Battle brewing between campers, RV parks on electricity usage


By Andy Zipser

Andy is the owner of the Walnut Hills Campground and RV Park in Staunton, Virginia.

You’d think most adults would realize that nothing is free. You’d be wrong.

Under the headline “Newbie LP conservation tips,” RVTravel recently counseled readers to “conserve propane by switching on your electric water heater instead of propane.” It further suggested that another way to conserve propane is to “use an electric space heater instead of the furnace to stay warm.”

Elsewhere, the advice has been more blatant, with RVers encouraging others to use electric heaters when at campgrounds because the electricity is “free,” unlike the propane that would otherwise keep them warm.

Battle brewing between campers, RV parks on electricity usageMeanwhile, the February issue of Woodall’s Campground Management — a monthly trade publication targeted at campground owners — concurrently ran an article headlined, “More Owners Metering Sites as Cost of Electricity Continues to Climb.” The subhead quotes Wade Elliott, owner of Utility Supply Group, a major supplier of electric pedestals and related campground equipment, as saying that “somebody coming in to spend a night or two” is “going to use as much electricity in those two nights as the person staying for an extended period.”

Clearly, then, there’s a collision in the making between campers trying to save on costs and campground owners unwilling to pay for those savings.

Back in the day, when electricity was relatively cheap and campground electric demand was modest enough to be met with 20 amp service, there was no more reason to meter kilowatt consumption than there was to measure water usage. Yet both those variables have changed. Twenty amp service is anachronistic, 30 amp will serve only the smaller end of the market, and even 50 amps is becoming insufficient for some of the most power-hungry behemoths. The cost of electricity, meanwhile, climbed 15% over the past decade.

The combination of rising costs and rising demand is now threatening the underlying concept of bundled services that is typical of most campgrounds. We already have campers demanding a la carte pricing, claiming that they shouldn’t have to pay for amenities they’re not going to use, be it WiFi or the swimming pool.

Now they may find the same logic biting them back, as campground owners conclude they’ll be better off charging a separate fee for each service and utility. Taken to its extreme, perhaps we’ll see a revival of once ubiquitous coin-operated showers!

Walnut Hills RV Park
Andy’s Walnut Hills Campground and RV Park in Staunton, Virginia

ONE POSSIBLE RESPONSE, of course, is for campground owners to raise site rates across the board to cover their increased electric costs. But that means simply that the cost of “free” electricity consumed by some RV campers is spread among all RV campers — including, ironically, the same bunch who want to pay for everything on an a la carte basis. Moreover, spreading the costs in this fashion encourages the kind of wastefulness that results from the “but it’s free” mentality.

That isn’t a merely speculative observation. At our campground, all our monthly sites are metered — but in addition, every time we replace a pedestal we do so with a metered one. As a result, we have some pretty interesting data to compare usage patterns between those who pay directly for what they consume — our month-to-month campers — and our overnighters, who don’t.

The upshot? Those who don’t pay for electric consumption use nearly twice as much juice as those who do.

Right now those metered overnight sites are like that for our own internal monitoring purposes. But as our costs keep rising — our monthly electric bill currently averages a bit more than $6,000, which is a whole mess of overnight fees — the thought of electric usage fees is never far from our minds.

Your comments are welcome.

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T Hartman

Do RV parks charge different rates for summer users than for winter users? Of course not. So why should they complain about heating with electricity during the winter any more than they would complain about AC usage? They know that restricting AC usage will cost them customers. I feel that I am paying an upcharge for a site with 50 amp electric service, to use that same service should be expected. Metering for daily users is going to just be an excuse to hit renters with exorbitant electrical charges.


We operate a little Mom and Pop resort, with 5 seasonal cabins and 14 campsites in northern MN, and are relatively new to the RV thing. At $159.75 a pop for meters, it’s easier for us to charge an across the board fee for electric. That being said, I cringe when I see/hear the A/C running in a camper in August, and the tenants aren’t even in camp! The occasional tenant, who lives 150 miles away and comes once or twice a month, paying the same as the local who’s here daily is a travesty, but what are we to… Read more »


I have no problem with metered sites when we travel. Yes, take a pic of the meter before and after. Hopefully, if the park is metered, the pedestals should be up to electrical standards for our safety. The only reason I would leave the A/C on is because we have 2 cats that stay in the camper when we leave for a few hours, and the outside temp is hovering between 90 degrees and 110 degrees West of the Mississippi. Meter the sites.\!

Gwyn Blake

Here is my spin on this matter. I have no problem with a meter. However the RV parks or resort has lets say established a fee of 700.00 a month with electric . Ok now the same parks are going to meter your electricity and not adjust down for the built in charge they have on electricity . The parks are becoming very greedy due to supply and demand. It will force more folks to boondock or completely give it up. Hope this makes sense!

John Koenig

I would PREFER to be at a metered site. Pay a lower “base rate” for the site and then, pay only for the electricity that I use. I expect that many parks would have to upgrade their pedestals (which should be a good thing). I’ve used metered sites in the past and know to take a meter reading before I plug in (I snap a photo on my iPhone). I snap a second photo when I unplug. Show the photos to the camp office staff and, I pay for just the electricity that I used.

Peter T Morgenstern

I am a full timer and I travel from campground to campground never staying more than a month at any one campground and I’ve seen all examples of utility misuse: air conditioners running all day when occupants are out sightseeing all day; watching people washing dishes with full sinks and the water running full blast to rinse; awning lights and bogey lights running all night. How many of these people would chastise family members for doing the same thing at the old stick n mortar? My father used to do that lot! Why do we think we are owed something… Read more »

Mike Sokol

I predict that more and more campgrounds are going to begin metering, so best to arm yourself with calculations. If anyone is interested I could write an iPhone app or create an online spreadsheet that would compare the cost of propane and electricity, plus factor in an efficiency rating for each brand and model of RV furnace. That would give you a SWAG (Scientific Wild A** Guess) to determine if it’s more expensive to heat with electricity or propane at a particular campground. Yeah, I know you want the app to be free, but apps cost money to publish so… Read more »

Sherri L

Have the rv park fee include a reasonable amount of electricity. If you use more than the baseline, you pay more in fees. There is no free lunch.


