How To Wire 30 Amp RV Plugs, Outlets and ReceptaclesElijah White
Learning about electrical components is difficult, and electricity can be dangerous when installed incorrectly, but is it possible to learn to install outlets?
If you need something simple like a 30 amp outlet installed in a prepared location, it may be possible to save money and do the job yourself. Keep in mind additional components that may be needed, like breakers, posts, or correctly gauged wire.
To wire a 30 amp RV plug, start by using a wire stripper. Then, use electrical tape to insulate the stripped end of each wire. Next, attach each wire to the corresponding terminal on the outlet, screwing them in tightly. Finally, cover the outlet with an outlet box and screw it into place.
Though the technical process of installing an outlet is simple, there are many basic principles of electricity at work behind it. Below I will go over some general concepts to the electricity system in your RV, and go into more details on installing different outlet types.
As someone who knows a few basic principles of electricity, this is not an overly complicated topic to research, but if you’re new to working with electrical components, the information can be very confusing. I will do my best to explain what you need to know about electricity to install these kinds of outlets, but when in doubt, never perform electrical work you are not confident in. Instead, hire a certified electrician.
RV Electricity Basics
If you're like most RVers, you have probably never put much thought into how your RV plugs and outlets work. After all, as long as you can plug in and get power, everything is fine, right? Wrong! Knowing how your RV electrical system works is critical to being able to use your RV safely and efficiently. You don't necessarily need to become an amateur electrician, but knowing some basics will go a long way.
First, a little background information. Your RV has two different types of electrical systems: the 120-volt AC (alternating current) system and the 12-volt DC (direct current) system. The 120-volt AC system powers your appliances that use electricity, like your TV, microwave, and air conditioner. The 12-volt DC system powers your lights and other accessories that don't use electricity, like your water pump and furnace.
Your RV has 120-volt AC outlets, like the ones you use in your home, and it also has 12-volt DC outlets. The 12-volt DC outlet is usually located away from the 120-volt AC outlets and has a much different-looking plug. The reason your RV has both types of outlets is that some of your RV's appliances, like your TV and microwave, need to be plugged into the 120-volt AC system, while other appliances, like your water heater and furnace, need to be plugged into the 12-volt DC system.
Now that you know a little bit about how your RV's electrical system works let's talk about how to wire 30 amp RV plugs, outlets, and receptacles.
What Are The Different Types of RV Plugs
The first thing you need to do is determine what kind of plug or outlet you have. There are three different types of 30 amp RV plugs and outlets: the twist lock, the locking blade, and the non-locking blade. The twist lock is the most common type of plug and outlet used on RVs. It has a male plug that looks like it has two prongs that are twisted together. The female outlet has two holes that the prongs on the male plug fit into.
The locking blade type of plug is less common, but it is basically a twist-lock plug with an extra locking tab that fits into a slot on the female outlet. The non-locking blade plug is the least common type, and it looks like a regular household electrical plug with two prongs that fit into two holes on the female outlet.
Once you know what type of plug or outlet you have, the next thing you need to do is determine what kind of wiring you have. There are two different types of wiring used in RVs: 3-wire and 4-wire. The 3-wire system is more common.
How to Install RV Wiring Safely
If you are new to RV wiring, it is important to understand how 30 amp power works. Most RVs can handle 30 amp service, but only in certain situations.
When you plug into a 30-amp RV receptacle, you must use a 50-amp breaker for the power source — most likely an electrical panel with one or more breakers that are rated for 50 amps each. You may need help from an electrician if your existing panel cannot support this level of power. If you have any questions about whether your RV can handle 30 amp service safely, consult with an expert before making repairs yourself.
If you're planning on rewiring your camper yourself and want some tips for doing so without getting hurt in the process, check out these rules for electrical safety:
- Use gloves whenever handling bare wires or other metal parts that could be hot or dangerous if touched
- Always shut off all power sources before working on them (e.g., disconnecting battery cables)
- Make sure your hands are dry before touching anything metal because wetness conducts electricity better than dryness does; therefore moisture creates shock hazards when working around exposed wires! Also remember not to wear any jewelry while working on electrical systems because they could get caught by moving parts such as motors or gears
Tools Required to Wire 30 Amp RV Plugs
You will need the following tools to get started:
- Wire stripper
- Wire crimper
- Multimeter (optional)
- Electrical tape
- Voltage tester (optional)
- Insulated screwdrivers and pliers
How to Choose the Right Wire Gauge
The wire gauge is the thickness of the wire. The thicker the wire, the more current it can carry. For example, 12 gauge wire can carry 15 amps while 10 gauge can only carry 10 amps. You may have heard of this concept before in reference to your car battery cables: if you have a hard time starting your car or it seems as though its battery is dead, then you might need to replace those cables because they're too thin for how much power your engine wants to draw from them.
Similarly, with RV electrical circuits, you want to keep track of how much current (amps) each circuit will be using so that you don't overload any one outlet or receptacle by wiring too many devices together on one circuit panel without adding another breaker switch (or "breaker") into that circuit's wiring setup. So how do we figure out what size wire gauge works best for our needs?
Types of 30 Amp RV Electrical Components
- Plug. This is the male end of an RV electrical cord, which plugs into the outlet.
- Outlet. This is a female receptacle that fits with an amp plug to complete a circuit and allow electricity to flow.
- Receptacle. This is the female end of an RV electrical cord, it receives power from a source such as shore power when you're connecting two cords together.
- Cable. An extension made up of two different types of wires connected by male and female ends that can be plugged into each other.
How to Wire a 30 Amp Outlet in Your RV
- Find a NEMA TT-30R Outlet or Receptacle
- Shut Off and Disconnect the Main Breaker (and Verify)
- Install a 30 Amp Breaker
- Ground the Green Wire
- Connect the Hot Wires
- Reconnect the Breaker and Restore Power
- Test the Outlet
About THE AUTHOR
My wife and I bought a broken down 1984 Chevy A-Class 26ft RV and restored it back to working order. Now we both work remotely and live in it full time with our pet cats with the freedom to explore.Read More About Elijah White