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Old 11-17-2010, 06:38 PM   #1
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30 amp plug into 50 amp socket

I have a 2011 Winnebago Vista which is 30 amp unit. A fellow RVer once told me before I had this unit, that it is a good idea to carry an adapter so that if only a 50 amp RV site was available I can still plug in.

Tonight I purchased one. For the life of me, I can't think of any drawbacks in using it if I were to need to plug into a 50 amp source.

How about it, guys (girls)??
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Old 11-17-2010, 06:40 PM   #2
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There is no drawback assuming the 50 amp receptacle is wired correctly. If you don't know how to check for correct wiring it would be a good thing to learn.
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Old 11-17-2010, 06:53 PM   #3
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Your RV is protected for the 30 amps base don it's 30 amp breakers.

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Old 11-17-2010, 07:05 PM   #4
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After electrical problems with 2 different RV's, I wouldn't plug into any circuit without using a surge protector. My SurgeGuard will not let "bad current" to pass thru it and will protect in case of a circuit goes "bad" after I have plugged the RV in. Others opinions may be different.
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:38 AM   #5
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Personally I would not do it.

A circuit breaker always protects the wire downstream. So sure the breakers in the camper will protect the wiring in the camper..
But what protects the cord that goes from the receptacle at the campground to the electrical distribution panel in your RV ? Answer is the breaker on the pole where you plug into.
So if you have a 30 amp cord and plug into a 50 amp outlet. Let's say something happens to the cord or the panel in the RV. The breaker will never trip. The cord or panel (on the line side) will start to get very hot, melt or catch fire.

Remember the breaker always protects what is down stream. In this case the cord and panel .
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:54 AM   #6
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"But what protects the cord that goes from the receptacle at the campground to the electrical distribution panel in your RV ? Answer is the breaker on the pole where you plug into."

It doesn't matter. If the cord has a short (the only fault that would not trip the breaker on the coach) it needs to be replaced anyway.
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:03 PM   #7
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If the cord has a short it will overheat and the breaker will never trip until its melted or on fire.
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgmcbride View Post
I have a 2011 Winnebago Vista which is 30 amp unit. A fellow RVer once told me before I had this unit, that it is a good idea to carry an adapter so that if only a 50 amp RV site was available I can still plug in.

Tonight I purchased one. For the life of me, I can't think of any drawbacks in using it if I were to need to plug into a 50 amp source.

How about it, guys (girls)??
...back to the question....there isn't anything wrong in carrying an adapter that allows you to use a 50a pedestal if that is what's assigned or available. That would be like asking if I should carry a 30a adapter because my unit has a 50a cord and system.

As an example: a friend went to Bike Week earlier this year and his reservation had him on a site that had a 50a/15a only pedestal....being in a van camper and arriving at 9pm he was trying to decide how to connect. He called the office and they had someone meet him and provided him, with a deposit, an adapter....considering it was a warm nite, he was glad to run his AC.

To go in the opposite direction....The last time we stayed at Fort Clinch SP, the ranger was dealing, over the phone, with a person that had borrowed a friends motorhome and had plans to spend the week enjoying the beach....only problem was he wasn't able to connect his 50a cord into a 30a pedestal. NO adapter, its Sunday afternoon and the closest RV dealer was near Jacksonville. Come to find out the guy was two sites down from me...as he seemed like an honest guy...I loaned him my 50/30 adapter so he was able to get connected and settled in. The next day he purchased one and returned mine.....

I don't see a down side to carrying adapters.

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Old 11-18-2010, 01:50 PM   #9
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I see no problem either.
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Old 11-18-2010, 03:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bug512 View Post
If the cord has a short it will overheat and the breaker will never trip until its melted or on fire.
If the cord shorts, enough current will flow to open the fuse or breaker long before the cord melts. A piece of #10 wire can carry 50 amps for a short time (long enough to trip a breaker) without a problem. An actual short will draw far more than 50 amps, tripping the 50 amp breaker quick enough to protect the wire.

As other have stated, the 30 amp breaker in your RV will protect against small overloads that, if continued over a long time, could damage the cord & connector.
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Old 11-18-2010, 05:32 PM   #11
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Just bought 2.. a 30 to 15, and a 30 to 50.. both purchased at Smith Farms (ACE Hardware) for $3.99 and $4.99 respectively. Cheap way to ensure you have power.. Do you need to watch that you dont overpull on the 30amp cord? Of course.. but dont you do that anyways?
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by vermilye View Post
If the cord shorts, enough current will flow to open the fuse or breaker long before the cord melts. A piece of #10 wire can carry 50 amps for a short time (long enough to trip a breaker) without a problem. An actual short will draw far more than 50 amps, tripping the 50 amp breaker quick enough to protect the wire.

As other have stated, the 30 amp breaker in your RV will protect against small overloads that, if continued over a long time, could damage the cord & connector.
No the 30 amp breaker in your RV will not trip in your RV if the cord is shorted...

A breaker will only protects what is down stream....

Please message me if you have a problem understanding this. I would be happy to talk to you on the phone and discuss this ..
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:07 PM   #13
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But the 50 amp breaker in the shore power pedestal will.

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Old 11-18-2010, 08:19 PM   #14
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I am not an electrical engineer and I know enough about this stuff to be very dangerous so this is my take on it and it may not be completely correct but I think it is close.

