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RVelectricity: Should RV parks meter power? Please take our survey

Dear Readers,
I fully expect this will stir up a little controversy since the idea of unmetered (“free”) electric power at campgrounds has been the standard for a long time. But there is a campground industry push to meter each pedestal separately and charge you for it in some way.

The reasons for wanting to do individual pedestal metering have been growing for the last few decades. Ever since multiple rooftop air conditioners have become more common, campground power usage has gone way up. Here are the results of a survey I took back in July of 2020.

Do you need AC power for air conditioning? (from July 2020)

Well, I sort of guessed this, but it’s good to see the numbers. So nearly 2/3 of you need power for one air conditioner, while nearly 1/3 of you need enough power for two air conditioners, and 5% need power for three air conditioners. This is exactly why so many campgrounds are struggling to keep up with the power requirements. When many of them were designed and built 20 years or more ago, nobody could guess at just how many RVers would need so much electricity to power their RVs. Just like in the ’60s and ’70s, when most cars didn’t have air conditioning and power steering, it’s nearly impossible buy a new vehicle now without these as included options. More to study about campground power, which I’m working on.

There’s even more power needed

Now lets add in all the new lithium battery chargers which can easily draw 10 amps at 120 volts, electric water heaters that can draw another 10 to 12 amps at 120 volts (1,200 to 1,500 watts), and campers who are now using electric cooking appliances such as 1,500-watt air fryers (12 amps at 120 volts).

It’s no wonder that 30-amp shore power plugs are melting down and many RVers are demanding 50-amp (actually 100 amps at 120 volts) pedestal outlets.


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What about EV charging?

Yes, you can buy your own Class-2 charger for your EV truck or toad, which can charge its batteries from 0 to 100% in 10 hours or so. However, this will cost the average campground at least $12 in electricity (at 11.2 cents per kWh business average in the USA).

Here are the numbers: An EV with a 100kWh battery can take  10 hours at 40 amps and 240 volts with a Level-2 charge to recharge completely. Since 100kWh (kilowatt hours) times 11.2 cents per kWh equals $11, that’s at least $12, adding in a little for efficiency losses.

That’s in addition to whatever other power you’re using for air conditioners and electric appliances. Plus, electric space heaters are just as power hungry. Many campgrounds report that their monthly electric bills are tens of thousands of dollars. Yikes!

Is this why campground power is so poor?

Yes, I think that’s a large part of it. Campground owners consider electricity bills to be a loss leader (again, they can pay tens of thousands of dollars per month). So there’s no incentive for them to upgrade power or even maintain the pedestals.

And be aware that to upgrade even a medium-size campground with modern wiring and pedestals that’s capable of supplying all the power you demand without voltage drop, can cost upwards of $500,000, even with volunteer labor to help dig the trenches. And have you seen the price of copper wire lately? It’s more than doubled in the last two years.

Can campgrounds really automate electricity billing?

They most certainly can. There’s a number of companies making smart pedestals that can turn the power on and off at specific times, and that will automatically charge your credit card on file.

Just like your electric bill at home, if you use more, you pay more; and if you use less, you pay less. Here’s the quote from Wild Energy about their latest smart pedestals. Of course, this is being pitched to campground owners about investing in Smartposts, not the end consumer who has the pay the bill. Read more HERE.

“We have patented technology to convert power pedestals into “Smartposts” which can be controlled, monitored, and metered remotely. Easy to install with a great return on investment. Transient / overnight, and long term seasonal options. Fully Automated Parks?  Yep, we can do that too!”


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Will metering pedestals force campgrounds to provide better power?

I would hope so, but I’m not Carnac the Magnificent. I can only show my equations and report the numbers I calculate. After that it’s up to market forces and the cost of electricity to drive this trend. But I do believe it’s going to happen sooner rather than later, especially for new campgrounds being built.

So please take the survey below and add any (polite) comments. Yes, we all hate the extra costs, but if you want to dance you need to pay the fiddler.

Let’s play safe out there….

Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.

##RVT1045

 

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TimV
5 months ago

We strive to be a family focused on minimal usage and conservation. Whether at home or out and about anywhere, if everyone pays the same flat rate, we are subsidizing others. I’m all for metering anything and everything. Pay to play.

Brian Carrozza
6 months ago

Please, let’s not be stupid!
The cost of the electricity has always been built-in to the price of renting the spot in a campground.

Lynn
6 months ago

I guess I did not realize there was a problem with this. Yes I understand the energy crisis, put never really thought about how it affected the RV parks I use. Thanks for waking me up.

Wayne
6 months ago

I said no to the question because little is explained except it will cost me more to park. I want to see how this plan will be implemented, how the additional revenue generated is allocated, and how the amount increased will be determined ( KW costs). My greatest concern is with all of these EVs, why am I being charged higher rates to get ahead of the curve. I didn’t think subs could sell utilities to individuals. If that’s the case, another call for better regulations of non-governmental operated campgrpunds.

