Monday, September 25, 2023


RVelectricity – What cost, electricity? Part deux

By Mike Sokol

Dear Readers,
In case you missed my feature article in last Sunday’s RVelectricity newsletter, here’s a brief recap. (You are signed up for my monthly newsletter, aren’t you? If not, then sign up HERE.) I’m gathering information on just how much electricity costs a campground to provide it for “free/included” versus metered.

Now, put down the torches and pitchforks as I’m just trying to get to the bottom of why there’s a large percentage of poorly maintained electrical pedestals at campgrounds across the U.S. and Canada, many with too-low voltage and non-existent grounds. Read the original article “What cost, electricity?” HERE.

There have been a lot of comments so far, with some readers hinting that I was exaggerating the cost of electricity the campground pays, while other’s saying I was spot on. And it does seem that human nature allows us to waste something we don’t have to pay for. Hence, this quote from an email I received from a campground owner:

I read your article and it’s spot on. I own a 265 site campground in Canada. I can confirm that, yes, we get $20,000 power bills in July and August (at 8 cents per kWH). Do people use more power if it’s ‘free’ or ‘included’? Absolutely! I have videos of no one home and all windows open on their RV with the air conditioner on in 90 degree weather.

I’m not here to argue about how and how much a campground charges you for basic utilities. But I do want to explore what we can do to help ensure better electrical power at campsites. That’s largely because our RV electrical power demands are getting larger every year, with residential refrigerators recently added into the mix.

So read my article “What cost, electricity?” and let’s discuss our experiences with both “free” and “metered” electrical power at campgrounds. And please, no bashing or name-calling here or on any other of my blogs or forums. Do so and Diane or I will smite you down. (That sounds painful, Mike. —Diane)

Let’s play safe out there….



Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at 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.



  1. If my math is right thats about $37.73 per day per site. I can see why some campgrounds have electric meters, just makes it fair to everyone.

    • Yes, let’s assume a worst case scenario of an 80% of maximum power draw for 20 hours. That’s pretty extreme, but exactly what you would use to recharge an EV or even run a most everything at once in a 5th wheel. So 0.80 x 12,000 watts (which is 50 amps x 240 volts) = 9.600 watts or 9.6 kW. So every hour you run at that much current you’re pulling 9.6 kWh. Now 20 hours of that (again, pretty extreme but certainly possible in the desert heat) would be 9.6 kWh x 20 hrs = 192 kWh per day usage. Now plug in the utility rate. If you happen to be in one of the higher cost states (and including all fuel surcharges and such) the campground could be paying 20 cents per kWh. So $0.20 x 192 = $38.40 per day. So your numbers are in the ball park.

      Of course, if the campground is in a cheaper power state, or uses less kW for less time, then the utility day rate for a 50-amp hookup could be down to $20 or even as low $10. But there’s simply nothing to motivate campers to not waste electricity except for metering them individually. Perhaps this could be in the form of a discount up front for the camping rate if you use a metered campsite, or some other form of compensation. But I do know that campgrounds generally don’t take care of their electrical power grid and pedestals, and perhaps it’s because electricity is a loss leader for them. Again, I’m just running numbers and asking questions about what could have caused this power problem.

      I had a discussion with an RV technician a week ago about a campground that refuses to upgrade ANY of their pedestals and literally keeps the circuit breakers for all the campsites in a central location under lock and key. When you trip a 30-amp circuit breaker you have to wait for the one time a day when the campground maintenance guys resets all these breakers, then they charge each campsite with a tripped circuit breaker $40 to reset it. The campsite doesn’t want to touch any of the pedestals because if they do they’ll be forced to upgrade ALL of pedestals to the latest code, which will cost some $750,000 and shut them down for a month. Talk about an incentive NOT to upgrade a campground’s electrical system.

  2. I’m a full timer and do some work camping in maintenance. Mike is correct in what these articles are saying. One thing I want to add is that in most places it’s illegal for a campground to charge more for electric than they pay. IE; if the electric company charges 8 cents a kWh then metered guests in the campground pay 8 cents.

    • But the campgrounds need to maintain and upgrade their own electrical systems, so I don’t see any reason not to allow a reasonable (and regulated) markup on electricity they supply to the campsites. For example, it costs the power company a lot less then 8 or 10 or 20 cents per kWh to generate the power, but they mark it up to the rate you pay since they have to supply and maintain the transmission lines, transformers, and switch gear. If the utility companies don’t do proper maintenance on their power transmission gear then we have the California fire scenario. There’s just no simple answers.

  3. I’d rather have lower campground fees per night and be charged for electricity separately. I know a majority of campers would be more conservative with usage just to keep their costs down.

  4. I think RV park owners could benefit from a simple sign near the entrance asking people to conserve. If I saw one at this particular park, stating his typical bill in the summer is $20k, I’d be a little more careful with what I used, particularly AC in the summer when I wasn’t there. Most people just need a little nudge.

    • Not a bad idea, and certainly easy enough to do. I don’t think consumers have any idea how much electricity their RVs are actually using.

  5. I actually don’t mind the metered electric if the campground cost is reasonable. I have a 50 amp motor home. Why shouldn’t I pay more than a family with a pop up trailer? It makes sense to me.


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