Don is a retired engineer and long-time motorhome owner who enjoys helping readers deal with the increasingly complex technology of RVs.
Electrical Problems in RVs: For the Novice
Electrical problems in an RV or camper are very common, and often RV owners don’t know where to start when they deal with them.
This article provides some basic information for the RV owner to help diagnose and repair electrical problems efficiently and safely. I'd like you to:
- Understand your RV electrical system in general.
- Learn how to do some very basic troubleshooting on your RV.
First: Know the Difference Between a Major and a Minor Electrical Problem
If you own or rent an RV, you will want to know enough to at least make a walk-around inspection before you go on the road, especially of the electrical system. Even a novice can learn how to inspect for problems, and determine if the problem is major or minor.
A major problem, for example, may be present when a refrigerator stops working, and you wonder if you should look into the wiring and propane-management circuitry on the back of the fridge or not. For the electrical novice, the answer is no; stay away from such repairs yourself. They are too dangerous, especially when they involve AC power or propane. You should always contact a qualified service tech for resolving such problems.
But a minor problem, one you could address on your own, could be something as simple as re-setting a breaker or GFI that has "kicked out," replacing a blown fuse that is easily accessible, taking an educated guess as to what caused the breaker or fuse to shut off, or checking the water in your battery.
So how do you tell? Before you start with any hands-on troubleshooting, keep in mind that safety comes first.
Before you start opening panels and messing around with electrical systems, in an RV or camper or at home, observe these warnings.
WARNING 1: If you do not know what you are doing, do not touch anything, and call your RV manufacturer, or RV Roadside Assistance company, or if at home, your local certified electrician. Remember, again, ELECTRICITY CAN KILL!
WARNING 2: If replacing a blown fuse or resetting a kicked breaker doesn’t fix the problem, you should seriously consider backing off and calling your RV manufacturer's Service Center for advice before doing anything else.
Now—with these warnings in mind—here are some minor problems that you may be able to fix, and some diagnostics that you can run yourself.
Troubleshooting Your RV's Electrical Problems
Every problem is different, but before or after you read the discussion just below of the basics of your system, check the four sections further below on troubleshooting common problems:
- Fuses and breakers
- The 12-volt system
- The power source
- Appliance current draws
Read More from AxleAddict
Plus I include a section on terms and abbreviations that you may run across while doing your electrical investigation.
Some Basic Electrical Information for the RV Owner
A modern RV contains a lot of built-in electrical devices. And along with these devices comes complicated electrical control and protection circuitry designed to protect the RV and its occupants.
Starting with the absolute basics, your RV's appliances can be powered in three different ways. Appliances may use any of these three power sources, individually or in combination.
- The AC (alternating current) electrical system (generally 115 volts), which runs the air conditioner and some other devices.
- The DC (direct current) system (12 volts), which runs the lights, switches, slides, and thermostats.
- In addition, refrigerators and some appliances run on propane fuel.
AC power comes into the RV from your generator, or from the campground or other outlet you plug it into: a 20-amp, 30-amp, or 50-amp supply. The AC power control panel distributes this power to the appliances and outlets that use AC power, for example the air conditioner. The campground supplies AC power on two different wires: a 240-volt supply is split into two "legs" of 115 volts or so.
Your DC power comes from a battery or batteries (like in the picture above). Whenever the power stored in the batteries gets low, the converter charges it up. The converter uses the higher-voltage AC power that comes in from the campground or generator through the 115-volt AC breaker panel and converts it to 12-volt DC.
The converter that charges your 12-volt batteries is often called an "inverter." "Inverter" is actually the name for another device most RVs have that changes 12-volt DC power to 115-volt AC for use in televisions and such.
The 12-volt output of your converter likely goes through two 30-amp fuses that feed your 12-volt fuse panel. The 12-volt DC power goes to the lights, switches, and slides, and to the controls of many appliances including the heater/air conditioner and refrigerator.
Both electrical systems can develop weakness in many places, especially when being hauled around on trips. Any RV or towed vehicle vibrates in transit. And these vibrations will, at times, shake electrical connections loose, in addition to the wear and tear that wires and appliances go through in normal use. If a wire has its insulation rubbed off, or something inside an appliance shakes loose or burns out, then current can stop flowing in your 12-volt or 115-volt system. Or it can flow into a place where it is not supposed to flow, causing a “short,” and this excessive flow of current can burn out wires and appliances, or in the worst case cause a fire or injury.