First of all, the 50amp to 30amp adapter will not draw 50 amps. Remember that a 50amp coach with a 50amp shore power cord is only pulling a total of 50 amps over 2 completely different 120 volt legs. So a 50amp to 30amp adapter is built to only use one leg of the 50amp circuit which will be 120 volts, most likely 20-25 amps at the most, you will not get a full 30 amps I believe. Similarly, when someone that has a 50amp shore power cord and uses a 30 amp adapter to a 30 amp receptacle, they are now only using 30 amps distributed over both legs such that you will only be able to run certain item's in the coach, otherwise you will trip the breaker, burn up the receptacle or adapter, or some other electrical damage. Most 50 amp coaches generally have some sort of EMS system to monitor the 30 amps usage such that it will start shutting down devices that you can not use because of too many amps being drawn already for other stuff.

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Old 11-18-2010, 08:29 PM   #15
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First of all, the 50amp to 30amp adapter will not draw 50 amps. Remember that a 50amp coach with a 50amp shore power cord is only pulling a total of 50 amps over 2 completely different 120 volt legs.
A split-phase 120/240VAC 50 amp power supply as used on a 50 amp RV has TWO 120 VAC 50 amp hot legs for a total theoretical ampacity of 100 amps. Look in the shore power box - you'll find 2 each 50 amp breakers (one for each hot leg) that are mechanically linked. Therefore, a 50 amp power supply has more than 3 times the ampacity of a 30 amp power supply which has only ONE 120 VAC 30 amp hot leg. A 50-to-30 adapter draws from only one of the 120 VAC 50 amp hot legs.

Do a search for "split-phase 50 amp" here on iRV2 as this has been discussed multiple times and doesn't need to be resurrected here.

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Old 11-19-2010, 07:55 AM   #16
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Thanks for clarifying that point, Rusty.

As stated earlier, I know enough to be very dangerous and now I am even more dangerous.

The best explanation I found on split phase 50 amp was from RVCruzer's web site below.

RVcruzer.com Electrical Tutorial - Chapter 3 - 30 Amp versus 50 Amp

Essentially, then, when using a 50 amp pedestal for a 30 amp coach using an 50 amp to 30 amp adapter, the coach owner needs to be sure that they do not draw more than 30 amps or 3600 watts of power at any one time even though more is available at the 50 amp receptacle on the pedestal.

Therefore their 30 amp coach breakers would be some protection but I sure wouldn't want to heat up the situation to that point and any breaker that gets tripped a lot weakens it to the point where it needs to be replaced. Another way is to have a clamp-on meter temporarily installed on the line somewhere to monitor how many amps are being used to stay under the 30 amp maximum.

By the way, when looking at my digital readout from the Progressive EMS that displays how many amps I am drawing on each leg of my 50 amp coach, L-1 & L-2, I have never seen it even get close to 50 amps on each leg. The highest I have ever seen is usually around the mid 20's or so depending on what is powered up at the time.

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Old 11-19-2010, 09:07 AM   #17
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I wonder why RV supply stores sell 50 to 30 amp adapter cords. If what is being said, in some circles, would lead to some heavy law suits.

My Coach is wired for 50 amp circuits. I have bought a 50 to 30 adapter and a 30 to 120 adapter. When I'm in storage I have the 50/30/120 hooked up on a 20 amp circuit. All runs well.

Yes, this is in opposite to the original post, but my very humble opinion is that you will be very happy to have the 50 to 30 amp adapter. You may even want to acquire the 30 to 120 for those isolated occasions where you may need it.

Happy trails.
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Old 11-19-2010, 09:28 AM   #18
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Most sites with 50 amp outlets also have 30 amp outlets HOWEVER...

Elsewhere on one of the forums I read is a thread from a man who got a great deal one one of those 50-30 adapters at the close out table at a local retailer.. So he bought it and tossed it in his "Basement" his wife "What'd you buy that thing for, we'll never need it"

Well, about a year later they park, She goes to plug in the 30 amp cord into the 30 amp outlet and the outlet is worn out, the plug won't even stay in the thing it is so wore out.

Out comes the adapter and they plugged into the 50, Good solid power.

Moral 1: You did the right thing

Story 2:
Many parks the 30 amp outlet is a bit.. Shall we say.. Anemic (Now if I were wiring the park the 30 amp outlet would be one leg, the 20 the other and the 50 both on the same set of wires but alas, I don't wire the parks)

Many parks the 30 amp wires were installed years ago, and may well be Aluminum.. The 50's is newer and copper.

So the power is better out of the 50 amp outlet.

Moral 2: you did the right thing

(Hey, that was moral 1 too wasn't it)

In short,, You did the right thing buying that adapter.. You may never use it.. And you may need it tomorrow.. but when you need it, You'll be glad you have it.
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Old 11-19-2010, 03:22 PM   #19
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If the cord has a short it will overheat and the breaker will never trip until its melted or on fire.
Wrong. The 50 amp breaker at the receptacle will trip at 50 amp preventing any further damage or fire in the shorted 30 amp cord.
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Old 11-19-2010, 03:36 PM   #20
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So much Information (missinformation) The power is no better from a 30 amp service then it is from a 50 amp service. You only have more of it , No better quality.. Now one thing to remember.. { I will be corrected } be it right or wrong;;; Most Motorhomes Have a 30 amp main. breaker;; In really don't matter if you put, 30/50/250 amp in it can handle only 30. amps. Some of the Newer RVs will have 2 30amp breakers.Then they may have an automatic change over switch for the use of the 220 == 50 amp cord;They still only have 2 legs == L1 x L2; to make the 50 amps. If your coach is not Factory set up for 50 amps. And you use it. Please don't park next to me, OK.. Life is good.
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