A new RVer recently asked us how to plug their RV into a standard power outlet at their house so we decided to make a video about the basics of plugging different types of RVs into 20 30 and 50 amp electric outlets.
Large motor homes have 50 amp electric service with mondo four prong plugs like this one. What do we do if the RV park we’re staying in only has 20 or 30 amp electric service, there’s no way our plug is going in there. This is where a great piece of equipment called a dog bone comes in. You can see where it gets its name from since it sort of looks like a dog bone. Now we can take our plug and plug it in to the four prong side of the dog bone and now the three prong side can go into the 30 amp outlet. But what if you don’t even have a 30 amp outlet and all you have is a standard household plug, typically called 20 amp or 15 amp service. That’s where our second dog bone comes in, a 30 amp female plug on one end and a standard three prong 20 amp plug on the other end. Now we simply attach our first dog bone to the second dog bone so we have our big 50 amp plug being stepped down to 30 amp step down to 20 amp.
Now just plug that in to the regular household electric outlet and turn on the power. Always be sure to have the circuit breaker in the off position when plugging or unplugging your RV. Every RV with 50 amp service in their RV with a large four prong 50 amp plug at the end of their electric cord travels with two dog bones, the first to step down to 30 amp service and the second to step further down the 20 amp service. If the electric cord on your RV ends in a three-prong 30 amp plug your RV has 30 amp service and you’ll need this dog-bone if you want to connect the standard 20 amp household electric current.
So larger RVs with 50 amp power plugs need adapters to step down there plug size if 50 amp service isn’t available. There are also RVs with 20 amp plugs and 30 amp plugs but since the two most common types of RV park pedestals offer outlets to accommodate both of those plugs the need to step up the size of an RVs plug isn’t as common but there could be times when you might need to. We’ve already shown you how to step any RV down to a 20 amp plug if you want to plug into a regular household outlet but we have occasionally visited parks with only 30 amp outlets.
if your RV has a 20 amp plug and you want to stay at a park with 30 amp outlets only you’ll need to step up to a 30 amp plug. In 9 years of full-time RVing we’ve only stayed at one park that had only 50 amp outlets but if you should find yourself in a park like that with a 30 amp plug on your RV you’ll need to step up to 50 amps. in the very unlikely event that you stay in a 50 amp only site with a 20 amp plug on your RV you’ll need to step up twice by connecting these two dog bones together. The good news is that not only are dog bone adapters available at really reasonable prices from places like Camping World or Walmart but you’ll find that RV parks sometimes sell them or lend them out with a refundable deposit.
When we’re on 30 or 20 amp service there are limitations as to how much power we can pull at one time. We couldn’t run both heat pumps plus electric hot water at the same time for example. We need to be aware that there are limitations on the electric service in the park. If we were to turn on both of our air conditioners and our electric hot water heater at the same time we would overload the circuit. 20 amp service is the most limiting allowing us to run our hot water heater, our microwave oven or the TV one at a time but not all at once. Be aware of how much power you’re drawing and don’t overload the circuit