Can I Plug My 50 Amp RV into 110V or 220V? (Yes, But Read This First)

Can I Plug My 50 Amp RV into 110V or 120V

Many RV’ers spend time where the traditional 30 amp and 50 amp RV Park electrical service is not available.  You may be at a friend’s or relative’s house or even where a portable generator provides the power. Can you plug your 50 amp RV into 110V or 220V?

Can I plug my 50 Amp RV into 110V or 220V? Yes, it is possible to plug a 50-amp RV into almost any 120v electrical service and not damage your RV. But 220V service should never be connected directly to your RV.

All RV electrical systems use 120V electrical service. 

I’ll help you to understand how AC electrical current works and how the difference between 110v and 220v service is critical to using your RV electrical hook-up safely.

How to Make the Connection

To make the connection to a standard 110 – 120v outlet used in a home requires several adapters and some knowledge of electricity.  The first things you need are the adapters.

  • A 50 amp female adapter to 30 amp male adapter
  • A 30 amp female adapter to 15 amp male adapter
  • A heavy-duty outdoor extension cord

These adapters are available from almost any RV dealership.  The cost is minimal. A good set of adapters and an appropriately sized extension cord are accessories every RV’er should have on board.

Unfortunately, there is still the matter of the amps.  Your home electrical system only provides 15 amps at a wall outlet.  Your 50 amp RV will quickly overload that 15 amp service and probably open the breaker protecting that outlet. 

HOW TO PLUG IN AN RV AT HOME >> Check out the video below:

What’s the Problem – I Have Big Appliances in my Home Without Problems?

That’s true, but they aren’t all on the same circuit.  Also, many of your home’s big appliances like water heaters, air conditioning units, and electric cookstoves use 220v electrical service and have separate circuits.

The problem is the amps. To understand why this is a problem, you need to understand the big three.

  • Volts
  • Watts
  • Amps

Volts, Watts, and Amps – What’s Going on Here?

The very first thing you need to understand is the relationship of volts, watts, and amps to your RV electrical system. 

Once you understand volts, watts, and amps, you will quickly grasp the problems associated with plugging a 50amp RV into anything other than a 50amp service plug.

Volts – The “Pressure” in the System

If you think about volts in comparison to water in a water hose, volts would be the pressure reading.  In technical terms, volts represent the potential energy that is available in the electrical system.

In an RV AC electrical system, 120v is the standard current.  This 120v is the same used in your home to power most of the electrical devices and appliances.

Amps – How Much Electrical energy is Available

If volts are analogous to water pressure, amps are comparable to water flow. If the water pressure in a water hose is constant, there is only so much flow possible.  

The same is true for electricity.  Amps describe the amount of energy that is available in a circuit at a given voltage.

Related reading: How Many Watts Do I Need to Run a Camper AC? Facts You Need To Know

Watts – A Measure of the Work you Can Expect

Watts expresses the relationship between volts and amps.  In our water system, the amount of work a given water flow at a specified pressure measures in horsepower.

In our electrical circuit, we make this measurement in watts.

What Does This Have to do With My 50 amp RV?

Plenty!  Volts in an electrical system are constant.  The standard for the electrical system in the US is 120v.  120v is the voltage your RV AC electrical system uses. 

The difference is the amperage rating of the RV electrical service and what your home electrical system can provide.

Each appliance in your RV has a required amperage that must be delivered for the appliance to operate correctly.  In an electrical circuit, amps are cumulative. 

30 Amp RV vs 50 Amp RV >> Check out the video below:

The more things you plug into a circuit, the more amperage a circuit must provide.  For example, in your RV, you usually find

  • Air Conditioner – 14.1 amps
  • Battery charger – 8.3 amps
  • DC Converter – 6.2 amps
  • Refrigerator – 6.6 amps
  • Microwave oven – 10.4 amps
  • Television – 3.3 amps

Those are just the standard items found in almost any RV.  The amps required for these standard items add up to 48.9 amps. 

You can easily see why the rating of your RV electrical service is 50 amps.  It is also easy to see why a 15 amp circuit in your home is inadequate for powering your RV.

Then What Are the Options if I Only Have 15 Amps of Service?

Several strategies can avoid problems when there is less amperage available than your RV rating.

  • Reduce the Load – Don’t use anything in the RV other than what is necessary.  Your DC converter will draw about seven amps, no matter what you do.   Keep that in mind.  Your battery charge may draw up to 8 amps.  That puts you near your 15 amp limit.  Adding anything else to the circuit will probably open the breaker on the house electrical system.
  • Find More Service – Some homes have 20 or even 30 amp circuits with outlets for specialized uses.  These specialized uses include larger appliances or tools.  Just be aware that if the appliance or tool is in the circuit, it adds to the total amperage draw in the circuit.
  • Install a 30 or 50 amp circuit – If you intend to keep your RV routinely at this location, the most efficient and economical solution is to have an electrician install a standard 30 or 50 amp circuit.  Having a 30 or 50 amp circuit dedicated to your RV allows you to enjoy all the features and appliances in your RV.

I have a 220 volt Outlet for my Welder.  Can I use that to Run my RV?

Technically, yes, but the required wiring is probably beyond the scope of the average homeowner. 

Outlets configured to deliver 220v should not be used directly for an RV application.  The RV system requires 120 volts. Putting 220 volts into an RV electrical system will damage or destroy the appliances and other systems in the RV.

The better option is to employ a qualified and licensed electrician to install a 30 amp or 50 amp circuit to serve your RV.

Related reading: How Many Batteries Do I Need for My Inverter? [Incl. 8 Examples]

A Word of Caution Before you Start Plugging Things In

Working with AC electrical service is not something that you should undertake lightly. 

120 volts at any amperage is dangerous.  These circuits can deliver a shock that, at best, is painful and, at worst, can be deadly. AC electrical service is not something to be taken lightly.

Rather than put yourself in peril or risk damaging your RV and its systems, the best approach is to hire a qualified and licensed electrician to make the necessary additions and changes to your electrical service.

Using Your RV safely for Your Pleasure

There are many times when you may find yourself using your RV outside the availability of a standard 50 amp or 30 amp RV electrical connection. 

You may be able to use adapters to plug into a standard household outlet provided you reduce the total amps needed.

Using the information in this article and a little common sense is the key to unlocking a wider number of opportunities to use your RV. 

We hope that this information has helped you understand the importance of managing your electrical service and what is required to connect your RV to 110v or 220v electrical service. 

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Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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