Force me to deal with the hassle of meter reading and seperate payments for less than a one week stay and I will simply go elsewhere.

Gwyn Blake

I believe elsewhere will follow suit eventually.


I have a 34′ pull behind. We are the old breed of camper that like to be out in nature. We have watched the fees soar over the last few years. I feel it is due to supply and demand. More campers and deeper pockets. This in itself has hammered the moderate income family camper. I think there should be a baseline of power usage that is gratuitous for the fees charged. The challenge is real to give that old fashion camping experience to the younger generation. Let’s use some thoughtfulness when making these decisions.

Gwyn Blake


Big Bear

My view is that electricity, water, maintenance and so on are all part of being in business. If the owners start charging for everything separate it will just be a mater of time and they will increase the cost of utilities to make a profit on them. If I don’t want to pay electric does that give me the right to run my generator. Will the owners lower the lot rental cost because I now pay my own electric? I don’t think so. In my view it’s no different than an all you can eat buffet. If I choose to… Read more »


Sounds totally fair to me…..we are adults, and should be willing to take responsibility for our behavior! I would accept metering, because I appreciate having nice RV parks to go too…..

Bill Lampkin

Andy, How do costs compare between o’nighters and extended stay on a month by month basis? I would bet that in Aug, or other summer months, both use the same amount.

JON Scott

And then you have those Bad Bad RV manufactures that are selling ALL electric coaches like “hot cakes” !!

Tom Seim

As a tenant of an RV park, I expect to fully pay for the costs of my visit, and I am happy to do so. However, I get irritated when something is promised, but not delivered. This happens when the pool is shut down or, worse, the bathrooms are out of order. I am shocked to learn that some RVers use more electricity than others! What is next, monitoring the number of times we visit the bathrooms, or how long we use the showers? RV park managers should concentrate on how to make visits by tenants more pleasant, and less… Read more »

Shelley S

Overnight campers may use more electricity in a 24 hr period than those paying monthly but an overnight stay per night is more costly than a monthly rent divided by 30 nights therefore, if the RV Park owner takes that into account, I might conclude that the extra electric is already being paid for. Also, we have been in parks that add a surcharge onto the rate per kWh that the park is being charged by the electric provider. In some states, that is illegal and one particular park that we were staying in, when discovered the owner of the… Read more »


Plus when we make reservations through Reserve America we have to pay added fees on top of our camping fees. Then some parks throw on added fees too, some of us only camp as our relaxation time, and live on fixed income so like to keep the costs as low as possible. I will add we try to be conservative just as we are at home…????


We need more SOLAR users !

Robin Dmochowski

While I can understand where the owner is coming from, I completely disagree with raising rates across the board. The only “fair way” to levy an additional fee is to take the average of the Monthly renters and use that as an average to compute a “per day” daily average. If that per day average is exceeded by anyone (this includes the Monthly renters if they are not metered) then they get charged the difference on the per day average. My only reservation with this is that there are many “seasonal renters” that are only at the campgrounds for the… Read more »

John Wayne

Cost of electricity used to be figured in, so don’t you think it should be figured out before we start getting charged for the usage we incur? Seems like double dipping to me…..


I usually dry camp, and rely on my batteries and small solar. But sometimes it’s a treat to have power, sewer, and water. However, if you are going to meter electricity, then the basic camp fee should be lowered. Then people just pay for the electricity they use. For those of us in a small RV, with very little electrical usage, other than for lights and maybe a toaster, we shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the giant RVs with dishwashers, washer/dryers, a tv in every room, blenders, ice makers, coffee makers, vaccums, big air conditioners, etc that suck… Read more »

Mitchell Dennett

Andy I’d be interested in hearing what you think my nightly fee should include. You upcharge for sewer’s and 50 amp service. You upcharge for premium sites. You upcharge for those users who are being billed for their power. Finally if you were to assume 50% occupancy your electric bill is 80.00 per site per month. less than 2 nights revenu. I understand this is crude but to have a serious conversation additional data is needed. When the coin box appears on the bathroom stall I’m done with my RV. Your enjoying great prosperity with all the RV’s being built… Read more »

DL Johnson

For us, a metered pay-what-you-use connection would be great. We have a small 24-foot class B coach. We use electricity just as we would at home, which is to say, conservatively. We turn off the water heater between uses (hand-washing dishes or short showers). We set the thermostat down very low at night or turn it completely off. In short, we treat electrical use like a precious commodity that has an overall “cost” and impact to the community and the environment. We sometimes question why a smaller rig like ours should incur the same camping fee as that of the… Read more »

Edward Dmochowski

DL, you don’t have to. Go Boondocking. The problem with your analogy is that there are different fees for different site sizes and amenities. So that usually covers the difference in RV Size. The other side of that is that even though you are conservative in what you consume, everyone else isn’t. I don’t suppose there will ever be a solution that will be satisfactory to everyone.

D M Sims

DL Johnson…We have a Class A, 45′ motorhome and we use power, sewer, and water just as you do…conservatively, just as we did at our Florida home.


I understand the desire to meter electricity for long-term campers; they get a discounted site fee anyway. But if short-term stays are costing you more, then bump up your nightly fees. And most campgrounds already do charge more if you ask for a 50amp site, so this should be taken care of already if you’re a savvy businessman. I hate getting to a campground and finding out they have surcharges for this, that and the other. I really don’t think you should be trying to emulate the airline industry, where the final cost after all the surcharges ends up being… Read more »

Mark Gipson

We are starting our 7th year as Full-Timers and never considered electricity “free”. We assume it is part of our daily site fee and are using the electricity we have paid for. If a park owner is “giving electricity away” it is either by choice, oversite, or poor management.

