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There are plenty of ways in which you can hook up an RV to electricity, but if you need a 50 amp hookup, you’ll want the best 50 amp RV cord you can get. Cheap cords made with poor quality can short, spark, and wear out over time, but investing in reliable RV equipment like extension cords will keep you and your RV safe.
RV Power Systems
Most RVs get their power from two different sources. Your batteries are hooked to a 12-volt system that takes over when you’re not connected to shore power. The 120-volt system is what needs power provided by an electrical cord. It’s a stronger system that will power things like your air conditioners and refrigerator.
While your RV may run off of self-contained battery power for a short time, you will need to plug into shore power regularly to charge these batteries up or power your larger appliances.
Your most powerful RV electrical system starts and ends with a reliable power cord. If your cord is weathered, you’ll want to get a new one. Not only is it safer, but it will help you use your electricity more efficiently.
I’ll break down why it’s important to understand the differences between cord types and then we’ll review which cord is best for you.
RV Power Cords
Your RV power cord plugs into your exterior cap and connects to the electrical panel. It contains three internal cords inside a rubber or PVC casing. It may have a cheap appearance, but these materials are proven to stop the flow of electricity and keep you safe. There’s no better option out there.
However, the internal workings of the cord are highly dependent on the best quality materials. 100% copper is the most efficient. It offers a faster flow of electricity and faster charging times, but it’s also safer during power surges.
Copper is better equipped for handling higher voltage ranges and also lasts longer than other materials.
Utility power cords
While they may seem the same, there’s a big difference between a utility cord you get at the hardware store and a power cord made specifically for an RV. A standard utility power cord won’t work if you are trying to power your home on wheels.
A standard cord can carry 120 volts, which is perfect for electric stoves and household dryers. But your RV needs at least 125 volts, if not 250. Plus, RV power cables come with different connections at the end. They don’t plug into a standard outlet.
Not only is it dangerous to plug your RV into a standard outlet, but these cords rarely come in lengths above 10 feet, which just won’t cut it if you’re camping in more rural areas.
Keep in mind that the end of your utility cable might look similar to that of an RV cord, but the internal components have a different design and are intended to carry more voltage.
RV extension cords
These look similar, but there’s an easy way to tell the difference. An RV power cord connects directly to your RV whereas an RV extension cord is meant to give you more length. The male and female connections will indicate that the extension cord is meant to plug into the end of your power cable and run it all the way to the power supply.
Your power cable has one end that plugs directly into your RV while the other end will plug into an extension cord or the power supply.
Types of RV Power Cords
There are four main types of RV power cords, but not all will work for you. If you’re reading this, you probably need a 50 amp cord rather than a 30 amp, but you still may need some sort of adapter to make it work.
30 amp plug
These cables have a three-prong male end in the shape of a triangle. They work with 30 amp systems and will not power an RV equipped for 50 amps. However, with the use of an adapter, you could make it work, but it won’t provide enough power for larger appliances.
These are usually used for smaller RVs and are generally cheaper than 50 amp cords.
50 amp plug
These plugs have four prongs in the shape of a diamond. They’re for RVs that are larger than 30 feet and have the ability to deliver more power. They’re useful when your RV has more than one air conditioning unit or larger residential fridges.
These cables are more expensive than 30 amp cords because they can deliver more than three times the power of a 30 amp cord and have thicker casings with copper wiring.
Once again, you can use a 50 amp cord with a 30 amp unit, but you need an adapter to do so.
Dog bone adapter
This adapter comes into play when you need to use a 30 amp cord with a 50 amp unit and vice versa. They’re typically between 1 and 6 feet long and convert one type of power to the other. They protect your 30 amp RV from too much power and they stop your 50 amp RV from frying the box when turning too much one at once.
Despite the protections in place, there is an increased risk of surge or electrical shock, so this is not a product you want to try to save money on. Luckily, they’re not that expensive anyway.
Hockey puck adapter
These do the same things as dog-bone adapters, but they’re small units with no cords. They give you just a few extra inches and can go from 30 to 50 amp or 50 to 30. You plug your cable into one end and plug the other end into the power source.
They’re inexpensive, but you still want to make sure you get a good quality one.
UL and C-UL Approval Ratings
Most power cords have a UL or a C-UL rating. They are different, so it’s important to know what they mean when shopping for an RV cord.
UL approval ratings
Anything with a UL approval rating is safe for use in all United States outlets. They’ve been inspected and approved by the Underwriters Laboratories and they follow the ANSI-UL 484 electrical code. This is the industry standard used in air conditioning engineering.
C-UL approval ratings
This approval is specified for Canada. While the title is similar, they’re approved by the Canadian Standards Association and comply with the Canadian electrical code. If you live in or plan to travel to Canada, this is the approval rating you need.
If you’re shopping for a new 50 amp RV cord, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind before you choose. Some might apply to you while others won’t, but it’s important to make sure you get exactly what you need.
