When you pull into an RV park, ready to plug in your system, you expect to enjoy all the benefits of a full electrical current. You’ll undoubtedly be disappointed when you realize that the plug does not have the right amp. If you arrive ready with your 30-amp cord, and find that only a 50-amp outlet is available, you’ll fear that you will be left without power.
If this is the situation, especially if you are planning to live full-time at this particular RV park, you’ll begin to wonder if you can convert a 30-amp RV into a 50-amp one. If you cannot undergo an entire rerouting of your electrical system, are there ways to adapt to make up for the difference?
In short, yes, you can convert a 30-amp RV into a 50-amp one. However the process is extremely detailed, and includes many technical aspects that may not be accessible to every DIY. In lieu of a deep technical overhaul, there are ways to hook up your 30-amp cord to a 50-amp outlet, or vice versa.
Can You Convert a 30-amp RV to 50-amps?
What is the difference between 30-amp and 50-amp RV service?
It will help you to have an outline of the functions of your RV’s electrical system before you start converting or adapting. While RVs can go up into the 60-amp range, it is most common that you will find them between 30 and 50. Your RV will be wired for one or the other. If you are unsure of what kind of plug you have, consider the size of your rv.
While this isn’t a steadfast, 100% rule, it is common for smaller RVs to be equipped with 30-amp service. If you only have one air conditioning unit, you likely only have a 30-amp service. Check to see if your plug only has a single 120-volt hot pin, a flat neutral, and a round ground pin. If it does, it’s a 30-amp cord.
30-amp service plugs will have a female twist-lock plug with three holes, and a male plug with three pins. The built-in cord has three wires.
Conversely, 50-amp RVs are usually larger, and on the higher end. If your ride is fully souped up with washers and dryers, double acs, and you are able to run multiple electrical appliances at once, you are looking at a 50-amp or higher service. In general, these are usually built into luxury RVs. While that is a rule of thumb, there are exceptions.
The 50-amp models will carry 240 volts, and their female twist lock plugs will have four holes instead of the three found on 30-amp plugs. The male plug of a 50 amp service cord will have four pins; two flat,120-volt pins, a flat neutral pin, and a round ground pin.
The most notable difference between a 30-amp RV and a 50 amp RV is the amount of power that they will bring to the vehicle. A 30-amp RV will be able to deliver 3,600 watts of power, while a 50-amp model will bring you up to 12,000.
Converting Your 30-amp RV Into 50-amp
The process of converting from a 30-amp system into a new 50-amp system has more benefits than just providing you with an additional 20 amps of power. 30-amp systems are referred to as single phase, while 50-amps run on a dual phase. What this means for you is that you are provided two extra legs of 50 amp power – meaning you are really getting about 70 amps total.
The process involves getting inside your distribution panel, changing out the wires, and interacting with the generator and the inverter. You will also need to make changes to the transfer switch and the breakers. This will involve getting atop, inside, and under your vehicle.
The answer to the question ‘can you convert your 30-amp RV into a 50-amp one’ is, technically, yes. However, this is a task that should be left to a professional. Interacting with these electrical components can be potentially dangerous, if not damaging to your RV as a whole. Not to mention, this process takes about 8 hours of labor.
If you are parked at a campsite at 8 PM with dreams of watching the evening news, you are after a solution right now. Thankfully, hope is not lost. With a simple tool that you can locate at a hardware store, you can easily adapt from 30-amp to 50-amp.
Plugging A 30-amp Cord Into A 50-amp Pedestal
Some campers voice a concern that the additional power provided by a 50-amp receptacle will negatively affect their RVs electrical system. On the contrary however, plugging in a 50-amp RV cord into a 50-amp power pedestal, like you’d find at a campground, is perfectly doable. All it will take is a handy plug adapter.
These adapters usually have a male and female end. The female end will plug into your RV cord, while the male end will connect into the plug of the power pedestal. Such adapters are usually referred to as dog bone style, and plug style.
Bear in mind however, that this will not automatically give you the power of a 50-amp system. When your RV is set up for 30-amps, it will only take 30-amps. That is the maximum power you can use, regardless of how you plug it in. While this is useful, allowing you to use some of your appliances and electronics, you won’t have any more power than you usually would.
If needed, you can also find adapters that work the other way around. It’s possible to adapt a 50-amp system to a 30-amp one with a similar tool, you’ll just need to be sure you are buying the right one.
It’s not uncommon, especially when you have a 30-amp RV system, to want a little boost of power to run through your vehicle. Or, even if you are satisfied with the current amount of power that your RV gets, maybe you’ve just arrived at a campsite that does not provide for your type of plug.
In that case, can you convert your 30-amp RV into a 50-amp one? While the answer to this is a resounding yes, it should be noted that this is a difficult process. It involves changing out the distribution panel, rewiring your shore power cords, and more. It would be in your best interest to simply use a cord, namely an adapter, to plug your 30-amp RV into a 50-amp power pedestal.