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Author Topic: camping in USA with European motorhome  (Read 5244 times)

ajaxgrac14

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camping in USA with European motorhome
« on: August 23, 2015, 12:18:41 PM »
Hello Forum,

What do I need to do to drive a european motorhome in the USA??  The camping trip we are considering would start on the east coast and traverse the country to west coast along US/Canada border ,then head to South America(Chile) and back to NE USA over 8-12 month period.
Any/all info and advice would be appreciated!!

ArdraF

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2015, 01:03:09 PM »
It sounds like you're going to cram five years of travel into only one year!  All the way from the northeast, across the US, down Latin and South America to Chile, and back to the northeast.  You could use the entire year just in the USA if you've never been here before.  Utah alone could be a month.  Also California.  A lot of Europeans in particular come here thinking they can "do" the US in six months and quickly realize our distances are much greater here so they end up covering the country in several trips.  What is your home country?

What kind of motorhome will you be driving?  If you haven't seen it yet, there is a forum on the internet having to do with RVing in Mexico and South America.  It will be interesting to hear how your plans progress.  Good luck!

ArdraF
ArdraF
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DutchEagle

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2015, 02:46:25 PM »
Don't forget to get a visa as a normal visa for the USA is only valid for 3 months, going to Canada and coming back will not extend it so you might be up for a different visa than a tourist visa. Read the stickies and the stories here it is not a cut and dry story or easy to understand. Before I immigrated to the Usa we had a Dutch/US forum about immigration that's when I learned that the rules are sometimes very fuzzy and the immigration officer might or might not do what the rules are saying and what you think it should be. Yup that fuzzy!

Looking at your forum name you might be Dutch? as in AJAX a soccer club. If so you might think about what ArdraF said, the distances are huge here. I live in Minnesota and that is 4 times as big as the Netherlands and it's by far not the biggest state here, travels easy because it's flat. Your plan might work but depends how much you like to travel each day and what you like to visit. Some people travel for 10 years in the USA and still did not visit each state.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2015, 03:02:14 PM by DutchEagle »
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robertusa123

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2015, 05:57:04 PM »
I see Euro rv all the time around here mostly german.    I'm shoure theirs a slue of paperwork in order to ship and drive a foreign registered vehical in the USA and central america.   Your talking multiple countrys on one trip. A nightmare of paperwork..   And Mexico has some major saftey concerns on top of that
1996  26ft. 3 kids 2 dog and the wife too

John From Detroit

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2015, 05:59:58 PM »
I too will mention the size of this country.. Like 3,000 miles wide by 1,000 high,, Many compaines which did well in England or other countries over there came to this country and kind of went OH MY GOD, when they saw the logistics of how they worked,, I mean we have FIVE time zones (4 in the part you will visit plus Hawaii).

For the RV.  There likely will be some legal stuff, I can not help you there. Technical stuff.. We use different power here for the most part so

An adapter to use your 240 volt RV on 50 amps woudl be very easy to make (Simple plug, pigtail and outlet)

But to use it on a 30 amp site you are going to need a transformer because other than 50 amp outlets,, We usually use 120 volt.. and if plugging in to a 30 amp outlet other than a RV park (And even then if you really want to be careful) CHECK THE VOLTAGE cause there are many outlets that look like a TT-30 Outlet and accept the matching plug.. but are the WRONG VOLTAGE.

Regular Gasoline is 87 octane here,, Shoudl be "high test" by your standards.

Oh and Televisions.. US uses NTSC for some cable and ATSC and QAM all based on 60 HZ (30 HZ refresh rate) Yours are likely PAL and 50HZ (25 Hz Refresh rate) so they will not work.
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Peteyboy

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2015, 11:47:57 AM »
You must have scared the poor folks off.
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Alfa38User

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2015, 09:10:19 AM »
Quote
An adapter to use your 240 volt RV on 50 amps would be very easy to make (Simple plug, pigtail and outlet)

Ummmm., Nope, I don't think so. You would need, at least, a transformer (our 120V campground power to Europe's 240V within the RV if that is what is used ) and a new power cord and coach inlet for a simple 30 amp conversion. But I don't know enough about European power and phasing (other than it is likely 50 cycle) to suggest anything else at this point. Electrical Clocks (ie microwave) probably won't read correctly though, but no big deal!!.
Stu
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Handyman

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2015, 11:29:23 AM »
Hi Folks,

Friends of us, from Germany, travelled more then six months with their Hymer MH, all over the USA and Canada. Did not need to connect to the electrical power. All cooking and the fridge was by propane and lights, radio and charging several items like tablets, phones etc, throught the house-batteries charged by solar and during driving. They never had problems.