While most 50 amp cords are made with copper wiring, you’ll want to make sure yours is. This maximizes your power efficiency, especially in a large RV. While it will depend on how much power you use, most large RVs have several air conditioners and larger appliances.
You’ll run through a lot more power by using all of these things, and it’s especially true if you have a lot of passengers. You’ll be able to recharge your batteries faster and power everything you need all at once with a cable that can handle the load.
If you live in your RV full-time or you travel quite often, you’ll want to consider getting a higher quality cable with copper wiring. However, if you only travel a couple of times every year, you may be just fine with something less.
Campgrounds used to set up their charging stations in clusters. Wherever you were parked, you needed a really long cable to reach the electricity. While that’s no longer the case, there are still campgrounds that will require you to have a longer cord.
There will be times when the power supply is at the front of your site and your RV hookup is at the back of your rig. There will be other times when they’re on opposite sides of your RV and you’ll need to run it farther.
These circumstances will present a need for a longer power cable, and you can get cables up to 125 feet if you look hard enough. They’re not cheap, but they exist.
On the contrary, if you know exactly where you’re going, you’re familiar with the setup, and you know you won’t need anything nearly that long, you can get them as small as 25 feet, and sometimes shorter.
The last consideration you’ll want to think about is cost. These cords aren’t cheap. While you can reduce cost by getting a shorter cable or one that’s not made quite as well, I wouldn’t recommend skimping here.
It’s important to keep your family and your RV safe, so getting a high-quality cord will pay off in the long run.
The Best 50 Amp RV Cords
Now that you may have a better idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to look at some of the best 50 amp RV cords you can get.
Camco PowerGrip cords
I trust Camco more than almost any other camping brand on the market, and I’ve never settled for anything less than a Camco PowerGrip cord for my RVs. They’re not cheap, but they’re worth it.
The design of the PowerGrip cords is well thought out. One end has a 90-degree locking adapter that ensures the connection to your RV is stable at all times. It won’t come unplugged, even if you accidentally tug on it. This also helps to keep it safe from moisture.
The other end has a finger grip that allows you to easily unplug the cord from a power source even after maintaining a secure connection. If you’ve ever tried to unplug one of these without a handle, you know how difficult it can be.
Camco offers PowerGrip options in either 30 or 50 amperes and they come in a variety of lengths from 25-50 feet.
Even when plugged into 50 amps continuously, it won’t overheat, thanks to durable, quality construction. It comes with a thick and reliable PVC coating to protect you and everything inside the cord. Plus, it’s coated with a flame retardant for additional safety.
Even with a thick coating, the cord is flexible enough to roll up and stow away when you’re not using it. It also comes with a strap that allows you to hold the coils together. The strap has a handle that allows you to carry the entire cord easily.
- Weatherproof locking screw
- 90-degree twist-lock design
- PowerGrip handle
- Strap and handle for easy transport and storage
- Thick PVC casing and flame retardant coating
- More expensive than most other brands
Conntek 14302 RV generator power cord
Purchasing a power cord that comes with one pigtail end allows you to customize your connection. You can hardwire it to your RV or wire it to a generator. This gives you more flexibility when deciding how to connect the other end to a power source.
The Conntek 14302 allows you to do this. The cable is about one inch in diameter, but it’s still easy to coil and uncoil. It’s pliable, even in cold temperatures, and it won’t overheat when plugged in continuously.
It includes three 6-gauge wires and one 8-gauge wire and can handle up to 50 amps. The plug fits tightly for a secure and stable connection but can be hard to unplug when latched really tight.
The one downside to this cord is that you need to know enough about how to connect bare wires, or it’s not a safe or ideal solution for you.
- Won’t overheat
- Remains pliable in cold weather
- Easy to coil and uncoil
- Thick coating protects wires
- Comes with a pigtail connection for flexibility
- Not ideal for those who don’t know how to connect a bare end
Happybuy RV power cord
This 50-amp power cord is a whopping 50 feet long, so it’ll stretch just about as far as you need it to go. It’s perfect for remote areas or when the positioning of the electric box at your campsite isn’t quite right.
It’s pricey because it’s so long, but it’s the perfect option when you need something longer. The 30-foot option is very affordable if you don’t need something that long, so you’ll get a great value with the Happybuy brand.
It’s highly durable, and it comes with power grip handles, much like the Camco PowerGrip, which make it much easier to plug in and unhook. The connections are secure enough that they won’t come undone, and it has a twist lock at the female connection.
The heavy-duty, double-layer jacket ensures that it’s a safe and reliable option, no matter where you are. It will hold up in all types of weather and it’s ripped and tear-resistant. You can stand on it or drive over it and it will stay intact.
It’s also specially designed to resist kinking, which increases its durability but can make it hard to coil when you need to store it.
- Excellent durability
- Very long
- Offers a secure connection with power grips
- Heavy-duty outer layer
- Not a well-known brand
- May overheat with prolonged use
Camco PowerGrip heavy-duty extension cord
If you already have a 50-amp power supply, but it’s not quite long enough, then one of the best things you can do is get an extension cord. Camco once again reigns supreme with their PowerGrip family of cords.
