Saturday, December 3, 2022


What are your power needs for your RV?


How much power do you normally want when traveling with your RV? Do you need all you can get — preferably a 50-amp shore power hookup? Or can you get along with 30 amps? Or are you perfectly fine with your onboard 12-volt system, maybe using solar power to keep your batteries charged? 

We realize that your needs will vary depending upon your circumstances. For example, when boondocking your needs will be different from when you’re at a full-hookup RV park. So please answer as many of the options below that are most relevant to your lifestyle.

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Dave Jeffries, AF0DJ
4 years ago

Our “needs” are a little different. We primarily boondock and carry no TV on board. We do have 600 watts (max) of solar panels on top of our 5er and 5 large AGM 12 volt batteries. Our power use is for lights (all leds) and several high power two way radios (HAM/CAP/Red Cross/Fire Service) plus the 12 volt operated computer and it’s radio interfaces. We have a 50 Amp connection but only one AC which of course is not used when boondocking. We carry a Honda 2k generator but only use it when I want to make popcorn in the stir popper….grin.

4 years ago

24ft gas C class motor home with 30 amp service. QUESTION: Will switching to LED lights really extend battery use when boon docking? If yes, is it difficult/complicated to switch/install LED lights?

Mike Sokol(@mike)
4 years ago
Reply to  JBC

I’m developing a demonstration and will show this in a video, but the basics are as follow…. Each bulb has been selected for a similar lighting level.
Tungsten: 60 watts
CFL: 15-18 watts
LED – 6-7 watts
So you can see that a Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) uses around 1/4 of the wattage of a Tungsten bulb. And an LED uses around 1/10 of the wattage of a Tungsten bulb. So converting from Tungsten to LED will increase the battery run time for the lights by up to 10X. And going from CFL to LED will increase the battery run time from the lights by up to 3X. I plan to write an article series about LED upgrade issues in a future RV Electricity Newsletter, so watch for it there.

Jeff fuller
4 years ago

I have a 28 ft gooseneck cargo trailer being built and am planning to convert it to livable space. The factory will install the shore power hook up and the service panel with either 120V/30A or 240/50A. During production a 15,000 BTU AC will also be installed. The AC will be the largest draw. Should I have the factory install a 50 or 30 Amp service panel? Would a 50 A be overkill or would it be nice to have for unforeseen options like the campgrounds only having a spot with a 50 Amp service or I decide to have another air conditioner installed in the future?

Mike Sokol(@mike)
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff fuller

I would get the 50-amp/240-volt shore power connection right now during the build. You can always use the extra wattage capability, but converting later would be expensive. You can also get an inexpensive 30 to 50 amp adapter plug for when you can’t find a 50-amp service. Remember, a 50-amp/240-volt outlet is actually 100-amps at 120-volts. So that’s over 3 times of the available wattage from a 30-amp shore power connection.

Don S.
4 years ago

We have a 42; foot fifth wheel with 5 slides, 3-15K Air Conditioners, Microwave, Heat Pump, Etc. so 50 amp service is the desired power but by managing the load we can run off of 30 amp. We have a residential 23.5 cu ft. fridge that has it’s own 1KW inverter plus I installed a separate 1.5KW inverter to run the Satellite system and the 65″ television while dry camped. We have an Onan 5.5KW Marquis generator as well when needed with 4 group 27 deep cycle batteries which seems to cover the power need fairly well.

Diane Md
4 years ago

We get 50amp when available so we don’t have to worry. If only 30 we can manage making sure not to run both A/C’s or turn off when running other high drawing devices. When we go to Speed Weeks for Daytona 500 we dry camp for 10 days….no solar. Use our inverter & generator. Inverter allows us to have our DVR going when not at the MH & the coffee to come on in the AM. Or watch TV w/o the noise of generator….although ours is pretty quiet.

Diane M.

Ps…recently bought a surge protector after 20+ yrs of RVing because of you! Thank you.

5 years ago

My 34ft gas motorhome was setup with 30 amp service. I have a 6kw generator. Its a noisy one so I only use it when I need power without access to shore power. I’ve got a 2 kw inverter with 4 6 volt batteries which will run everything except the AC’s. Living in the SW part of the country 1 AC sometimes are not enough. I’ve added a separate 20 amp circuit that allows me to use both AC’s when the extra 20 amp plug in is available. I use a spdt solenoid to isolate this circuit when its used. Probably better to rewire for 50 amp service but this works for me. Lots of the smaller coaches are wired so you can only run 1 AC when plugged in.

Jon Granger
5 years ago

Two of our previous 5vers had 30 amp, but out west 3 summers ago with 95 degree heat almost every day, 30 amp was unsatisfactory. Our latest Montana High Country with 50 amp and a bedroom ac is a great improvement. No issues with lack of power to run everything we need.

Teresa Meyer
5 years ago

I use 30amp when available, otherwise generator. Thank you so much for doing this newsletter. This is the hardest area for me to understand.

5 years ago

20 ft c class micro mini has 30 amp con & 20 amp plug , i switched all the inside lights to LEDs and the battery will last a week . i can live with out the radio in nature . future plans are for solar panels .
gas runs frig and heater
can plug in small heater if i have electric
ac works , i think
future rv improvement might need 50 amp
Any one else thinking electric RV with gen recharge available when driving ? i am !

