Learning all of the lingo surrounding RVs and the camping lifestyle can become quite a job. You have the basic vocabulary that you need to grasp and then you start getting into specifics such as your RV electrical system. It sounds extremely confusing at first but once you understand how it all goes together, you’ll feel like an expert.
AC/DC Is Not Just A Great Rock Band
What AC/DC means in the real world is “alternating current” and “direct current”. These are two different types of power that your RV will rely on. Like your home, your rig relies on AC power to run appliances. It is 120 volts. The 12-volt DC power comes into play when you’re dealing with your RV motor’s electrical components and its battery (or batteries).
RV Hookups And Shore Power
Amperage or “amps” are the next thing to consider when you’re taking your rig out. Amps are how the electrical output is measured from the source. Most RV campgrounds and resorts offer electrical hookups that are also called “shore power”. You will see them designated as 20, 30 or 50 amps. It is extremely important that you know which level your rig is rated for. As a general rule of thumb, the larger your rig, the higher amps you’ll need.
It is a good idea to have an adapter in your RV. It is not uncommon to arrive at an RV campground that doesn’t have the hookup you need. 30-50 and 50-30 adapters are the most widely used.
Power Converters and Inverters
It is sometimes necessary to use your DC power supply to operate AC appliances or equipment. This requires an inverter. Inverters can come with a hefty price tag but they are useful when AC power isn’t available. The units come in various sizes depending on what you’re planning on powering with them. It’s always a good idea to go larger than you think you’ll need.
Converters do the opposite of inverters in that they take AC power and make it usable for DC components. It is common to hear converters referred to as chargers. What they really do is reduce the “power” of the alternating current to a lower level of direct current. This allows the smaller devices and batteries to handle the juice.
Let The Sun Shine In
Harnessing the power of the sun is nothing new. It is, however, a newer option for RV campers. The size and price of solar panels and the related equipment are becoming smaller and more manageable. There is no reason you shouldn’t consider solar power to supplement your RV electrical system.
Solar power systems have become a popular choice with RVers who don’t wish to use a noisy, smelly generator. They are also a great alternative for boondocking and those owners who wish to remain off-grid. A simple kit can help keep your batteries charged and even power up some appliances. It may contain solar panels as well as an inverter or converter (or both). Many of the new RVs on the market are being offered with solar power options.
RV Electrical System Safety
No matter which source of power you’re using for your RV electrical system, keep safety in mind – always. Electricity in any form is nothing to play around with. If you’re having problems with your rig and its system, contact an expert. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.