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The Complete 30 Amp RV Plug Guide: Your Outlet to Freedom!

The Complete 30 Amp RV Plug Guide: Your Outlet to Freedom!

30-amp RVs are the most common rigs on the road. As a result, 30-amp RV plugs and outlets are also very common.

The ability to utilize a 30-amp outlet, even if you have a 15- or 50-amp RV, allows you to take advantage of that power regardless of your own rig’s plug.

That’s why we’re here to offer the complete guide to the 30-amp RV plug.

Whether you have a 15-amp, 30-amp, or 50-amp RV, this information is important to know, so let’s get right to it!

How Do I Know the Amp Rating of my RV?

First things first! Before figuring out how to best use a 30 amp power outlet, you need to know the amp rating of your own RV. We know this may sound basic, but even some people who’ve been RVing for a while may not have thought about the specs of their own rig.

The quickest way to obtain this information (even easier than finding your owner’s manual.. and certainly easier than calling customer service at your RV dealer!) is to look at your RV’s power plug. The design of the plug will tell you what amp RV you own.

Let’s take a quick look at three photos.

Note… our apologies to all of our friends RVing around the world in countries with 220/240-volt systems. This particular topic is primarily specific to North America. We’ve used your systems on FIVE international RV trips and love them!

15-amp Standard Household Plug

Most household electrical outlets in North America are designed for 15-amp plugs. Items like lamps and other low-power-draw appliances generally have a 15-amp plug with two prongs that look like this:

A person's hand plugging in a two-pronged 15-amp household plug

This is a standard 15-amp household electrical outlet. Even though it’s a grounded outlet, ready to accept a three-pronged grounded plug, it can also accept a two-pronged plug, like this one.

Grounded 15-amp plugs have a third prong. Standard 15-amp household outlets are designed to accept this type of plug. But even with the addition of that third (ground) prong, this is still a 15-amp plug.

A grounded 15-amp plug.

The third prong on this 15-amp plug indicates that it’s a grounded plug. But it’s still 15-amps.

We should probably mention that 20-amp outlets are generally used in places where more power might be needed. (Think larger appliances or power tools like refrigerators, food processors, and electric lawnmowers or hedge trimmers.) This is why 20-amp outlets are more often found in kitchens and garages. Note that “larger appliances” does not include washers and dryers, which require even more power.

The presence of a 20-amp outlet indicates that the circuit breaker feeding it is also rated to handle 20-amps. This is a great choice to plug your RV into when “moochdocking” in a friend’s driveway! (Again, look in the garage.)

15 and 20-amp outlets compared

You can distinguish a regular grounded 15-amp outlet from a 20-amp outlet by the T-shaped prongs found on 20-amp outlets. We look for a 20-amp outlet to plug our rig into when “moochdocking” with family and friends!

If you look at your RV’s power cord and see a plug with three larger prongs, spaced further apart with two of them at an angle, then your RV has 30-amp service. This plug would go into the 30 amp outlet at an RV park or campground.

A 30-amp RV plug

A 30-amp RV plug like this one fits into a 30-amp receptacle at an RV park.

And finally, large RVs such as Class A motorhomes, large 5th wheels, and other big rigs offer 50-amp service. That’s what your RV has if your rig’s power plug has 4 prongs like this one: 

A 50-amp plug

The four prongs on this RV plug indicate that this is a 50-amp RV plug. This is most common on the largest RVs.

Here’s a good representation of what the various outlets look like for 15/20-amp, 30-amp, and 50-amp services:

A campsite power pedestal with outlets identifiedwith all three sizes of plugs

This campground pedestal offers all three types of service. From left to right — 50-amp, 30-amp and 15/20-amp.

Another easy way to surmise the power rating of an RV is to look at the roof. If it has no air conditioner units at all (think pop-up trailer), it may only be equipped with 15-amp service. If there’s a single A/C unit, it likely has 30-amp service. 2 or 3 A/C units or more (yes, they’re out there!) is a certain indication of a 50-amp RV.

In general, the larger the RV, the more electrical equipment it has, so the larger the power needs.

What’s the Difference Between 30-amp and 50-amp Power?

The 30-amp power plug has three prongs. Each corresponds to one of three wires: hot, neutral, and ground.

A 30-amp connection provides 3,600 watts of power (30A x 120V).

As shown in the photo above, a 50-amp RV plug has four prongs. Those provide two 120V legs of 50 amps each, one shared neutral wire, and one ground wire. Yes, that actually equals 100 amps (50 on each leg).

If you saw our post on the 50-amp RV plug, you may recall that a 50-amp connection provides significantly more power than just the difference between 50 amps and 30 amps. That’s largely due to the two 50-amp hot leads on a 50-amp plug vs. the single 30-amp hot lead coming into a 30-amp plug.