5 years ago
Reply to  G13Man

did not see Elon mention it yet

Larry Lee
5 years ago

50 amp service for our 40 foot class A diesel pusher. Why? Because it keeps my wife happy.
And that keeps me happy because otherwise I would not get to go “camping”.

5 years ago

After reading the short story of going from a gas stove, gas lantern and radio I realize one thing. I remember doing that with a tent and a pop up camper. Even though the pop had electricity. We still relied on the gas stove and lamp. Now? I have a trailer that has a microwave, hot water (awesome), toaster oven and stove built in. I too wonder one thing. What really happened to camping. But I hate to say it, I do not want a camper over 25 feet in length. I love my 20 x 8 aka a mini apartment that just does four things. Eat, sleep, hot water and easy set up. Now to find my roku device.

5 years ago

We have a 50 amp shore power connection, 1100+ watts of solar with 830 amp hours of batteries (at 24 volts), a 4000 watt inverter and an 8000 watt generator. Obviously, we don’t use it all at the same time.
All that said, we’ve survived fine, on just a 20 amp outlet for over one week at a time, as long as the weather was relatively moderate.

Elaine Schuster
5 years ago

I have a Class B with 30 amp connector. I like having that, because I like to have my microwave and fridge available. I also like my AC, fan and heat pump. I can use my generator if needed, bu for short periods. However, I can also get by on battery power, and even without that, being from the old days. I have a battery powered LED lantern, and my fridge is OK overnight without power. I am envious of the solar options, and my next Class B will have Eco=Trek to be truly off grid independent.

Retired firefighter Tom
5 years ago

My wife and I both have sleep apnea and use CPAP machines when sleeping. A/C is necessary as warm weather hits [86 Sunday 11/26 in Phoenix]. Heat during the night [50 degrees] is also necessary. 30-amp is fine but I will take 50-amp so we can use the toaster with electric heaters in the morning.

5 years ago

It seems that our needs for power in our 34′ 5th Wheel are met at 30 amp hook ups, however, if 50 amp is available we’ll take it. That being said, more and more parks want extra bucks for 50 amp and in those cases we stick with 30 amp.

Patti Lounsbury
5 years ago

We run a 36ft fiver and prefer 50 amp but have run on 30 and 20 when the need arose. We are going full time and have purchased solar panels but as we know our limitations, will have them professionally installed probably next year. Our reefer is electric w/o a gas option, our furnace is gas and our water heater can do either. We don’t boondock as we enjoy our creature comforts at this time of our lives, but we started with tents and truly enjoyed it.

5 years ago

We have a class A, 30 amp with: 2 AC, 1500 heater, gas furnace,, microwave, 2 LCD TVs with satellite, LED interior lights, a seldom used iron and a hair dryer. When we stay at RV parks we use 30 AMP connection. We have a 5K onboard generator we use when AC is required when driving or after a few days without hookups. We do not have solar panels.

Dick and Sandy near Buffalo, NY
5 years ago

Power requirements are very dependent on what type of rig you have and what power requirements your rig is built for. Back in the 1960’s we started out with a 18 trailer that had 30 AMP power requirements. Now we have a high end diesel pusher Class A that is built for 50 AMP service and that is what we request at campgrounds and RV Resorts when available.. Yes we can survive on 30 AMP and have done so year after year at campgrounds and State Parks that only have that to offer. We also attend events where we can only use generator power and have also relied on our batteries when power requirements did not require the generator. Top of the line Class A.s are now all electric and if you are used to all those electrical options running all the time, then 50 AMP or the Generator are your only options.

5 years ago

We now have a 50 amp Class A When we had a class C with a 30 amp. You couldn’t use but one little electric heater in it. I checked all the receptacle and all 10 I think we’re on the same 15 amp breaker. So when we moved up that was the first thing I wanted was 50 amp

Fred Burns
5 years ago

We’ve been fulltiming 8 years in a 34ft true 4 seasons fifth wheel w/ 3 slides & can get by just fine on 30 amp if we’re careful, but prefer 50 amp if available at a reasonable price. We boondock fairly often. Our power sources & usage include the following:
-50 amp wiring/breaker box or 30 amp w/ bone adapter
-400 watts solar w/45 amp soar charger, four 6V golf batteries
-3000 watt pure sine inverter/charger
-2 Honda eu2000i generators hooked up in parallel in truck bed
provides 27 amps continuous service
– 60 LED lights throughout, not including running lights
-One 1350 watt air conditioner, 1000 watt microwave, 2 laptops, HP printer/scanner, 32″ LCD tv, surround sound stereo, 1800 watt hair dryer, toaster, crock pot, two 1500 watt portable heaters, 150psi air compressor, a Segway w/ 2 large lithium batteries that require charging, portable fan, sleep sound machine, asst gadget & tool chargers, elec/gas 10 cu/ft fridge & 10 gal water heater.
With 30 amp service we’ve learned what we can run simultaneously with little inconvenience, but no problems with 50 amp. We have all the comforts of home & lack for nothing.
The joys of this nomad lifestyle are hard to explain to those who have not yet experienced it.

larry benton
4 years ago
Reply to  Fred Burns

Have 38′ diesel pusher Class A that we are about to go full timersI have been considering a SegWay due to my knees… cannot walk far to keep up with wife. Do you have the”outdoors” model that allows you to go on trails etc? How does it work for you? How do you carry it? Have been also looking @ AirWheel S5, direct drive, no gears, all terrain, and much less than SegWay

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