When we finally upgraded from tent camping to RV camping, there were two big benefits that I started enjoying immediately upon setting up camp and calling our new RV home: our own clean bathroom right at our campsite, and electricity! To not have to venture into dark, cobweb-strewn campground bathrooms is beyond wonderful, and having modern appliances is priceless! Now I can cook without having to get a roaring campfire going first and we have lights at night by which to play some serious games of Monopoly or dominoes. To better understand the varying types of electricity available while RVing, here are some helpful tips about RV electrical systems.
Depending on the type and size of your RV, you’ll most likely either have 20, 30, or 50-amp service. Smaller pop-ups and travel trailers usually have 20 or 30 amp service, while larger fifth wheels or toy haulers have 50 amps. Campsites are usually designated as offering a certain amperage, or shore power. It’s smart to travel with an adapter that you can use if you find that your campsite has a different amp output than you need. This way you can convert from 50 amps down to 30, however you can't boost up from 30 amps to 50 by just using an adapter. This involves rewiring your RV's electrical system and is very costly and involved.
AC vs. DC
You’ll find both AC and DC within your RV’s electrical system. AC is alternating current and is used to power larger appliances, like your air conditioning unit and refrigerator, and the power outlets you’d use for smaller appliances like hair dryers and a toaster, or for charging your devices. It’s generally 120 volts and the charge will periodically change direction.
DC is direct current and is usually a 12V system in your RV. The current from DC is constant and only travels in one direction, unlike AC current. It is typically used to run the electrical components of the RV’s engine and its battery.
Even when you think you have everything planned out and your camping trip will be nothing short of smooth sailing, your campground may have a surprise or two in store for you, like not offering AC hookups when you thought they did. When (or if) this happens, you’ll be glad you have an RV inverter handy so you can convert your DC power to AC power and be back in business. Inverters also make it possible to enjoy modern amenities when dry camping, a.k.a. boondocking! To decide the size of the inverter you need, check the wattage of the things you want to power and then choose an inverter that is a little bigger. For things you’ll run simultaneously, add the wattages together. Inverters come in all sizes, but generally anything over 3000 watts will be too much!
While not as useful or as popular as inverters, converters can be used to change AC power into DC power when camping. You would use a converter, also known as a charger, when it’s necessary to power or charge smaller devices that can’t handle the 120V of a standard AC outlet.
While some people go camping to enjoy life off-the-grid, I prefer to take my modern appliances with me! And thanks to my RV’s electrical system, I can toss a bag of popcorn in the microwave while queueing up a movie on my built-in DVD player and watch it under the beautiful LED ceiling lights overhead. Here at Hamilton’s RV in Saginaw, MI, we have RVs for any type of camping, from simple pop-ups to luxurious fifth wheels and motorhomes! Check out our inventory in person or online and get an awesome deal on a new or used RV today! We’ll even ship it to you with our amazing worldwide shipping! If you see something that sparks your interest, call, click, or come see us! You’ll be glad you did!