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Old 03-05-2014, 11:18 AM   #1
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Amps, amps, amps

Help. Can someone help with an amp usage question or point me to the right forum post(s)? In researching campgrounds, I keep seeing "20, 30 and 50 amp power to each of our sites". In checking our trailer specs from the Escape site, they say the trailer is equipped with a 30 amp power cord and a 55 amp converter with battery charger. Looking through various explanations on other sites, it would seem that larger rigs are wired to use 50 amps in order to run things like A/C, coffee maker, TVs, etc. They also say that, while small rigs are normally wired for 30 amps, it's good idea to carry adapters to allow you to plug in to any of the three types of receptacles.

I understand that 30 amps is the norm in the Escape; however, does the A/C require 50 amps to run? I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around how, if the trailer is wired for 30 amps, you can plug into a 50 amp circuit without 'frying' something.

Jan
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:41 AM   #2
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The connection from your Escape will be 30A. In sites that have 50A connections, they usually have a 30A as well. Not certain, but I think the A/C is on a 20A circuit in the trailer, and will by far be the biggest draw.

20A circuits are to plug a common 15A cord into. You can (and should) get a 30A to 15A adapter for these sites.

As far as current ratings go, so long as the higher rating is towards the source, all is good. For instance, you can use a 20A draw on an A/C unit on a 50A circuit with no fear of overloading the circuit.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:08 PM   #3
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The 20/30/50 is common now and your Escape regardless of model can use these hookups. The Escape trailer will only draw what it is rated for which is 30 amps.This is the maximum draw your unit is wired for. Some other bigger rigs will draw 50 amps. Some smaller ones only need 15 amps or 20 amps. It is an universal designation.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:16 PM   #4
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This is a pretty good intro: RV Electrical Systems
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:30 PM   #5
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Thank you for the link. It is very informative with good explanations.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
The Escape trailer will only draw what it is rated for which is 30 amps.This is the maximum draw your unit is wired for. Some other bigger rigs will draw 50 amps. Some smaller ones only need 15 amps or 20 amps.
The trailer will actually draw whatever the appliances use, as little as zero, and as much as all your stuff (air conditioner, microwave, whatever) combine to... limited as Jim describes by the circuit breaker which matches your wiring. Of course the Escape is planned so that normally 30 amps is enough.

My big (not Escape) fifth-wheel is wired for 50-amp service, but currently plugged in (using a suitable adapter) to an ordinary 15-amp outlet at my house. No problem, as long as a don't fire up the airconditioner or a combination of other stuff which is too much and would trip the breaker in the house.

I have used our 30-map trailer with 50-amp outlets. Again, no problem, since the trailer has its own circuit breaker to ensure that it doesn't use too much current for its wiring to handle, even though the outlet could supply it.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:44 PM   #7
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There is a distinct style of plug and outlet for each current rating, so they can't be accidentally mixed up.
The one for 30-amp trailer connections that comes on an Escape is actually called "TT-30", because it is unique to travel trailers (and now to other RVs as well).

A 15-amp plug or outlet is the same as used in your house (NEMA 5-15)
A 20-amp plug (NEMA 5-20) has one of the blades turned 90 degrees, so it can't plug into a regular outlet and overload it; a 20-amp outlet usually has a tee-shaped slot so it can take either a 20-amp or 15-amp plug.
The one for 50-amp service actually connects two 50-amp circuits, so it can supply lots of power. It is the same NEMA 14-50 as used for a common household kitchen range (oven/stove).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
20A circuits are to plug a common 15A cord into. You can (and should) get a 30A to 15A adapter for these sites.

As far as current ratings go, so long as the higher rating is towards the source, all is good. For instance, you can use a 20A draw on an A/C unit on a 50A circuit with no fear of overloading the circuit.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
The 20/30/50 is common now and your Escape regardless of model can use these hookups.
True, but ideally just carry both kinds of adapters: to plug your trailer's TT-30 plug into the smaller 15-amp (or 20-amp) outlet, and to plug your trailer's TT-30 plug into the bigger 50-amp outlet. If a campsite offers 50-amp and 20-amp, but no 30-amp, I would much rather plug into the bigger outlet, so I am not unnecessarily limited in my ability to use the electrical appliances; this would be particularly important with air conditioning.

Most adapters to plug your trailer into the small outlets only have a regular 15-amp plug on them - these may be overloaded if you use too much current, so a 20-amp plug would be better (if the campground has a 20-amp outlet), but they're not common... I don't have one.
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Old 03-05-2014, 01:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by CADreamin View Post
In checking our trailer specs from the Escape site, they say the trailer is equipped with a 30 amp power cord and a 55 amp converter with battery charger...

I understand that 30 amps is the norm in the Escape; however, does the A/C require 50 amps to run?
The power cord brings in up to 30 amps of electrical power at 120 volts.

The converter turns 120 volt AC power into 12 volt (approximately) DC power to charge the battery and run 12-volt equipment such as lights, furnace fan, water pump, etc. Since the voltage is ten times lower than with 120V AC power, the current must be ten times as high for the same amount of power. That 55 amp current is the output of the converter (of 12 volt DC current), so only a few amps of 120 volt AC current goes into the converter. Nothing in the trailer needs 50 amps of 120 volt AC power; as Jim Bennett mentioned, the A/C needs up to 20 amps.

Current ratings (in amps) of equipment being shown for both 120 volt and 12 volt sytems - which is perfectly correct and legitimate - often confuses people who are not familiar with electrical systems.
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Old 03-05-2014, 01:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jamman View Post
This is a pretty good intro: RV Electrical Systems
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandra L View Post
Thank you for the link. It is very informative with good explanations.
I agree - on a quick skim, it looks like a great source.

One note: I don't like the the adapter shown to connect a 30-amp plug into a 15-amp outlet, because it leaves the big heavy 30-amp cord pulling on the little 15-amp outlet with the length of the adapter as leverage. I much prefer the style which is a very short cord, with a right-angled plug on each end. The heavy cord hangs close to the pedestal, and doesn't pull the adapter out of the outlet.
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Old 03-05-2014, 06:02 PM   #10
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FWIW...Basic electrical issues can be compared (to some degree) to water flowing through a hose. The amount of water is the current (amps). The pressure of the water is the voltage. The size of the hose is resistance (ohms). They relate per Ohm's law: I (current) = V (voltage)/R (resistance).

Much like your home plumbing, you can have a lot of water (current) available as long as the pressure (voltage) is appropriate for your plumbing system. Too much pressure/voltage and bad things happen whether it's pipes or wires. Normally nothing will flow until the resistance is lowered (opening a faucet or flipping on a switch).

However...low voltage with high amps (12 volt car battery) won't bother most folks because there isn't enough voltage to force the current through the skin...but if it flows through a wedding band... bad.

Conversely...high voltage with very low amperage (a static charge) is also relatively harmless unless it ignites something.

That's why the surge protector is a very reasonable option. You can never be certain of what you're plugging into. Cheap protection.
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