When hooking up to electrical power, the outlet or power pedestal you’re connecting to isn’t always conveniently located. That’s why it’s important to carry an RV extension cord.
The question is which cord to carry because using an underrated cord for the load your RV will require could lead to problems, including fire. Which cord is most suitable for 15-amp, 30-amp, and 50-amp use?
RVers who have lost everything due to the use of an improper RV extension cord will tell you that this is incredibly important information. Investing in the right extension cord for use with your RV is not only a matter of providing the right amount of power to your RV appliances, but it’s also a critical safety issue.
- 1) Are All Heavy-Duty Extension Cords Essentially the Same?
- 2) Can I Use an Adapter to Plug My RV Into a Lower-Rated Socket?
- 3) How Do I Know the Power Rating of My RV Power Cord?
How Do I Know Which RV Extension Cord to Buy?
- 4.1) 15 Amp RV Extension Cords
- 4.2) 30 Amp RV Extension Cords
- 4.3) 50 Amp RV extension Cords
- 5) Final Note About RV Extension Cords
- 6) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews, Giveaways & More
Are All Heavy-Duty Extension Cords Essentially the Same?
No! There are very significant differences in RV extension cords, and knowing which one you need is critical to safely obtaining power from a nearby outlet or campground power pedestal.
It’s not that you can’t use a smaller extension cord (if you have to) if you’re plugging into a lower amp-rated plug. That’s not the issue.
The issue is the amount of power you’re pulling through the cord and the gauge of the wire the cord is made from.
If you attempt to pull too much power through a lower-rated cord, with too small of a wire gauge, the cord can overheat, melt, short out, and even catch on fire, endangering your rig, everyone in it, and everyone/everything nearby.
That’s why we always recommend that RVers carry at least one extension cord sized to match their RV’s existing power cord. Avoiding using a smaller, lower-rated cord, and adapting the plug down as close to the pedestal as possible, helps to minimize the risk of an overheating cord.
Can I Use an Adapter to Plug My RV Into a Lower-Rated Socket?
You can absolutely adapt your RV’s power plug to a lower-rated, smaller outlet. If you have a 50-amp rig (like we do), you can adapt down to a 30-amp or even a 15-amp plug if necessary. For example, if you’re visiting friends and camping in their driveway and want to plug into an outlet in their garage.
You can use a dogbone adapter (or adapters) to step down from your 50-amp cord to the smaller 15-amp outlet, allowing you to plug into that lower-rated power source and power your rig to a reasonable extent.
But here’s the key:
You need to always be aware of the amount of power you’re pulling through that cord.
You can’t ask your friend’s 15-amp service to provide the same amount of power a 50-amp power pedestal at an RV park would provide, for example.
Likewise, if you’ve had to adapt your RV’s power cord down to 15-amp, and still need to use a long 15-amp extension cord to reach the outlet, you could be flirting with disaster. If you pull too much power through too small of an RV extension cord, things can go wrong fast.
Here’s our YouTube video explaining how to plug an RV into any power source using dogbone adapters.
How Do I Know the Power Rating of My RV Power Cord?
The first thing you need to understand is the rating of your RV power cord.
Your RV’s built-in power cord has a specific amp rating, most likely either a 15-amp, 30-amp, or 50-amp power rating. This is very important information.
15-Amp RV Power Cord
Generally, the smallest RVs with the lowest load requirements have a 15-amp RV power cord. These are commonly found in small pop-up campers or small towables.
Typically, if the RV doesn’t have an air conditioner, its power demand is low enough to require only a 15-amp connection.
30-Amp RV Power Cord
30-amp power cords are usually found in mid-size RVs with lower load requirements. Examples would be a Class B campervan, a typical travel trailer, or a smaller Class A motorhome… pretty much any RV with only one air conditioner.
50-Amp RV Power Cord
Most Class A RVs have 50-amp power cords allowing them to power two or three AC/heating units and larger appliances like residential refrigerators or electric clothes dryers.