Because of these risks, the RV will have breakers or fuses to shut off power if anything goes wrong:
- a set of AC fuses or breakers to interrupt the 115-volt AC power coming from outside the RV if anything goes wrong in the 115-volt system.
- a set of DC fuses or breakers to interrupt the DC power if anything goes wrong in the 12-volt system,
- and also, in many 110-volt receptacles, mini-breakers called GFIs or GFCBs (Ground Fault Indicators or Ground Fault Circuit Breakers), which shut off power to appliances if a wire or circuit is creating a short.
1. Troubleshooting Fuses and Breakers
Troubleshooting often begins, and may well end, with resetting a breaker, replacing a fuse, or resetting a Ground Fault Indicator, and then seeing what happens. Older RVs tend to have fuses; newer ones, breakers.
The fuses and breakers were placed in the system for two major reasons:
- To protect the RV and you the owner from harm if an appliance or other electrical device or an electrical line fails and draws too much current.
- To protect your RV and its electrical appliances and other devices if you plug your RV into an electrical service that is not regulated properly and you get electrical voltages that are too low or too high for your RV and its equipment.
So a breaker or fuse going off is often a sign that something else is wrong: a symptom, not a cause of your problem. The problem may be easy to fix or it may not be. Many appliances have sensors on their mechanical parts that will kick a breaker or blow a fuse rather than allow the appliance to continue running in an unsafe mode.
Note that breakers can go bad themselves; if they trip too many times, they can suffer mechanical stress and lose their ability to stay closed at the current they were designed for.
Ground Fault Indicators
A GFI or Ground Fault Indicator (also called GFCB) is a receptacle with a RESET button on it. It is designed, like a regular circuit breaker, to "throw" itself off when the current through it exceeds its designed current limit. Additionally, a GFI will throw itself if even a small amount of current is detected between the "hot" lead and the ground lead of the circuit breaker. These specialty circuit breakers are required in areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and garages, places where the user of an appliance could possibly be physically touching ground through plumbing, metal, or flooring and using an appliance that is not insulated properly. They are life-savers.
If you find that several AC appliances at once stop working, or if AC appliances quit working but the air conditioner keeps going, suspect a Ground Fault Indicator. If the GFI detects a problem, the GFI-equipped receptacle will shut itself off, often along with several other "slave" receptacles. Push the RESET button and see if that fixes the problem; if not, disconnect all appliances and plug them back in one by one. The problem may be a single faulty appliance or something else entirely. It's possible (though not the most likely thing) that the GFI receptacle itself is bad and needs replacing.
Don't Upgrade Your Fuses
Don’t try to fix your problems by replacing your fuse or breaker with a higher-rated one. Your camper or RV was designed by professionals with your safety in mind, as well as your convenience. Each electrical device was installed on an electrical line that could safely handle the load.
Putting in a higher-rated fuse or breaker does not fix any problems. If you have a blown fuse, replace it with a fuse of the same rating, NEVER a higher-rated fuse. Because:
- You could cause an electrical fire and destroy your RV.
- You could permanently damage the equipment that is supplied by that fuse.
Always remember, the fuse was designed for a normal operational load. And if it blew, something has changed.
With these warnings in mind, below is a table of fuse colors and what ratings they indicate, in case you go shopping for replacement fuses.
Standard automotive fuses are color-coded according to their current rating; below is a short list for your reference.
|Color||Amperage rating (amps)|
2. Troubleshooting 12-Volt System Problems
A bad connection in the 12-volt system can cause failures of various appliances, including slides and lights which run on 12-volt power. A 12-volt problem can cause failure of other appliances and systems if they have 12-volt power to their controls. The refrigerator and air conditioner, even running in propane-fueled mode or on AC power, require DC voltage for their logic circuits, and so may fail to operate when there is a DC system problem. Problems in the DC system can also cause lights or appliances to go on and off.
You can so some simple investigation of the 12-volt system yourself, for example:
- Check whether the fuse or breaker is tripped or not.