Well they hadden't an AC so no hugh powerconsumption, and during driving they run the engine AC, if necessary. As a backup they used only a few times their Honda generator (230volts/50Hz)

Since the US and German propane filling connections are the same, filling up the propane tank(s) was no problem at all.

The only big difference, the dumping of the black water is some different, we uselly use the Thettfort Casette Toilets, with a removable tank that has to be emptied "manually" .... They have an contence of about 20 liters, max. But you don't want it to be als filled like that  >:(
It sounds terrible, and if one is of the clumbsy type ... It will be !!
But if one is used to it, like we are (have to) it's not that bad.
(I still like the american way of dumping far more ...  :D
Dumping the gray water, using a wide hose (not that big diameter as used in the US) is fairly easy.


Bye, Daniël
Daniël and Marjon, and our labrador Doortje
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ceejayt

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2016, 07:05:19 AM »
Coming from the UK you do need an International Driving Permit - easily obtained from a main post office - just turn up with your UK driving licence and fill out the form plus you will need a passport sized photo.  They will provide it there and then.
30 foot A Class motorhome - coming from the UK to US for a six month trip

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2016, 07:33:31 AM »
Two electrical concerns, voltage and Hertz.  European is likely 2220-240v, which can be had from US 50A campground power, but the US Hertz will always be 60, whereas European is typically 50.  US 30A power is 120v only and no way to adapt to 220 without a transformer.  There is probably a physical plug difference as well, but that should be easy enough to adapt once your plug configuration is identified.

I don't know what sort of water line connection your coach has, so maybe a water hose thread difference as well? I think th UK uses BPT (British Pipe Thread) specs, but not sure about the rest of Europe.   US hose connections use a 3/4" threaded connector with a unique thread type, different than US NPT (National Pipe Thread). It's called "Garden Hose Thread' and is a non-tapered thread with 11.5 threads/inch.

I don't think you can make the trip you described in 8 months, and even a year is pushing it. Unless you just plan to just drive and never actually stop and see anything. For example, from Seattle Washington (near the Canadian border) to Santiago Chile is about 6500 miles or 10,500 Km. That is air travel distance, and driving distance is probably 50% greater. I think you are planning to drive more than 30,000 miles (48,000 km), much of it over local roads in mountain terrain.

As others have said, you could easily spend a year crossing the USA along the Canadian border and then returning via a more southern route. That would typically be a 10,000 mile (16,000 km) journey by itself, with sight-seeing stops too numerous to mention.
Gary
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Ernie n Tara

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2016, 07:49:17 AM »
Gary,

I think European power is 220V, 50 Hz, SINGLE PHASE not the same as our two phase 220.

I'd also suggest that you don't want to drive the American southwest, let alone Central and South America without air conditioning. Relying on driving and solar won't work for air. It also doesn't allow for stopping to sight see or just rest. I do expect that most European moters will work fine on 50 Hz, but not tv's and clocks will be slow.

Ernie
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Tom

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2016, 07:53:08 AM »
Quote
Coming from the UK you do need an International Driving Permit ...

Don't waste your time; It's merely a 'translation' of your home licence, and is not recognized by any states I'm aware of. In fact, California specifically says they don't recognize it. States will usually recognize your home licence.
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ceejayt

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2016, 08:43:50 AM »
Hmmmm...

Advice from the UK AA...

R – USA (Florida) compulsory IDP – 1 January 2013
A law was introduced in Florida, USA, on 1 January 2013 requiring all persons who hold a licence issued outside of the US to carry an International Driving Permit along with their national driving licence.

The Governor of Florida repealed this law on 2 April 2013, however, car hire companies and insurance companies can impose their own terms and conditions so you should check with your intended hire/insurance company prior to travel or obtain an IDP as a precautionary measure.

