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Your RV power cord is the lifeline to all the basic essentials and luxuries we love to enjoy in the outdoors. So why is the storage of your power cord so often overlooked? Taking the proper steps to care for your RV’s power cord will keep you from being left in the dark.
That being said, What do RVers need to know about How Why and Where to store an RV power cord? It should be stored in a protective cover to keep it safe from damage, placed in an easy to access compartment near the shore power connection and out of sight of potential thieves and vandals.
Like most electrical power cords we own, RV cords are most commonly twisted up and tossed aside when they’re not in use. We want to keep them out of the way and avoid clutter but instead, they just get wrapped up in everything else. But when the power cord is literally your lifeline to having electricity, you want to be mindful of how you treat it.
How to Properly Store an RV Power Cord
When storing your cord, use bungees, velcro, or cord wraps to keep it together. Place it inside a bag, box, or on a reel to keep it safe from damage. This keeps it less cluttered and no chance to tangle with other cords.
In order to understand how to best store RV cords, you also need to understand some of the mechanics behind the cords themselves, and how that plays into your decisions for storage.
Whether you are using a 30 amp or 50 amp cord for your RV, you can find storage options for both pretty easily. The 50 amp is, of course, bigger and heavier so that will play into your storage options for it. You don’t want to put that into a flimsy container or box. It should instead be secured in a heavier duty container.
I know how tempting it can be to just loosely wind it up and toss it in the lower storage compartment but that is only doing a disservice to you and your cord. Taking an extra few minutes to store it properly will save you time and money in the future.
If you leave the cord exposed to the elements or the other random objects floating around in your catchall storage containers it can get worn out and damaged quickly. After all, your power cord spends all of its working hours exposed to rain and puddles, laying across rocks and baking out in the sun’s UV rays. Thrown in a compartment may be an improvement but why not give it a break and store it in a cleaner and more accommodating area?
The Most Efficient Way to Store RV Cords: Reels, Bags, Boxes, and Wraps
There are many different options for storing your RV power cord so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the most common ones.
Power Cord Reels
One of the easiest, safest, and cleanest ways to store your power cord is with a storage reel. There is a variety of them on the market, but they all serve the same purpose; having the cord organized and untangled while keeping it secure.
Having your RV power cord on a reel not only keeps it organized but also protects it from the other items that are rattling around your cargo hold. The heavy gauge copper wires can be very expensive to replace making the few extra steps something you don’t want to take lightly. Prevent that wear and tear however possible.
There are plenty of different reel options like this manual crank style that you can purchase online
- Manual Crank – One in which you wind up yourself
- Electronic Crank – One that does the work for you and reels it in
- Enclosed Casing – These only have a small area of the cord that will be exposed once fully wrapped up, as it has a casing around the bottom
- Exposed -A more basic reel that does not have any casing around the cord once it is wrapped around the reel
The downsides to reels are that they can be the most expensive option and they do take up a considerable amount of storage space. If you have the money and space they are the best option around.
Power Cord Storage Bags
Storage bags are a great option because they also do a good job of protecting your cord from nicks and scratches. A cord storage bag is easy to tote around making them a good choice if your storage location isn’t right at your power connection. There are many good options like this waterproof waxed canvas bag from Amazon.com
Because storage bags are more flexible than boxes and reels they also tend to fit better in RV storage compartment and can squeeze down to make it through the sometimes small openings.
The flexible handles are easy to reach for and grab out of a storage spot and they are much cheaper than the more rigid power cord storage options.
The drawback to using a storage bag to hold your power cord is that the handles can catch on latches and other items which can be frustrating. They can also be penetrated by sharp objects which can damage your cord, however most of them are quite rugged making damage unlikely.
Because they are usually waterproof your cables don’t breathe well inside of them. The ventilation issue is important when the cords are put away wet as they often are because the contacts can corrode if not dried out properly.
Power Cord Storage Boxes
When it comes to power cord protection, storage boxes fall somewhere between the reel and the bag. They tend to be sturdy and rigid but also light and portable.
Storage boxes are also very simple to pack and unpack because the entire top can be removed exposing the full cord. One of my favorite aspects of using a storage box for power cords is that the unneeded length can remain in the box while the two ends reach out to the RV and power pedestal.