- Check whether the fuse is loose.
- Check whether the connections to the fuse or breaker box are loose.
- Check whether the connections to the DC batteries are loose (see initial photo).
- Check whether the batteries have enough water. This is the most common easy-to-fix problem. When your battery is overworked or overheated the water tends to evaporate. Add distilled water only.
- Check whether the batteries are charged enough. A multimeter (see below) should show the voltage between the battery terminals between 13.4 and 14.5 volts DC; if not, the battery may be worn out and need replacement, or it may be low on water, or the converter may not be giving it any power.
- Check whether the connections to the converter are loose.
- Check the fuse on the converter. The converter itself has a fuse or two, often on the front.
If you can find nothing wrong here, you may have a bad converter that needs to be replaced; this is a job for the service center.
Another article of mine has more information about troubleshooting and maintaining your RV's batteries.
Using a Multimeter
A multimeter can measure potential (DC volts, AC volts), electric current (amps), and resistance (ohms).
This device is very useful in the hands of a trained individual, but the novice should not attempt to use all of its functions until they understand what they are trying to measure as well as any dangers involved in making the measurements.
3. Troubleshooting Problems Coming From the Outside Power Supply
The power supply that your parked RV is plugged into can cause problems if it is supplying too much or too little power, fluctuates, is not grounded correctly, or its connector is corroded. Too much current can cause appliances or lights to fail or blow out, and even melt wires or plugs; too little (in an overpopulated campground with an overloaded supply, for example) can cause lamps to dim. Your campground management should be providing safe power at the level they advertise, whether 30 amps or 50 amps; that is their responsibility. You may ask management to investigate, or check with your campground neighbors to see what they are experiencing.
If half your appliances along with your air conditioner are out, one possibility is that half the AC supply from the campground is missing (another possibility is a GFI going off; see part 1 above).
Your on-board or portable generator can also be the cause of problems; it may stop running if your vehicle's gas tank is less than 1/4 full.
Most RVs have a master switch for disconnecting your RV's power during storage. It is a small switch, often near the door on the inside. It will need to be on for you to get power.
Surge Protector, Yes or No?
Everyone in campgrounds seems to be purchasing surge protectors these days. I don't have one. If you buy one, make sure you are purchasing a GOOD one.
Your RV already has surge protection devices: your main AC breaker plus the individual appliance and equipment breakers in your main breaker panel. Like surge protectors, they kick out if the input voltage goes too high.
The only real difference between breakers and a commercial "surge protection" device is that standard breakers are slow to react to voltage changes. A good surge protector should react faster than a breaker to voltage increases and kick out if the voltage exceeds the safe limit of your electrical equipment. Because low input voltages can also harm electrical devices or make them run erratically, most surge protectors will also turn the power off when the voltage is too low.
Now the problem with surge protection devices is that there are no real requirements or specifications for their design. You could purchase one that does not react fast enough to protect your RV equipment. Many of my fellow campers who had surge protectors experienced damage that "fried" their breakers without the surge protector helping at all.
Anyone who buys one of these devices should make sure they get one that has a relatively fast response time, though it's difficult for a camper to tell how fast one surge protector is relative to others.
4. Troubleshooting AC Current Draws
Once again, I recommend that you NOT mess with your RV's 115-volt power system unless you really know what you are doing.
But if your AC breakers or fuses are going off, you can certainly investigate whether your appliances, singly or in combination, are drawing more AC power than you want them to.
Remember that problems with your AC appliances may not come from your 115-volt system at all but from your 12-volt system, because the controls for your fridge and your air conditioner and heater—and other switches here and there—are likely 12-volt.
How Much Current Do Your Appliances Draw?
It's good to know which of your appliances use a lot of current, even when they are working properly. That way you can decide when and where to use your appliances so that the flow of electricity stays within the bounds your system can handle.
The table below lists the approximate MAXIMUM current drawn by common appliances in your RV. Most appliances draw a lot of current during a short period of intense use and less current at other times. These current figures are not exact and vary by manufacturer and model.
Air conditioner (rated 13,500 to 15,000 Btu)
Peak use when starting up
Normal rate after it gets going
Coffee pot (maximum use, while perking coffee)
Once the coffee is brewed, the hot plate under the pot uses much less power, especially if you turn its temperature down.
