At home, you enjoy an abundance of plugs and power. And the electrical systems are also pretty strong in our homes. While home electrical systems can be around 200 amps, on a mobile home like an RV, it can be either 30 amps or 50 amps. As a result, you have to think about the electronic devices you can connect to your RV.

The things you can plug-in comes down to the wattage load. RVs have a 120V electrical system. So that will give you 3600 watts to work with. The things you plug in and run should not exceed 3600 watts. Also, make sure to distribute the load.

The problem arises when someone miscalculates the power requirement. It is actually easy for an inexperienced RV driver to do so since some appliances are constantly running. This guide will be all about what can you run on 30 amps. So let’s take a closer look at it so you can avoid power problems down the road.

Understanding your RV electrical system

Breaker in an Electrical Panel and Wires
Photo by Troy Bridges / Unsplash

Instead of giving you a list of things you can plug in, I should tell you more about the electrical systems in your RV and how appliances will work with them. Have you heard of the phrase “give a man a fish and he eats once, but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”? That is basically the idea here. Most RVs come with a 120V AC electrical system.

There are a couple of formulas you need to keep in mind when it comes to figuring out your RV’s electrical system. Do not worry, these are not that complex and you do not need an electrical engineering degree to get them. Let’s get started.

Watts

RVs do not have unlimited watts. The formula for working out watts is amps x volts. So, that will be 30 x 120 = 3600 watts. This means your RV’s 30 amp and 120 volt electrical systems have a total capacity of 3600 watts. The total wattage of everything you plug in cannot exceed 3600 watts. It is as simple as that.

For example, if you have a refrigerator that uses 500 watts and an air conditioner that uses 1600 watts and you plug them in together, you will have 1500 watts remaining to be allotted. How did I find this out? Easy, 3600 – 1600 – 500 = 1500.

Amps

Watts divided by volts equals amps, according to the formula. Typically, RVs have a few plugs. Each of these is connected to a 15-amp breaker at a time. If you plug in appliances that go over this amperage rating, it will trip.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you have two appliances at 120 volts each with a total of 2100 watts. Now, use the formula to find the amperage which will be 2100/120 = 17.5. So, these two appliances together would take up 17.5 amps.

This is, of course, more than 15 amps and would cause it to trip. That’s not something you’d want. You can take things a bit further and be more diligent about it. Checking the power distribution is also a good way to see what can be plugged in (and where). A 15-amp breaker at 120 volts will give you 1800 watts to work with. 15 multiplied by 120 equals 1800.

There is something very important you need to take note of. Some appliances, like refrigerators, in particular, are always running. When you are calculating what extras you can run, you must take those appliances into account. Otherwise, you might not end up with the right calculation because of this oversight.

Also, get yourself a good generator. A quality generator will just add that extra level of reliability and will give you one less thing to worry about.

Good practices for your RV electrical system

Now that you know how to find out what appliances you can (and should) run on 30 amps, let’s talk about some good practices. These will help you to be safe and are just important things to keep in mind for the best stability and safety.

Distribute the load

You should always try to separate the load. Never rely on a single plug to power all 3600 watts of appliances. That is just not a good idea. As I mentioned, most RVs will have a few 15-amp breakers.

So, your best bet here is to distribute the load. Connect high-wattage appliances to a different outlet. That will help evenly distribute the load and you will not deal with tripping issues.

Check what plugs are attached to which breaker

Finding out which plug is for which breaker requires a bit of trial and error. It will not take much time. Just turn off one 15-amp breaker and plug in a low-wattage appliance, like a light. Plug it into different plugs to see when it lights up.

Repeat the process. Turn off a few breakers and test the rest of the plugs. This will help you determine which plugs are connected to which breakers. Make a note of this. And then you will have a complete idea of which breakers are connected to which plugs specifically. And since each breaker will have 1800 watts (120 X 15), you can be careful not to overload it.

Wattage labels

This is where you get a little crafty with your appliances. To make things easier for you, you can put wattage labels on your appliances. It is tedious to try and remember all the wattage numbers of your appliances. And you can’t always remember to check the back of them.

Putting a label on them will help you know the wattage instantly by just looking at them. It might not be the most elegant solution, but it works. And that is what counts.

Final thoughts

There you have it. Now you know what can you run on 30 amps. You can plug in a fair amount of stuff. Just make sure you do not exceed the maximum wattage and you should be fine. Keep the formulas I mentioned in mind.

Consider investing in a decent surge protector as well to protect you from potential surges at campsites: 10 Best RV Surge Protectors (30 & 50 Amp Campers)

Best practices like diving up the load will also help you deal with tripping. Distributing the load is also a smart thing to do. Thanks for stopping by!