The slots in the side not only allow the cable ends to reach out but they also let airflow through the bin ensuring that there won’t be any moisture issues while in storage.
The drawback to using a rigid box to store your RV power cord is that it can be tough to fit back into a cargo hatch depending on it size. You will likely want to clean it out on occasion because the open slots in the side can let in dirt, liquids and insects.
Power Cord Wraps
Finally we come to the power cord wraps as an option. Wraps fall short when it comes to protecting your power cord but if you can manage to keep an organized as secured storage location they can work very well.
Rather than a storage option wraps fall more under the organization section of power cord care. In fact they can be combined with all of the other options we discussed above for the perfect storage solution.
Probably the most affordable option, cord wraps come in multipacks allowing you to use a few on a single cord or wrap up multiple cords. They also allow the cord to wrap up at whichever size is most natural for it because it’s not being stuffed in a container.
Cord wraps work very well if you are able to hang your cords for storage and to help prevent the cord from getting tangled. Using wraps is also a very lightweight and simple solution to power cord storage which should not be downplayed.
It may be overwhelming to choose between all the different options for storing your RV power cord but there really is no wrong answer. My favorite technique is to put a few wraps on my power cord to prevent tangles and then slip it into a bag for protection. It goes in and out of my cargo hatch easily and the wraps keep the unneeded length coiled when in use.
The key is to figure out which one is the best fit for your needs. A lot of that decision process will come into play when you decide where you actually want to store your cord. We’ll dive more into location in a bit.
Even if you don’t want to go and buy a reel for the cord, I would still recommend at the very least, some sort of storage container that will keep the cord safe and organized. A Rubbermaid Cargo Box or Tote would also be useful. And a simple bungee cord will help keep it untangled and organized.
By keeping your power cord organized in a neat reel, wound up properly in a storage bin, or stowed away in a bag, you will greatly reduce your chances of:
- Cuts or Scratches
- Worn Down Outer insulation
- Tangled Cords
- Bent Prongs
Why You Should Properly Store Your RV Power Cords
The power cord deals with a lot of harsh elements while being used. Safekeeping, while it is being stored, is essential to its reliability and longevity.
RVs are a big investment and quickly become a way of life. The proper functionality of your RV’s systems, appliances and devices are are key to getting the best experience from your RV lifestyle.
As RVers quickly figure out, the investment doesn’t stop at the purchase of the RV itself. Power cords and other accessories will start to stack up. So why not do your best to protect all of those investments?
Imagine having all of the comforts of home in your RV with modern appliances and electronics, but not being able to use them because damage to your power cord has left you in the dark.
These cords are specially designed to be durable and weather resistant in order to handle the rigors of the job. Think about the elements they are exposed to:
- Extreme Temperatures
- UV Rays
And that is purely the environment and weather. It doesn’t even include the wear and tear in the use of winding and unwinding these cords. People step on them, they get tossed aside. These suckers are built to last for the long haul.
Your RV power cord is much more important and more expensive than general household extension cords and for that reason they need to be properly cared for. Just like any other power cord, or electric appliance it has a lifespan that is dependent on how it is treated and cared for.
Lets put the investment and the longevity of it aside. Yes, you want to make sure it lasts a long time so you are not having to buy a new one every season. But there are other concerns to be aware of. This is also a safety issue.
RVs either run off of a 30 amp power cord or a 50 amp power cord.
|30 amp||50 amp|
|3,600 watts||12,500 watts|
When dealing with that much electricity pumping through a single cord, you want to make sure the cord has been properly taken care of. If you’re not storing it properly, you’re constantly increasing the chances that something could go wrong with it.
Where RV Power Cords Should Be Stored
At this point, you probably have an idea of how you want your cord stored. Now let’s discuss some of the main factors that should be considered when determining the best place to store your RV power cord.
Always keep your power cord stored in a dry, safe, temperate location. It is also important to consider how easy it is to access your power cord, what items you should keep your cord away from and how secure your storage space is.
Ease of Access and Use
RV power cords are most commonly stored in an external compartment near the shore power connection. This is an obvious place because it is a convenient location that is typically easy to access.