These heavy-duty extension cords are reliable and come in several different lengths, so you should have plenty of cables to get where you’re going.
They’re outdoor safe and made with 100% copper wiring. It’s coated in a heat-resistant, fire-retardant PVC that makes it safe for all-weather and protects the cord from wear and tear.
It’s flexible, so it’s easy to roll up and store, plus it’s highly conductive, so you won’t lose much efficiency by increasing your distance from the central power supply.
It also comes with a carrying strap to make it easy for you to store or move around the campsite.
- Velcro carrying case for portability
- Flexible for easy storage
- PowerGrip handles for easy connections
- Secure connections
- Heavy-duty PVC coating for protection and longevity
Go Wise extension cord
This 30-foot extension cord is a great budget alternative to the Camco varieties. It has easy-grip handles to help with your connections and it’s rated for heavy-duty outdoor use. Each end is bent at 90 degrees to make removal easier.
The coating is thick and has a weatherproof cover to keep your plug safe from all weather. The carrying strap helps you store it or move it around. It meets American and Canadian safety standards and is flexible enough to roll up when not in use.
- Great value on a budget
- Handles are easy to hold for better connections
- Somewhat unknown brand
Camco PowerGrip adapters
Let’s say you have the perfect 50-amp power cord, but you’re staying at a campsite with 30-amp connections. You’d be out of luck if you didn’t have an adapter. Camco’s PowerGrip family also has some of the best adapters you can buy.
They come in several different configurations including dog bone and hockey puck, so you can pick which will be the most convenient for you. Dog bone adapters also come in varying lengths up to 6 feet.
Not only can you get 50-amp to 30-amp adapters, but Camco also offers adapters that go from 50 amps all the way down to a 110 outlet for connecting to your house if you need quick power without access to a 50-amp plug.
Many people also purchase 50-amp extension cords and then use Camco adapters to connect to their RV. There are plenty of options from this reliable and versatile brand that I feel confident recommending for all your 50-amp power needs.
- Unlimited configurations
- Reliable and durable
- PowerGrip handles for easy connections
- Could be confusing trying to find the right conversion for you
How much does it cost to install a 50-amp RV outlet?
If you don’t already have a vacant spot in your double-pole 50-amp breaker box, you’ll need to install a new one. The cost of the service panel will be several hundred dollars, and I wouldn’t recommend doing it yourself, which means you’ll pay hourly for an electrician.
If you do have a vacant spot, all you’ll need is a 50-amp breaker to insert into it, the appropriate length of coated wire, and the outlet box. It will run you roughly $200 for all of this, plus the electrician’s rate.
If you do it yourself, you can eliminate the cost of an electrician, which makes it quite a bit more affordable.
If you want to bury your wire, you’ll need to pay someone to trench or you’ll need to do that yourself as well.
If you’re still on the fence about which 50-amp RV power cord is the best option for you, I understand. It took me a while to grasp how many options were available and which would work with my RV. These frequently asked questions should help.
Question: How long can a 50-amp RV cord be?
Answer: There’s no limit to how long your connection can be, but the longest cord available on the market is 50 feet. If you need to connect to a power source farther away, you’ll have to get an extension cord.
Keep in mind that the farther you go and the more connections you make in between your RV and the power supply, the less efficient your connection will be. That doesn’t mean it won’t be secure or power your RV successfully, but it may not charge your batteries as quickly as a direct connection would.
Question: Can I plug my 50-amp RV into my dryer outlet?
Answer: No. While these connections look the same, they operate on two different voltages. Plugging your RV into your dryer outlet will cause damage to your home. If you want to plug your RV into your home, you’re better off installing a 50 amp service to do so.
Question: How do you wire a 50-amp RV service?
Answer: You should only do this on your own if you are experienced in electrical connections. You’ll need a double-pole 50-amp breaker box with a vacant location. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to install one.
Once you have that, you can purchase a 50-amp breaker, your 50-amp wire, and a 50-amp box from a local hardware store. Connect your 50-amp wire to the breaker, trench to bury the wire (if needed), then connect your wire to the box where you want your RV to have access to the power supply.
Question: Do RV power cords go bad?
Answer: Your RV power cord can and will go bad, it’s just a matter of time, weather, and wear and tear. While most RV power cords are very durable, any number of things can happen that cause them to go bad.
Faulty connections, improper wiring, mistreatment, or leaving them out in the weather unplugged could all contribute to accelerated wear and tear. Even keeping it in storage without using it very often can cause it to go bad more quickly.
As a general rule, your RV power cord will last around 5 years but could last less or more, depending on how it’s used.
Getting the appropriate 50-amp RV cord for you is critical when hooking up your RV. It will give you the power and efficiency you need to charge or operate your RV. Plus, it will offer safety and durability.
I’m a big fan of Camco products and I wouldn’t buy anything else, but a lot of people choose affordability over the brand name and have good luck with it. What you choose will depend on your specific needs and availability in your area.