Electricity

Chapter 13: Connecting to the Grid

While boondocking and attempting to live off-grid as much as possible while traveling, we hope to rely on “shore” hookups as little as possible. Ideally we’ve done a good job planning our energy needs and we’ve sized our battery bank and solar array to supply enough energy to where we won’t NEED to hookup for energy reasons.

On the other hand, it is nice to have the infrastructure in place should we ever need or want to connect to the grid, or hook up to shore power. While this chapter is focused on mobile applications, the fundamentals apply to home-based and stationary solar systems.

It is better to have, and not need; than to need and not have.

“Shore Power” – RV / Skoolie connection to the Grid

Typical Campground “Hook Up” Service
The image below represents what you can expect to find at a typical KOA or RV “Hook-Up”. Not all panels will have all of the outlets, and most are either 30A or 50A, with a 20A or 2 on the same box. “Powered” tent sites will usually only have 20A service available.

I’ve never seen a service box without the breakers, so be sure to make sure they are actually switched on before you go hunting down gremlins…we’ve all done it at least once. It’s also a good idea to turn off your ”Main” 120v breaker before connecting and disconnecting.

20-50amp-4a

Most importantly everyone should know how to test a receptacle BEFORE plugging in to a new location for the first time, at least each visit, even if you’ve stayed in the spot last week! It’s always good practice to use a polarity tester and test the campgrounds wiring before connecting your expensive electrical system. It’s also not a bad idea to use a multimeter and check that the voltage is correct.

20 Amp (15 amp) –  Basically the same as running an extension cord out to your RV. Safely supplies between 1500-2000 watts of 120v.

30 Amp – TT-30 (or RV 30) is the national recreational vehicle standard. The 110v 30 amp service is capable of supplying up to 3,600 watts. 

The TT-30 follows standard color codes for wiring 110v. Hot is connected to the gold screw, or the 5 o’clock location when looking from the back. Neutral is connected to the silver screw, opposite the hot connection. Ground is connected to the green terminal at the top.

50 Amp –   TT-50

Shore Power To Trailer Power Distribution Panel

Power enters the trailer through the Shore Power Inlet

Next: Chapter 14: Solar Powered 12 Volt DC Systems

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