Do RV parks charge for electricity?

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Tom

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My neighbor at the park where we stayed last night mentioned that he'd stayed there a week (he left this morning) and was being charged a hefty per KW charge for electricity for the week.

The only place I recall being charged electricity was at a small park in NM where the daily CG rate was only $10. I was wondering if this was more common (?)
 

Ron

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It is not too uncommon for campgrounds to charge for electric when on a mounthly or annual rate, less common for weekly rate but I guess it does occur at some campgrounds.
 

Tom

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I guess it makes sense Ron and I have no issue paying for electricity I  use. The place we stayed last night charged $2 extra for 50A vs 30A, but no usage charge while on the daily CG rate. After I'd levelled the coach and put slideouts out, I proceeded to hook up and found the 50A receptacle slightly damaged. When I plugged in, I realized the ground line was missing. Hooked up to 30A instead and asked for my $2 back.

This morning my neighbor commented that my site had been empty all week and they'd assumed folks weren't being put in there for a reason.
 

Ron

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That is why we have a test box we plug in to the outlet before even connecting the coach.  If the park power fails the test we request a new sight.  Have found discrepant power at even some pretty upscale parks. (I.E. missing ground, hot and neutral crossed as well as only one leg of a 50 amp plug hot.

 

Wendy

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Last night at McPhee (Forest Service), there was a base rate then they added $3 for 30-amp, $4 for 50-amp, and $5 for full hook-up. I prefer it that way since we don't need 50-amp and I don't like paying for something I'm not going to use.
 

Tom

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Ron,

Do you recall the source for that test box? All I have is an analog voltmeter that I plug into a receptacle inside the coach after I've hooked up.

Thanks.
 

Tom

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wendycoke said:
I prefer it that way since we don't need 50-amp and I don't like paying for something I'm not going to use.

That makes a lot of sense Wendy. Hopefully, CGs aren't advertising their "competitive daily rate" without noting there's an additional charge for some types of hookups.
 

Bob Buchanan

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Ron said:
It is not too uncommon for campgrounds to charge for electric when on a mounthly or annual rate, less common for weekly rate but I guess it does occur at some campgrounds.

Hi Ron:

That's what I have found as well.

Over the past years developing my park reservation SW, electric charge methodology was an item I had to visit more than a few parks to discover all of the ways it is done -- and I still find new stuff all the time. An important factor causing more ways of charging has been the sharp rise in electric costs to parks in the past 5 years or so - and that will vary according to the park location. AZ and CA have been hit especially hard.

One fact that I wasn't aware of prior to developing SW was that it is against the law for a park to make a profit on electricity. Haven't checked this in all states, but it is for sure true in CA and am told it it true in AZ. This is monitored by a state agency. While visiting one park in CA that uses my system, a surprise visit was made by two state inspectors. They spent about 2 hours going over the books, my SW, meters, and anything else concerned with how the park gets and charges electricity to each camp site. That park was charging 18 cents/KWH and it was determined that the park was actually paying 19 cents to get the electricity to each site. So it "is" OK for a park to lose money on electric.

To offset the "no profit on Electric", some parks will charge a "meter read fee" much like the electric company charges it's users. This "is" legal. The park cannot make a profit, but must pay for the meters themselves, someone to read the meters, buy SW or have bills done manually, and so forth.

A park in Lake Havasu showed me how they periodically meter overnight sites -- even tho charges are not by meter. The reason was to monitor the differences in actual KWH used by different size and type of rigs and people situations. Many parks do this. That same park owner finally sold his park because of the high cost of electricity. They were paying over .20/KWH and big rigs with ice makers, washing machines w/dryers and such were easily using any profit they could make from such an overnite stay. And they couldn't raise prices and remain competitive. During the hot summer months they just shut down because if a row was turned on by the utility company, they could not recover that minium cost (regardless of usage) due to slow summer rentals. Do you know how many RVers returning from QZ will spend one nite in an RV park, wash their cloths in the rig, wash the rig itself, and tons of other stuff that is all included in that one nightly stay fee?? :(

A park has two choices w/50amp service. They can raise the advertised price, or charge a sur charge. Those that do the sur charge want to remain competitive with their pricing, but must recover their electric expenses to stay in business. Some advertise as such, some have it in fine print, while others don't mention it until you are registering for your site. Another factor is that it is easy to do or modify a sur charge, whereas the cost of changing the fixed site rate on web sites, advertising, and park literature can be very costly.

