Are RV Outlets The-Same-as-House-Outlets-(How-To-Replace)-

Are RV Outlets The Same as House Outlets? (How To Replace)

RVs often come with unique measurements, unique designs, and unique hardware issues. Their outlets are no exception and when it comes time to replace anything on an RV, you may not be able to find the right part at your normal stores. You may have to shop at specialized RV outlets instead.

Are RV outlets the same as house outlets? In design no. In function and if they are 110 outlets, then yes. The RV outlet is shallower than the normal house outlet. This design is due to the lack of wall clearance in an RV. There is no other reason for it. RVs require unique designs because they are uniquely designed.

To learn more about RVs and their outlets, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know to make the right repair. You can use a traditional house’s outlet if you want but installation may be difficult. Due to the different amount of clearance you have.

Are RV Outlets The Same as House Outlets?

Yes and no. If on the AAC side of the electrical system, then they operate in the same manner. They will handle between 15 and 20 amps and allow you to plug in those appliances that need to use AC power.

The real difference between the two will be the design of the outlets. Not only will they be shallower than a traditional home’s outlet, but they will also have different ways to connect the wires.

In a home outlet, you usually have screws to hold the wires in place and make the connection. With RV outlets, you may have a slide in wire holder or spring clips to hold the wires in place and make the proper connection.

Also, to use a regular house’s outlet, you may have to install a box. They do not come with the snap-on back as RV outlets can. But you may not be able to use the standard home outlet box. You would have to use the RV style that works with traditional outlets.

The reason for this is that the traditional electrical box will be too deep for most RV walls. Your RV parts stores should have these boxes for you to use.

Do RV Outlets Need To Be GFCI Protected?

Again, the answer will be yes and no. Only those rooms where outlets will be exposed to water need to have GFCI-protected circuits. This requirement includes all 30 to 50 amp circuits that have 150 volts to ground.

The exception to this NEC requirement is those outlets have to be within 6 feet of a tap or faucet, water source, or plumbing. This rule applies to the kitchen and the laundry room. All bathroom outlets have to have GFCI protection.

Any outlets on your RV’s or trailer’s exterior also need to be GFCI protected. There has been one rule change by the NEC. The RV pedestal used to have to be required to have GFCI protection for all outlets 150 volt rated and under 100 amps.

This rule has been changed to exclude 30 and 50 amp outlets. The change came in 2020 and we have not heard of any further changes to any GFCI rules and regulations. Also, you do not need a GFCI protective outlet on all outlets. If there is a group of outlets on one branch only 1 GFCI rated outlet needs to be added to that branch

What Kind Of Outlets do RVs Use?


When you have one RV you will have 2 electrical systems. The first one will be your standard AC 110/120-volt outlet that handles all your 110-rated appliances including shavers, microwaves, hair dryers, and so on. Those outlets are all designed the same as your traditional home’s AV outlets.

Those are easy to use and found everywhere in your RV or trailer. The other electrical system is the 12-volt option all RVs and trailers have. That system handles those appliances that require extra power like stoves, hot water heaters, water pumps, furnaces, and so on.

Those outlets are usually three-pronged types and are not found throughout your RV or trailer. They will be close to the appliance that requires that design to operate. They may have a different design from the regular 220 & 12-volt outlets you have in your home. The key is to make sure the plug of any appliance matches the outlet openings.

If you have trouble working around electricity and electrical parts, it is best that you call an experienced electrician or handyman that specializes in electrical systems. Do not DIY yourself as you may make a big mistake that costs you your electrical system and creates a big repair bill.

What Does an RV Outlet Look Like?

If you are going with the standard AC 110 outlet, then these devices will look exactly the same as your traditional home’s outlet. You should have 3 prong openings in the outlet but you may also have only 2. It will depend on the company that makes these devices and how they will look.

We have seen both on a backup generator model. Inside your RV, you should have the 3-prong design but not always. It will depend on the RV maker and what kind of outlet you get. However, the depth of the outlets seems to be the same.

They are very shallow as the RV or trailer you own doe snot come with very thick walls. The outlet has to fit between the interior and exterior walls of your RV. This space is not exactly thick.

What this means is that you have to measure the thickness of the old RV outlet to get the right size to replace it. It is possible to use a traditional home outlet in your RV.

But this takes a special receptacle box made to work with the shallow walls and the thicker outlet design. It will be your call which way you go.

Can You Put Regular Outlets in an RV?


Yes, you can and we just explained how that is done. You may or may not find the special receptacle at your hardware or big box store. Or you may find that they carry them. If not then contact an RV parts and accessory outlet to see if they carry these specialized receptacles.

Or if they do, call or go to more than one so you get the best price and design. There should be many companies that make these and you can check lighting and electrical supply stores as well.

To get the right fit for your RV or trailer, it may take some extra work but you also may save a little money by doing this replacement. Weigh out the differences and work involved. That will help you make the right decision for your RV.

Just keep in mind that if these outlets are going into your bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen, you will need GFCI-protected outlets. The rules for these are mentioned above. GFCI is the way to go as they only turn off a specific plug or branch of plugs. They do not turn off the whole area in your RV.

That will be convenient when you need power elsewhere.

Boxless Electrical Outlet

We have not found any boxless RV outlets so far. There are some that have a snap-on back to protect the RV from any possible shorts that may occur. You can find them just about anywhere RV parts are sold but they may not be the best option to use.

Some owners have them and call them junk. You connect them by pushing the wire inside the wire clip or other push-in designs. Not a very safe design to say the least according to some owners.

Many owners have replaced these designs with standard outlets because fires are not cheap. These boxless designs can also be called self-contained and those words may be a better search term to use.

Any exterior outlets that have the male end can be referred to as boxless. But they are similar to the self-contained interior models. They come with a sealed back to protect your RV but not with a standard RV box receptacle.

You may also find that many of the outlets RV makers use are not approved as proper electrical connections in some states. They are only allowed because the RV maker makes their RVs in another state.

How do I Replace an RV Outlet?


The first step is to turn off the power. You can unplug from shore power, remove a fuse or turn the breaker off to do this. Once you have done that, double-check to make sure there is no power coming to the outlet. When it comes to electricity, being safe is the most important step to take.

Next, take a proper screwdriver to remove the faceplate. A proper screwdriver would either be a flathead or a Phillip's head that is small enough to fit the screw. Undo the screw and pry off the faceplate.

Now use the right screwdriver to take the holding screws out of their place. These holding screws are what hold your outlet in place. When that is done, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to pull the wires out of their connection.

Make sure not to cross the wires when you pull them out. Keep them a safe distance apart to protect your electrical system if you need to turn the power on before installing the replacement outlet.

Put a wire nut on them if you have to leave the wires exposed for a short time. That is how you remove one of these outlets.

How To Remove RV Outlet Cover

This will be the easiest and safest part of the task. You actually do not need to shut the power off to do this but it is a good idea to do so anytime you are working around electricity.

If you are good, you do not have to shut off the power when removing the wires. We do not recommend this step as you have to be really careful when removing the wires. One misstep and you will get a big shock.

To remove the faceplate, just get the right-sized screwdriver. This is generally a flathead. It takes about 10 seconds to remove the screw and prying off the faceplate takes about another 2 seconds.

All of these instructions are for those RV outlets that are as close to being a traditional home outlet as they can possibly get. There will be different methods for different designs but this is the most common one.

To put the faceplate back in its place, just reverse those steps and turn on the power. Do not forget to do that last step for if you do you may have family members get angry with you.

How To Install an RV Outlet

There are two methods you can use here. Once you get the faceplate and outlet out and disconnected the method you use will depend on the design of the new outlet. If you are using a standard RV outlet, then you will need to use a screwdriver to push those wires into place.

The key to this step is to make sure you put the wires in their correct spots. You want to avoid shorting the outlet at all costs. Once that is done, all you have to do is screw the outlet into place. You can use the new holding screws or use the old ones. It won’t make any difference which ones you use.

Before we forget, when you go to buy the new outlet, you need to get the exact same one. It has to be rated for the power heading into the outlet through those wires. You also have to buy one that will accommodate the gauge of wire used by the RV maker.

A 12-gauge wire may be difficult to push into a 15 amp opening. After you have that all done, and the outlet is securely in place, put the faceplate back on. That should take you 15 seconds as those tiny screws can be hard to hold.

When the faceplate is on, you are done. Except for the testing of the outlet to make sure it works and you put everything in correctly. The other method only differs in attaching the wires.

If you use a traditional outlet, instead of pushing wires into a clip or whatever, you have to attach them to the outlet by placing the wires under the screws at the back of the outlet. Loosen the screws and place the wire there.

The placement may require bending the wire to fit before tightening the screw. You do not want any loose strands outside of the screw as that can set your outlet up for a short.

Once you see that the wires are in their proper place and no loose strands are visible, place the outlet back into its spot and secure the outlet and the faceplate with the screws.

In all, this task only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to do if you are good.

Will RV Outlets Run Off The Battery?

Only if you have the right inverter in your RV. The inverter is the key part that allows you to run AC appliances, etc., off DC 12-volt power. There is no other way to run your AC equipment off a battery.

You can go to a generator but then you are not using your batteries. The generator can produce AC power and make boondocking life easier for you. But if you do not have a generator, you will need the right type of inverter to get the job done.

Many RVs and trailers do come with an inverter installed. You can always upgrade that part if you are not happy with the brand or satisfied with the power supply. Make sure the inverter is plugged in and turned on before you turn on your AC items or plug into an AC outlet.

Being around electricity in an RV or trailer is not like being around electricity in a traditional home. You will have more exposure to the electrical devices in an RV and more issues that can go wrong.

Some Final Words

You do not have to use an RV outlet to use AC items in your RV. You can replace them with normal outlets. It may be a good idea to do this as you can cut the risk of fire down by removing those cheap RV outlets.

Replacing the RV outlet is like replacing a traditional home’s outlet. The methods are basically the same and the caution needed is exactly the same. The only difference between the two will be their design and the room you have to work with.

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