For a lot more information on your RV power cord, be sure to have a look back at our post on that very topic.
How Do I Know Which RV Extension Cord to Buy?
Regardless of how much power your RV power cord can handle, most RV power cords are between 25′ and 50′ long.
So, when you need to connect to a power supply with an outlet or power pedestal that’s further away than your RV’s power cord can reach, you need a heavy-duty outdoor RV extension cord, ideally one that matches the power rating of your RV power cord.
You’ll then want to carry dogbone adapters that’ll allow you to step down to the smaller plug required at the outlet, doing so as close to the outlet as you can.
But the RV extension cord itself is the critical part of the equation. Having the appropriate gauge extension cord to handle any potential distance you may need to cover is important for safety.
The longer you’re extending your cord, the heavier-duty you need the extension to be. That’s because higher gauge cords can handle higher amp draw without overheating. These larger gauge cords will also have a lower drop in voltage along their length, ensuring that it won’t cause problems with the electrical equipment and appliances on your RV that may be susceptible to damage from low voltage (like air conditioners, residential refrigerator compressors, etc).
Let’s take a look at some high-quality, heavy-duty RV extension cords for 15-amp, 30-amp, and 50-amp RVs.
15 Amp RV Extension Cords
If you’ve got a pop-up camper or small travel trailer (like a teardrop or similar), you likely have 15-amp service on your RV.
In this case, a high-quality heavy-duty 15-amp extension cord is what you’ll want to carry in your rig. Just note that many outdoor extension cords that are rated at 15 amps are made with only 12-gauge wire, while 10-gauge is a preferable standard for a heavy-duty RV extension cord (wire sizes when measured in gauge are weird, with smaller numbers reflecting larger diameter, thicker wiring).
Clear Power 50 ft 10/3 Extra Heavy-Duty Contractor-Grade Extension Cord
This 50-foot high-grade extension cord uses 10 gauge/3 conductor wire with 100% copper conductors. It safely handles up to a fill 15 amps (up to 1875 watts at 125 volts) and has a power indicator light.
The jacket is flame-retardant, weather, oil, water, ozone and kink-resistant, and is certified to USA & Canadian safety standards by ETL/Intertek.
This 15-amp RV extension cord’s performance is not compromised by extreme temperatures and functions in temps as low as -58°F to as high as +221°F.
The brass blades are nickel-coated, so they won’t corrode, which helps to prevent arcing.
- Indicator light in the connector lets you know the cord has power
- Oil, water, weather & kink and abrasion resistant
Yellow Jacket 10/3 Heavy-Duty 15-Amp Contractor-Grade Extension Cord
This heavy-duty 50-foot extension cord has oversized clear molded plugs and a visible yellow jacket (making it less of a tripping hazard). A light on the end of the extension cord illuminates when there is power going to the cord.
This is a 10-gauge, 3-prong durable extension cord that provides 15 amps (up to 1875 Watts at 125 volts) that is certified to UL standards.
- HEAVY DUTY 50 foot extension cord recommended for use with heavy duty equipment and tools
- EXTRA DURABLE oversized; clear molded plugs prevent accidental bending or breaking
30 Amp RV Extension Cords
If you have a Class B RV or any other type of camper that uses 30-amp power, you’ll want to carry a 30-amp RV extension cord that’ll allow you to reach a power outlet or pedestal located farther from your rig than your RV’s built-in power cord can reach.
Camco Heavy-Duty 30-Amp RV Extension Cord
This 50-foot heavy-duty 30-amp RV extension cord from Camco uses 10-gauge copper wire rated for up to 3,750 Watts at 125 volts. It features power grip handles that make pluggin/unplugging it an easy job. The 90-degree heads help to further reduce stress on the cord and the connection itself.
The cord is highly flexible and coated with a PVC jacket that is flame-retardant and heat-resistant and certified for use in both the U.S. and Canada.
This 30-amp RV extension cord comes with an adjustable cord organizer and carrying strap for easy portability. It comes in both 25′ and 50′ lengths.
