By Mark Polk, RV Education 101
What is the difference between a 30-amp and a 50-amp RV electrical system? RVs that don’t have large electrical demands or load requirements use a 30-amp electrical system. There is typically one roof air conditioner, a microwave or a convection oven, a refrigerator, a television, and several outlets throughout the RV. Larger RVs and RVs equipped with two or more roof air conditioners, residential-style appliances, entertainment centers and washers and dryers come equipped with a 50-amp electrical service.
RVs with a 50-amp service have a 4-prong power cord plug. There are two 50-amp 120-volt hot wires, a neutral wire and a ground wire. This is a 120/240 split phase service. The two 50-amp, 120-volt hot feeds supply two separate 50-amp 120-volt legs to the RV’s power distribution box. The electrical load in the RV is balanced between the two 50-amp 120-volt feeds.
If you do the math, 120 volts X 50 amps = 6,000 watts. You double the wattage to 12,000 with two 50-amp 120-volt lines, which, compared to a 30-amp service with 3,600 watts, 12,000 watts is a huge difference. This explains why you can use more electricity in an RV with a 50-amp service.
Since it would take me a while to write out all the differences between the two systems, I figured a video might help explain things better for you. Click below to play.
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For New RVers: Video explains RV electrical system basics