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Old 08-11-2016, 06:23 AM   #1
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Is my trailer 30 amp or 50 amp?

We have a 1971 International Ambassador 29 foot.

On the breaker box there are 4 breakers.... a 30 amp and then the other three are all 20 amp breakers.

How can we find out if we have 30 amp or 50 amp service?
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Old 08-11-2016, 06:47 AM   #2
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You have 30 amp service. The 30 amp breaker in the panel is the main breaker for the coach.
The shore power cord should have a plug with 3 prongs. 1 hot leg, 1 neutral, 1 ground.
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:30 AM   #3
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You have 30 amp service. The 30 amp breaker in the panel is the main breaker for the coach.
The shore power cord should have a plug with 3 prongs. 1 hot leg, 1 neutral, 1 ground.

Where would one go about getting the materials to convert to 50 amp? My father built houses and has installed breaker boxes before. So I figure we can handle the labor ourselves.
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:33 AM   #4
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Why would you want to go to 50 amp? Are you planning significant electrical modifications to the coach?
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:33 AM   #5
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Where would one go about getting the materials to convert to 50 amp? My father built houses and has installed breaker boxes before. So I figure we can handle the labor ourselves.
Lowe's, Home Depot, and building supply. I have a feeling that there is more to it than that.
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:47 AM   #6
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Why would you want to go to 50 amp? Are you planning significant electrical modifications to the coach?
We are putting in a new AC with heat strips and also an electric hot water heater.

We have also built in a microwave with a convection oven.
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Old 08-11-2016, 08:18 AM   #7
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That's pretty much what all newer AS have and it works fine. Why go to 50 unless you want two ac units? Does your father know rv electrical systems are 120 volt, not 240?
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Old 08-11-2016, 12:00 PM   #8
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That's pretty much what all newer AS have and it works fine. Why go to 50 unless you want two ac units? Does your father know rv electrical systems are 120 volt, not 240?
Yes we know everything is 120. So you don't think we need to swap to 50? If it's not needed I don't want to do it. I'm already spending more money on this restoration that I had intended. But isn't that always the case?
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Old 08-11-2016, 12:15 PM   #9
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Where would one go about getting the materials to convert to 50 amp? My father built houses and has installed breaker boxes before. So I figure we can handle the labor ourselves.
As mentioned above most RVs use 120v only even when using 50amp 240v hookup. They use each 120v leg independently since there is really no need for 240v other than electric dryer or range. High end and custom RVs do use 240v and there is no reason that you can't. Many upgrade sub panels to accommodate a real clothes dryer instead of 120v models that take hours to dry clothes.

Good luck!
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Old 08-11-2016, 12:23 PM   #10
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Yes we know everything is 120. So you don't think we need to swap to 50? If it's not needed I don't want to do it. I'm already spending more money on this restoration that I had intended. But isn't that always the case?
Unless you are using two air conditioners or other high current appliance there really is no reason that you would need more than a 30 amp service.

That said, if you need to replace current sub panel and breakers why not pay just a little more and upgrade?
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Old 08-11-2016, 01:29 PM   #11
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Remember that the 50 amp shore power cord is rather heavy and stiff while you decide....to me, the 30 amp is enough of a pain...YMMV.


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Old 08-11-2016, 02:11 PM   #12
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We are putting in a new AC with heat strips and also an electric hot water heater.

We have also built in a microwave with a convection oven.

Regarding the AC - Many RV air conditioners have small heat strips inside them that run off of a single 120v circuit. That's ok since you do not heat and cool at the same time they can use the same circuit. I changed out an air conditioner last year and chose to NOT include the heat strips, for a three reasons.
(1) the air conditioner can make a lot of noise so I do not like to run it when I sleep.
(2) heat strips sometimes do not have a thermostat, only on or off.
(3) a small electric portable heater does a better job (quieter, controls temperature with a thermostat, and distributes heat better) and can cost less.

If you are talking about adding a 220v tank type electric water heater you will have to upgrade to 50 amp. The tank type are generally too large and heavy for trailer use. The small 120v tank type WH will not provide enough water to bathe one time. Using a RV WH that is propane only or a combination propane/electric is the more common type of electric WH in RVs, since the combo units use 120v (and will supply a lot more hot water)

It does not take long, once you start using the trailer, to understand that you cannot run everything at once. You have to run a only few things and wait on the next.

I've contemplated the 50 amp upgrade on my 34', but just can't justify it by need. It works as it is!
(If I camped in the southwest, maybe... but only if I needed a second AC unit)
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Old 08-11-2016, 02:17 PM   #13
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You mentioned an item that is common in homes, but not in Airstreams... at least not in newer Airstreams. That is "heat strips". Here in Florida they are often the main source for central heat. Do you know how many amps your heat strips draw when activated? If you used modern RV equipment for AC, microwave/convection and water heater those are typically run off a 30 amp service. We have all of those in our trailer and do fine on 30 amps.

As for RV electric equipment, the 120 v side (as opposed to the separate 12v system) is largely standard boxes, breakers, wiring, receptacles, etc. the two specialty items that 50 amp trailers use are an "RV 50 amp power inlet" and "RV 50 amp power cord". Google those terms and you'll find plenty of sources of supply.
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Old 08-11-2016, 08:32 PM   #14
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Our 31' classic has 2 Ac and 50 amp, when on 30 amp we are careful what we run when Ac is on like no elect hot water heater or microwave at the same time..
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