Hooking Up RV Utilities At The Campground covers the basic fundamentals of connecting your rig's water, sewer, electrical, and cable connections to the campground's facilities. RV beginner tips and tricks to get you hooked up quickly so you can get on with your vacation!
This article is intended to familiarize you with the process of connecting your RV's systems to the facilities offered by the campground. Obviously these sections only apply if your campsite has them included. The topics we'll cover:
- RV water hookup
- Electric hookup
- Sewer line hookup
- Cable/satellite TV hookup
Pro Tip: Although all of the connections described shouldn't require tools, an ordinary pair of pliers can be handy for tightening and loosening connections. Drop a pair into your on rig tool set.
Situating Your RV
- When choosing a specific parking spot for your rig, be sure to examine the campsite, noting the location of the utility pedestals. Usually those are located close to each other, but not always. Be sure when you park your rig that your connection equipment can reach their destinations to avoid re-spotting or other frustrations.
- It's generally a good idea to complete your utility connections BEFORE extending your slides (depending on your rig, of course). Often when the slides are out access to your rig's connection points can become tighter, or worse...
RV Water Hookup
Connect Your Rig's Water System To Campground Water
- Remove the water line cap. Verify this is the right one by checking the labeling on your rig. Usually this line is labeled “city water” supply or similar verbiage.
- Attach the pressure limit device to the inlet.
- Connect a water filter to the pressure limiter inlet (if used).
- Connect the male connector on your drinking hose to the filter or pressure limiter, whichever is in place.
- Attach the female connector of the hose to the campground water pedestal.
- Double check all connections for tightness.
- Turn on the water at the campground pedestal, check for leaks.
- Move to the RV's interior, and open each faucet for a few minutes. This allows trapped air in the lines to escape. Close the faucet when all the air in the line has been forced out. Repeat for all the faucets in your rig; don't forget the shower!
Pro tip: Make a point to allow your water heater to fill before turning it on. If you don't, and are using electrical power to run your heater, you run the risk of burning out the heating element. Patience pays off...
Pro tip: When you store your water hose, thoroughly drain it, coil it up and then connect the ends together. This helps keep the hose interior clean, and also protects your storage area from stray water draining from it.
RV Water Hookup Parts Needed
- Fresh water hose. These are typically offered in 25 and 50 foot lengths. We strongly recommend you don't just use a regular garden hose – purchase one that is rated for human drinking water consumption. Hoses are available from your local RV dealer, home improvement, and other large-scale retailers, or on-line. It's also good practice to incorporate a pressure limiter and a water filter in the connection. Here's a link to give you an idea of what the hoses look like: RV fresh water hose.
- External water filter
- Water pressure regulator
RV Electric Hookup
Connect Your Rig To Campground Power
- Locate the power inlet connector on your rig. Usually these are protected by a snap on or hinged cover. Open the cover.
- Plug the appropriate end of your power cable into the connector. Some cords require a partial twist and incorporate a lock ring lock to safely secure in place.
- At the campground power pedestal, locate the switch for the receptacle your cable end matches, and make sure it's in the OFF position.
- Plug in the proper cable end into the receptacle, and turn the power ON.
- Verify you now have AC power in your rig. Appliances like microwaves, air conditioners and most refrigerators require AC to operate. A quick check is a flashing clock display on the microwave.
- If your water heater tank is full, and you're using campground power to heat your water, turn the heater on.
- Turn on all other appliances as needed – refrigerator, air conditioning, etc.
Pro tip: Connecting your rig to campground power will sometimes be referred to as connecting to "shore power"
RV Electric Hookup Parts Needed
- Power cable. You will need one to match the rated amperage of your rig; these are either 30 amp or 50 amp, and probably 25 feet long.
- Usually, the power inlet port on your rig will have a label close by identifying the proper amperage cable needed. You can also distinguish the proper type by studying the plug port on your rig – the 30 amp cable uses a three-conductor plug, while the 50 amp uses a four-conductor one.
- If you think 25 feet is inadequate, extension cords can be purchased to increase your “reach”. Like the drinking hoses, these are available on-line, your local RV dealer or large retailers with an RV products section. Follow this link to see examples: 30 amp RV power cable
- External surge protector box protects your RV from dangerous power surges. The box connects to the campground electrical (optional but recommended). The surge protector needs to be matched to your RV's ampage 30 amp or 50 amp. RV surge protector 50 amp or RV surge protector 30 amp
- Dog bone adapter 30 to 50 amp, and 20 to 30 amp, only if needed. Most campgrounds have multiple plug ins at the receptacle post to match your rig's power; these are only needed if the appropriate port is not available. Adapter sample.
RV Sewer Hookup
Attach Sewer Line To Campsite Drain
- Normally best practice to keep your sewer drain hose clean is to NOT attach it a sanitary line available at the site. This is because often the gradual flow from a constant connection is insufficient to remove all solids. Dumping your tank contents upon departure is usually a better course for your sewer lines. But, if you prefer to use this connection, read on...
- Don your disposable gloves before working with sewer line.
- Remove your sewer drain hose from storage, remove the caps.
- Make sure your dump valve for this tank is closed - if it's open you will get an unpleasant surprise when you loosen the drain cap! Disconnect the drain valve cap from the black tank drain outlet. Note this may be a valve devoted to the black water tank or in a "Y" configuration to serve a black water tank and a gray water tank.