A 50-amp connection provides 12,000 Watts (50A x 120V = 6,000W x 2 = 12,000W).

So, the difference between 30-amp power and 50-amp power is technically 8,400 Watts (12,000W – 3,600 W).

If I Have a 30-amp RV Can I Plug Into a 15-amp or 50-amp Outlet?

Yes indeed! If your RV has 30-amp service, you can plug into a 15/20-amp or 50-amp power outlet if there’s no 30-amp RV outlet available. However, you’ll need to have some dog bone adapters.

Let’s take a look at the details!

Plugging a 30-amp RV into a 15/20-amp household outlet requires a 30-to-15-amp “dogbone” adapter (often referred to as “dog-boning down” to 15-amps).

To plug a 30-amp RV into a 50-amp (4-prong) outlet you’ll need a 30-to-50-amp dogbone. This is sometimes referred to as “dog-boning up” to 50-amps.

In fact, we keep dog bone adapters in our toolkit of RV electrical supplies and use them all the time. (Our Class A motorhome has 50-amp service, so we only need to dogbone down.)

For an RV with 30-amp service, here are the adapters you’ll need to carry.

30-amp to 15-amp Dogbone Adapter

If your RV has 30-amp service and you need to plug into a 15-amp outlet, you’ll need a 30-amp female to 15-amp male adapter.

This will allow you to connect your RV to a 15-amp power outlet.

Sale
Camco Heavy Duty RV Auto PowerGrip Adapter- Contoured Shape For Easy Grip and Removal, 15M/30F (15M, 30 Amp, 125 V, 1875 W) (55223)
  • For use when RV has 30 AMP power and needs to plug into 15 AMP power source.Fit Type: Universal Fit
  • Contoured shape for easy removal from outlet

30-amp to 50-amp Dogbone Adapter

If your RV has 30-amp service and you need to plug into a 50-amp outlet, you’ll need a 30-amp female to 50-amp male adapter.

This adapter will allow you to plug your 30-amp RV into a 50-amp power outlet.

Sale
Camco Heavy-Duty Electrical Dogbone Adapter, 50 Amp Male to 30 Amp Female, 18 Inches (55175) , Black
  • RV Plug Adapter: This RV adapter allows you to hook up to your campground's power pedestal, adapting the connection to fit your 30-amp RV; head...
  • High Conductivity: This RV electrical adapter features 50-amp male (NEMA 14-50P) and 30-amp female (NEMA TT-30R) ends; rated for 125 volts/3750 watts...

For RVs with other amp ratings (smaller 15-amp rigs, and larger 50-amp rigs) here’s a summary of which dogbone adapters you’ll want to carry on board:

15-amp to 30-amp Adapter

If you have a 15-amp RV, and you want to plug into a 30-amp outlet, you can use a 15-amp female to 30-amp male dog bone adapter to plug into a 30-amp service.

You can plug into a 30-amp power outlet using an adapter like this one:

Leisure Cords 30 Amp Male to 15 Amp Female Dogbone Adapter RV Electrical Converter Cord Cable (30A Male - 15A Female)
  • RV Dogbone Electrical Adapter, Safely converts power for use at recreational areas, motor parks, and campgrounds
  • 30 AMP Male (TT-30P) to 15 AMP Female Standard Home style Cord

50-amp to 30-amp Adapter

And finally, if you have a 50-amp RV and need to plug into a 30-amp outlet, you can use a 50-amp female to 30-amp male dog bone adapter like this one:

Camco RV Dogbone Electrical Adapter With Easy PowerGrip Handle, 30 Amp Male to 50 Amp Female, 18" (3750W/125V) (55185)
  • Handles make unplugging easier
  • 30 AMP (TT 30P) male to 50 AMP (14 to 50R) female

If you want to plug your 50-amp rig into a 15-amp or 15/20-amp outlet, you’ll need to use TWO dogbones. You’ll plug your rig into your 50-to-30-amp adapter and then plug that into a 30-to-15-amp adapter. Note that this is the exact same one owners of 30-amp rigs carry, which we’ve listed above.

Again, we dogbone our 50-amp rig all the way down to 15-amps (again, using two adapters) whenever we’re visiting family or friends and want to trickle charge our batteries using an outlet in their garage.

BUT…. and this is important…

When dog-boning down to a lower amp rating (plugging your 50-amp RV into 30- or 15-amps, or your 30-amp RV into 15-amps), keep this one thing in mind: You won’t be able to use all of the appliances you are accustomed to running when you’re connected to the service your RV plug was meant to handle.

