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Thread: 50 amp.... Why so big?

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    50 amp.... Why so big?

    I've done some fairly extensive mods to my house on wheels and along the way I've wondered about how we got to 50 amp shore power. That question comes back up every time I drag out the huge heavy power cord to plug in. Why do we carry that beast around?

    First, let's compare 30 and 50 amp service in terms of power. With 30 amp service, there is theoretically 3600 watts available and with 50 amp service there is 12000 watts available. How is it that almost overnight, the RV industry decided that we need more than three times the power to run the house. 12 kw is a lot of power! In my rig, 2 AC's, microwaveable coffee maker add up to less than 8 kw. And that's assuming no soft starts and all appliances start at the same time!

    Yes, it's nice to have pretty much unlimited power available, but how much do we really need? And how much weight are we willing to carry to support that habit? Personally, my back and shoulders can't handle wrestling the 50 pound power cord in and out of its home, so I don't.

    I haven't found my ideal setup yet, but most of the time I use a 10 gauge power cord that weighs about a quarter of what the beast weighs.

    It seems to me, a little bit of thought in the industry would go a long way toward making things simpler and lighter.

    Just my Sunday morning ramblings... I hope you enjoyed.
    Roger, Stacy and the Sophie the fur kid

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    I could be way out, but don't you actually have 2 x 25amp at 120v? Which would be 2 x 3000w. 6000w total
    Steph & Lise
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ynot4me2 View Post
    I could be way out, but don't you actually have 2 x 25amp at 120v? Which would be 2 x 3000w. 6000w total
    The 30 amp RV plug is 120 volts. That's 3600 watts. The 50 amp is at 240 volts. That's where the huge increase comes from.

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    After installing my MORryde tall power cord reel in my replection 5th wheel I no longer fret handling the 50 amp cord. It’s not cheap but it is a well built quality product that makes handling the cord way easier.

    At home I actually plug into our [email protected]/240v 4-wire dryer outlet with an adaptor for the 50:amp RV plug. I can run both AC units and the converter but I watch current used when using the microwave or electric water heater.

    At our cabin in addition to a dedicated 50a RV outlet on the side of the cabin I also have a 14-50R outlet with a 40 amp breaker that I primarily use for my electric car in the shed. I have plugged the RV into it on occasion and can run everything without coming close to the breaker limit.
    Jerry & Linda
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    Seasoned Camper OurNewEra's Avatar
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    From personal experience the last campsite we were at we had 30 amp. We tripped the breaker with water heater, A/C, and microwave. If I have shore power I would rather have 50 amp so I don't have to think about what I can run. If I want to think about the electric and what I can run I'll go boon docking.

    So 50 amp is a very nice convenience
    Mike & Lisa
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerryr View Post
    After installing my MORryde tall power cord reel in my replection 5th wheel I no longer fret handling the 50 amp cord. It’s not cheap but it is a well built quality product that makes handling the cord way easier.

    At home I actually plug into our [email protected]/240v 4-wire dryer outlet with an adaptor for the 50:amp RV plug. I can run both AC units and the converter but I watch current used when using the microwave or electric water heater.

    At our cabin in addition to a dedicated 50a RV outlet on the side of the cabin I also have a 14-50R outlet with a 40 amp breaker that I primarily use for my electric car in the shed. I have plugged the RV into it on occasion and can run everything without coming close to the breaker limit.
    I'm considering a cord real as well to relieve some of the storage/carrying/dirt issues. I watch my loads and use the appropriate cord for what I'm doing at the time. Campgrounds are whatever is available, but I will also wire up a panel where I might be mooch docking if the host is agreeable.

    Worst case, my 7kw generator has a 30 amp split phase output and I have never come close to maxing it out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OurNewEra View Post
    From personal experience the last campsite we were at we had 30 amp. We tripped the breaker with water heater, A/C, and microwave. If I have shore power I would rather have 50 amp so I don't have to think about what I can run. If I want to think about the electric and what I can run I'll go boon docking.

    So 50 amp is a very nice convenience
    I also agree that 50 amp is nice to have and use it when I can. Just thinking deeper into it... I do it all the time and it drives DW crazy.