Monthly charges will either include electric, have an additional fixed electric monthly fee, or meter electric. I have a park in AZ with 400 metered sites. My program batch computes their monthly bills based on monthly readings. Doing that manually for 400 sites was very costly. Another park just charges a fixed fee for a monthly that includes electric. And another park computes how much electric has been used by all of their monthly non metered sites each month -- and charges all remaining monthly sites whatever it takes to recover that amount. The state inspectors approved their method of doing this.

So there are many methods of doing electric. We RVers try to eke all we can out of our electric service by switching everything to electric when buying a full hookup, whereas the park is trying to recover the cost of that electric and still make a profit. Unfortunately, it has sometimes caused a natural adviserial relationship between the RVer and park owner.
 

Ned

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The Escapees Rainbow parks (and some coop parks) charge $.10/kwh for electricity, even on one night stops.  You get a slip when you check in and fill in the beginning and ending kwh and pay on the way out.

Our surge protector has indicator lights that show any faults in the power system.  I have just over 2 minutes to read those lights to verify the power is wired correctly.  The surge protector is in the utility bay so it's very easy to check.
 

Tom

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Bob Buchanan said:
... electric charge methodology was an item I had to visit more than a few parks to discover all of the ways it is done -- and I still find new stuff all the time.

Your explanation was quite illuminating and very logical Bob, although I don't particularly like the idea of parks not properly disclosing added charges, surcharges, or whatever. I prefer to know up front rather than, like yesterday, the park owner said after I'd handed over my credit card, almost under her breath "and $2 for 50A".

We RVers try to eke all we can out of our electric service by switching everything to electric when buying a full hookup....

That might be true for some RVers, but not all. e.g. I've been known to consciously leave the refridgerator on LPG while plugged into electricity.

Edit: I also don't use CG electricity to heat the water in our coach.
 

rhmahoney

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Tom, I have a "50 amp power pal" pedestal tester that I got at Pomona ( or quartzsite). It has voice output led lights and a voltage reading.

www.got50amps.com

The web says:
The ?50 amp Power Pal? is an RV Park Electrical Outlet Tester.  The instrument is a hand held tester designed to test the 50 amp outlet before you plug in your RV.  In seconds the tester will indicate in CLEAR VOICE OUTPUT and a BRIGHT LED LIGHT one of the following conditions:

Faulty Ground or Neutral
Open Hot Wire-Line 1
Open Hot Wire-Line 2
Breaker Thrown or Off Reverse Polarity-Line 1
Reverse Polarity-Line 2
Good Outlet/OK to Plug Into



Your RV has rubber tires and is not grounded to EARTH until you plug your RV into a grounded electrical outlet.  Stop gambling!  Check each outlet before you plug in your RV.  The next outlet you plug into could have a poor ground, unsafe voltage or be miss-wired.  A good ground is your safety line and you should not be content until you know that your RV is properly grounded.  If your RV requires 20 or 30amps, the ?50 amp Power Pal? will test the outlet by the use of an approved adapter.

WARNING:  Turn off power to the electrical outlet before inserting or removing the test instrument.  This rule also applies to plugging in and unplugging your RV.
 

Carl L

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Your RV has rubber tires and is not grounded to EARTH until you plug your RV into a grounded electrical outlet.  Stop gambling!  Check each outlet before you plug in your RV.  The next outlet you plug into could have a poor ground, unsafe voltage or be miss-wired.  A good ground is your safety line and you should not be content until you know that your RV is properly grounded.  If your RV requires 20 or 30amps, the ?50 amp Power Pal? will test the outlet by the use of an approved adapter

Use folks with only 30 amp service can get by a bit cheaper.  A 120VAC three light circuit tester sold for $5 or so in hardware stores and even some super markets plugged into a 15/30 amp plug adapter will give you most all you need to know about the condition of the ground, hot, and neutral wiring.  That coupled with Tom's little analogue voltmeter should handle most 15 and 30 amp situations.
 

Tom

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Russ,

Thanks for the link and info. Too bad some CGs charge extra for power outlets that may or may not work and I have to spend $120 to find out.
 