- EXTENDED LENGTH: Increase the reach of your RV's electrical outlet with this 25' 30-amp RV plug. A camper must-have— great for motorhomes, travel...
- HIGH CONDUCTIVITY: Rated for 125 volts/3750 watts, the RV power cord features 100% copper 10-gauge wires for superior conductivity. It includes...
- EXTENDED LENGTH: 30 amp 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....
Valterra A10-3025EH Mighty Cord RV 30-Amp Extension Cord
This is a 25-foot RV extension cord that provides up to 30 amps of power to your rig. The rubber housing makes this 10-gauge, 3-wire cord suitable for outdoor use even in inclement weather.
The ends offer finger grips to make plugging and unplugging easier.
- RELIABLE POWER: 25-Foot extension cord provides up to 30 amps of power to your RV, camper, or trailer
- RUBBER HOUSING: Durable rubber housing makes the cord excellent for prolonged outdoor use during camping or your next road trip
The Valterra Mighty Cord RV 30-Amp extension cord is also available in a 50-foot version.
- 30 amp extension cord
- Finger grip male end for ease of use
50 Amp RV extension Cords
Finally, if you’ve got a Class A RV or a large travel trailer like a 5th wheel, you’ll want to carry a 50-amp RV extension cord.
Camco PowerGrip Heavy-Duty Outdoor 50-Amp RV Extension Cord
Like the 30-amp version, this (30 ft) 50-amp RV extension cord from Camco is covered with a heavy-duty, flame-retardant PVC jacket that is heat-resistant and well-protected from the outdoor elements.
Made using 100% copper 6/3 plus 8/1-gauge wires for excellent conductivity, this extension cord is rated for 125/250 volts and up to 12,500 watts.
The power grip handle and 90-degree heads offer easy plugging and unplugging of the male and female ends without stress on the cord.
This Camco 50-amp RV extension cord comes with an adjustable cord organizer and carrying strap handle for easy portability and storage.
- Extended Length: Extension cord extends 30-feet long, providing the necessary length to power your RV
- Flexible, Safe and Durable Construction: Extension cord is extremely flexible. Coated with a heavy-duty flame retardant, heat resilient, PVC sheath...
CircleCord 50-Amp 25-Foot RV/EV Extension Cord
This 50A, 25-foot heavy-duty extension cord can handle upt to 12,500 Watts. It uses pure copper heavy-duty 6/3+8/1 Gauge STW wire for excellent conductivity.
The pure copper wiring is covered with a heavy-duty flame-retardant and heat-resistant PVC jacket to protect it from weather, soil, rocks, etc.
Each end of this extension cord has an ergonomic grip handle for easily and safely plugging and unplugging the cord.
It comes with an adjustable cord organizer and a storage bag for easy portability and storage.
- 【ELECTRICAL RATING】 50A, max rate 6250 Watt (125V) / 12500 Watt (250V), STW pure copper power cord with 14-50P male plug and 14-50R female...
- 【UL LISTED】 High quality standards. Pure copper wiring coated with a heavy duty flame retardant, heat resistant, UV resistant PVC, provides...
Final Note About RV Extension Cords
It’s important enough to repeat one last time that using an RV extension cord that is properly rated for the power of your RV’s electrical system can be critical.
Investing in an extension cord that’s most appropriate for your RV will not only find you carrying a cord that can deliver the amount of power you need (depending, of course, on the capability of the power source), but also a cord that will not overheat and potentially cause a fire.
Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews, Giveaways & More
Subscribe to our daily newsletter! We’ve been full-time RVers for 20 years (!) and share everything we’ve learned about RVing in our daily blog posts. Join our online community to receive a wealth of great RVing knowledge delivered right to your inbox.
Whether this is your first time on the road or you’re a seasoned full-timer, you’ll love the wide range of RVing topics we cover. Don’t miss a single article or any of our famous RV gear Giveaways — Subscribe today!