Electric Issues??? 5 Helpful Tips for RV Life

A surge protector is a good thing to have and helps to protect your investment.

Just when I think I've gotten the hang of RV life, I find out there is something else that I don't know.  And, that is the exciting part of the journey.  Plus, I appreciate the comradery from others at the campground and the camping community.   So many times, I've been met with a friendly face that is willing to lend a hand and some of their expertise.  

Electric Issues???  5 Helpful Tips for RV Life

First, let's start with some basics that you probably know, but I don't like to make assumptions.  RV's operate on 30 amp or 50 amp power.  Each of these power sources have a different kind of plug and some RV sites are only set up for one of these options and others allow you to choose based on the kind of rig that you have.  Additionally, smaller RV's and pop ups typically run on 30 amp power.  Larger RV's like 5th wheels and motor homes have 50 amp power.  After you are plugged in at the campground, what else do you need to know?

Make sure you have the right breakers active when you plug into your power source at the campsite.  This is a first and simple step to making things run smoothly.

Check Your Breakers

When you arrive at the campground, if your site has plug ins for both 30 and 50 amp power, turn on the breaker for your RV's power source.  On a recent trip, we plugged in to the 30 amp plug and began setting up.  Soon, the breaker tripped.  We reset it only to have it trip again.  At first we thought it was faulty wiring at the box or even possibly a faulty RV surge protector.  I haven't fully ruled out the last option.  

But, after notifying the office that our breaker kept tripping, a kind neighbor walked down.  This is where I learned something totally new that I had never heard.  The gentleman was super nice and took the time to explain some electrical basics that I am so glad to know!

Our electric box had two 20 amp breakers connected to the 30 amp plug.  For our power to fully work, both breakers had to be turned on.  It's basic math really.  20 plus 20 is 40.  There has to be at least 30 amps running for us to power our RV.  We had only turned on one breaker.  Good grief!  I never even looked at the breaker numbers.  We just flipped one and kept going.  With the AC running, there was no way that I was going to make it with 1 20-amp breaker operating!  How did I miss this fact for years?  

So, if your breakers are tripping, first check the box and make sure that you have enough power to adequately power your RV.  There could be other things coming into play here, but this is a good first step.  

Having a loose connection in the surge protector will cause the surge protector to get hot.

Check Your Surge Protector

What else did we need to know?  Well, our surge protector had some damage.  I thought it was from it being tossed about and used for a while.  But, our camping neighbor took a look and let us know that the damage was from the plug not being fully inserted into the surge protector at times.  The surge protector was getting hot from a full connection and is a huge NO!  I'm so glad nothing bad ever happened.  If you are using a surge protector, ensure you have a full connection.  Otherwise you may be causing issues there.  

Running your gas and electric power sources in your RV is a good way to get a better return on your hot water and reduce electrical pull.

Electric Vs. Propane for Your Hot Water Heater

Finally, our neighbor inquired about what was running in our RV.  At the time it was only the lights, hot water heater (on electric power) and AC.  He quickly informed us that we should switch to propane for our hot water heater to reduce power usage.  I explained that many times I used both propane and electric for a faster return when we are all showering.  He said that this method (using both power sourced) helped to reduce use of power.  Our neighbor encouraged us to use propane for the hot water heater or a combo of electric and propane to even out the power use.  Little things add up in an RV, so don't overlook your hot water heater.

The GFI outlet in your RV is another good place to check if you are having issues.

Check Your GFI Outlet

One thing that I learned a few years ago after our TV went out as we were packing up.  We were convinced we blew a fuse and just couldn't find it.  We had tripped our GFI outlet.  Ours is located in our bathroom on the plug.  All we had to do was reset it, and our TV would have worked again!  This is another place to check if things go out in your RV and it is not the main breaker box outside.  

It is always wise to have spare fuses available.

Keep Spare Fuses on Hand

Finally, keep a few RV fuses for you to use in case something blows.  We keep a spare box on hand at all times.  These fuses can be used on the internal box that has all of the fuses.  In our RV, this box is located under the television by the door.  We have 15, 20, 30 and 40 amp fuses in our RV.  They take up very little room and can get you buy in a pinch.

And, in about 15 minutes, I felt like I learned a wealth of information that no one had ever told us!  Plus, it makes me question if we have been using our electric box at RV parks wrong all along?  Is that why our breaker tripped non stop at a spot last fall?  Were we missing that second breaker being turned on to give us the right amount of juice?  Who knows.  But, now I know more and feel better about RV life.  

I used to get super frustrated when we had breakers tripping or a fuse to blow.  Over time, I've learned that its all part of owning an RV.  Having the right tools and knowledge will make tackling these issues a lot easier and less stressful.

Until next time...happy camping!

Pin this post to your favorite Pinterest Board.