds of power surges from frying your RV electrical system and appliances.
Every RV owner should have one no matter how many amps their RV is.
For more information on surge protectors like how they work and what outlets you can use them on, plus some of the best options on the market today, check out this article here.
Have questions about 50 amp RVs vs 30 amp RVs? Leave a comment below.