How Much Power Does an RV Trailer Use? (Electricity Usage)

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Last Updated on November 9, 2020 by Ted Mosby

Having an RV trailer and being able to utilize all of its modern conveniences makes RVing trouble-free, your travel more fun and memorable. So, it is vital to know how your RV’s batteries and 12V power system works. This post is intended to provide you information regarding RV electricity usage.

Being able to access modern conveniences like overhead lighting, refrigerator, vent fans, HVAC system, etc. while on the road is awesome. Suppose you want to keep them in their optimal condition to work smoothly without any interruption. In that case, you are required to have at least a basic understanding of your RV trailer’s electrical system and what the average RV electricity usage is!

Having a basic understanding of RV wiring and other power sources helps you keep yourself aware of where to draw power from and how to troubleshoot if something goes wrong.

I have realized that the majority of RVers aren’t electrical geeks, so I will try to explain everything in simple (not too technical) words that will give you an idea of how much power does an RV trailer use.

How Much Power Does an RV

So, let’s get started!

How Much Power Does an RV or Travel Trailer Use? (Average Electricity Usage)

A typical RV trailer’s average electricity usage is about 20 kWh per day, which means it is about 608 kWh per month and 7,300 kWh per year. However, an RV trailer’s average electricity usage could be lower during standard weather conditions and higher when the weather is too hot or too cold.

That said, you should also keep in mind that it is the average electricity usage of an RV and to find the exact use involves many factors. For instance, if your RV is running off of electric heat, it will need more electricity as compared to an RV that is running off of propane.

Suppose you have parked your RV in an area where the weather is relatively cold, and you do not need to run the air condition unit. In that case, the use of electricity will be significantly less than those who have parked their RV in an area where the weather is hot and need to turn the air condition on.

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In fact, RV electricity usage of RVers who do not run their RV air conditioning unit is only 10 kWh per day.

Furthermore, another factor to consider when calculating the average RV electricity usage is insulation. An RV with an excellent insulation system will need much less electricity than an RV trailer with less insulation.

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So, how much does electricity cost?

The average RV electricity usage cost in the United States is 1.54 cents per kWh. It means if you use up to 608 kWh on averagely per month, you have to pay approximately $64.

Another critical aspect that you must consider when at a campground is voltage fluctuations, power surges, and improper electrical wiring. In that case, your recreational vehicle’s entire power system will get severely damaged, which is incredibly expensive to get repaired. To avoid such circumstances, I highly recommend inserting a surge protector power source and power cables.

How Does RV Electricity Work?

rv electricity

An RV support both AC and DC powers. DC power means direct current, while AC means alternating current. The RV utilizes DC power to run while the grid uses AC power for running. DC power is 12V, which is why an RV comes equipped with a 12V battery. However, if your RV doesn’t have a 12V battery, you can install two 6V batteries as well.

Having two 6V batteries instead of having one 12V battery is convenient since they are lightweight and straightforward to handle. However, you can expect a greater price for them. If you have decided to install two 6V batteries, make sure to link them properly to ensure they work correctly.

If your RV has a single 12V battery, you can charge it with a solar battery system, alternator of a vehicle, or via an electrical grid. Most RVs also have a 120V system hooked up to them, which means they can use both 30 amp and 50 amp power cord to run. While using a 50-amp setup, you will get 12,000W of power, while if you are connected to a 30-amp system, you will draw up to 3,600W of power.

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Note: Larger RVs with two or more air conditioning units will require an additional 50-amp service.

Here is how you can calculate 30 amp and 50 amp services into watts,

30 amp service: 120V x 30-amps= 3,600W.

50 amp service: 120V x 100-amps= 12,000W.

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Do not let yourself confused about the 100 amps that I have mentioned in 50 amp service, as a 50 amp service features two hot wires that double the amps.

Although most campsites offer both 30 amp and 50 amp service, if you are at a campsite that provides only one of them, you can use an adapter to hook up your RV into either of the services.

Do You Have to Pay to Hook Up your RV at a Campground?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. For example, if you are staying at a campsite for extended periods, the spot will be metered, which means you will be charged for the electricity you are using. While on the flip side, if you’re there for an overnight stay, they don’t usually charge you anything.

How to Minimize RV Electricity Usage?

If you want to keep your RV appliances running for extended periods of time by reducing the average RV electricity usage, there’re many ways to do that. Some of them include,

1. Use Propane

Propane tank

One of the simplest ways to reduce RV electricity usage is to use propane. Switching over to propane will also allow you to run your heating system, water heater, and RV refrigerator as well. However, the drawback of switching over to propane means you are trading electricity cost for propane. You may also find that propane is more expensive than electricity depending on the location you are camping at.

2. LED Bulbs and Energy-Efficient Appliances

Another way to reduce RV electricity usage is to use low wattage LED lights and energy-efficient appliances. LED tablets and TVs need significantly less power as compared to Plasma TVs and old computers.

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3. Park Your RV According to the Weather

Parking your RV under the shade during hot temperatures and under the sun when the weather is cold will drastically reduce the RV electricity usage. This way, you will save on electric heating and air conditioning costs. Moreover, adding appropriate insulation is also a great way to reduce RV electricity usage.

4. Travel According to the Weather

Yet another way to reduce RV electricity usage is to travel when the weather is appropriate. This will allow you to park in cooler temperatures in the summer and warmer temperatures in the winter. It means it could potentially prevent you from using AC or heating systems.

How to Save Money On RV Electricity Without Reducing Usage?

Although minimizing RV electricity usage is the best way to reduce electricity costs, but it doesn’t mean there is no other way to do that. Below are a few points that could help you to minimize RV electricity usage,

  • Besides saving on RV electricity usage, working at a campground has some other benefits as well. You will get a free place to park your recreational vehicle.
  • As I have said above, overnight stays mean you will not be charged for electricity usage, so keeping your stay as short as possible will let you avoid the electricity costs.
  • The third option to reduce electricity costs without lowering the RV electricity usage is to travel to a state with a lower kWh cost. The state with the lowest kWh cost in Louisiana.

Final Thoughts

That is all about the average RV electricity usage. I have explained everything in detail. There are various ways that allow you to save electricity costs. For example, you can use low wattage lights and appliances, travel to a state with low kWh costs, or traveling according to the weather. If you have any questions regarding RV electricity usage, you’re welcome to write a comment below. Safe Traveling


How much power does a travel trailer furnace use?

Most of the RV’s furnace needs about 8-amps of power.

How much power does an RV refrigerator needs to run?

A typical RV refrigerator requires 600W of power to start and 180W power to continue running.

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About Ted Mosby

I am Ted Mosby from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a Freelance Architect. I live in New Jersey, USA right now and I take my RV every alternate weekend. I own a Forest River Berkshire XLT Diesel 45A Class A Motorhome. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.