Casper Naegle

I am curious about your data.. You say that nightly renters or those who don’t pay directly for electricity use nearly twice as much as those who do pay. I would like to understand if you track the type of rigs and service they require as part of your data? (i.e. 30Amp vs. 50Amp). I would guess that your nightly users are in larger rigs that use more service than your long term renters and that it is not simply a matter of trying to use more or being more efficient. If you don’t have enough profit in your campsite… Read more »

Mike Sokol

Remember, a “50-amp” shore power connection is actually two separate 50-amp legs which is 100-amps of current at 120 volts. That’s why the maximum power you can supply from a 30-amp shore power outlet is 30 amps x 120 volts = 3,600 watts, while the max power you get from a “50-amp” outlet is 50 amps x 2 legs x 120 volts = 12,000 watts. Also remember that the National Electrical Code, the maximum continuous amperage you can pull through a circuit breaker (and associated wiring and connectors) is 80% of the nominal value. So that’s 24 amps continuous (2,880… Read more »

Robert C. Wix

The issue that campground visitors ignore is that park owners pay for the electric to be there 24/7 even when it is vacant. There is still a meter charge from the electric company. I f you want electric then pay for it.

Michael Allen

My wife and I have been on the road for the last 10 months, staying in campgrounds across the country. We require 50 amp service to provide electricity to meet our needs in each campground we stay in (39 to date). I make the reasonable assumption that the campground owner is smart enough to charge a fee that allows the recovery of all expenses plus a profit margin. The nightly rates we have payed across the country have certainly been high enough to cover our electricity usage. It sounds to me like this park owner doesn’t really understand how to… Read more »

Rich Dzialo

We are in Florida for six months. Our electric is metered. We have a 50 amp service Class A motorhome. With our water heater, air conditioners, combo washer/dryer, convection oven, electric fireplace, supplemental space heater, and lighting and residential fridge our monthly cost has not yet reached more than $2.50 per day. As I am thinking about it, our lot fee increased by $35 per month for a monthly surcharge by the electric company. That’s an added $1.17 to my daily usage fee which will total $3.67 daily. Just some food for thought.


Says electric rates have gone up 15% in the last 10 years yet campground fee’s have increased about 50-100% in those same 10 years how come?

Vanessa Simmons

I’m supposed to stand around on the day I check out waiting for someone to read my meter and determine the bill!

Europe used to charge you for hot water…feed it a shilling, farthing, deutsche mark to get hot water.


It really amazes me to read about anyone urgeing folks to save on propane costs and sticking it to the campground then turn right around and gripe about the high cost of campsites. All of this from scrooge’s running around the country in $20,000 to $750,000+ RV’s !! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though, we have become a free, free, free society who want everything given to them as if it’s some sort of ‘right’ but expect everyone else to pay up. I believe that it is unconscionable and disingenuous for any individual or organization to promote this type… Read more »

Jane Parker

No different than it will be when healthcare is “free” or college is “free” or any of the other popular vote-buying schemes being touted today. People will not attempt to keep the costs low if they aren’t paying directly.

Donald J Randall

Just charge for the electric. Duh!
I live for months at a time in the desert. I don’t need to pay for other people’s electric usage.


Personally, If I had a choice of two RV parks, one charging extra for full hookups and one charging nothing extra, I would always choose the RV park who DIDN’T charge extra for full hookups. If the operator nickles and dimes the campers to death, it merely encourages campers to seek out the competition who has a better handle on costs.

D M Sims


Mike Sokol

Charging for electricity at the going rate the campground pays the utility company doesn’t do anything to pay for the campsite power pedestal maintenance. And paying a campground for electricity that’s under 100 volts is just crazy. In fact, they shouldn’t be able to call it a powered campsite unless it can meet basic NEC requiments for voltage and grounding. This all takes money, which does take a certain amount of management will to implement. Now I understand there’s really no way to force a campground to allocate even 1% of their revenue towards electrical system maintenance and updates, so… Read more »


In my mind I would rather it be “free” but we all know it’s part of the site cost. My problem with putting a meter in and charging separate for electricity is the campgrounds charge their own rates and do not follow the public service commission rates. They add a cost to the price. I cannot see how that is legal. If they charge the legal rates then I can agree with metering. As far as upkeep of meters, the campgrounds need to include that in the agreed upon fee.


I stay at a seasonal site in Pennsylvania for the summer. I pay $885 for the six month stay plus electric. My electric bills run anywhere from $27 to $35 a month. I call that a bargain all the way around. My camper has a 30 amp power source.

Michael McCracken

Wow!! That is a fantastic rate. Not sure what the park looks like? Better stay put and not travel around. This is the cheapest rate I have ever heard of.

Robbie Posner

That seems to be a cost of about $1 a day for electric. I’d be willing to pay an extra dollar a day for electric.


I agree with some who said go ahead and raise your fee per night. Cover the cost but the minute that you start using resort fees and meterelectric then you become know better than a hotel. I’ll just sell my art rig. some places we have stated are doing like hotels and charge a regular rate per night and then when you get in there they charge fees per day. Not worth it to me anymore.


I’m glad I boondock. I have everything I need and always find a place to park. No vacancy problems, no pedestal issues, sewer or water. No noise from other campers or their families and or pets, just the two of us enjoying nature. If I want to swim I look for a quiet lake or stream maybe even thermal waters. Starry nights and peace and quiet.


isn’t always the easy when traveling across country.