- Next, connect one end of the sewer hose to the drain outlet, and the other to the campsite dump drain. The hose uses a push and twist-action to connect to the tank outlet, just like the drain cap covering the outlet is attached. The connection at the site drain may be a screw in type, or just a gravity type.
- Now open the drain valve(s). Black tanks use a black “T” shaped handle, while gray tank handles are gray. Depending on the valve orientation, pull the handle towards you or away from the valve body to open it. Be sure to open it all the way!
- Remove and discard your gloves, and carefully wash your hands. Be safe...
RV Sewer Hookup Parts Needed
- Sewer drain hose, at least 20 feet long. These should include end caps for storage; most come so equipped. Hoses are available from your local RV dealer, home improvement and other large scale retailers, or on-line. Here's a link to give you an idea of what they look like: RV sewer hose
- Clear sewer hose elbow (attaches to the drain hose so you can see the RV emptying and when the water is clear after emptying/flushing). Drain elbow example.
- Disposable latex gloves. Though not strictly mandatory, these can help keep your hands relatively clean and sanitary. Also coming in handy are paper towels and hand sanitizer. You can find these at auto parts stores, drug stores or on-line. Gloves.
Cable / Satellite TV Hookup
Connect entertainment systems to campground TV access
- Some campgrounds offer access to local cable or satellite TV systems, usually for a premium. The full variety of systems available is too broad for this particular subject, at least in terms of equipment from the campground that would be required, but we will cover the basics.
- For basic connectivity, attach one end of your coaxial cable to the matching port on the campground pedestal.
- Connect the other end to the port on the exterior of your rig labeled “Satellite” or “Cable” access.
- If no cable box is required for access, you will need to reprogram / re-scan channels on your TV so it knows which channels are available, and your TV remote will scroll through the identified stations properly. Consult your TV owner's manual for the details if you're not familiar with that process.
- If the campground provides a cable box, follow their instructions for setting up your TV.
Cable/Satellite TV Hookup Parts Needed
- Coaxial cable. This is similar to the cable used for home TV connections from a cable or satellite provider. They are available in a variety of lengths; we recommend at least a 25 foot version for best flexibility. Your most economical source for these are big box retailers, but they're also available on-line. The cable looks like this: Coaxial cable.
Here are some common questions we get about RV utility hookups!
What do you need for an RV hookup?
Depending on the utilities you wish to employ, you'll need a drinking water hose, an electrical cable (and potentially an adapter), a sewer line hose and possibly a coaxial cable if you're hooking up everything.
What does full RV hookup mean?
A "full" hookup normally implies that all normal services (power, water, sewer) are available at a given campsite. For some campgrounds, that may also include access to satellite or cable TV.
Check with your proposed destination campground manager for details.
Can you hookup an RV to your house?
In most cases, you can do at least a partial hookup of your rig at home. Most typically the connections you'd make are electrical and water; same directions as provided above apply when attaching to your home's utility systems.
Of course you'll need access to an exterior electrical outlet (and use one of the adapters mentioned), and run your water line hose to a water supply.
Most homes do not have easy access to their sewer systems, so you may want to consider if using your toilet in your RV is a good idea or not... See our companion posting about dumping tanks for more information.
What sides are RV hookups on?
There is no standard that defines where the hookups are located on all rigs. Most manufacturers seem to locate these on the road, or driver's side, but that's not universal. Often electrical and satellite TV hookups are located on the back of the rig.
Water connections could be on the side, or even in an enclosed compartment accessible by opening a side hatch. Dump tank connections are on the underside; again, these are normally on the road or driver's side. Consult your owner's manual for details.
What is the difference between 30 amp and 50 amp hookup?
The amperage rating (30 versus 50) indicates what the maximum electrical load your rig's wiring and converter box is capable of handling.
Usually the 50 amp capacity is used for rigs with very high demands, originating from dual or triple air conditioners, large residential refrigerators and high power microwaves. 30 amp systems are sufficient if the internal electrical load is not excessive; most rigs with a single A/C unit come so equipped.
Adapters are available to help overcome a lack of the correct connector on the campground pedestal, but will not increase your rig's capacity if you are using a 30 amp to 50 amp adapter.
Articles From Our RV Basics How-To Series:
- Cleaning An RV Inside and Out (with Free Printable Checklists)
- Level Your RV Quickly and Safely
- RV Tool Kit Must Haves (30+ RV Toolbox Essentials)
- How To Set Up Your Campsite
- Empty Your Holding Tanks
RV Campground Ideas
- 8 Best Myrtle Beach Campgrounds
- RV Campgrounds in Smoky Mountains
- Our 8 Favorite RV Parks in the Carolinas and Virginia
- 9 Unforgettable and Scenic US Road Trips
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RV Hacks: how to up your RV utilities to campground connections! Perfect information for all RV beginners and new RV owners out there! Helpful tips & tricks for the best ways to hookup RV connections with ease. What parts do you need to hookup your RV utilities? #rvhacks #rvhowto #rvbasics #RVliving #campsite #rvamping #rvtipsandtricks #rvutilities #rvhookup #rvsewer #rvwater #rvelectric #rvcable #rv101 #rvmaintenace #seekingthervlife