Less powerful hair dryers might be better for RV use.
Crock pots are useful for cooking in RVs.
Electric frying pan
Hand vacuum (small)
1.5 to 5
Depending on the size, the manufacturer, and the technology.
Water heater (in 120-volt AC mode)
Estimating Maximum Current
If you are unsure what current an appliance draws, use this simple method to calculate the maximum current it will draw when working.
- Look for the appliance's power rating in watts. You may find it on a label on the appliance, or in the owner's manual, or you can contact the manufacturer or look online.
- Divide the number of watts by 120 (the AC voltage), and the result, in amps, is the maximum rating of the appliance for current.
Or you can measure the current an appliance uses with the simple tool below.
Useful Electrical Terms, Abbreviations, and Data
Here is a list of electrical terms and abbreviations, along with a list of color codes for resistors. This information should help the novice be more comfortable with what they are doing when an electrical problem does occur.
Alternating current reverses polarity and flows alternately in both directions in a circuit.
The voltage in your home is AC voltage, in the US typically 115V AC.
The measure of electrical current
An electrical component that stores electrical energy, with a specific storage capacity
A capacitor often has a polarity and must be installed properly. The polarity is generally indicated by a stripe at one end of the part.
A device that opens up or "throws" itself to break a circuit when the current through it exceeds its designed limit. Unlike a fuse, a circuit breaker can be reset when it throws.
Direct current flows constantly in one direction, commonly from a positive lead to a negative lead.
An electrical component that allows current flow in one direction and impedes current flow in the opposite direction.
Current flows from the cathode to the anode. The cathode end is usually marked by a stripe.
A device that is designed to destroy itself or "blow" when the current that passes through it exceeds its designed current limit.
A safety device used to protect electrical devices under adverse conditions. When replacing a fuse, always use one with the same current and voltage rating.
Ground Fault Circuit Breaker
Like a regular circuit breaker, the GFCB "throws" itself off when the current through it exceeds its designed current limit.
Ground Fault Indicator
Same as above
The measure of resistance to current flow.
The resistance can be calculated using the formula: R=V/I, or resistance equals voltage divided by current.
The measure of electrical power.
DC power can be calculated using the formula: W=V x I.
The size of a wire chosen in designing electrical circuits, which determines the current it can handle with minimal resistance.
Standard wire sizes or gauges go from 0 to larger numbers. The larger the gauge number, the smaller the wire size.
One-Letter Electrical Abbreviations
F (upper case)
Farad, the measure of the value of a capacitor. For example, 1 uF means 1 micro-farad.
l (upper case)
Electrical current, measured in amperes. Current can be calculated using the formula I = V/R, that is, current equals voltage divided by resistance.
K (upper case)
One thousand. Example: 1 KW means one kilowatt, one thousand watts.
m (lower case)
One one-thousandth, 0.001. Example: 1 mW means one milliwatt, a thousandth of a watt.
M (upper case)
One million. Example: 1 MW means one megawatt, a million watts.
n (lower case)
One billionth, 0.000000001. Example: 1 nF means one nanofarad, a billionth of a farad.
p (lower case)
One trillionth, 0.000000000001. Example: 1 pF means one picofarad, a trillionth of a farad.
u (lower case)
One millionth, 0.000001. For example: 1 uF means one micro-farad, a millionth of a farad.
V (upper case)
Volt, the measure of electrical potential. Voltage can be calculated using the formula: V = I x R.
W (upper case)
Watt, the measure of electrical power.
Resistor Values and Colors
Gold (as the fourth band)
1% tolerance on the value
Silver (as the fourth band)
5% tolerance on the value
No color (as the fourth band)
10% tolerance on the value
Good Luck Now
The hundreds of comments below have explored just about everything that can go wrong with an RV's electrical system. Add your own questions and comments. But please, again, do not mess with any wiring unless you are sure of what you are doing. Electricity can kill.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: When I plug my 30 amp cord into an extension cord it sparks. The prongs on the travel trailer cord and the receptacle on the extension cord have become burned and melted. What could be causing my cord to spark and how could I fix it?