Pay attention to the limits of the lower amp rating you’re connected to, and moderate your power demands accordingly. You’ll know you’ve neglected to do this when you trip the circuit breaker on the pedestal (or in your cousin’s garage). Reduce your power demand before that happens!

For a complete visual guide to dog bone adapters, check out our video “Dog Bones 101”:

The Importance of Heavy-Duty Outdoor Extension Cords

When you’re too far from the power source, it’s important to have a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord for use with your RV.

If you’ve got an RV with 30-amp electric service, you’ll want a good quality, heavy-duty outdoor 30A extension cord. (Likewise, if you have a 50-amp RV, you’ll want a 50A heavy-duty extension cord.)

The same is true if your RV has a 15-amp power cord. You’ll need a good, heavy-duty outdoor 15-amp extension cord.

You’ll want to use the heaviest-duty cord possible to avoid the risk of overheating. The longer the extension cord, the greater the risk of overheating and the heavier the cord needs to be.

Also, drawing too much current through an under-rated extension cord could lead to an electrical fire.

For an RV with 30A service, a high-quality, heavy-duty outdoor extension cord like this one is a good choice:

Sale
Camco Heavy-Duty 30-Amp RV Extension Cord | Features Power Grip Handles, Copper 10-Gauge Wires, and Rated for 125 Volts/3,750 Watts | 50-foot (55197)
  • Extended Length: Extension cord extends 50-feet long, providing the necessary length to power your RV.
  • High Conductivity: Features a standard 30-amp male (NEMA TT-30P) and 30-amp female (NEMA TT-30R) connectors. Rated for 125 volts/3750 watts....

How Can I Protect My 30A RV from Power Surges?

How do you know if a power pedestal is wired properly at any given campsite? Also, how do you know its condition before plugging your valuable RV into it?

It’s possible for your RV’s electrical system to be seriously damaged by a power surge or miswired pedestal anywhere you plug into a power source.

A high-quality surge protector is a relatively pricey investment, but it’s nowhere near as pricey an investment as your RV is!

We recommend a high-quality surge protector like the Power Watchdog from Hughes Autoformers, which is the one we use ourselves (and absolutely love)! We’ve even been able to arrange a special discount for RVgeeks readers. Just use promo code RVGEEKS at checkout.

SAVE 10%
Hughes Autoformers Logo
Hughes 10% Discount

Make sure your RV is protected from low voltage, bad RV park wiring AND power surges when connecting to shore power with a Power Watchdog and/or Hughes Autoformer. We never hookup without ours (we...Show More

Make sure your RV is protected from low voltage, bad RV park wiring AND power surges when connecting to shore power with a Power Watchdog and/or Hughes Autoformer. We never hookup without ours (we have both), and know our RV's electrical system and all our electronics are being protected.

Watch our Hughes Autoformer video
Watch our Hughes Power Watchdog video

Save 10% on your entire purchase when ordering from Hughes!

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Prices vary, so check current Amazon pricing, too:

Hughes Autoformers PWD30-EPO, 30 Amp Spike Power Watchdog, Shut Off
  • 30 amp Power Watchdog Smart Surge Protector offers 3,000 Joules of advanced surge protection for your coach. It features advanced circuit analysis...
  • Replaceable Surge / Spike Module – should you get hit by a large spike, simply order a new surge module rather than replacing the entire unit
Power Watchdog PWD50EPO, Bluetooth Surge Protector with Auto Shutoff, 50 Amp, Portable
  • Portable 50 amp surge protector with blue tooth monitoring and replaceable surge protector .Fit Type: Universal Fit
  • Smart Circuit Analyzer will shut down power to RV if a dangerous event occurs and an alert will be sent to your smartphone

The Power Watchdog offers more features and higher surge protection than competitive units — and at a lower price. It will protect your RV in a variety of important ways, which we detail in this video:

How to Replace a 30-amp Plug on Your RV’s Power Cord

If you need to replace the 30 amp plug on your RV’s power cord, it’s a pretty straightforward job for a competent DIY RVer.

The new plug is likely to come with instructions, but in general, these are the steps to replace it:

  1. Cut off the old plug.
  2. Trim back the insulation on the cord.
  3. Strip the wires.
  4. Attach the wires to the correct terminals in the replacement plug.

If you don’t already have one, we like this self-adjusting wire stripper and use ours all the time.

Sale
IRWIN VISE-GRIP Wire Stripper, Self-Adjusting, 8-Inch (2078300)
  • SELF-ADJUSTING: Strip wire from 10 to 24 AWG with our self-adjusting mechanism. Jaw Width: 2 inches
  • ADJUSTABLE STOPPER: Control the length of the core strip with the built-in adjustable stopper

Can You Plug an RV Into a 30-amp Dryer Outlet?