You don’t pay your share of electricity at a hotel so why a campsite? This nickel and diming just adds to stress of what should be a relaxing event. Raise your nightly rate if you are not profitable just like you would if your landscape or water costs spiked. If I have to swipe a credit card for electric AND check in like a hotel for a parking spot, then I will just park at a rest stop and run my generator. Ps a 15% increase over a decade is below average cost of living increases. Campers wanting a la… Read more »




I was wondering when camps would start some pushback on “free” electric use. I pay $150 + a month for electricity at home. That averages $5+ a day. Double that to cover inefficient insulation in RVs. Double that to cover the cost of distributed delivery in a campground and you can see how it eats thru the profits and into upkeep. I’m sure that there’s more I don’t know about owning a campground. But “free” anything is a myth.

Robert Olson

Has anyone done a comparison of the cost difference between using all electric vs propane stove, furnace, hot water, and refridge.?

D Nethercott

Frig is about a dollar a day on electric @ .15 per hwh

Jarod Micheal Howard

It fascinates me that the blame is on people utilizing a service you literally acknowledge as often-included instead of the sites suggesting using power or the companies who grossly overcharge utilities. Those are fascinating priorities.

Anthony Joel Vinson

I absolutely do not agree with the electric metering. There are alot of places that you just don’t get value for money and then charge for the electricity on top of that? Now, if your long term, then I can see it…maybe.

Mike Sokol

Electricity from the power company is WAY cheaper than running your own generator, even if the electric power was marked up by a campground to help pay for the infrastructure. Back in the ’70s when the big gasoline crunch was happening, my boss and I at Corning Glass worked up a comparison chart showing the cost and energy equivalence of a gallon of gas with a gallon of electricity, etc… Would be interesting to come up with a similar chart showing the equivalent cost of a KWH of electricity in comparison with the cost of propane, gasoline in a high… Read more »


A gallon of electricity?

Mike Sokol

Yes, it’s actually a pretty simple set of calculations. First, you figure out how much energy in BTUs is in a gallon of fuel oil, then use that to calculate the equivalent amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline, gallon of diesel and lb of propane. You also convert BTU into Kilowatts to find how many KHW of electrical energy is equivalent to a gallon of fuel oil (or whatever). Once you have the equivalent amounts of gasoline, diesel, propane and electricity, you simply plug in the current cost of these energy sources, and voila: Now you know how… Read more »

Just saying....

Mike, I would defer to your vast accumulated knowledge of electrical/RV usage however I would point out that if anyone is interested just go to the many RV forum sites such as the Foretravel and Monaco forums (mostly bigger Class A’s that are energy hogs). There are a tremendous amount of discussions and threads on this very topic. Many that have been written by retired electrical contractors, propane industries executives and I have even seen some done by theoretical physicists using math calculations to determine cost and other associated factors. Point being is that there are way to many factors… Read more »

Nick DiPietro

Charging $ 50 and up for one nite. Just what am l supposed to get for my money. A parking spot ? I can stay in a rest area for free if all l am getting for my money is a place to park.


So true. The nightly rate should encompass all these extra things. Seems like park owners want the nightly rate to be all profit and then make you pay your share of electric, maybe water, etc. on top of that.


I pay for electricity at home so why not at a campsite. To avoid the long lines upon exit I see each pedistal with a card reader. Swipe your card and select the number of kilowatt hours. I also think the campground owners should have to post the price charged per kilowatt hour at the entrance to the park and on their website. Placed along side their rate should be the electric company’s current rate. If they want us to pay, and I’m not opposed to that, they need to buy into this situation too.


Ok then let’s put a card reader at the pool, hot tub, walking trails, dog park and the beach…. Don’t forget water, sewer and trash. I mean you pay for water, sewer, garbage and electric at home so why not at a campsite? Oh wait… What about wifi? Here’s why! The campsite competition is not your home! It’s hotels, vacation rentals and Air bnb etc. Do you pay separately for electricity at those? How about at cabins at the same campground? NOPE! Pro tip. You are already paying for electric and other amenities in your campsite fee. Do you really… Read more »


I completely understand the variance of utility usage between guest. I own a vacation rental home. Some guests are there very little, others a lot. Some like it cold, some warmer I would never think it wise to penalize one guest from the other based on their comfortable use of the home. There is no way I would want meter their usage. I evaluate costs on a regular basis and adjust rates accordingly. That’s what every business does when calculating fixed costs. Isn’t it already set up that larger sites with higher amp service pay more and visa versa. That’s… Read more »

D M Sims

Well said Linda. I’m already paying a higher price at my current campground because its Florida in March. And they are charging for electric because I’m staying 1 month. The day I leave the daily rate drops significantly. :-/


Simple math… at “melt my plug” amperage, my 30A trailer can theoretically drink a maximum $8 of electricity in a 24 hour period. That would be carefully balancing loads to keep at full draw without popping the breaker, all through the night and all day. A lot of work to get my full $8 of electricity! I’m charged $5 per day typically for electric, so absurdity would say i’m gaining $3 of electricity. Not worth my time to stay up all night and stay in all day for $3. But, I have a meter IN my RV, so I have… Read more »


All great points ignored in these “meter every site” posts. If you meter electric…. Meter every amenity. If the logic applies to electric it applies to ALL. For all the moron advocates of this practice, (which with increased maintenance costs of all the meters and readers, would be less profitable, not more) I propose a “pain in the ass meter” be placed at my site for these tunnelvisioned mathtards to reimburse me for the unnecessary ass whip.