Answer: Your 30-AMP RV Power cord has a 4-wire connector. It provides 220-VAC which is split inside your RV to 2 110-VAC systems.
You should not use other extension cords to adapt your RV power cord. Instead always use an adapter designed especially for RV's.
As to your burned RV cord, and if the cord itself seems to be OK, you need to cut off the burned connector and get a new connector that you can wire to the remaining cord. But I personally would replace the Rv power cord and not take any chances.
You also need to make sure there was not any damage to your AC power panel or the breakers and wiring in the breaker panel.
Question: On a 2017 Keystone OutbackTravel Trailer 272UFL, where is the PowerCenter/Converter located?
Answer: Because of the heavy duty wires used between the Converter and your COACH battery, it will usually be placed relatively close to the battery(s). If nothing else, you should be able to trace the wires from the battery back to the Converter. It will often be in one of your storage cabinets near where your campers high current solenoids and relays are mounted.
Question: I have a 1984 Coachman camper (not a trailer) and the General Breaker keeps tripping after I turn on the power and the main breaker and nothing is plugged into the camper and this is the first time its done this. What should I do to resolve my camper's power issues?
Answer: I assume you are in a campsite and your motorhome is plugged into a standard campsite power box? And I assume you are using a Standard RV power cable for connection between your RV and the campsite power box.
If this is so, and you have "nothing" plugged into any of your AC-Voltage receptacles, and your Air Conditioner is OFF, as well as your TV, Fridge, and microwave, then the only thing left is your CONVERTER. Your Converter keeps your COACH battery charged, so unplug it to see if the problem goes away.
Whatever is causing your MAIN breaker to trip is drawing a lot of current and I would look for a "Short" in the wiring to GROUND first.
Question: There is no power to the thermostat. The remote wire from the power source, 12V, is there. What is the root of the power wire? Does it go straight from the 12V to the thermostat or does it go to the AC first?
Answer: First make sure that when you measure the 12-VDC, you also have the other lead on a good solid ground, preferably the metal chassis.
If there is still NO VOLTAGE on the 12-VDC wire, then go to your 12-VDC Fuse panel for the RV internal systems and make sure you do not have a blown fuse. If there is NO 12-VDC into the Fuse panel then check your COACH battery and check for 12-VDC across the terminals of the battery.
Remember that the 12-VDC from those batteries power your temperature control panel, your Fridge control panel, your gas alarms, and your interior lights.
Question: I have a 2016 Passport Lite and I am having an issue with the electrical outlets. I know that the GFCI is good and I have checked all of the circuit breakers and replaced the fuses. But, I am still having the same issue. When I put a load (Not a Max Load) on the outlets they work fine and then they shut off without tripping the circuit breaker. After about 20-30 minutes the power restores itself. Any ideas?
Answer: Mark - First of all, check your COACH battery and make sure it has water in it and that it is fully charged. The Coach batteries provide power to your Power Control panel, and if the battery is low enough this panel will not operate properly.
If the battery is fully charged, then you need to make sure your receptacles that are without power are not on your GFCI circuit.
Then You should check your campsite power source and make sure it is working properly and can handle the load you are applying.on it.
A failing 110-VAC source must be caused by one of these situations.
Question: Yesterday all of my 110 volt Outlets went dead. I only had one GFCI breaker and I replaced it with a regular breaker. All the breakers test good. Both air conditioners are working. None of the breakers in the secondary breaker box have any power to them. But, all the breakers in the main box have 110 volts. What can I check next?
Answer: First of all, you should not replace a GFCI Master Receptacle with a standard one. It senses low current leakage between the COMMON and the GROUND wires of the SLAVE GFCI receptacles.
These GFCI receptacles are placed in areas such as the Kitchen and bathrooms for a purpose. If by chance you were to get wet or touch a metal appliance that has a wiring problem they will sense the current and could save your life.
If both AC units are functioning then you have your 220-VAC and your symptoms point to your possibly having wired something improperly.
So in summary; first put the appropriate GFCI Master receptacle in your RV. Second, I assume you mean tht your breakers in your MAIN breaker box have voltage on their OUTPUT LINES?
