RV Power vs. Home Power

RV Power vs. Home Power

The quality of power going into a home is usually consistent; however the same definitely cannot be said for RV park power.

Poor power quality entering an RV can affect the longevity of the RV’s electronic equipment and cost hundreds or thousands of dollars for repairs and create travel delays. 

In residential homes, normally we have power or we don’t.  The only electrical protection devices we usually need to have are surge strips to protect computers and other electronic devices.  Otherwise, we can be rest assured that the electricity that operates all of our appliances, air conditioners, heating systems, etc. is safe and dependable.   When someone buys an RV, they may assume that the only electrical protection device they need is a surge strip.  This is not true at all.  RV electrical appliances require more protection than home units.  A number of factors can affect the power supply in campgrounds and other locations that RV owners connect their power cords to outlets.  When an RV shore power cord is connected to a power pedestal for 120V electrical current there are three areas where potential problems can occur:

Miswired Power Pedestal

Many campground pedestals are old and the maintenance standards may not be at all comparable to home power.  There is no way of knowing the condition of the power pedestal without using proper diagnostic equipment to check the circuit.  If the wires inside the pedestal are crossed, loose or disconnected, the current coming into the RV could easily damage the RV wiring, appliance circuit boards and/or various other electrical components.  Faulty wiring conditions would include reversed polarity, open ground and open neutral.  It is very important to realize that any of these conditions are both safety and fire hazards and can damage RV components and appliances.  Protecting your investments as well as the electronics in your RV is essential.

High or Low Voltage

All 120V electrical appliances are designed to operate within a range of 102 volts to 132 volts.  Anywhere within that range is okay.  If the voltages drop below 102 volts, it is much like trying to pull a trailer up a steep hill with a car that is in high gear.  If the voltage is over 132 volts, it’s like the car running down the highway wide open in second gear.  In either case, like the car engine, too much stress is put on the electrical circuitry and damage to appliances will occur and cause them to fail prematurely.  Power quality in RV parks is subject to wide fluctuations and many factors.  Intensity of electrical loads, bad weather conditions, faulty wiring, and deteriorating or undersized electrical connections all affect the quality of the power entering the RV.  In the U.S., low voltage is more commonplace and is associated with overloaded campground electrical systems and insufficient power to meet the needs of all of the RVs hooked up in a campground.

Power Surges or Voltage Drops

Power surges or ‘spikes’ occur routinely with all power systems.  Ever wonder why your light bulbs at home seem to fail all at one time or frequently?  With surges or voltage drops, the voltage can jump up 15 volts or more or drops the same amount for milliseconds of time.  Even though short lived, these sudden changes in voltages can wreak havoc and cause catastrophic damage to appliances, TVs, electrical systems, and components.

Lightning Strikes

It is important to realize that no electrical device or appliance is guaranteed against lightning because the sheer intensity of lightning is so immense that it is impossible to economically create any form of protection that would prevent its destructive power.  There are cases where lightning struck nearby a campground and the RVs with surge guard protection were unharmed.  Although rare, there have been cases where the surge protection device actually melted down, and the RV was okay.  What a great insurance policy!

Lichtsinn Motors offers a full line of portable and hardwired 30 amp and 50 amp RV power protection models that protect RVs from power surges, high or low voltage situations, open neutrals or miswired power pedestals.  Portable surge guards are compact and extremely easy to use.  They simply plug in between the power pedestal and the power cord to provide surge protection.  The TRC portable model 34730 is a great unit for RVs with 30 amp systems.  Hardwired models are easy to install in the power compartment of many RVs.  The TRC hardwired model 34560 is a great option for RVs with 50 amp systems that don’t have surge protection.  We also can offer 30 and 50 amp automatic transfer switches such as the Progressive Dynamics 5100 and 5200 series.  These automatically sense generator power and prevent shoreline and generator power from entering the AC distribution panel at the same time and ruining your camping. 

Lichtsinn Motors also offers other power related add-ons like circuit analyzers to identify faulty park power (such as the TRC 10086 30 amp circuit analyzer), digital monitors for testing incoming power (such as the Shurite 9018LT), and locking hasps for securing portable surge guards to pedestals.  We also offer cord reels, corded or molded power cord adapters, RV power supply cords, and extension cord sets.

Virtually all RVs, whether 30 amp or 50 amp, Class A,B or C, travel trailers, Fifth wheels or pop-ups, need power protection.  Especially as RVs continue to increase in cost, so does the need to protect your investment.  Beware of the pedestal!