And this URL - it would seem advisable and not the same as an International Driving Licence - the IDP is an addition to your local driving licence

http://www.theaa.com/getaway/idp/index.html
30 foot A Class motorhome - coming from the UK to US for a six month trip

ceejayt

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2016, 08:46:05 AM »
And at the end of the day - it is less than $10
30 foot A Class motorhome - coming from the UK to US for a six month trip

NY_Dutch

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2016, 08:50:48 AM »
Gary,

I think European power is 220V, 50 Hz, SINGLE PHASE not the same as our two phase 220.

I'd also suggest that you don't want to drive the American southwest, let alone Central and South America without air conditioning. Relying on driving and solar won't work for air. It also doesn't allow for stopping to sight see or just rest. I do expect that most European moters will work fine on 50 Hz, but not tv's and clocks will be slow.

Ernie

US 240VAC is also single phase for most applications other than three phase industrial use. The only difference is that the phase is commonly tapped at the zero crossing for a neutral to split the voltage into two 120VAC components. That's 240VAC peak to peak, and 120VAC peak to zero. The only problem the OP should have other than dealing with the mentioned 120VAC 30 amp only parks and the frequency sensitive device inaccuracies, would be finding or making a suitable plug adapter.
Dutch
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ceejayt

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2016, 08:56:06 AM »
US 240VAC is also single phase for most applications other than three phase industrial use. The only difference is that the phase is commonly tapped at the zero crossing for a neutral to split the voltage into two 120VAC components. That's 240VAC peak to peak, and 120VAC peak to zero. The only problem the OP should have other than dealing with the mentioned 120VAC 30 amp only parks and the frequency sensitive device inaccuracies, would be finding or making a suitable plug adapter.
Seabridge who are the shippers are providing a  step up transformer from 120 to 240 so we should be just fine.  No sure how many amps that will support but we are not massive users - our onboard genny when we use it provides 2.5kw and is sufficient for most things.

30 foot A Class motorhome - coming from the UK to US for a six month trip

NY_Dutch

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2016, 09:10:58 AM »
Seabridge who are the shippers are providing a  step up transformer from 120 to 240 so we should be just fine.  No sure how many amps that will support but we are not massive users - our onboard genny when we use it provides 2.5kw and is sufficient for most things.

Terrific! You'll be all set then, and a premature "Welcome to the US!"  ;D
Dutch
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Tom

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2016, 09:19:46 AM »
I guess it doesn't hurt to have the IDP in case someone asks for it, although it's not a valid licence per se. When I first started coming to the US, I used to always have an English translation of my Welsh language driving licence; It was printed on the back  ;D

When we visit the UK, rental companies never ask for an IDP when I present my California licence.
 
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2016, 09:30:29 AM »
Quote
I think European power is 220V, 50 Hz, SINGLE PHASE not the same as our two phase 220.
As somebody already noted, US 50A/220v campground service  is "split phase", which the EE-types can  (somehow) explain is different than "two phase". Don't ask me to explain it - I cannot!   In any case, it works as a 50A/220v source but at 60 Hz rather than 50 Hz. Many things won't care about the Hz rate, though.

3-phase (THAT I can explain) is a different story, but campground power outlets are not 3-phase.
Gary
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Tom

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2016, 09:31:22 AM »
FWIW here's the California statement of not recognizing the IDP. It's been that way for a number of years.
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Tom

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #20 on: December 03, 2016, 09:34:26 AM »
Our split phase is essentially 2 phases, 180 degrees apart, wired with two 'hot' legs and a neutral. The term 'split' comes from the center tap of the transformer. The European 220/240V system is a single phase, with one hot and a neutral.
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Bill N

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #21 on: December 03, 2016, 09:56:34 AM »
This thread just got "hot" again.  The OP is about 1 1/2 years old so by now the OP may be either back home or in some jungle jail in Guatemala. LOL
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Ernie n Tara

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2016, 09:58:04 AM »
I do understand that you can connect the mh neutral to one 120 and the hot to the other 120 and get 240 Vac (the center tap may be connected to the park neutral, and likely to other mh neutrals, and may well also go to ground) to the mh. I'll also grant that it's been a long time since I taught this stuff and I could be wrong, but you won't find me connecting my neutral 120Vac above ground. There is simply too much chance of winding up with the mh hot. Be very careful using any method except a transformer to power a 220/240 Vac mh in the US.

