The first time you trip a circuit breaker in your RV can be a scary experience. Lights go out, fans stop running, and it’s just you – alone in a dark, silent RV.
How can you prevent tripping a circuit breaker in an RV?
Knowing how much amperage each of your appliances draws while operating will help you avoid tripping circuit breakers. Most RV’s are wired for either 30 amp service or 50 amp service. An amp is a measure of electrical current. Every time you use an electrically-powered appliance in your RV, you’re drawing more current from the 120 V shore power pedestal.
Once you reach the limits of your RV’s shore power electrical system (either 30 amps or 50 amps), a circuit breaker will trip to protect your RV from an electrical overload.
To determine how many amps a piece of equipment draws, you’ll need to either obtain the value from the product or appliance manual, or do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation.
How to Determine Current Draw of An RV Appliance
You can determine the current draw of an appliance in a few ways:
- sometimes the product manual or online description will tell you how many amps the product draws during use (this is the easiest way!)
- find the number of watts the appliance uses, and then divide by 120 to arrive at amps (You can use this handy calculator too, just enter 120 for the volts along with the number of watts, and hit ‘Calculate’)
Although certain types of products, like hair dryers, curling irons, and heating pads will draw different amounts of current, we can make a reasonably accurate generalization for each type of appliance.
Typical 120 Volt AC RV Appliances Versus Estimated Max Current Draw In Amps
|RV Appliance or Gadget
|Max Current Draw in Amps
|Coleman Mach 3 PLUS RV Air Conditioner (13,500 BTU)
|14.5 in cooling mode, 16 in heating mode Source
|Microwave (1.2 cubic feet)
|Space Heater (Ceramic)
|7.5 - 12.5 Source
|1 - 2 Source
|Two Burner Stove
|Vacuum Cleaner (Corded and handheld)
|6 - 12 Source
|Washer Dryer (Large Twin)
|Washer Dryer (Small Combo)
|1 - 2 Source
As you can see, the number of amps a certain type of RV appliance draws can vary greatly. While you would have thought a crock pot would draw much more than 2 amps, take a look at the amps for the ceramic space heater and handheld vacuum cleaner! You can see how easy it is to reach a 30 amp limit running just a few of these appliances.
For more information on the difference between 30 amp and 50 amp service, and general overview of RV electrical knowledge, read this article at RV Dreams.