Raymond Clark
6 months ago

We use a campground on Lake Okeechobee that always has a breeze so u really don’t need AC but I know locals who move to nonmetered sites during the warm months for the cheaper electric.
My problem with them is they add on to the FPL rates. They haven’t repaired any of the broken pedestals in 6 years.
And being city employee’s they don’t work weekend and holidays and cheap campers have figured that out and show up for the free camping and electricity 🙁

Stan W
6 months ago

In Michigan the only way to sell/charge for electricity if you are a public utility.

Michael Butts
5 months ago
Reply to  Stan W

Here, here. Want to charge for electricity, produce it first and I will buy; maybe. Cost??

Bob
6 months ago

In most states sub entering of power is not legal.

Denise Bumby
6 months ago

I voted yes but only under a few circumstances. I am happy to pay for what I use and welcome the ability to have a choice about that. What I am concerned about is that currently the nightly rate I pay factors in electric consumption so if I am to pay that separately I should see the original included amount removed from my nightly bill so that the campground/park is not double billing for electricity.

Joel
6 months ago

The RV industry needs to move to compressor ac

Toby
6 months ago

If you use more pay more, and of course less pay less. That being said it is a private business. I have the choice where to stay

Mike
6 months ago

U don’t need to run ac/ heat all day, about as useless because of no insulation factor, n if u have pets or med issues.. pay g to or it or stay home

Tom
6 months ago

On a trip thru the south a few years ago there were several As with 3 AC going 24/7. Never saw anyone outside. How about charge a 30A at a different rate than 50A

Louis Nathan
6 months ago

I said maybe and the reason has to do with what the the campground is changing. The concern is like most things what starts as a good or fair idea and soon becomes abused. If campgrounds are going to charge for electricity we should know what the local rate is per kilowatt is and what the meter reading was at the start and end and the boxes should have locks as some folks are less then honest.

Linda
6 months ago

I said No but there really wasn’t a choice that I felt was appropriate. We are one of those electricity hogging RV’s – 3 A/C’s, induction cooktop, microwave, etc. – so I certainly understand that we use a lot of electricity. But we also normally stay in resorts that charge $100+ a night. Most of those resorts also have reduced monthly rates and then also bill for electrical usage. For shorter term stays, if the campground is willing to pass along most (or at least some) of their savings to me, then I’d be happy to cover my own electricity. But if they are going to continue to charge the same high fees while pocketing that extra $10K/month or more, then a loud and strong NO

Irene
6 months ago

My aunt used to have to insert quarters into her electric meter on Beacon Hill in Boston, in order to get electricity. Probably saved a lot of money – the electric company didn’t have to bother with billing & collecting, and the residents could see in real time how much electricity they were using, and likely conserved lest they run out of quarters.
I have seen posts by people planning on using campground electricity to charge their electric vehicles. With the number of electric tow vehicles and the cost of gas, I expect this type of use will increase. Major upgrades aren’t going to happen without some way of paying for them. I want to have electricity available for me when I need it, so I would rather each person pay for their own electric use; that would incentivize the upgrades that will make sure everyone has electricity – and as much as they need. Otherwise everyone will be resorting to generators – not ideal.

Donna
6 months ago

I manage a RV Park where power was included in the monthly rent. Some monthly renters power bills were over $200. Running multiple AC, washers/dryers and space heaters. When I increased the monthly rate I also added a power usage notice stating power usage over $100 month would be billed to the renter. Amazingly, all those using over $100 monthly suddenly used 50% less power.

Mike Sokol
6 months ago

Here are the numbers: as of 2017 the NEC has raised the service requirements to 12,000 watts (12 kVA) per 50-amp pedestal. Once a campground has more than 36 campsites the demand factor is 41%, so that’s 4,921 watts per pedestal. If we assume a 50% duty cycle that’s roughly 2.5 kW x 24 hrs = 60 kWh per day per site. At 12 cents per kWh that’s $7.20 per pedestal per day. Multiply that by 500 campsites and 30 days, and that’s a $108,000 per month electric bill for the campground.

Mike
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

nice mathematical equation, however you forgot to mention how much they charge 500 campers for 30 days.
definitely something has to be done because the new generation of campers have all the luxury and power grabbing devices and forget the reason for camping is to get OUT TAKE A BRAKE FROM HOME

Okiefm
6 months ago

I am with the group that says do it, but adjust the daily charge. Right now we are weekend campers.

John the road again
6 months ago

All costs must inevitably be passed on to customers. Increasing numbers of people traveling with EVs will make this inevitable. All things considered, I just assume that EV owners pick up the full tab for the power they’re using instead of me.

Sondra Avellino
6 months ago

I agree!!

Jack
6 months ago

This is just another way for the campground to charge us more. I’ve hit these places in south Texas and Florida. They charged me at least 25 cents per kilowat when they were paying around 10 cents.

Jack
6 months ago
Reply to  Jack

I should have also mentioned that I have leased sites where I paid my electric bill to the electric company. That’s a much better deal. I intend to stay away from campground billing of my electric.