Last update on .

Summer RV Electrical Need-To-Knows

It's summertime and boondocking is easy and free - until we need to run the A/C!

Boondocking is camping without hookups. Yet 80% of Boondockers Welcome hosts generously offer electric, water, or both. Let's be sure hosts know how much we travelers appreciate this option!

This post is a follow up to our recent newsletter on this topic.  In case you missed it, you may want to start by reading it here. But here's a brief summary: Boondockers Welcome hosts are generous to a fault, but it's unreasonable for guests to expect them to cover the cost of electricity to run A/C.

As we head into summer, we want to remind our traveling members that, whenever you use hookups, we expect you to offer to compensate your host for any costs.  If the host doesn’t stipulate an amount, consider enclosing cash with a thank you card and hand it to them as you are leaving.  We suggest $5 to $10 per night (depending on the size of your rig) if you've used A/C, and $3-$5 a night (especially if you've stayed more than one night) if your electric usage was minimal.

In response to that newsletter, some of our hosts who offer electric hookups wrote to thank us; they said they hadn’t considered big rigs might be running air conditioners (or heaters in winter), which use a lot more electricity than other RV appliances. We had one lovely host in Florida who said she had guests almost every night last winter because she loves the company, but the increase in her electrical bill was definitely noticeable, and as she's on social security she very much appreciates when guests offer her some compensation for electric usage.

If the host also allows generators and you have one, you should probably consider using it instead. 

You also NEED to know this before hooking up to hosts' hookups!

Since we sent that newsletter, we’ve gathered some additional useful information about important safety considerations for RVers who are using electric hookups.

How to avoid blowing out your RV electronics from a home electric hookups

All Boondockers Welcome hosts, and probably even more importantly, all guests who plan to plug in at a Boondockers Welcome host location, need to watch this short 2-minute video featuring RV tech and electrical engineer, Mike Sokal.

As the video states, an electrician who wires a 30- or 50- amp outlet may be accustomed to wiring them for home use (eg. for a dryer or welder), but be completely unaware of a very important difference if the outlet is intended for an RV. This can result in the outlet being wired for 240V instead of 120V.  Here's an image showing how similar the plugs are:

Be sure that your electrician (or that of your host) has wired this outlet up properly!

Three electrical testing devices all RV owners should carry and use

In this 2-minute video, FMCA technical advisor, Gary Bunzer, suggests RVers shouldn't ever assume any outlet (whether at a campground or a Boondockers Welcome host location) is safe without performing these simple tests before plugging in.

The No-Shock-Zone. A 12-part series about basic electricity as it pertains to RVs

Finally, RV electrical expert Mike Sokol has a series of articles where he explains basic electricity and the precautions all RVers need to take before using any electric hook-up. Mike also publishes a weekly No~Shock~Zone article in every newsletter on Saturdays. Consider subscribing for other tips and advice on this subject.

The onus is on the RV traveler!

Finally, we’d like to remind all our traveling members, that the onus is on you (not the host) to know your rig’s electrical requirements and to use proper precautions before connecting to any electrical hookup provided by the host.

Boondockers Welcome Logo

Boondockers Welcome is a community of RVers that provide overnight stays with each other for free while traveling through an area. We help RVers to travel more economically and find options when campgrounds may be full. It’s a great and safe way to meet fellow RVers or for people curious about the RV lifestyle to learn from members, while also providing a safe place to park for one night or up to five nights.

Keep up to date with us and our hosts

Sign up for our newsletter and get notified when we have new, useful articles and see all our new hosts every week.


  • Cars 'n' Carving

    Cars 'n' Carving   

    Can I use an analog meter instead of a digital meter?


    Actually a 50a plug in is 240V. Only the 30a is 120V.
You must log in to comment.