Third, when you say your secondary breaker box has NO power to all of the breakers in it, then in a standard wiring situation the input wires to this secondary breaker box should be fed by your MAIN should be wired to your MAIN breaker in your MAIN breaker box the same as the ones in the MAIN breaker box.
So, try to trace that wire back to your MAIN box.
I must say at this point that the wiring in an RV does not change unless someone did it, just like I assume your RV did operate properly before your problem. With this said, double check any wiring changes you might have made.
Question: I have a 2014 jay I Greyhawk. Can you give me any advice on how to fix the running lights and the backup lights?
Answer: First of all, your Jayco running lights and backup lights operate on your engine battery.
As with regular automobiles, your running lights are controlled (ON/OFF) by your dash light switch, and your backup lights are controlled by a switch on your shift lever.
BUT, I would suspect you have a couple of blown fuses.
Somewhere, under your hood or possibly under your dash there is a fuse panel that has fuses for both of these functions, so find that fuse panel and check that all of the fuses are good.
If you do have blown fuses, replace them; but your concern should then be what caused them to blow? You should check the voltage on the CHASSIS (engine) battery to make sure your alternator is working properly.
Question: I plugged my golf cart into my outside cargo outlet I blew a fuse. Where should I look?
Answer: Sorry, but be aware that those exterior and most other receptacles on your RV are NOT designed for such a load as a Golf Cart.
Now, Your Rv has a GFCI circuit which consists of; a MASTER GFCI receptacle, normally located in the bathroom or Kitchen. This receptacle controls the AC to several other SLAVE GFCI receptacles located on the exterior of the Rv and in areas like the kitchen and Bathroom (where a user might get an electrical shock).
You should be able to reset the Master GFCI receptacle and then you would have power to your other receptacles.
As to your TV's, they usually get their power from your Inverter which is, in turn, powered by your 110-VAC. I would make sure that all of the breakers in the AC Voltage Breaker panel are reset.
Question: I have a 2016 Forest River HW277 popup Camper that I just bought. The LED ceiling lights work until I turn on the AC unit on with the compressor then it blows the fuse. If I replace the fuse, I only turn on the AC unit to Fan so that it doesn't blow the fuse. I do not see where the wires between the 12V and 110V meet as the cable for the AC unit has a plug on the outside and I can see where they both come in and they are separated by 10". Any thought to where I should look?
Answer: First of all, your camper should have only ONE AC-Voltage input connector which would power everything that runs on AC-Voltage.
If your camper has two AC-Voltage input connectors then it's wiring has been modified, which leaves me without any idea what your problem might be.
I can say that with a standard wiring in your camper, your system would have been designed to handle the load of your AC unit as well as your other appliances. And, in addition, your interior lights, your alarms, and some other accessories would be powered by your COACH battery and the battery would be kept charged by your built-in Converter which itself runs on 110-VAC.
I would need more information on your camper to make any further assumptions.
Question: I'm storing our 30AMP RV to 120V storage facility outlet via a 15 AMP adapter. The breakers keep tripping. Shore power source confirms 120V. I flipped the 30AMP rig breaker off, then back on and it seemed to resolve the breaker popping issue. However, the inside voltmeter still descends back to ~102V and I am concerned. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: The first thing I would do is check the storage facility power and make sure it truly is 120-VAC; because your symptoms suggest that your storage facility power is your problem. This voltage should not drop when a load is applied. And, I do suggest that you use a standard RV adapter to connect from your RV power cord to your storage facility power source. Remember, that 30-AMP cable is wired for 220-VAC, and your adapter must be designed to connect only one half of this to your source.
Question: I have a 2008 Fleetwood Niagara, we had the AC on and other appliances running at the same including the microwave. The microwave was running for about 5min when it suddenly turned completely off. Everything else kept running fine. The fuse is not blown but there is not current in the outlet where the microwave was connected and the outlet is not a GFI outlet. Any comments on what you think is wrong with the outlet?
Answer: If you operate too many appliances and equipment your power control panel will start turning OFF power to certain things. You should have a row of LEDs on your power control panel which should show which ones have power allocated to them. This is a protection system to avoid your overloading your external power source.
Turn OFF some of your equipment and wait for the power to be re-allocated.