Wenddy Wenner Busk

I’m dry-camping in Arizona this winter where it’s warm. Not this winter.Temps in the 30s overnight for too long drove me to an RV park with full hookups so I could use my space heater. However, since my travel trailer (a Casita) is only 17 feet long, it heats up within minutes. On the other hand, I was paying the same as the enormous sunblockers that probably use four times the electricity that I do. Why should I subsidize them? If you want to keep your electric bill low, I suggest you charge by the RV foot. You may end… Read more »


I guess cold natured people in hotels in the summer are subsidizing the hot natured, since they run the AC more at the same room rate. Oh and you used the bathroom facilities more than the motorhome a few sites over so you should pay for that. They don’t want to “subsidize” your usage. If they did use 4x the electric of your casita…at 20 kwh per day a $0.12 per kwh we are talking $2.40 per day vs your $0.60 and that’s a big If. This ignores the fact that higher end coaches have more energy efficient appliances, insulation… Read more »


For a long time I have said if I open the campground it would be complete a la carte pricing if you wanted the basic campsite it would be $X you want to use the power pedestal there it would be coin or credit card operated where you plug in and you pay for how much you want to use same with water and the dump station everything would be coin or credit card operated so you pay for what you use and I think that would be the most fair thing to the campground owner and to the RV… Read more »


IAs a 7 year full timer you see many charging schemes by owners and hear complaints about rate methods by RVers- At the end of the day owners must make a profit and RVers will stay where they can aford. What customers do you want? Some are so cheap they take sugar for personal use from camp ground coffee supplies—I have observed this odd behavior o occasionally. Complex or trying to please a few complainers pricing strategies will just generate more work, longer lines and time AND more unhappy customers. Decide what you need and charge accordingly. Some RVers are… Read more »


I’m good with à la carte (as a 50 amp user) metered usage, but in an fairy tale ideal world (where every thing is fair, wink wink!) make it for everything in the campground. As many have said, many “features” of campgrounds we do not use, (public showers/bathrooms, pools, cable etc). We camp mostly in the hot and humid gulf coast where both ac’s are usually running wide open… should we get a discount on electricity if the camp ground does not provide enough “shade” at our particular parking spot? Should the camp ground charge more if the top of… Read more »


You have a good valid point about the ‘shade’. A couple of strategicly placed shade trees located at each site would help to reduce electric use immensely. The initial cost of the trees wouldn’t be cheap but in the long run it would pay off, and help beautify the CG, giving birds a home, etc.

Michael Latham

Just don’t place the trees in an area that is going to block my satellite dish.

Edward Price

I would imagine that metered pedestals would use an electronic meter which “talks” back to the campground’s central computer. At time of check-in, the clerk “reads” the electric meter via the computer link. Then, at check-out, a second reading is made and the net kWh is calculated and charged at whatever rate is current.


So, you raise the rate per night a bit. Maybe more for a large rig that “demands” 50 amp service (all electric) and a little less for 30 amp and even less for 15/20 amp. If a CG wanted to cover the $6 k it would take 50 sites occupied 25 nights a month with an additional cost of $5 to cover the $6k bill completely. A rate increase of $2.50 a night covers about half that bill. This is a “quick formula” that doesn’t reflect season or weather. Metering for actual cost would be great but that would add… Read more »


Talk about unfair. since my 13 foot scam is so small I get shoved into tiny spaces yet I pay exactly the same rate at the huge units with slide outs. I consume far less utilities too but that also is never taken into consideration. I parked at Landing Resort in Zephyr hills Florida next to trailer who had a slide out on my side and two picnic table on the other which gave her no space left to park. I was FORCED by the manage of Landing Resort, in Zephyrhills Fl to either move or allow her to park… Read more »

Lydia Bishop

I see no problem with RV campgrounds charging for electricity. As long as they charge the same rate a local rate payer is charge for electricity. In other words, if the neighborhood homes and businesses adjacent to the campground are charged a certain rate, then the campground charges the same. NO MARK-UPS allowed. Some apartment complexes meter the water usage of each unit, and bill the tenents. The apartments add a mark-up on the water! The renter is charged more for water than the single family home next door! That is wrong. As to the suggestion of using city streets… Read more »

Richard Hubert

What about administration fees? What about markups for services provided? Park owners are running a business, and as such are entitled to cover their operating costs as well as making a profit. As electricity becomes a larger operating cost for parks due to rising electricity rates and increased RV demands then park owners are justified in covering these costs. But no park owner ever went into that business expecting to become a millionaire. But they do need to make some money so they can maintain the park, hire employees and justify their own time in dealing with government regulations, insurance,… Read more »


Cost for the utility distribution should be covered by the cost the campsite. Utility cost should just be the cost of that utility without any upcharge.

Cathy Stephens

Thank you! It isnt easy making everything come out evenly and please everyone. But we try.

John T

Federal law prohibits marking up electricity rates. Any campground that marks it up is breaking the law, and should be reported immediately to the local electricity utility.

Edward Price

Can you cite that Federal Law?


I know from working in campgrounds we could never charge more then the electric companies charge the park but I thought it was a state or local law. So would not surprise me if it was a federal law.

Bill Semion

Pretty simple . I just walked by a diesel pusher. The owners had both their air conditioners running and the front door wide open. Would they do that at home? Solution: charge big rigs a surcharge for the: fireplaces, 3-5 TVs, and home-style zero degree fridge/freezer side-by-side. Charge smaller RVs a smaller surcharge. Charge pop-ups and campers less because they use less. If you plan to be totally on solar, charge less. Call it an RV user fee. Easy. Much cheaper than having someone at the campground walk each sites each day to monitor use. Not to mention the installation… Read more »


Did I miss it anywhere in the comments of the disparity between monthly site rental and overnight rental. Yes the monthly is a lot cheaper if you average it out per night but you pay your own electricity. You pay a lot more for one nighters that is way over the amount of electricity you will use.


Just spent a month in Yuma. Never used the a/c or electric heater; used propane. Electric bill was $100.+! We conserved as much as possible too. 17 cents per kwh. Weather was cool too! 40 ft mh


The summer we worked at a campground in NH we were billed by the city utility. Once you added all the taxes to the usage it came out to 35 cent a KWH.

Richard Hubert

One alternative I see is for more RV parks to offer reduced or no services stays. Provide more sites for boondocking and let the RVs staying there be self-sufficient on their propane systems, solar, and/or generators. As many have said here they do not really use or care about typical “resort” amenities so why pay for them anyway? Many RV parks we have stayed at seem to have extra space which could easily accommodate space for boondockers, and often that is all we need – a place to safely and legally park our rig for the night.

