RV Tech

You Need to Know: Can You Hook a 30 Amp RV to 50 Amp Power?

It’s not uncommon to arrive at an RV park only to find a broken 30 amp plug or no 30 amp plug at all. So, what do you do if you have a 30 amp RV? Can you hook up a 30 amp RV to a 50 amp power plug? Keep reading to find out!

Can You Hook Up a 30 Amp RV to a 50 Amp Power Plug?

The short answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as just plugging in your RV and hoping for the best. You really need to understand what you are doing and take appropriate safety measures to mitigate the risk of damage to your electrical system. 

There are plenty of adapters out there that convert a 50 amp plug into a 30 amp plug for your RV. Here are just a few of the many 50A/30A options available on Amazon:

Kohree 50 Amp to 30 Amp RV Adapter 18 Inch,...
  • 【50M/30F Adapter】50AMP (TT-30P) male to 30AMP (14-50R) female...
  • 【18’’ RV Adapter Plug】Longer rv dogbone 50A to 30A...
  • 【Grip Handle Design】Both ends of power adapter are designed...
Leisure Cords 50AMP Male to 30AMP Female Dogbone...
  • Heavy duty electrical power adapter: 50 Amp Male to 30 Amp Female...
  • High Quality: Heavy duty flame and anti fire & heat resistant PVC...
  • NEMA: 14-50P to TT-30R - Rated 125V/3750W; Cord type STW

These devices are commonly known as dogbone adapters and are relatively cheap. However, it’s important to understand that there are risks associated with these adapters. 

The Danger in Hooking a 30 Amp RV to 50 Amps of Power

The dogbone adapters above are commonly referred to as “dumb” adapters, which doesn’t mean they’re stupid per se. Rather, the term “dumb” refers to the fact that these adapters do not offer protection for your RV and can lead to a possible overload on your RV’s cable.

When you plug a 30 amp adapter into a 50 amp breaker at the pedestal, the 50 amp breaker will only pop if the amperage goes beyond 50 amps. The problem here is that these adapters and the power cord for your RV are only rated at 30 amps. This means you have an unprotected line with the potential to be overloaded by 20 amps, which is dangerous.

Overloading a wire can cause the wire itself to burn up and even catch fire. It can also cause significant damage to electronics.

What About the RV’s Main Breaker?

Because the RV’s main breaker is installed in the distribution panel of the RV, the above scenario is unlikely. Most of the time, the RV’s main breaker will pop before the 50 amp pedestal breaker does. 

This scenario, however, does not fully protect your wires from becoming overloaded. If there were a short on the line or a fault in the breaker, your protection would be limited. Not to mention, even with the RV’s breaker, using a 50A/30A dogbone adapter without protection is technically an electrical code violation. 

How to Safely Plug a 30 Amp RV Into 50 Amp Power Source

The safest way to do this is to use a second adapter that offers overcurrent protection. This means you are putting a breaker or surge protector with overload protection in line between the dogbone adapter and your RV’s power cord. In this scenario, the surge protector will disconnect the line to prevent damage if an overload occurs.

Not all surge protectors have overcurrent protection or auto-off. Most only limit surges in voltage to protect electronics. 

We highly recommend the 30 amp Watchdog Surge Protector with Auto-Off because it also has an overload disconnect function to protect your RV’s electrical system. Additionally, this model provides great data about your power usage and any problems with the power line.

If you are interested in one of these Hughes is offering our subscribers an exclusive discound of 10% off by using coupon code MORTONS at checkout!

If you prefer they are also available on Amazon.

Hughes Autoformers PWD30-EPO, 30 Amp Spike Power...
  • Package dimension : 11.684 cm x 26.67 cm x 58.42 cm
  • Product type : AUTO ACCESSORY
  • Package weight : 2.585 kg

Can You Hook Up a 50 Amp RV to a 30 Amp Plug?

Again, the answer is yes! This time, however, the simple dogbone adapters work safely. This is because too much amperage will trip the 30 amp breaker, keeping it from overloading the line. This simple, inexpensive adapter will do the trick:

Kohree 30 Amp to 50 Amp RV Plug Adapter Heavy Duty...
  • 【Heavy duty Electrical power adapter】-30AMP (TT-30P) male to...
  • 【Well constructed Adapter cord is constructed in 100% copper...
  • 【Grip Handle Design】-Both ends of power adapter are designed...

While it isn’t necessary to protect the line, we still recommend getting a surge protector with Auto-Off. There are many other scenarios that it can protect your RV from, like overvoltage, undervoltage, and voltage surges.

Limitations with 50 Amp to 30 Amp Plug Adapters

There are two drawbacks when using a 30A/50A adapter. First, using one of these adapters will significantly limit the power available to a 50 amp coach. This is because a 50 amp plug has 12000W potential, while the 30 amp plug only has 3600W. This makes it much easier to pop the 30 amp breaker, so you will need to limit your power usage.    

Second, 50 amp plugs typically have 240V service, which will be unavailable with the adapter. This means if you have any 240V appliances (like a 240V washer/dryer unit), they will not work at all when using a 30A/50A adapter.  

Solution to Popping 30 Amp Breakers

It’s an expensive solution, but one way to plug into any power source with a big rig is to install a hybrid inverter that passes power through it. With these inverters, you can set a shore power limit so you will not pop a breaker. The magic with hybrid inverters is that when you demand extra power, they will make it up from the RV batteries. When the excess load is removed, they will charge the batteries back up and you’ll never even know you exceeded that 20 or 30 amp circuit.  

This is how our RV electrical system works. We have been plugged into 20 and 30 amp supplies many times and used our 50 amp RV like normal – never worrying about power. Our system is quite complex, but we’ve put together good explanations of how it all works. You can read about it here: Ultimate Off-Grid RV Solar Power System Build. Or, check out our YouTube video: Ultimate RV Off-Grid Solar System Build

Use an Auto Shut-Off Surge Protector to RV Safely In All Scenarios

In summary, you can plug your 30 amp RV into a 50 amp plug, and vice versa, you just need to make sure you know the limitations and how to do it safely. Again, we highly recommend using an auto-shutoff surge protector, like the Watchdog, to make sure you are protected near the plug at all times.  

There are so many situations with RV park power that could damage your RV and having one of these devices in line will protect you. Besides, a device like the Watchdog will provide real-time monitoring information about your power usage and the line. 

If you want the best surge protector money can buy check out watchdog and get our exclusive discount!

Overloading the electrical system on your RV can be dangerous and costly. But if you follow the guidelines outlined above when adapting your power supply, you will most certainly protect yourself and your investment!

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Mortons on the Move

We are Tom & Caitlin Morton. We gave up the stationary life for one where we are constantly on the move. We live in a fifth wheel RV and travel with our two pups, Mocha and Bella. We enjoy hiking, biking, boondocking, videography, and upgrading our RV to suit our off-grid mobile lifestyle. Our goal is to share educational, entertaining, and inspiring content with our readers and viewers.

View Comments

  • Enjoying having just discovered your show and this website.

    Do you think the Hughes Watchdog is a better or more sensitive surge protector than the Progressive Industries EMS-PT30X?

    Thank you so much!

    • Good question, I would not say that its any better in snuffing voltage spikes but it does have some advantages that I think make it better. First, it has a replaceable surge module so it does not give its life in the case of a big surge. The EMS should still work but will no longer protect the RV. Second, the Bluetooth information provided by the EPO watchdog version is so easy to understand and figure out what's going on. Seeing real-time information on your phone and being able to use it as a power meter is a great feature that is well worth the price in my opinion!

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