Tom

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Just realized I omitted something from my earlier posts .....

I previously installed a permanent surge guard from CW in the power cord bay of the coach and wired the power cord directly to it. In addition to protecting the coach from power surges, it won't pass power from the pole to the coach if there's a fault such as an open neutral. That's how I knew there was a power pole problem after plugging in to shore power yesterday.

Methinks I should get out the manual for the surge guard to see what it does and doesn't protect the coach from.
 

Ron

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Probably a good idea.  The tester I made is simply a pigtail with male 50 amp connector on one end the other connected to a regular two outlet 15 amp socket with the tie between the two outlets cut to isolate each connector.  One hot lead and the neutral and ground is connected to one 15 amp socket and the other hot lead, neutral and ground connected to the other socket.  I have a circut tester like Carl mentioned in each 15 amp socket.  when plugged into a 50 AMP outlet both sides of the 50 amp circut are tested by the three light circuit tester.  Will detect missing ground or neutral as well as improper wiring.
 

Tom

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Carl Lundquist said:
A 120VAC three light circuit tester sold for $5 or so in hardware stores.....

Forgot I have one of those in the box under the entry steps. Thanks for the reminder Carl.
 

Bob Buchanan

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>> Your explanation was quite illuminating and very logical Bob, although I don't particularly like the idea of parks not properly disclosing added charges, surcharges, or whatever. I prefer to know up front rather than, like yesterday, the park owner said after I'd handed over my credit card, almost under her breath "and $2 for 50A".
====
Thank you. Enroute to the 1st Centermost rally at Estes Park, I stopped at a KOA in Laramie. I was drawn there by a sign I could see from the freeway advertising an $18.75 nightly rate. However, during the registratioin process, I was old that was for a no-hookup out in the south 40. Water was extra, electric was extra, and sewer was extra. Turns out a full hookup was just under $30.00. I would never stop there again -- and am very leery of KOA's in general anywhere anymore. So I agree with what you say.

>> That might be true for some RVers, but not all. e.g. I've been known to consciously leave the refridgerator on LPG while plugged into electricity.

Edit: I also don't use CG electricity to heat the water in our coach.
====
In ten years as a full time RVer, I have never heard of an RVer that does not shift whatever they can to electric when buying a full hookup -- unless they have some other reason for not doing so. Was your reasoning to lower the electric expense to the park -- or was it that you feared the lose of electric (and hot water) during night?

I personally shift to electric on "everything" I can and feel I have every right to unless told otherwise. And I "have" been told otherwise at times. For example, I have been to several parks with large signs posted, "NO ELECTRIC HEATERS".
 

Tom

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Bob Buchanan said:
....I have never heard of an RVer that does not shift whatever they can to electric when buying a full hookup -- unless they have some other reason for not doing so.

As the saying goes, never say never. The easiest one to explain might be the water heater; LPG is much better/faster for heating water than the wimpy electric element in our coach. If I relied on electricity to heat the water, we'd have some cold showers. I sometimes put both LPG and electric water heating on but, since the LPG thermostat appears to be set lower, the electric heating element never comes on in this mode. So, the 'electric and  LPG' switch position is essentially the same as 'LPG only'. I could of course, switch to electric only, but then I'd be back to the inadequate situation described earlier.

I also try to manage the loads in conjunction with the EMS system on the coach. The amount of LPG used by the refridgerator is almost negligible and this is an obvious way to reduce electricity use.

This is the abbreviated version, but suffice to say I don't rush to switch everything to electricity when plugged in.

I have been to several parks with large signs posted, "NO ELECTRIC HEATERS".

I've seen a few of those too and usually comply.
 

Ned

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Tom,

If your Surge Guard is like ours, the lights on the box will flash codes to indicate the different faults, or if the power is ok.  If there is a fault, it won't cut the power through after the 2+ minute delay unless you activate the keylock bypass switch.

Our electric element in the hot water heater gives us plenty of hot water and seems to be fast on recovery.  We've never had a cold shower even when using it back to back.  Maybe we just are better at conserving our hot water :)  Of course, right now we have no hot water as the HWH sprung a leak and we can't get it fixed until Monday in SLC.
 
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