Thursday, June 8, 2023


Fact or Fiction? Never plug in with a 20-amp extension cord

RV blogs, social media groups and YouTube videos have exploded over the past couple of years. Some provide great information, others questionable information and some downright bad information. Can you tell the difference? In this regular monthly column, we will post a question based on information we find online. You can then test your RV prowess by seeing how your answer compares with our experts.

Today’s Question

Is the following statement fact or fiction? “Never plug in with a 20-amp extension cord.” Statement via this source.

What do you think?

Click here to view the answer.


Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson has been around travel trailers his entire life. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership long before the term “RV” had been coined. He has served in every position of an RV dealership with the exception of bookkeeping. Dave served as President of a local chapter of the RVDA (Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association), was on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college and was a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. He and his wife Cheri operated their own RV dealership for many years and for the past 29 years have managed RV shows. Dave presents seminars at RV shows across the country and was referred to as "The foremost expert on boondocking" by the late Gary Bunzer, "The RV Doctor". Dave and his wife are currently on their fifth travel trailer with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications on his own unit.


5 3 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

As long as not drawing more the the 20 Amp can handle. At home what else if on that 20 Amp line in addition to the RV load.

1 month ago

“Never,” is an absolute. And most all absolutes are “never” true. Though given the circumstance, can sometimes be. 

Thomas D
1 month ago

Whats the load in amps and for how long. A circuit of 20 amps is rated at 80% or 16 amps.
Should be no problem BUT, make it a longer cord or don’t unwind it fully so it can cool,then you have an overheating problem.
The connection ends, the quality of the outlet, if the installer used the push in terminals or in the case of rv outlets where they pinch or poke into the wires, then you got a problem. Do what you must but check occasionally to see if anything is getting hot or even warm. Make sure your insurance is paid.

1 month ago

As long as I don’t use the A/C everything works fine in my 30′ class C while parked at my home. I tried the A/C while parked at home and it melted my where I plug into the extension cord.

captain gort
1 month ago

Whenever I have our TT parked out in front of our house, I plug it into a 20A outlet in my garage with a 20A-rated extension cord. I am able to simultaneously run my 13k A/C and the inverter/charger, with the voltage measured in the TT at about 110-115 VAC minimum. So far, no issues. Some parks have worse voltage when plugged into their 30A posts.

captain gort
1 month ago
Reply to  captain gort

and the cord exhibits no heat, BTW.

1 month ago

When I first bought my TT, I did use a 20 amp extension cord until I had the time to install a true 30 amp box.
The 20 amp cord was a quality 12 gauge cord, not some discount store brand and was connected to a dedicated 20 amp breaker in my garage.
We only used it while parked at home for keeping the batteries charged, lights and pre-cooling the refrigerator and vacuuming before a trip.

captain gort
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

just like I do and with zero issues

1 month ago

My generator does not put out 20 amps. I am safe to use a cord that is rated greater than my power source. It is the fusing that determines the size and length of the cable. In this case it is a 15 amp fuse.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bill
Jesse Crouse
1 month ago

What’s the load?

1 month ago

Depends upon the expected load. Battery charging is close to your limit, considering line losses.
We travel with a 30amp extension cord just in case. Extra water hose also. Plus a water outlet “Y” or splitter.

Bill T
1 month ago

Hard to answer this one because it basically comes down to what you want to do with a 20 amp extension cord? I use one to keep the coach battery topped off while in storage and to activate the outlets so I can vacuum or other non high current draw maintenance. If I want to check/use the microwave or the air conditioning, then no I won’t use a 20 amp cord since the current draw will be too high and would overheat the cord.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill T

I totally agree, Bill.

1 month ago
Reply to  Bill T

All of that was covered in the linked article.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.