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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerryr View Post
    After installing my MORryde tall power cord reel in my replection 5th wheel I no longer fret handling the 50 amp cord. Itís not cheap but it is a well built quality product that makes handling the cord way easier.

    At home I actually plug into our [email protected]/240v 4-wire dryer outlet with an adaptor for the 50:amp RV plug. I can run both AC units and the converter but I watch current used when using the microwave or electric water heater.

    At our cabin in addition to a dedicated 50a RV outlet on the side of the cabin I also have a 14-50R outlet with a 40 amp breaker that I primarily use for my electric car in the shed. I have plugged the RV into it on occasion and can run everything without coming close to the breaker limit.
    Off topic
    See you have an African parrot and a dog. I had that combo once but had to give the parrot a new home. I caught that very smart bird terrorizing our 90 lb German Shorthair Pointer Thor by ď yelling commands at him when we werenít in the room with them. Grown dog ....heard Thor SIT, LAYDOWN.......BAD DOG in my voice . One day. Quennie had to go and I thought I would need a dog psychiatrist for the hound
    Donna and Dave
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    Seasoned Camper Grandesigner's Avatar
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    The 50A is really two legs of 50A, IIRC. So more than 3X the 30A...we will probably never use that much with only one AC.
    Dan and Rita
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    OK, I'm going to post this right here...it's a good explanation of the 50A RV Electrical Service to our campers. I wrote this about two weeks ago after getting into a discussion on one of the Facebook Grand Design pages where there were Soooo many comments that were all the way from a little wrong....to OMG wrong. Feel free to use it as you may need to explain to others about the facts of an RV 50A Electrical service.....

    I have to admit....I'm still in shock (no pun intended) at some of the outrageous and totally wrong comments/info being given on this topic. The RV electrical systems have been engineered by professional folks, following an established method of electrical distribution that is not subject to your opinion or what you think on how it "should" work, it's based on how it DOES work. So in this case, opinion is totally irrelevant.....and FACT is the determining method of RV electrical systems.

    And the fact is this. A 50A RV electrical system will be comprised of two hot legs, created by what is known as a Split Phase system, and thought of as L1 and L2, a neutral wire, and a ground wire. The two hot legs will be 180 degrees out of phase with each other (and if you don't know what that means, you likely are not going to thoroughly understand how it works) and they WILL IN FACT be able to provide 50 amps of 120VAC PER LEG. In the case of a 50A RV Electrical system, it is basically the exact same as the electrical distribution system INTO your house or home. The difference between the two (RV and your house) is in the electrical distribution panel....a.k.a. the breaker panel. Up to that point (disregarding that fact that your house will use a ground rod at the service entrance and your RV has a continuous ground wire from the pedestal to your RV) the two are exactly alike. Distribution of that power is where the difference is...not the power source itself.

    The RV breaker panel is made so that the 50A Main breaker is located in the center of the panel and the associated bus work for each hot leg goes in opposite directions, so it is impossible to have a 240VAC circuit any place other than the Main breaker itself. In regard to the 50A Main breaker....the LEFT most half of that breaker feeds 120VAC (with respect to neutral) only to the LEFT side of the panel for the purpose of being able to install single pole breakers into the available spaces on the LEFT side of the panel. The RIGHT most half of the 50A Main breaker feeds the bus on the RIGHT side of the panel, providing 120VAC (with respect to the neutral wire) to all of the available slots on the RIGHT side of the panel. The left side of the panel can be thought of as Phase A...or L1.....and the right side of the panel would then be Phase B... or L2....and MOST IMPORTANTLY....L1 and L2 are electrically 180 degrees OUT OF PHASE with each other. The fact that the two hot legs are 180 degrees out of phase with each other, is what allows the neutral wire to NEVER have to carry any more than 50 amps of current.....even if each leg is pulling the maximum amount of current available to each leg.....50 amps each.

    It's really pretty simple if you have been trained and or have knowledge of how a split phase electrical distribution system works.....if you don't, it might be a bit troublesome and cause you to make statements that may not be true at all. Sorry for the long-winded post, but hopefully it may help clear up some of the mis-statements made in this ongoing topic.
    Last edited by xrated; 04-11-2021 at 09:10 AM.
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