Ernie
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ceejayt

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #23 on: December 03, 2016, 10:00:25 AM »
I do understand that you can connect the mh neutral to one 120 and the hot to the other 120 and get 240 Vac (the center tap may be connected to the park neutral, and likely to other mh neutrals, and may well also go to ground) to the mh. I'll also grant that it's been a long time since I taught this stuff and I could be wrong, but you won't find me connecting my neutral 120Vac above ground. There is simply too much chance of winding up with the mh hot. Be very careful using any method except a transformer to power a 220/240 Vac mh in the US.

Ernie
Yup - I reckon that is the safe way to go!

30 foot A Class motorhome - coming from the UK to US for a six month trip

NY_Dutch

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2016, 10:01:10 AM »
Our split phase is essentially 2 phases, 180 degrees apart, wired with two 'hot' legs and a neutral. The term 'split' comes from the center tap of the transformer. The European 220/240V system is a single phase, with one hot and a neutral.

At 240, there's nothing "split" at all. It's just one single cycle measured peak to peak. It's only when we "split" the phase with a tap at the zero crossing to get 120 zero to peak that it differs. That and designating one peak as the "neutral" versus the center tap. A 240 appliance from Europe works fine in the US on 240 aside from any frequency issues. Two phase power hasn't been used in the US since early last century, and then it used voltage phases differing by one-quarter of a cycle, or 90°.
Dutch
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LarsMac

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #25 on: December 03, 2016, 10:47:42 AM »
This guy will solve most of the power conversion problems most RV'ers are likely to run into.

https://www.110220volts.com/ar-5000m.html

Or this more pricey option.

https://voltage-converter-transformers.com/products/vs-10000-10-000-watts-voltage-transformer-with-built-in-voltage-regulator?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=googlepla&gclid=CjwKEAiA94nCBRDxismumrL83icSJAAeeETQv-qIhkAAihTm2xmwJd4q5RZtMRD9o4EulZwXku7BYRoC5_bw_wcB

I used the second one to when we were testing some networking switches we got back from a French customer and needed to test without changing the power supplies.
 

 
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ceejayt

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #26 on: December 03, 2016, 03:14:48 PM »
This guy will solve most of the power conversion problems most RV'ers are likely to run into.

https://www.110220volts.com/ar-5000m.html


I used the second one to when we were testing some networking switches we got back from a French customer and needed to test without changing the power supplies.
 

That does look ideal - will it operate outside?  I am guessing not.  That will be a problem - I need to plug my EHU from RV to transformer and then transformer to US EHU with transformer ideally being outside otherwise I will have to site it in a locker and leave the locker door open.

Thoughts?
30 foot A Class motorhome - coming from the UK to US for a six month trip

OBX

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #27 on: December 03, 2016, 05:35:10 PM »
Use this forum to learn about RVing in the U.S. and Canada. 

Central and South America  may be very intense.  Research "Overlanding" forums.  You might need extra fuel containers and stronger security. 

Consider starting in Halifax, Canada and going south down the Maine coastline or west to Quebec to Ottawa to Niagara Falls.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2016, 07:10:18 PM by OBX »

jackiemac

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #28 on: December 04, 2016, 07:04:23 AM »
Coming from the UK you do need an International Driving Permit - easily obtained from a main post office - just turn up with your UK driving licence and fill out the form plus you will need a passport sized photo.  They will provide it there and then.

We have never been asked for this in the west, only ever asked for driving licence....
Jackie n Steve - Happy Scottish Travellers

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Re: camping in USA with European motorhome
« Reply #29 on: December 04, 2016, 12:26:00 PM »
Quote from: NY_Dutch
At 240, there's nothing "split" at all. It's just one single cycle measured peak to peak. It's only when we "split" the phase with a tap at the zero crossing to get 120 zero to peak that it differs.

Agreed, and I mis-spoke trying to draw an analogy with 2-phase. This article and diagram in our forum library better illustrate how our 240V domestic supply is configured. The two hot legs (120V each with respect to the center tap) are opposite in phase, although not "2-phase" per se.

Quote
A 240 appliance from Europe works fine in the US on 240 aside from any frequency issues.

As do the 240V appliances and a/c units on our boat.
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