Can You Hook an RV Up to Your Home's Electrical System?

Family RVing
fstop123/E+/Getty Images

Have you ever noticed an RV sitting in someone’s driveway and wondered if you could live in it that way? Well, the answer is yes – sort of! An RV can be hooked up to a home’s electrical system, but there are some things you must know. While it's not suggested to live in an RV outside a home for an extended time (although they can be insulated for longer-term efficiency), short trips will be fine for keeping the lights on during your travels. Let’s look at how to hook an RV up to your home and what factors to consider when doing so.

Hooking an RV Up to Your Home’s Electrical System

While you can hook your RV up to a home’s electrical system, you won’t be able to run every appliance or use the electricity 24/7. You will most likely need to set your RV up to be able to connect to the standard 3-prong household plug you use at home. Since your RV will need at least a 30/50 Amp hookup to power the rig, you’ll be limited in what you can run connected to a home’s 15/20 Amp electrical outlet.

You can accomplish hooking up an RV up to your home’s electrical system in one of two ways: You can ensure what you need is installed when you buy the RV or you can install a 30/50 Amp hookup at home. If you are visiting a place often, it may be worth it to install a hookup for your RV at the destination.

If you are hooking up to a home’s standard outlet, you can do this via an outdoor, all-weather extension cord and 15/20 Amp adapter for your RV’s electrical hookups. Ideally, you want this extension cord to be as short as possible going from your home to your RV to prevent it from overheating.

Follow these steps to hook an RV up to your home’s electrical system:

  • Before you plug in the extension cord from your home to your RV, ensure all electrical appliances are turned off in your rig.
  • Turn off the breakers to your home, too.
  • Plug the extension cord into your RV’s electrical hookups via adapter, if necessary.
  • Then, reset your home’s breakers.

If successful, your setup properly; if not, your breaker will trip before you even head back to your RV. If the breaker trips, unplug everything and venture inside your RV to ensure all appliances are in fact off, and nothing is plugged in using power anywhere in your rig. Try the above steps again.

If these steps still don’t work, refer to your RV’s manual, contact the manufacturer, or give the dealership a call to talk through the issue.

Limitations to Hooking an RV Up to Your Home’s Electrical System

Unless you set up a fully-operational RV pad at home, you will not be able to use 30/50 Amp setup and will not be able to use everything powered in your rig. To operate within safe parameters, you will only be able to use one appliance at a time in most cases. If you use more than one at a time, you’ll trip your home’s breakers.

The following RV appliances are electric hogs, so be cautious when running them for long periods of time or trying to run them with other appliances at the same time:

  • Air conditioning
  • Hair dryer
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Toaster ovens

Appliances like TV, DVD players, laptops, and your refrigerator can be used at the same time without overloading even a 15/20 Amp connection in most cases. If you notice flickering lights or something turns off on its own, chances are you’ve overloaded the electrical connection between your RV and home.

Pro Tip: If you're parked in front of your house or someone you know, consider using their appliances rather than running yours whenever possible to conserve energy and prevent overloading the electrical system you're hooked up to for the stay.

When it comes to hooking an RV up to your home’s electrical system, proceed with caution. You can damage both your RV and home’s electrical system if you plug in and expect everything to work like normal. If you’re not sure if you should hook up even the smallest of RVs in your driveway, consult forums, dealerships, and others in the RVing community to make sure you’re good to go. Otherwise, you may cause damage that’ll cost you time and money to repair properly.