Question: I have a 2008 Keystone Cougar fifth wheel trailer that was plugged into a 220 outlet. None of the breakers blew, but now the AC and the furnace will not come on and the microwave is burned up. No fuses were tripped. Does this mean the electrical units themselves are burned up?
Answer: Considering your symptoms, please note that your Microwave operates on 110-VAC and the fact that you say it is "burned up?" implies that you had a serious power surge on your external lines. Normally your AC Power Panel breakers should have kicked, but often, with a momentary very high voltage surge they can be too slow reacting and you can have damage to your appliances.
You should first turn OFF all of your RV breakers and then check your 220-VAC outlet you are plugged into and make sure it is wired properly, and that you have the appropriate voltage on the input to your breaker panel as well as make sure the GROUND and COMMON wires at the outlet are wired properly.
Once you confirm the wiring is proper, I suggest that you get a good SURGE PROTECTOR and put it in series with your RV power cable.
Then you should turn your breakers ON, one by one and check what in your RV might work and what might be damaged. Make sure you check your CONVERTER and make sure it is charging your COACH battery and thus have 12-VDC going to all of your control panels especially the temperature control panel before you check out your Air Conditioner units.
Question: The power went out on one side of the RV. The side that went out charges the batteries and now we can't start the rig. Upon checking the breakers on one circuit, the breaker has a red tab and a blue tab. What can I do to get this thing started?
Answer: Actually, in a motorhome, your engine has its own battery, and if it will not start, then the problem is with it, most likely.
You also have a switch (button) on the dash somewhere, that's usually labeled "AUX," and if you hold it down, then it connects your COACH battery to your engine battery so you can use its power to start your engine.
BUT! If you also have power loss to one side of your COACH, you also have another problem.
SO, you should check a few things to get your Rig started;
1- Is your Transmission in PARK?
2- Are your DC CUT-OFF Switches in the proper position?
3- Did you realize your exterior door light, your power awning, and your power steps operate on your Engine battery?
4- Also, check that your campsite power is ON (reset breaker), and then reset all of your RV breakers.
5- If you have 220-VAC inside your RV then check that your CONVERTER is operating and charging your COACH battery.
Question: We just got a 2004 Georgetown Class a and the lights in the living area slide don't work, what are the steps we should perform to troubleshoot the problem?
Answer: First of all, remember that all of your interior lights operate on your 12-VDC electric system which is powered by your COACH batteries.
So, If this RV is new to you I would suggest that you replace the old batteries with brand new deep discharge batteries so that you will then be confident in them for the next few years.
And if this doesn't fix your light problem then next you should check the 12-VDC FUSE Box, for a blown fuse. This fuse box is not the same as the 12-Volt system under the hood which is for the engine. It can be located anywhere in the interior of the RV, under the dash, along the wall in a closet, anywhere. It should use automotive fuses.
If all of these things are OK, then get a multimeter and check the voltage across the battery terminals. It should be around 13.5-VDC (charged) to 14,5-VDC(charging). Any reading below this means your Converter is not charging the batteries.
One of these actions should find your problem because all of the lights are factory wired and should not be broken.
Question: The controls for the stabilizer jacks are beeping along with flashing lights on the controls, How do I get the beeping to stop?
Answer: This is usually the alarm that your motorhome is in gear and not in park. You should not be operating your Jacks with the RV in gear.
If they are still beeping and flashing, then you should put the RV in Park, activate the emergency brake and turn the engine OFF for a couple of minutes before you restart your RV.
Question: Using 12v system, ceiling lights work, but recepticles will not. What is problem?
Answer: You are not providing very much information but let me try to help you.
If you're talking about a standard motorhome or camper trailer then they have a COACH battery. It is designed to provide 12-VDC to such things in the interior as; lights, your 2-way Fridge control circuit board, your temperature control panel, your CO and Fire alarms and such.
Your receptacles are powered by your external AC Power Connector which you will have plugged into your campsite power panel.
With that said, check if the receptacles you are mentioning are part of your GFCI circuit. IF they are then you can just reset the button on the MASTER GFCI receptacle which is usually located inside your bathroom or kitchen area.
If ALL of your receptacles are not working then you need to make sure you do not have a breaker kicked out in your AC_Voltge breaker panel.
Question: How can I make my rv LED lights work when using my generator or shore power?