Sink Jaxon

I totally agree, a lot of us are pretty self-sufficient. With solar, propane and good batteries..what is most important for us is a safe space and the all important dump station!

D M Sims

I would agree with more boondocking spaces. We often need a safe place to pull off the hiway for the nite. We can be self-sufficient for the night in our Class A, 45′ motorhome. Many Walmarts are getting too congested to pull in with our rig & tow and work around all the parking lot cars & planters. 🙁


We recently stayed at Tombstone Territories, a lovely RV park a few miles from Tombstone, that charged for electricity for overnight guests. All this is clearly explained on their website. We managed our electricity use (such as charging batteries with solar panels and only using AC power when absolutely necessary). I think our electricity cost was only around $5 for 4 nights (during cold weather in February). I think this is a great model, as long as park operators don’t overcharge and fully disclose the policy and rates.


And you think that $1.25 per day you paid offset the installation, maintenance and operation costs of a metering system? Again… A solution looking for a problem. Charging $5 more per site for a site with electric vs without solves it without unnecessary meters and the upkeep that goes along with it. Monitor your monthly per site usage and tweak site fees accordingly otherwise we will be putting meters in ketchup dispensers at burger joints to make sure everyone is paying their “fair share” regardless of the cost to implement and maintain.

Tony King

If a Park is going to charge extra for Electric I’m all for having a meter. I’m not wasteful and try and conserve if I’m in my RV Camping or At Home. Let the wasteful people pay more. If a lot of you owned a RV Park you would have a different point of view I’ll guarantee you.

Richard Hubert

Having attended many RV shows over the years – most recently the Tampa RV Supershow – the trend in many RVs is towards totally fully electric units. The logic is – since many, many new RVs now offer residential refrigerators which are electric powered only, larger battery banks and inverters must be included in order to power them. Since the RV now has more battery capacity many RVs now also include induction cooktops. Having gone this far some manufacturers have opted to totally eliminate the propane system entirely, fitting electric hot water heaters and electric heaters instead of propane or… Read more »


Interesting discussion. There has to be a balance somewhere. I have seen campgrounds fight to make a profit and finally give up and sell the land for development. They are in business to show a profit. Each side should look at it from the other viewpoint, then try to come up with a solution that works for both sides. Otherwise everyone loses.

Richard Hubert

This is all irelevant if the Democrats implement AOC’s New Green Deal – because all RV’s will become illegal since they are gas or diesel powered. That means no one will be able to drive to any RV parks anyway. So the RV industry is totally forced out of business – no more RV production, no more RV dealers, no more RV parks. For that matter most of the entire travel & vacation industry is also killed off because most will not be able to drive or fly anywhere.


This is not a forum for political commentary. Call into Rush Limbaugh’s Show that!

Richard Hubert

Proposed Political actions will have direct and immediate impacts on my RV and the RV industry. Therefore – these kinds of government proposals are most certainly relevant to an RV discussion thread.

Wayne quick


Wayne quick

AOC fan are you?

Sink Jaxon

HAHA! won’t happen…ever. Think of everything that runs on fossil fuel…from weed wackers to hospital back up generators. The entire farming and trucking industry that feeds the nation as a whole?’s fantasy my friend!

Leroy Stephenson

I don’t see where there is any battle brewing here. People will quit staying at RV parks if they decide the costs of conveniences are too steep. Plenty of Walmarts, truck stops, city parks, and city streets out there as well as a whole RV crowd accustomed to getting as much as they can while paying as little as possible for it. They should keep in mind that the owner of an RV park isn’t in it to provide a service without any concern for profit. Only the government can do that.


Are you nuts? Camping on city streets and parks is ILLEGAL in many jurisdictions. Because of vagrancy issues Walmarts are banning overnight camping. Have you seen what’s happening in Seattle with the vagrants in RVs camping on streets and parks?

Thomas Becher

If you have a $6000 Bill than it means you have something using power which means you have people at your business. No Bill means no people. If I plugged in my heater on high it used 1 1/2 kilowatt. Our per kw charge is 10 cents so the heater costs 15 cents an hour. A 10 hour run ( never shutting off) is $1.50 Site is ??. $40 a night. I think you can afford it. How much power is allotted to your campgrounds for street lights signage,pool filter motors, water pumps shower heaters? And the list goes on.… Read more »

Tommy Molnar

The issue I have with metering is, I guess you have to wait to leave in the morning until someone comes out to check your meter. Or, if there’s some high tech way they can read your meter from the office, you STILL have to go to the office in order to check out. And, what if you want to leave EARLY in the morning before the office opens?

Otherwise, I really don’t have an issue. Our 30 amp old fashioned travel trailer doesn’t use much power anyway.

Bill J

+1 on this post. I don’t understand how this (metering) would work in the real world. No one wants to wait in a morning checkout line while a runner goes out in his golf cart to read your meter. And as Tommy notes, early departure seems impossible unless some sort of pre-payment is done. Among all the theoretical and theatrical posts here, none seems to address this issue. Only four approaches seem practical (to me). 1. The campground eats the charges (meaning raises the rates). 2. The campground adds a non-negotiable surcharge at check-in based on the size of the… Read more »


Actually, it’s a very simple process. We just left a campground that metered our electric. They provided the rate (.13), and, before we left in the early AM, we simply subtracted the initial reading from the reading when we disconnected.

Easy to calculate – I wrote a check and left it in the payment slot. Only took ~5 minutes.


So now I have to write a check? And go over to the office to depart? For a one night stay?? I will go elsewhere. Completely ridiculous.

