Having a 50 amp RV outlet at home to power your camper is a great luxury. With that 50 amp connection, your RV hookup lets you power your full rig, including the RV AC.
But how do you install a 50 amp RV outlet at home? I mean, this is some serious power to take from your home. Plus, this 50 amp outlet is 220 volts (or 240 volts), so you must be very careful when installing.
This post will walk you through how to plan and install a 50 amp outlet at your home, including:
- Verify Enough Power at your Panel
- RV Plug Location and Selection
- Breaker Installation
A few years ago, my father-in-law, a licensed electrician, asked what I wanted for Christmas. Realizing I needed nothing specific, I thought about my RV and if there was anything I could buy that would make my life easier. Thinking about it for a while, I concluded that the only gift I wanted was for him to help me install a 50 amp RV outlet at my house.
And what a great gift it was! This 50 amp outlet has allowed me to plug in my RV and run all the appliances without a single issue. And thanks to my in-house professional electrician, I always have shore power when parked at my house. Plus, this 50 amp outlet can run my welder and even an electric car (if I ever get one).
Table of Contents
- Service Power
- RV Plug Location
- RV Plug Selection
- Breaker Installation
- Final Thoughts
The first thing to do is confirm you have enough power at your main breaker. It wouldn’t be fun to go through this process without insufficient electrical power or room in your main breaker panel.
Start by checking if you have at least 2 spare spots in your panel. A 50 amp breaker is 220 volts and gets that power using 2 breakers, one on top of another. That is good news if you have some spare spots, as there is room for those new breakers.
Next thing to check for is what size service you have coming into your home. Services come in at either 100 amp, 150 amp or 200 amp from the utility company. If you have a 150 or 200-amp service with a couple of spare slots, this is usually enough power for the added 50 amp breaker. If you have a 100 amp service panel, that may not be enough, as a typical home without an RV plug will use most of the 100 amps.
Not sure what size service you have? Call your utility company and see what they have listed for that address as service size.
RV Plug Location
The next decision is where you will put this 50 amp plug. Here are some things to consider as you decide on the location of the outlet electrical box.
- Place 50 amp RV outlet as close to the main breaker panel as possible. With 50 amps at 220 volts, that will take at least a 8 gauge wire for a very short run. The longer you make the wire from your outlet to the main breaker, the thicker (and more expensive) your wire will be. This is because of voltage drop and is affected by power and length. So I suggest the closest to the main panel as possible.
- Decide if mounting on the wall or underground. The underground is nice, and the RV plug wiring keeps it out of the way. However, underground costs additional money and time for digging and backfilling. As an option, see if you can mount it to a wall inside or outside your garage. You may have to deal with the extension cord getting in the way, but it’s something to consider.
- Weatherproof enclosure. You will need to decide how you will make this outlet weatherproof. When going up against the house or inside the garage, you still need to waterproof it as water can get in. When doing an outlet from the ground, they make weatherproof enclosure boxes to help keep the water out.
As you decide on the plug location, lay it out exactly and run a cord to see how this will work for you. This quick check to ensure this will work for you is well worth it.
RV Plug Selection
Did you know there are many different kinds of 50 amp 220-volt plugs? Go to the home center, and you will find several different 50 amp outlets.
Luckily, there is a standard plug for RVs: the Nema 14-50R. So when you go to the home center, ask for that particular plug, which will work with your RV’s 50 amp plug. Be careful, as other similar plugs are made for an appliance, like a dryer outlet. Those are different, so stick with the Nema 14-50R.
This RV Plug is also great because you can use many adapters to accommodate what you need. For example, an adapter takes that 50 amp RV plug and will give you a 30 amp RV outlet. And it gives you 120-volt power for that 30 amp service.
Now let’s get to the electrical wiring. Once you have mapped out your location, set your electrical box, and installed the conduit, it is time to feed the wire between the main panel and the RV outlet.
When dealing with 50 amp service and 220 volts, the wire will be much thicker than your typical house wire. House wire is usually 14 gauge for 15 amp and gauges up to 12 gauge with 20 amp outlets. With this RV outlet wire, you will need a minimum of 8 gauge wire for a very short run – say 100 ft total. And can go up to 6 or 4 gauge, depending on the length of your wire.
Also, this wire will differ from house wire in its number of wires. Your typical house wire has 2 wires and a ground (bare copper). The black wire is hot, and the white wire is neutral. This is all that is needed when you have 120 or 110 volts.
With the 50 amp service, and to get 220 volts, you need wire that has 3 wires and a ground (bare copper). This is because 2 wires in 220 volts are hot, and one wire is neutral. Using 2 hot wires, both at 110 volts, is how you get your 220 volts. The red and black wires are hot, and the white wire is the neutral wire when working with 220 volts.
As you look at your Nema 14-50R plug, you will see 4 connection points or screws. This is where we will make our connections to the wire. Here is how you wire a 50 amp plug.
- Copper Wire. This is your ground wire. It will connect to the green screw on the RV outlet. Also, it is recommended to pigtail a separate copper wire from the plug to the electrical box.
- Red Wire. This is one of the hot wires. If you see brass and silver screws at your RV plug, this will connect to one of the brass screws. Since this is one of two hot wires, it doesn’t matter which brass screw you select.
- Black Wire. This is the other hot wire. Same instructions above as to connect the brass screw.
- White Wire. This is the neutral wire. This wire will connect to the silver-colored screw at the back of your RV plug.
Make sure you have these wires securely and tightly screwed to the plug. You also want to ensure that no wires connect to the electrical boxes as this can cause a short. Only expose as much wire from the jacket as needed, so there is only metal-to-metal contact with the plug screw.
The next step is to feed that wire into your panel and connect the 50 amp circuit breaker. Getting the same brand breaker you already have in your panel is recommended. Some manufacturers of breakers are Square D, Siemens, and GE. All of which can be found at Home Depot or other hardware companies. Snap a pic of your existing panel and look for the same manufacturer.
Get a 50 amp breaker. This will look like two regular breakers connected by a single switch. This is because you are installing two breakers, in a sense. Each one of those individual breakers will have the hot wire connection. If you recall above, both the red and black wires are hot wires, with white as neutral.
Since you have two hot wires, each at 110 volts, connect the red wire to one screw of the breaker and the black wire to the other screw on the breaker. Since both are 110V, and the breaker is connected, this is how you get 220 Volt from your house’s electrical service. Then connect the white neutral and ground like you install any other breaker.
Once all looks safe and connected, turn the breaker on and see if you get 220V from the 50amp RV plug. If all looks good, then go ahead and put your panel cover back on. You are ready to use your new 50 amp plug as shore power for your RV!
Looking to add some 50 amp RV power to your home’s electrical system? Adding a 50 amp electrical outlet to your home is a great luxury for powering and enjoying your RV when at home. You can easily power your devices, appliances, and air conditioners! The first step in the installation is to determine whether you have enough electrical service power to supply those added amps. Next, select the location you want your new RV plug. Then, go to the home center for a Nema 14-50R plug and some 8 or 6-gauge wire. Finally, connect your RV plug to your 50 amp breaker with the two hot wires, one neutral and one ground wire.
Tony is an avid camper and RV traveler. He fell in love with camping on his first RV trip with his wife over 25 years ago. Tony loves sharing lessons learned and tips about RV maintenance and safe traveling.