This is a tricky question. So tricky, as a matter of fact, that we personally would NEVER plug a 30A RV into a clothes dryer power outlet.

That’s because there are several different types of dryer outlets, some of which are 100% incompatible with RVs. Since it takes an expert to truly understand when it’s safe and when it’s not, we’re going with NO! Don’t plug your 30-amp RV into a dryer outlet!

Rather than us non-experts trying to explain when it is and isn’t safe to even consider doing this, we’ll defer to an expert. Ross is an electrical engineer, better known as Ask the RV Engineer.

Ross offers some specific technical information regarding RVs and dryer outlets, so we’ll simply link to his article “Can I Plug My RV Into My Dryer Outlet? (The Answer Isn’t Always No!)” if you’d like to know more.

Can I Install a 30A RV Outlet at Home?

If you’ve got a 30A RV and want a (safe!) 30A power outlet to plug into at home, it can be done if you’re confident & competent working with electricity.

You could also have a 30A outlet professionally installed at home. Just make sure the electrician knows you want an outlet to use with an RV and not as a dryer outlet!

Take a look at this video showing the steps to installing a 30-amp RV outlet to decide whether this is a DIY project that you’d be comfortable undertaking or whether it would be better to call in a pro.

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Kiki

Thursday 26th of January 2023

Quick question - if I have a 30 amp RV would it be better to get the 30a or the 50a power watchdog? Especially if I have to plug into 50a pedestals?

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 26th of January 2023

Hi Kiki! Great question. You should buy the model that matches the amp rating on your RV, regardless of what pedestals you sometimes use. In your case, the 30-amp Power Watchdog is the way to go!

Jackie A,

Monday 23rd of January 2023

I've been trying to figure out how to plug my Class A 50 amp RV into my older home (duplex). Some outlets are grounded, others aren't. There's an unused 20 amp outlet in my bedroom (why? No clue.)

And my stove is gas, so the 50 amp 250 v outlet is unused, as is the circuit. It's basically this: https://www.galesburgelectric.com/leviton-5050-50-amp-125-250-volt-3-pole-surface-mount-straight-blade-receptacle/

Can I use that to give some power to my RV?

I enjoy your posts, they've been a great help to me.

Jackie A,

Saturday 28th of January 2023

@TheRVgeeks, thank you. That's what I thought. I have the dog bones, but need to do some rearranging of what's plugged into my outlets. I do need to use an extension cord, so going to pick up a heavier duty one than I currently have.

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 26th of January 2023

Hi Jackie. We strongly suggest that you DO NOT even consider plugging an RV into any 50-amp plug in your house. They are usually not wired correctly for RVs, which can cause major electrical damage. We suggest that the best, safest way to get a small amount of power into an RV at a residential home is to dogbone down to a 15-amp plug (a 50-amp RV of course requires two dogbones (50-to-30 and then 30-to-20). Then plug that 15-amp into a regular household outlet (20-amp if possible... 15-amp if no 20-amp outlet is available). This is exactly what we do when we visit fam ily and park in their driveway. It limits what we can run on our RV (No A/C, microwave, etc), but it does keep the battery trickle charged. Hope this helps!

John S.

Sunday 22nd of January 2023

Another excellent article.

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 26th of January 2023

Thanks John!

Dan Guyor

Sunday 22nd of January 2023

I appreciate the fact that you call out using a heavy-duty extension cord.

I tried using a standard 15 amp extension cord to plug in my Class A to keep the residental fridge running, but the voltage drop with the smaller gauge wire kept tripping my EMS. To solve the issue I got a 20 amp extension cord with a short 20R-15P pigtail. The cable cost about 3 times more. Now I don't need to worry about overheating the cable or tripping the EMS.

I also like the fact that an electrical engineer would know how to connect a 50-amp Class A to a 240-volt dryer circuit safely, yet you give a definative "No" answer to the question of a 30-amp motor home. You always tend toward the "better safe than sorry" and I follow that rule as well.

Thank you for your posts and keep the information coming.

TheRVgeeks

Thursday 26th of January 2023

Thanks Dan!

Philippe

Sunday 22nd of January 2023

Hello guys, thank you for the amazing work, your posts helped me more than once.

I notice a small mistake with the dogbone converter from 30A to 50A in the article when it says :” This adapter will allow you to plug your 30-amp RV into a 50-amp power outlet”. This would require in fact a:

30A female to 50A male and not what is provided.

Thanks, and continue the great work.

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 22nd of January 2023

Thanks so much for catching that, Philippe! We did indeed link to the wrong dogbone. All fixed now! Thanks also for your kind words. Always great to hear we’ve been helpful.

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PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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