There tends to be a number of specific items that are part of an RVers set up routine upon arrival to a campground. It is convenient to keep these items together to increase the efficiency of set up. These items often include water hoses, leveling blocks, sewer pipes etc. Having a storage compartment dedicated to these types of items helps to make for an easy arrival. To see our camp essentials, head over to our recommended RV Essentials Page.
Along with your power cord you will likely have a series of adaptors that will allow your cord to be plugged into different types of outlets. Keeping adaptors stored with your power cord will make connecting to a 15A outlet at home much faster than having to hunt around your RV for other pieces.
You want to think about what you like having handy, and how accessible everything needs to be. If you’re an avid user of your RV, you probably have your routines and systems down to a science. This should be included in that equation.
If you are not able to fit your power cord in a compartment near your connections and other set up items consider choosing a storage compartment between the exit of your rig and your shore power connection so you can grab your cord on route to connect it.
50 amp power cords can weigh between 20-30 pounds on average. So that should also go into consideration for where you keep it. If you have a bad back or trouble lifting heavier items, you want it stored somewhere convenient and feasible for any lifting constraints you may have.
Conditions For Power Cord Storage
Storage areas that are not well vented can accumulate moisture, especially since your cord is often wet when it is put away. Moist conditions cause the contacts of your cord to corrode over time causing poor connections. This can cause issues with electrical currents as high as 30 or 50 amps as it creates extra resistance in the circuit.
Excess moisture can also penetrate any nicks or cuts that may be in the external jacket of your cord. Over time the moisture can cause the insulation on the inner conductors to rot allowing them to short circuit creating a potential fire hazard.
Another factor to be aware of is the items that are stored in the area of your power cord, especially when it comes to chemicals and solvents. These types of items like bleach, cleaners and degreasers often get stored in the outside compartments for good reason. Any spills from these types of chemicals onto your power cord can compromise the outer jacket and cause unrepairable damage.
Other items that have sharp metal edges like saws axes and cutting blades are obvious obstacles to avoid but often times they are buried and unseen. Damage caused by rubbing against these types of items can cause major problems.
The final consideration is extreme cold. When the copper conductors and outer insulation are exposed to extremely cold temperatures they can become brittle and if moved and flexed in this condition it can cause damage to your power cord. Most RVers tend to skip out on RV life during the winter season; however, keeping your power cord in a warmer storage area during this time of the year will help prevent damage.
When deciding where to store your RV power cord be aware of potential hazards that arise from the other items stored in the same compartment. Having your cord in a protective case can minimize any potential damage but when you’re bumping down the road anything in the area can become a threat to your RV power cord.
Security of Your Power Cord
There are two main aspects of security when it comes to storing your RV power cord. The first one is related to whether your cord is secure and not able to flop and bounce around. Copper is a soft metal and the more it gets bent, twisted and crushed the faster it can fail.
Ensuring that it is secured out of the way of other items and that it does not get unnecessary kinks and twists in it will go along way toward extending your power cord’s lifespan.
The second aspect regarding the security of your RV power cord is whether it is safe from theft, vandalism and animals.
Animals like mice, squirrels, and chipmunks love to chew on cords. Not because they taste good but just because they know it will drive your crazy lol! When your cord is not in use be sure to keep it locked in a compartment that animals cannot access.
Whether you decide to keep the cord in your RV, or possibly in your truck or other vehicles, you want to be sure it is out of view and reach of opportunistic people. After all, RV power cords contain a lot of copper in their large gauge conductors making them very valuable for scrap or for use by others.
It may be a hungry animal, someone looking to steal the cord because they actually need one, or someone who wants to strip it down for the copper to sell. Regardless of the reasoning, RV power cords are expensive to purchase so always be wary of leaving it exposed.
When it comes to storing and caring for a piece as critical as your RV power cord following these few simple rules will ensure you get the best performance and longest life possible:
- Store it in a protective cover to keep it safe from damage,
- Placed it in an easy to access compartment near the shore power connection of your rig and your surge protector
- Make sure it is out of sight of potential thieves and vandals.
Storage space is always at a premium when it comes to an RV which makes proper organization the key to making a small space work for you and your family. Taking a proactive approach to storing and protecting your RV power cord will make your adventures much easier and ensure the lights stay on.