Plugging Your RV into Your Home Electric System
You know what is pretty awesome about a part-time or weekend RVer? You’ve got a full house and garage. You can store your extra tools. You have a full kitchen and laundry room. All the awesome things about a house that those full-timers miss.
And if you are fortunate enough to be able to park your RV at your house, you can even plug it into your house’s electrical system. And no storage fees!
It’s not a difficult process to plug the RV into your home electrical system. Really, even our friends in Athens can do it.
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Don’t worry full-timers, we love you too! But you have to admit, there are some benefits to stick and brick homes. Some you may even miss. We know the awesome benefits of the full-time life, with the ability to get new neighbors and see new places at the drop of a hat. It’ll be fun when I can retire and do that too. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the extra space while I can.
Benefits of Plugging the RV In
It’s really nice to be able to plug your RV into an electrical system while it is in storage or between uses.
First, it’ll keep your batteries charged up between uses. You won’t ever have to come out to the RV after a period of non-use to find out it won’t crank because the batteries are dead. Because that would be a horrible way to start a weekend football road trip.
Second, you can keep your fridge running between uses. I turn my fridge and freezer to the warmest settings that are still on. By keeping the fridge running, you don’t have to worry about mold growing while you aren’t using it. And during football season, when you are using the RV every weekend, you don’t have to unpack all the non-perishable stuff. You can treat the RV fridge as your extended beer fridge! And the fridge will be nice and cool when you pack it on Thursday or Friday for the weekend tailgate (which means a lower risk of food poisoning, another way to ruin a great weekend of RV tailgating!) All this without using up the propane in your tank!
Third, with the RV plugged in, you can run things like the ultrasonic pest repellent that I use to keep ants, mice, and other critters away from the RV. It takes power and again, if you are plugged in, it won’t drain your batteries. You can also run a small dehumidifier. The electric dehumidifiers seem to work much better than the bucket of Damp Rid. In the winter when the temperatures are below freezing, I’ve used electric space heaters to prevent the pipes from freezing up.
Yes, a word to the wise if you are using the electric dehumidifiers or space heaters: keep them away from flammable objects like curtains, carpets and sofas. They do pose a certain risk so make sure all the appliances are in good repair. And away from water sources that could cause them to short-circuit. It is also wise to plug these into the ground fault protected outlets in either the kitchen or the bathroom in case something does go wrong. It’s not a guarantee but does reduce the risk.
Finally, when you are working on your RV, it’s great to have power. Power tools require, well, power. Sure, battery-powered tools are awesome but if you are doing a large project, the battery will wear out. And if you are working in the RV during summer, you’ll want some fans and maybe even the air conditioner. Or if you want to wait until night time, you’ll probably want to use lights and all that jazz! Wouldn’t it be awesome if you didn’t have to use the generator for this?
Thus, you need to be able to hook up to your home electric.
See Also: How To Get Rid of Ants in the RV
How to Plug In the RV to Home Electric
You can go the expensive way: have an electrician come out and wire a plug for your RV, either 30 amp or 50 amp service. If you go this way, it’ll be like sitting at the campground with full service. You can run everything in your RV all at once, including air conditioners.
Or you can go the cheaper way. It’s not as effective because you’ll be using your home’s 120 volt AC system, not the RV’s 14 volt DC system. You’ll have to convert it from your 30 or 50 amp service to the 15 amp service. Then you can plug it directly to the standard three prong plug in your garage.
For 30 amp RVs, you’ll need: 30a female to 15a male. Remove the 30 amp plug from the generator plug, like you would at an RV campground. Then plug it into this adapter. Then you can plug the adapter into your heavy duty outdoor extension cord.
For 50 amp RVs, you’ll need: 50a female to 30a male and then the 30a female to 15a male. Remove the 50 amp plug from the generator plug, like you would at an RV campground. Then plug it into the first adapter (50a female to 30a male). This then gets plugged into the second adapter (30a female to 15a male) which together you can then plug the adapter into your heavy duty outdoor extension cord.
Limits on the Appliances You Can Use
Because of the smaller amp service, you probably won’t be able to run your RV air conditioner. In fact, when I come in from a roadtrip and plug in, if I have forgotten to turn off the A/C first, it will trip the circuit in the home’s electrical panel. So make sure you know where the circuit panel is. Because you will forget.
Microwaves and hair dryers are also going to be iffy on whether you can run them. Best case, go inside your home to use those appliances. If you need the hair dryer for some kind of repair work on the RV, run an extension cord from a different circuit out to the RV.
A different circuit is important. Don’t try running too much from one circuit – you might as well be using everything plugged into the RV. You will trip the breaker. Trust me.
The Adapter and Cord Connections
I prefer the dog-bone adapters rather than the simple plug adapters. In the typically limited space at the generator plug, you don’t want to be stacking up adapters with no room to go. It’s hard enough getting your hands in there to pull the plugs out, don’t be limiting your space even more.
Once you have all the dog-bone adapters setup, try to put all the connections inside the RV power cubby. Try not to expose the connections to the elements to help reduce the risk of damage from water.
Also if possible, use a plug in your garage, not an outdoor plug. Again, keep the connections out of the elements as much as you can. You will reduce the risk of fire by keeping the connections protected.
Heavy Duty Outdoor Extension Cord
I recommend that you use a heavy duty outdoor extension cord. First, it will be exposed to the elements. So make sure that it is in good repair. New is preferable. (Did you know that extension cords have a limited lifespan?) Indoor extension cords are not suitable for outdoor use or exposure to the elements. They are also typically not suitable for the larger loads that you may put on the cord with it plugged into the RV. Get yourself that heavy duty outdoor extension cord for safety!
Monitor Your RV
Don’t ignore your RV. It’s easy to do when you aren’t using it every week during the off-season. You should check in at least weekly to make sure that everything is working appropriately. The dehumidifier may need emptying. Check that there is no standing water or leaks, a problem that will be made worse by electricity. While you are at it, inspect that extension cord to make sure that there is no damage to it – cars running over it, critters eating at the cord, or even a lawnmower chopping it up. All can lead to damage to your home or your RV.
See Also: How to Prevent and Get Rid of RV Odors
Power Your RV with Home Electric
See, it wasn’t that hard to plug in your RV to your home electric system. With a few precautions, you don’t have to worry so much about fire. And you can reduce other problems from not having electrical hookups. No mold, freezing pipes, or dead batteries. Awesome sauce!
PS It’s a good idea to throw all the adapters into the RV before you leave on a road trip! You never know when a campground isn’t going to have the right electrical service for your RV. While you may not be able to run all the systems in your RV (most notably, the air conditioner), having limited electrical can be the difference between being able to stop and having to continue on. Or use the generator. Which may not be allowed after hours. Be prepared with all the cool adapters!