What size wire for 50 AMP RV Plug

What size wire for 50 AMP RV Plug: Everything you need to know

The best part of camping in an RV is getting all the comforts of home. You don’t have to compromise modern appliances or convenient electronics.

But for these items to work, you definitely need to connect to a power source. To plug your RV cord right into a power pedestal or generator, you’ll need to know what size wire for a 50 AMP RV plug, since RV’s are usually 50 AMP vehicles.

Today we’re going to hopefully clear all your doubts on this topic. Let’s jump right in.

50 AMP RV Plug

A 50 amp RV plug allows you to use more electricity in your RV.

A 50 amp plug has four prongs – two 120 volt hot wires, a neutral wire, and a ground wire – that supply two separate 50 amp, 120 volt feeds.

So, a 50 amp service RV provides a maximum of 12,000 watts.

Although a 50 amp service for a recreational vehicle, or RV, is connected to four wires and uses a four-prong plug, it is still a three pole service with only hot, neutral and ground connections. It is different from a conventional 120 volt service in that there are two 120 volt hot feeds, or legs, each at 50 amps. 

Now keep in mind, A 50 amp service is not a 30 amp service and a 20 amp service joined together. 

Even when the largest RVs are connected to the 50 amp service, they still almost universally use this double-hot-pole, or double-bus, installation to draw only 120 volts to two separate 120-volt circuits simultaneously, thereby accessing a possible 12,000 watts of power.

Why Does Wire Size Matter?

Wires are rated for the voltages as well as the wattage they can be used with. 

In other words, A wire with a larger diameter can carry more current than a smaller one.

Using the wrong size wire which is too small can cause the wire to overheat and burn

Thus to avoid any such accidents, using the right wire size depending on the voltage is crucial.

Factors to consider

There are many things to consider when we talk about which wire size we must use. They are as follows:

1.The material of the wire

Depending on the material of the wire, the requirements of the wire size changes. This is because aluminium wires are rated differently than copper wires. 

Fifty-amp Aluminum Wire

For a 50-amp aluminum wire, use No.4 AWG. Here, AWG means American Standard Gauge. The Gauge refers to the diameter of the wire. The smaller the number on the wire, the bigger the wire diameter. For example No. 6 is smaller than No. 4

 Aluminum wires come in different types. Types THWN and RHW are the most commonly used ones. No. 6 is only good up to 40-amp.

Fifty-amp Copper Wire

For copper wire, No. 6 or No. 8 THWN can be used. No. 6 copper wire can support up to 55-amp at a temperature of 60 degree Celsius.  In this case, No. 6 wire is strongly recommended. It’s best if a bigger size wire is used.

2. Distance needed to be covered

For 50 amp pedestals, the size of your wires also depend on the distance. The standard distance for RV wires is usually around 50 feet. Usually, #6 gauge wires are used.

But in case the distance is shorter, #8 gauge wires are recommended for 25 feet. If you require a distance larger than the standard 50 feet, then you may opt for #4 gauge wires for upto 100 feet.


 How to Wire a 50 Amp RV Pedestal

After knowing what size wires you need to use, let’s see how you can wire a 50 AMP RV pedestal.

Things you’ll need

For a 14-50, you’d need a 50 amp outlet or a 14-50R (usually pre-installed). The common distance is 50 feet, which requires #6 gauge wires. This means that both hot wires and the neutral wire are six-gauge.

Step 1 of 6: Disconnect the Breaker Panel

The breaker panel can be disconnected by shutting off the main breaker. The breaker panel will serve your 50 amp outlet. The set-up of the breaker board is usually split into single phases. Its supply is served by two hot wires, one neutral wire, and one ground wire.

Step 2 of 6: Install a 50 Amp Breaker in a Vacant Location

. To install, connect the red wire to a terminal on the breaker’s outlet side. Connect the black wire to the other terminal on the same side as the red wire. Connect the white wire to the neutral busbar and connect the green wire to the grounding block.

Step 3 of 6: Wire the Half-Round Receiver

The Half Round is the U shaped receiver in the breaker found at the upper middle section. Wire or connect it to your ground to which you have earlier connected the green wire. The terminal screw is usually green too.

Step 4 of 6: Wire the Bottom Receiver

Connect or wire the receiver found at the lower middle section to your neutral to which you have earlier connected the white wire. The terminal screw is usually white.

Step 5 of 6:Wire the Side Receivers to the Plugs

There are two receivers on the side, one on the left and one on the right. Connect or wire these receivers to your hots, which are your red and black wires. Don’t worry about the order of these wirings for the hots. The black and red wires are interchangeable and would work either way!

Step 6 of 6: Switch It On and Test It!

First, switch on the main breaker and reconnect the double pole breaker using the switch. The double-pole breaker serves your newly installed 50-amp outlet, so it’s best to test it after turning it on.

DON’T plug in your RV just yet without testing the pedestal. You can test your outlet with your voltage meter. Set it to 240 volts for testing. 

Precautions

It’s a no brainer that handling electrical equipment and wiring is dangerous. So here’s an acronym to help you remember some tips on electrical safety:

Y- YOURSELF: make sure your hands are not damp, you have no metallic accessories near the equipment, your clothes are not loose enough to touch the equipment, and that you are well-versed on what you’re doing

E – EQUIPMENT: only use non-conducting tools and handles, never use metallic pencils or rulers while working near the circuits,

S – SURROUNDINGS: make sure you’re not working in a damp environment or wet ground, keep away from flammable chemicals, and it’s best if it were warm to prevent condensation

Conclusion

Stay safe and follow the instructions! We hope this write up helped you get a clear idea to make a decision regarding what size wire for a 50 AMP RV plug you’ll need. 

If there’s anything we missed, don’t forget to tell us in the comments below. 

Happy traveling!

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