How To Wire 50 Amp RV Plugs, Outlets and ReceptaclesAnthony Day
This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
Something that all RV travelers have to deal with after coming back from a trip is recharging all of their vehicle’s power system, but can you do it at home?
You will be delighted to know that you can charge your RV’s power systems at home by setting up an electrical system that enables your vehicle to connect to your residential grid. However, you should know that your RV’s power supply is not going to be compatible with what you have currently at home, which is why you want to carefully follow the procedure to set it up properly.
To wire 50 amp RV plugs, outlets, and receptacles you must first install a NEMA 14-50R outlet or receptacle. With your main breaker switched off, install your 50 amp breaker, connect the ground wire (green), and then connect your two hot points. Switch the main breaker back on and test it.
Traveling in an RV is as popular as ever and - with the summer season on the horizon, a lot of folks are getting geared up for their next trip. This is one of the most incredible ways to experience the country, as you are able to have a very fulfilling and intimate connection with the open road and all of its surrounding natural landscapes. However, traveling in an RV comes with a lot more maintenance, upkeep, and attention to detail compared to other modes of transport. If you are the kind of person that has done a considerable amount of RV travel, you have likely experienced the headaches that can come with a drained power supply. The trouble with this is that it can be quite tricky to charge, as most people are dependent on campgrounds that have compatibility with RV hookups. With that being said, you can skip the frustrations of having a dead RV or being reliant on campground power supplies by simply setting up a system at home. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at how to wire 50 amp RV plugs, outlets, and receptacles in more detail.
After extensively researching RV electronic components, I have been able to gather enough information to determine how to make your RV 50 amp system compatible with your home’s power supply. My research has taught me that it is essential that you go through the process carefully to ensure that all wiring was done correctly and that all safety precautions are monitored throughout the process.
Safe Wiring Rules for RVs
When you are dealing with any kind of electrical wiring, you always want to prioritize safety above everything else. One of the biggest mistakes that many RV travelers tend to make when wanting to optimize their recreational vehicle’s power supply for at-home charging is to overlook the dangers of dealing with electrical currents.
Before you begin doing any kind of wiring, it is always best to take out the manual for your specific RV to have a quick read-through. You particularly want to take a look at what the manufacturer listed for the eclectic components of the vehicle, as it never hurts to be extra safe when doing this kind of wiring on your own. More often than not you will find that most RVs have a lot of common components and procedures for this but models may differ depending on their make, model, as well as manufacturing date.
The first thing that you must always do before dealing with wiring electronics is to ensure that the main breaker has been switched off. A failure to do so can result in an electrical shock that can be extremely dangerous and in the worst case - potentially fatal. In addition, leaving your electrical breaker on for this process can also cause some serious damage to your RV, as well as other parts of your property. So, you should have the following safety equipment ready to use when dealing with electrical wiring:
- Safety Goggles
- Voltage Meter
- Fire Extinguisher
If you feel that you are not up to the task of dealing with the wiring yourself, you should always call a professional to come to your home to take care of the work for you. It never hurts to be safe when dealing with electrical wiring. Just make sure that the technician you call out is aware of the exact kind of wiring that you want to do, as hooking up an RV is not an everyday job for them.
Can an RV Handle 50 Amp Power?
You will find that every single RV that is sold and manufactured was designed for either 30 or 50 amp power. If you are unsure of what your specific RV make and model is equipped with it is always best to confirm this with your vehicle’s manual, as all of this information will be detailed in there.
However, an even easier way to approach finding this out is to check the plug for your RV’s power supply. A 50 amp power plug will have a total of 4 prongs on the end of it. Whereas as 30 amp power plug will have just 3, which are normally found on RVs that are generally quite a bit smaller such as Class B recreational vehicles.
If you have got a larger recreational vehicle such as a Class A, C, or Fifth Wheel, then you almost certainly be dealing with 50 amp power. Having a 50 amp power RV is going to give you 12,000 watts.
Tools Required to Wire 50 Amp RV Plugs
Before you begin the process, you are going want to ensure that you have got all of the right tools handy to hook up your RV’s 50 amp plugs to your residential power supply. You should be able to get just about everything that you need to complete this process at your local hardware store - especially for the electrical wiring supplies.
However, you should have some of these tools laying around the house. If you happen to be unsure of what you need to buy at the store to fit your 50 amp RV plug wiring, always seek the help of a professional for assistance to confirm that you are buying the right tools and supplies. Here are the tools and supplies that you will need for the process:
- NEMA 14-50R receptacle
- 6 Gauge Four Conductor Wire
- 50 Amp Double Pole Circuit Breaker (120/240 Volts)
- Wire Cutters
- Voltage Meter
- Wire Strippers
It will also be wise to have some kind of electrical conduit to run your wires through, as this will keep things much tidier and organized, as well as help ensure safety by preventing hazards. There are a couple of different types of conduits that you can use for this - either a softer rubber tubing that is much easier to maneuver and adjust or a solid conduit, which could be made out of a standard PVC pipe. The PVC pipe is much more ideal for a home setup if you plan on charging your rig regularly.
