Monday, January 30, 2023

RV Electricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): The “Name Game” for 100-amp campsites

By Mike Sokol

Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) rvtravel.com with the subject line – JAM.

Dear Mike,

Just arrived in Georgia on our latest trip and was poking around on the Georgia State Parks website looking for future campgrounds when I noticed this: “Upgraded Campsites

Check out our FULL hook-up 100 AMP service campsites”

What on earth does a 100-amp outlet look like? Or maybe they give you two 50-amp ones? I’ll report back if I see one. —Jim

Dear Jim, Jim, bo-bim
Banana-fana fo-fim
Fee-fi-mo-mim
Jim! Hey Jim!

Well, it’s sort of the Name Game, I think…. (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist.)

There’s really no such thing as a 100-amp campground outlet, even though any 50-amp pedestal outlet should be able supply a total 100 amps of current at 120 volts. That is, there’s 50 amps of current available on each of the two hot legs, which we’ll call L1 (Leg 1) and L2 (Leg 2). And if you add 50 + 50 you get 100 amps of combined current at 120 volts, but it has to be divided up equally so neither leg draws more than 50 amperes.

And it’s possible that they put in a single pedestal box with a pair of 50-amp outlets for two campsites. So you could say that 50 + 50 = 100 amperes.

But there’s another possible reason for this name game as well. You could also say that this pedestal has a 50-amp outlet, plus a 30-amp outlet, plus a 20-amp outlet. If it was wired as part of a 200-amp electrical service loop (pretty common), then in theory you could plug in a 50-amp shore power cord, a 30-amp shore power cord and a 20-amp extension cord ALL AT THE SAME TIME. So you could think of this as 50 + 30 + 20 = 100-amp service. I did find a few catalogs that listed a 20/30/50-amp pedestal as a 100-amp service, so maybe this is where they got the description for their website. But that’s a bit confusing for most RV owners, I think.

So, It’s likely this is a standard 50/30/20-amp pedestal, and there’s nothing special about this campground, it’s only some name confusion. But I’m going to call them to find out for sure, and will report back next week. Ah, the suspense!

OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.

Let’s play safe out there….

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40+ years in the industry. His excellent bookRV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

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1 year ago

Mike did you ever get to the bottom of the 100 amp service question?

David G Allen
1 year ago

Well Mike, you need to put a new slide in the projector, we are staying at Route 66 RV Resort near Albuquerque, NM and they have 100 amp service and 100 plug in outlets.. I’ll try to attach pictures

Katie
3 years ago

We use a lot of Georgia State Parks and based on my observations, Mike is correct. Some older parks have only a 30 amp lug and a 15 amp plug. The updates ones seem to have the 50/30/20 setup as Mike described. I typically use the 30 and 20. I run anything outside on the 20 and leave the 30 for my Air/Heat as the case may be. For the OP, there are so many great State Parks here. Don’t know what area you are in but we travel year round and am trying to hit every park one time. we also stay at COE, National, commercial, and others so it is taking some time. 🙂 Hope you enjoy.

Jeff
3 years ago

I believe Mike is Correct! And I have to wonder, what would anyone need an RV with a 100 amp service anyway?

Tommy Molnar
3 years ago