30 amp to 50 amp conversion

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Sep 18, 2005
Blytheville Arkansas
Hi folks, I have a 5th wheel with a 30 amp service and am wondering about converting to a 50 amp service.? My questions are-is it feasible, is it benificial, and can a feller that's semi-handy do it?
We are going to spend this winter in Texas and? (MY WIFE :'( is pretty bad about overloading the service. Thanks Bill
It's do-able, but it may not be simple.  Check your load center (circuit breaker panel) to see if it is a dual bus (240V) model or has only one "hot" bus. Many 30A rigs are provided with a load center designed for 30A RV use rather than the residential type with two hot busses.. If you don't have the dual power busses, you will have to change the load center as well as the shore power cord to change to 50A service.  This may be easy or difficult, depending on how power is routed from the shore cord to the load center and the space available for changing out the load center.  If your traler's manufacturer offers 50A as an optin on the trailer, it may have a 50A load center already or may be laid out to accomodate one. And you may be able to order one as a replacement part.

The next problem is the branch circuits themselves. With a dual bus load center in place you can relocate breakers to split the load up on the two power busses.  However, trailers designed for 30A service tend to have nearly everything on just 1-2 branch circuits.  Water heater and a/c will be separate, but all the house outlets tend to be on one or maybe two. Increasing to 50A shore power doesn't change that - the individual 15A or 20A circuits are still 15A or 20A and those individual breakers will trip just as easily.  You may have to re-wire individual circuits and add some new ones to get relief there and that's often a major challenge in an RV.

Sometimes you can get similar benefits by adding an auxiliary 20A circuit and plugging it directly to the site power pole. Most sites have a 15/20A outlet in addition to 50 and/or 30A and you can plug two power cords into the one box.  You could also make an adapter for a 50A outlet that splits it into a pair of  outlets, one 30A and the other 20A.  This second shore power cord could power an auxiliary circuit, probably to the galley, where high draw items like coffee pots and microwaves are in use. That relieves the main 30A circuit of those items and leaves the full 30A available for the a/c and other outlets.  This approach involves adding a few outlets or changing existing ones in one area, but is sometimes the simpler solution.  It also works where there is no 50A outlet, since it requires only a 30A and a15/20A outlet.

Are you tripping the breaker on the power pole, the main breaker in your trailer load center, or individual 15A or 20A branch circuit breakers?
The more important question is when your wife "overloads" what happens.  Which circuit breaker pops?  An RV 30A service is single phase with a 30A breaker.  A 50A service is two phase with ganged dual 50 A breaker.  If you're RV is internally wired for 50A (2 separate breakers, divided loads) do as the previous reply.  If you are popping the campgrounds breaker, you can get a "dogbone" adaptor which will connect your single phase 120 connector to ONE phase of the 50A service.  If the breaker that pops is in the RV, then connecting up to 50A service wont help you.
I think you learn quite quickly what you can run and what you can't run.  The last time we tripped a breaker was on another coach several years ago on a hot muggy day in JULY in Indiana.  That was the back breaker on the 7 1/2 horse genset.  We still have 30 AMP service on our unit of several yrs and it has W/D that we use often when in the RV.  So you become accustomed .

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