Terry O'Keefe

I worked for an electric utility for almost 30 years.I always told people I hated to recirculate my pay check,so we watched our usage as much as possable.
Having said that and knowing usage and rates,I know that ten million of those led lights sending a signal to some other planet use power,as do all that other light pollution that everyone has decided is needed for 24 hours a day of light!
We all could use a little restraint and just accept that as stated before,nothing is free

Dave Pellegrino

I think the base cost of the campground fee should include a certain amount of electricity. Any overages should then be added to the campground fee. The campground should NOT pad the electric fee to make addtl money. The amount of “included electricity” should be set for the daily/weekly/monthly camper. The power company’s electricity fees should be posted or disclosed to every camper upon checking in. The meters should be certified yearly by the power company.
Policies will have to be in place for discrepancies between campers using their own devices to measure/determine electric usage & what the campground indicates.


So basically every camps should go solar but it’s to expensive to do that so until the oil and pg&e dies it will always be expensive. Even when solar takes over those creeps will still have their claws in congress to keep us paying.

Steve flippo

If I ran an rv camp I would consider a $10 per day surcharge for 50 amp rvs. I know I’m old fashioned, but I think some of the diesel pushers and huge fifth wheel rigs are overcrowding campsites and congesting everything. It’s like when you take an airline seat and realize delta airlines has sandwiched you between a couple of 400 pound sweaty travelers chowing down on jalapeno garlic chips. I like the simpler things.


So gross! So true! Aisle seats for me!


With so many new RVs being built with all-electric appliances, those of us with propane are going to be paying extra. We’ll ignore it all and just continue boondock instead paying those high prices, and just hope RV parks will come to their senses and realize that some money is more than no money.

Fred Kelley

Beautiful RV Park on the lower Rogue river,OR., stayed a week. Rate plus electric. We used electric heat in AM. Cost; rate plus electric, electric was about $4.00. This a fair system.

Rick Sorrenti

Why not do as all marinas do is charge a daily rate for 30 or 50 AMP service….most RV park owners can quickly determine what that daily off set rate should be…..I would say $3/day…


It normally cost me between $5 to $10 a night for one 30 amp plug at the marina. Most people that have boats are surprised there is no charge for electric and camp grounds.

Jerry Lathem

I believe if you are going to start metering you should start with the 50 amp sites. 30 amp service is 120 volts which gives you 3600 watts. You could maybe run two 1500 watt space heaters. 50 amps is 240 volts which gives you 12,000 watts, four times as much energy. With the 240 volts comes three or four roof airs, clothes dryer, heat pumps etc.


Just a simple statement for clarification. NO RV is outfitted with 240 volt recepticals. There are two separate 120 volt circuits. Yes, there is 50 amp and yes there are 12,000 watts but no 240 volts.

Edward Price

What is the voltage reading between the two 120 VAC lines?

A. Richardson

Agreed it is 220-240 volts between each leg of 50A service, but only 110-120 V between single leg and neutral. Each leg services about half of the RV power load, all at 120V (e.g one AC on each leg).

Bob S

Most of our stays are for a month or longer. If electric isn’t included in the monthly rate, we have seen two different ways to be charged. 1 – a metered connection at .10 to .15 cents/kWh, this usually adds up to about $20/month. 2 – at least one campground wanted to charge a flat $5/night, which is ridiculous. So, we moved on to another campground.

Keith Taylor

There is no “free” lunch. Pay for what you use. Don’t split the 6000 dollar cost amount
All users. That’s a reverse method to get to socialism.

Bill MacDermod

What gets me about this article is the fact that electricity mentioned shooting up 15 percent, they seem to skip over the fact that camping sites don’t exactly stay the same price either. Somebody has got to pay the bookwork that comes with individual pricing of charging more for elect. I would think that averaging out the price of electricity per night and add but it in to camping fee and be done with it. What we notice is the state park camping fees in some states are more than a lot of good sam parks. We are full timers… Read more »


The newer RV’s and trailers are much more energy efficient than past models. LED lighting (90% less power needed) ,energy efficient appliances, flat screen tv’s (about 1/4 the power needed than old CRT types), more efficient AC units and in most cases, better insulation.




I am full time. I have been to only one campground that charged me for electricity. Most of the other campgrounds i am at are military and so far, they don’t charge for electricity. Anyway, i payed as much at that campground for electricity as i would when i owned a sticks and bricks! I am against paying for electricity ala carte because i am pretty sure, your paying unfair prices. I will avoid those type of campgrounds as much as i can.


I drive a Class B that is all solar. I don’t have a generators, and I don’t use campground electricity. But I pay the rate for a campsite that an electrical hog uses. Metering electrical use only makes sense.

Our coaches are the last place where we can be energy hogs without consequences. I’d love to see manufacturers start building energy efficient rigs. Mine is, why not yours?

Edward Price

Would you like a World where your GPS refuses to route you through the mountains because it uses too much fuel? Would you like your engine computer rebuking you because you accelerate hard or brake too often, thereby wasting gas? Would you like a an energy center reminding you that only energy hogs need an overnight temperature over 55F?

Marty Chambers

Personally I don’t think charging for power and water use is wrong, as long as they have an honest way of recording usage. This will add to the work employees will have to do. Every time someone comes in or leaves meters will have to be documented.

But if part of the cost of the site includes power, water, andvsewer costs, is part of the charges already, don’t just add on the extras with out lowering the basic cost.


Excellent point. Some usage is already calculated in the fees.


So what does the park owner charge per kilowatt hour ? Many electric utility tariffs prohibit resale for other than “.. reasonable apportionment methods, including sub-metering, may be used by the Customer solely for the purpose of allocating the cost of the electricity billed by the utility.”


It doesn’t bother me much when we have to pay for electric. However it does bother me when the campground marks up the kw rate to make this a profit center.

Andy Zipser

In most–all?–states it is illegal for campgrounds to do what you’re suggesting. The law prohibits pass-through providers from marking up their costs, but it also may permit a small administrative mark-up for meter reading, meter maintenance and replacement, etc. For the record, our KwH charge to our monthlies is typically between 11 and 12 cents.


