The RV electrical system is one of the most important things in your RV because it enables you to use many electronic devices which make your life much easier in this modern-day and age. It’s an amazing feeling when you have electricity on the road and you can plug in your fridge, ventilation fans, lights, and other systems that require power to run smoothly. Without all those systems it’s much harder to keep going which is why it’s important to have some knowledge of how the RV electrical system works so you can maintain it properly.

To understand your RV electrical system you must first understand how electricity works. Electricity isn’t a source that can’t be depleted, in fact, it’s very limited especially when you are in an RV. Understanding your electrical system will allow you to save power and make sure you don’t run out of power in the middle of nowhere. You don’t need to be too familiar with electricity to have a basic understanding of what to do and what not to do. 

The first thing you have to understand is how many devices you can have plugged in without spending too much of your RV power or breaking a circuit. To calculate this you need to use a formula that is easy to remember. The formula is Watts (overall power) = Amps x Volts. You can apply this formula and if the result you get is not higher than the wattage you have available in your RV power system, you will have no trouble at all plugging in electrical equipment like a water heater and water pump.

Electrical Systems In Your RV

You have two electrical systems in your RV. One of the systems supplies DC (direct current) power and it is 12 volts, while the other system supplies AC (alternating current) power, and it is 120 volts. The DC system in your RV is powered by your RV battery. This one is mainly in charge of the appliances you have already connected to your RV like lights, water heater, fridge, and so on. The second system is the one you use when you are in a camp and for this one you need a hookup. This one is much more powerful and it supplies power to some larger devices in your RV like your kitchen appliances, TV, and many other bigger electrical devices that require more power to run.

Power Sources In Your RV

The 12 volt system can be easily powered by a 12-volt battery. You can use one 12-volt battery or a few and connect them using a parallel circuit. A better way to ensure your battery life is longer is to connect two 6-volt batteries with a series circuit. They usually last much longer because they have a deeper discharge time. However, if you’re low on space, you should still go with one 12-volt battery because it takes up less space. Either way, you need to use deep cycle batteries because most of the time you will be using them till the end before recharging them again. The batteries will automatically charge when you plug your RV into the electrical power outlets in the campground. If you are not in a campground, make sure you know the capacity of your batteries and how long they can run so you don’t run out of power in the middle of nowhere.

Your second power source requires a hookup so you can connect your RV to the electricity provided by the campground and this hookup can be 30 Amp or 50 Amp. The difference here is in the number of connectors each has. The 30 Amp one has 3 connectors while the 50 Amp one has 4 connectors. With the 30 Amp hookup, you can use less electricity than with the 50 Amp one because of the connectors.

It’s wise to get an adapter that can switch your 50 Amp to 30 Amp because some places only have hookups for a 30 Amp. It’s also important to note that if you have a 50 Amp hookup for your RV it is easy to adapt it to 30 Amps while the reverse is impossible and won’t work.

RV Solar Power Options

Solar power is very handy if you like to go camping somewhere off the grid. You can install solar panels and get power through them for your RV. They are easy to install and they can provide you with enough power to last for a long time and help you charge your other batteries in your RV. The panels you install will also need an inverter that can transfer the energy and power up your RV. It’s a very smart solution that will make you completely independent so you can camp anywhere you like.

Maintenance Of Your RV Electrical Systems

Properly maintaining your entire RV is the key to preventing big issues. Your electrical system is the same and it requires frequent maintenance and checking to make sure everything is perfect and there are no small problems. This includes checking your batteries regularly to see if they are connected and everything is in place. You should also check for corrosion from time to time and make sure everything is in perfect condition.

Depending on the type of battery you use you might need to check it often. If it’s a lead-acid battery, the checkups should be regular to see if the level of electrolytes is normal and maybe add some water on occasion. If you have a deep cycle battery you can skip this part and it is the same with lithium batteries.

You also need to know where the electric panels are in your travel trailer or RV so you can check them if something is not working as it should. This is especially important if you are planning to go RVing full time. It’s important because in this panel you can see the fuses and see if they are ok or something is blown and not connected. If it is, you can easily replace it and check if the fuse was the problem or there’s a bigger problem with the electricity in your RV.

Wherever you choose to go with your RV, having a decent understanding of your RV electrical system will come in handy. It is one of the most important systems in your RV and properly maintaining it will ensure that you are safe on the road and you won’t have any troubles with electricity which can often lead to a fire.