Being new to the RV lifestyle, I had a ton of questions. They all started with the hookups when arriving at a location and knowing how to hook into the pedestal. After all, we are connecting our investment into outdoor electrical, fresh water, and wastewater. As we have been told since our childhood, water and electricity don’t mix.

We are now making electrical connections outside where it rains. We want these connections to be as watertight as possible with good quality accessories.

In one of my previous posts, I discussed the right hook-ups for your RV when you arrive. This time will focus on electrical hook-up. We will also discuss checking the pedestal for the right voltage and polarity. We will start by learning about testing tools and work our way to different electrical adaptors.

Testing Tool

Before making any connection it is a good practice to test the electrical connection on the pedestal. To protect our investment by making sure the power coming into our RV is save and correct. There are typically 2 tools you will need when arriving at an RV resort. I like having a third tool just to be safe before getting settle in.

  • Multimeter: This will test the power amperage and voltage coming from the pedestal. We should test the voltage coming from the pedestal making sure we are getting 120 volts on one of the 3 outlets on 15 and 30 amp outlets. While the 50 amp outlet will have 120 volts on 2 of the 4 outlets. You should also get 240 volts when testing the 2 hot legs of the 50 amp outlet.
  • Voltester: This is also a good tester when testing for voltage. It will allow you to find the hot legs of the outlet, you just will not have a number of the voltage coming from the outlet. I recommend getting one that has an on/off switch to so you are sure it is working properly. This tool is the safest way to check voltage and can be used to check the presence of a hot leg connected to you tow vehicle.
  • Receptacle Tester: This will be used to test the outlets around your RV after you have connected it to the pedestal. Go around your RV to make sure the outlets are getting the correct polarity from the pedestal. You should only need to check one inside and one outside the RV.

To make this a simple purchase, I recommend purchasing all three in a package from the same manufacturer such as the Klein Tools 69149 Electrical Test Kit. You get all 3 tools for a low price with quality. I have purchased this same kit for around my home to do the DIY projects at home.

Electrical Cords

The electrical cord is the key accessory of the electrical equipment. Without a good electrical cord for the conditions. It is possible to get a cord that is good in all conditions.

Electrical Cords come in a number of lengths and diameters. The diameter of the wiring will vary based upon the amperage of your RVs electrical system.

An Rv that has a 50 amp system should be using an electrical cord that is at least 6 to 8 gauge wire. The 50 amp service will have 4 wires, 2 hot, 1 neutral and 1 ground. These are normally used in bigger RVs needed more power for their AC units, electric heat, and possibly a clothes dryer requiring 240 volts.

While a 30 amp RV will be good with an 8 to 10 gauge wire. The biggest difference is that the 30 amp is only 120 volt with 3 wires, a hot, a neutral, and a ground. Since these are for 120 volts, you will not find appliances like a clothes dryer on these systems. A 30 amp systemize normally on small to midsize RVs.

Another possible electrical cord for an RV will be for the small popup RV or camper. Any electrical in these RVs will be 15 amp. You could use a residential extension cord. I do not recommend this since you should have a minimum of a 12 gauge wire that is outdoor rated.

No matter what Electrical cord you are running, make sure you have enough power to run your appliances. If not you will need to be aware of everything you turn on and off. Do not overload your electrical cords. I will be dangerous and may cause a fire. Buying a good quality electrical cord will make your travel more enjoyable.

I recommend not wasting your money of a 100′ electrical cord. Not only will it take up valuable room in your RV. If you need that much cord, you are parking too far away from your pedestal. A 25′ or 50′ cord will give you plenty of lengths.

Surge Protection

We have fully covered Surge Protectors and how they work in a previous post. The Surge Protector must be installed every time you connect to an RV pedestal. Even if we have tested the pedestal, a Surge Protector will save your RVs electrical system during storms and power surges, both of which are common in RV parks.

After testing the outlets on the pedestal, turn the breakers off in your RV and at the pedestal. Plug in the Surge Protector and the Electrical cord before your plan to using any electrical power. Once you have plugged in the Surge Protector and the Electrical Cord then you can turn on the breaker on the pedestal.

I recommend paying a little extra for a good Surge Protector right from the start. A Surge Guard Portable Model with LCD Display will give you great protection with an LED display for any changes in voltage. These do come in 30 and 50 amp models.

If you do not want to monitor your incoming voltage. You can save some money by purchasing a Camco Heavy Duty Dogbone RV Circuit Analyzer, which also comes in 30 and 50 amp. You can purchase the optional Line voltage meter that is not LED.

Electrical Adaptors

There are pros and cons to Electrical Adaptors, along with a long list of adaptor you can purchase. Here I will give you a few of the best adaptors for the electrical connections. Keep in mind before making any of these connections you are not overloading your RVs electrical system. This is not only a fire hazard, but it will also become life threating if done.

One of the most common adaptors you will need is a Epicord RV Power Cord Dogbone RV Power Adapter. It comes in a variety of configuration to help you make the right connection. One of the more popular is their 30 amp Dog Bone that splits into two 15 amp outlets.

Some other Electrical Adaptors that are smaller and take up less room are the Union Electric Triangle Adaptors. These come in a number of 15 and 30 amp configurations.


Choosing the Right Electrical Equipment before you head out on the road will save you time when you arrive. A good suggestion is to check with your RV Resort to see if you need any adaptors before you arrive.

The Electrical Equipment you purchase protects your investment while giving you the power you need. Checking the power pedestal once you arrive will protect you from connecting into a pedestal that may have been wired wrong. No RV resort will blame you for checking the connections. Over time, like your brick and mortar home, the electrical system deteriorates.

If you find a problem in your electrical pedestal, contact the resort management before making any connections.

Ken Sagendorph

PS: Please comment below any experiences you have had. Also, add any questions you have.


  1. Colby S


    Hello Ken!

    I wanted to ask about the grounding in an RV.  Since the RV wouldn’t be grounded while not connected to a pedestal, would a surge overload everything unless not protected with a surge protector?  How would you recommend connecting the air-conditioner (mine is hard wired)?

    Thank you again for your informative article. 

    • Ken Sagendorph


      That depends on the surge, a high voltage surge could overall most of the RV. Without a Surge protector, you rise the chance of the RV electrical system getting damaged. Surges, whether high or low, causes fluctuations of voltage in the RV. This is what the surge protector is designed to protect your RV from. You can read my post “The Best Surge Protector for an RV” to learn more.

      If the AC was manufacture installed or installed by a professional, you should be fine. Depending on the type of location you are in. Some people install a hard start or some type of delay start for the compressor. This reduces the voltage spike on your electrical system when the AC turns on.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *