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Wade Elliot

Wade Elliot

Editor’s Note: The following story appears in the latest issue of Woodall’s Campground Management examining how the campground sector stays in stride with today’s “high-powered” RVs, equipped with an array of equipment requiring more electricity and amperage. For the full story click here.

Today’s RVs are on a power trip and, if they haven’t already, campground owners need to make sure their parks are ready to meet the demand.

RVs with multiple air conditioning units, televisions, microwaves, residential-size appliances and washer and dryers – even in floor radiant heat – are quickly upping the electrical ante.

“RVs are always looking for more power – some manufacturers are even talking about 100 amps – and RVs are being made with way more amenities than before and nearly all of them are electrical,” said Wade Elliott, owner and president of Utility Supply Group, based in Kingston, Wash. “This is forcing RV parks, especially those in the southern U.S., to determine whether they need to offer 50-amp service. They might need to overbuild and beef up their infrastructure.”

Improving the park’s infrastructure is not something campground owners need to be afraid of, Elliott said. In fact, it’s a project that can easily be accomplished in phases. At the end of each season, set aside a certain number of campsites that will be upgraded to 50 amps. After a few years, eventually the whole park will have been upgraded.

“Owners should be putting money back into their campground, and this is something they’re just going to have to do,” he said, adding that an additional transformer and/or panel box might be required in certain situations.

Matt Linnell, Jen McBurney and Tery Linnell

Matt Linnell, Jen McBurney and Tery Linnell

Maggie Linnell of Your Electrical Solutions said several campground owners she’s talked with are delaying bigger projects until the fall, such as redoing or adding a section, but have been making smaller upgrades throughout the summer.

“What we’re seeing is people are doing a few things at a time, like upgrading a site from 30/20 to 50/30/20 so that it can accommodate anything,” said Linell, whose company is based in Lake Orion, Mich. “Last year, it was a lot of parts and pieces. But this year it’s a lot of new products so people are replacing rather than repairing.”

Metered usage

Elliott and other suppliers said another response to this demand for electricity is the increased use of meters. Meters not only help offset the cost of providing utilities, but also help to curb wasted resources.

Terry Linnell of B&B Electrical said her company, based in Keego Harbor, Mich., has been selling quite a few metered pedestals.

“With the economy coming back, more people are camping so the parks are full. Plus, people are staying longer at a time – Baby Boomers are completely retired now and some are staying the full summer,” she said. “That’s costing campground owners a lot in utilities. That can get real expensive. So owners are installing metered pedestals and charging campers for electricity usage. All of a sudden campers aren’t so willing to leave their RV’s air conditioner on 24/7.”

Lisa Senior, general manager of Hialeah Meter Co. in Hialeah, Fla., agreed that meters encourage RVers to curb their power usage. She said one New York campground owner told her the meters he installed paid for themselves in two seasons – not because of the money they generated, the owner never charged RVers for their usage, but because RVers became aware of how much electricity they were consuming and changed their habits.

“It depends on a lot of factors, but we’ve done some estimates and campground owners can save as much as 25% to 75% off their electric bill,” Senior said, adding that the typical power pedestal will pay for itself “in only a few months or a couple of years.”

For the full story click here.