How to Choose the Right Wire Gauge
In order for your system to run you are going to need to choose the right wire gauge for your setup.
A 50 amp RV system is going to require a 6 AWG wire (6 Gauge/3 Wire). If you are ever unsure about the exact wire that you need for your specific recreational vehicle, you should take a look at this chart so that you can match it to your appropriate wire gauge.
You are also going to want to ensure that you have got enough length to connect the wire to your home’s power supply. It can be incredibly frustrating to go through the process and find out that the wire that you got for your vehicle was not long enough.
To confirm this, always park your RV next to its likely power supply so that you can take a measurement. For the most part, 25 ft of wire is enough for a lot of owners, however, we would recommend going with a bit of extra length as it never hurts to have too much. You can buy a 30ft heavy-duty extension cord like this, which is ideal for 50 amp RVs. With that being said, always take an accurate measurement before committing to an extension cord, as everyone’s home is set up differently.
Types of 50 Amp RV Electrical Components
To make sure that your wiring process goes smoothly, you will want to consider the different types of 50 amp RV electrical components that are available to you.
If you are dealing with a direct 50 amp plug, which is generally very common to find at just about every RV campground, then your standard 50 amp extension cord should suffice. However, some RV campgrounds are only equipped with 30 amp plugs, which are not going to be compatible with your system.
If that is the case, an easy way to bypass this issue is to have something that can adapt to this socket so that you are compatible with the power source. This extension cord adapter should do the trick, however, you should always confirm the compatibility for the amps that you want to convert to so that you are matching the power correctly.
How to Wire a 50 Amp Outlet in Your RV
Now that you have got all of the logistics out of the way, you can begin wiring your 50 amp outlet.
As mentioned, safety is always priority number one before you begin dealing with any electrical components. So, approach the procedure with caution and do not overlook any of the important steps when wiring.
1. Find a NEMA 14-50R Outlet or Receptacle
The first thing that you are going to need to do is to install your NEMA 14-50R outlet in a designated area so that you can begin the wiring process.
The NEMA 14-50R outlet should be located in a convenient place that is within range of where you want to charge your RV. Given that you are probably going to have your outlet installed outside of your home, it would be smart to get a cover for it so that it is protected from moisture and weathering.
2. Shut Off and Disconnect the Main Breaker (and Verify)
The most important step to ensure your safety is to have your main breaker turned off and disconnected for the procedure, as you will get shocked otherwise.
Head over to your home’s primary circuit breaker to switch it off and then verify that there is no current moving through it. For this step, take out your voltage meter to confirm that there is no electricity moving through. Stick the voltage meter on the output points of the circuit breaker to get a reading.
3. Install a 50 Amp Breaker
Once you have made sure that your main breaker is turned off, you can install the 50 amp breaker.
You will find that the 50 amp breaker will simply snap into place. Then, screw it in and attach the 50 amp breaker into your main breaker. Make sure that you have fastened it tight by giving it a small tug.
4. Find and Ground the Green Wire
You must take the green wire so that you can ground it. This is usually found at the bottom connection point of the outlet.
Whereas, your hot wires should be at the top to points of your 50 amp outlet.
5. Connect the Two Hot Wires
You can now connect your hotlines to the top and the bottom of the breaker output points. However, your two hotlines will have rubber sheathing that is covering them.
You are going to want to get a wire cutter, cardboard cutter, or an Exacto knife so that you can strip away the sheathing. Approach this part very carefully, as you do not want to cut in too deep and risk sabotaging the wire.
Starting from the top, make a small incision that exposes the wire. After you have cut about an inch, strip back the wire to confirm that the length you cut is not too deep. You can then continue to cut at that depth for about 6 to 8 inches to ensure that you have enough wire.
Once you have removed the sheathing and exposed your two hot points, connect them to your 50 amp breaker.
6. Reconnect the Breaker and Restore Power
Depending on the type of system that you decided to set up, it would be a good idea to have all of your wires running through a conduit so that they are not exposed, as this can be an electrical hazard.
Once you have got all of your wires run through a conduit and set up to your 50 amp breaker, you can switch the power back on.
7. Test the Outlet
To finalize the process, test the outlet by using your voltage meter to get a reading. If your voltage meter is triggered, it means that have you properly connected everything.
You can now begin charging your RV’s power supply from your home.