Steve, a privately owned campground IS a profit making enterprise. Let the market decide. If the KW rate is too high, nobody is going to park there.

Eric Ramey

Dear Campground Owners, If the cost of electricity is becoming cost prohibitive, follow the lead of some of the hotel chains that 1-The electricity to the room is not activated until you enter. 2-There are subtle signs/requests to converse energy by reusing towels 3-Signs are strategically placed to educate the guest. But as someone who is on the road frequenting RV parks on the weekend there are others ways that you can conserve energy, save money and become more environmentally friendly. 1-Make sure that all of your water and electricity connections are up to code and not leaking or mis… Read more »


Our two little electric space heaters and gas space heater are more efficient at heating our 5th-wheel than the furnace so we use them (either-or, not both kinds at once) when necessary. We choose electric heat over gas when we have hookups not to save money on propane, but to reduce condensation in the rig.

Tommy Molnar

I could be wrong, but I think condensation is caused by heat, not the WAY you produce heat.


From Assuming complete combustion, 44 grams of propane burns to produce 72 grams of water (plus some carb…on dioxide). The extra mass comes from atmospheric oxygen.
So yes, burning propane produces moisture.


We don’t use any more KWHs “because it’s free” than we would if we were charged for it at a metered site. For us (old and retired), when we like a campground/resort we pay their price even though we don’t use the pool/water parks, tennis , or volleyball courts, and as a rule we request sites as far away from such facilities as possible. When on the road, we look for campgrounds without major family orientated perks as these are more busy and loud when we like peace and quite. There is nothing wrong with the parks that draw campers… Read more »


The park owner doesn’t save any expense because you don’t use any of the other amenities. They are a fixed cost whether you do or don’t. Energy is user driven.

Tommy Molnar

I don’t think that was Tony’s point. The point was, they are willing to pay the park’s cost whether they use the amenities or not, and choose to park away from all the hubbub to enjoy some peace and quiet.

Silverlining Skipper

I like the idea of alacart pricing herever practical. Either you pay for your own usage (and get a better price) or you pay a flat rate and pay for the “Average” expense at all the sites. If the park owner does not cover his or her costs and a bit of profit, the park might be condos the next time you visit.


I welcome the metered sites, as we haul a 13′ fiberglass camper without AC, without a Tv and without a water heater. We use solar and what few lights we have are LED. Bring on the meter! It isn’t fair to blanketly charge a 45’motorhome the same nightly fee as is charged to us. At a campground in the Outer Banks of NC, we spoke with the owner who explained why she charged users for their electric usage. She said previously, those with AC would leave it on, running on high all day, while they went off exploring for the… Read more »


I bring my own water, LP gas, and dump at home. I only hook up my electric plug for summer a/c and about 10, 2-3 minute bursts of microwave power. Every thing else is powered off my solar panel. Cable TV can be nice for a couple hours a day on my 12 volt tv. The motorhomes radio is nice. I don’t leave my outside light on at night. I don’t want to pay extra!!!

Rod B Kenly

I own an all electric coach. When I’m traveling across the country I typically only use 50a electric. I dump and put in water every 4 or 5 days.
If I stay more than 4 days, I might use the wifi.
I have satellite so don’t use cable.
But I don’t mind the costs as that is part of supporting the nice RV parks.
As an all electric coach, I do use a lot of power. In the summer, I will draw 40 amps when the a/c units are on.

Bill T.

For those of us who are traveling and only staying a night or two, I wish campgrounds had more clean, level and gravelled, un-serviced, sites to use. CG owners complain about folks who stay at WalMart and other such places, when we are only in the area for a day or two. A level spot, dump station and potable water is all we need. I would pay up to $20.00/ night, tax Included, for a clean and level spot. I can understand the dilemma faced by CG owners as “camping” has changed dramatically over the last decade. The way I… Read more »


If I am gonna pay 50 dollars or more per night at an RV Park, I am gonna use the Electricity. Even though I have a 50 Amp RV, my usage out of that 50 dollars will only be a few bucks. I cannot use my Heat Pumps on my RV below 40 degrees and unless I am in an extremely HOT part of the US, the A/C will be run very little. In some cases RV parks charge extra for 50 Amps, these are places I usually avoid.


For anyone staying at a RV Park seasonally then metered electric is pretty commonplace but if RV Parks start to meter electric usage for vacationers, weekenders and over-nighter’s then they just may price themselves right out of business.


The discussion is re: Electricity use/abuse, camping electricity usage vs motorhome/mobile home usage. Besides usage, there is a substantial difference in providing adequate desired service to ‘campers vs. motor homes/mobile homes. To ignore that difference is disingenuous. Likewise, servicing short rentals is far more labor intensive than servicing long term rentals.


At Motel Brand X. I get utilities, clean sheets, basic cosmetics, great WIFI, free breakfast and TV for $75.00 per night. Andy who offers to rent me dirt, provides electric, marginal WI-FI and sewer and water can’t get it done with national brand marketing and at $50. a night. Any CG that uses electric as an excuse to AGAIN raise over priced dirt spot rental rates is an opportunist.


Exactly, and if it is cool day we don’t really use any power, hot days with no shade yes


I guess a credit card swipe to use Electricity is soon to come and I can see a campground owners concern. I guess also that solar pannels will be in everyones future.


At a city park in IA they at coin slots for quarters . 25 cents per hr for elect, parking free.


Yes I use the power, but I do not use any of the facilities at an rv resort…….therefore I am not as costly as someone who uses power, facilities etc.


That is valid. Fewer swimmers—less chemicals, and matentance, fewer people=fewer showers. Cable, wifi, etc., are fixed costs anyway so more people just means worse and worse wifi which already sucks,, not more CG costs. They should probably just meter everyone, then of course, add in the “extra costs” of an already paid person to read the meter when you leave at 7am. Lol