Answer: Your RV uses the COACH battery for a number of electrical items, including your interior lights.
Your COACH battery must be kept fully charged for these items to work properly. Regardless of whether you are using external AC Power or your built-in generator, the battery is kept charged by your CONVERTER which in turns uses your 110-VAC.
As to using LED interior lights, if you purchased the proper LED replacement lamps that are marked with the same lamp number on them then they should operate properly, But, there is one thing about LED lamps; they are either ON or OFF. They do not operate but seem dim on a low voltage, like incandescent lamps do.
From your symptoms, I would suspect your COACH battery.
Question: Why does my tv lift only receive 9.6 volts? I have a new battery and convertor.
Answer: If you only have 9.6-VDC at your TV lift, measured from the hot wire to chassis ground, then you should check the output side of your DC fuse in the fuse panel. If it reads only 9.6-VDC, then it must read the same on all of the fuses, and your COACH battery is not charged.
If you read around 13.5-VDC on the fuses and only 9/6-VDC on the TV lift then your wiring to the device should be checked for a loose connection or a frayed wire.
Question: I have a 2002 Holiday Rambler that lost power to the water heater, washer/dryer, and both AC units. This happened after I disconnected one house battery to check the water level. Do you have any thoughts?
Answer: In case you forgot your 12-VDC powers the temperature control panel which is probably the problem with your AC units. And if your house (coach) batteries are 6-volt and not 12-volt, then you would not have 12-VDC. The water heater runs on 12-VDC, and your washer/dryer runs on 110-VAC, so I can't explain why it doesn't run.
I would first work on getting my 12-VDC system and batteries hooked up properly and the battery converter combination charging the batteries properly. Then I would see what else might not be working.
Question: When we installed new house batteries it seems as if they are not charging when we are plugged in the campsite pole. What did my husband miss in the replacement install?
Answer: Just as an FYI - You can always take your multimeter and measure across the terminals of your House battery and measure the voltage to check its state of charge. If you read around 14,5-VDC the battery is being charged; if it reads around 13.5-VDc then the battery is fully charged, and if you read around 12.5-VDC then the battery is discharged.
And normally, if your disconnected battery reads around 12.5-VDC and then reads around 14.5-VDC when everything is connected then this means your Converter, which operates on 110-VAC is not charging the battery. If this is the case make sure the Converter is operating by checking its indicator lights if nothing else.
Question: Our outside TV won't power on. It worked when we left our RV three hours ago. We are on 30amp. The three other TV's work inside. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: Typically, outside 110-VAC power receptacles are wired to your GFCI circuit. So, the first thing I would do is check your inside Master GFCI receptacle and see if it needs to be reset.
If it isn't on a GFCI circuit, then check your AC Breaker panel for a breaker that has "kicked OFF."
Question: I have a 2019 discovery...we are getting a shock when touching coach and wet ground outside the coach...what could be the problem?
Answer: It sounds like you have a bad GROUND CONNECTION. You need to check that your campsite powerbox is not damaged. Then you need to check your external camper power cable connections to the campsite power box and make sure the pins are not oxidized and are making good connections. Then do the same for the other end of your external power cable and make sure its connector pins are in good condition and they plug firmly into your RVs external connector.
These are your most likely causes for your problem which is the fact that you have a missing or poorly wired ground connection to your RV.
And actually, I would ask the campground office to send someone down to check that their campsite power box doesn't have a wiring problem.
Question: I’m having trouble with my 2008 Jayco Flight 20 footers AC. The thermostat doesnt get power(or at least barley measurable) but I have power to the control box from the 110v. I’ve tried disconnecting power and run off battery and the lights work but fridge switched to gas and outlets don’t work. Maybe the converter is going or is bad?
Answer: There are several things you need to understand about your trailer's power systems.
1- Your camper's lights, alarms, temperature control panel, and other accessories run on your 12-VDC from your camper battery which is kept charged by your external campsite 110-VAC power to your Converter.
2- Your fridge relies on gas or 12-VDC to operate but the icemaker runs on 110VAC.
3- Your 110-VAC outlets operate on your external campsite power. And you have several receptacles that are on a GFCI circuit that can kick out at times.
SO, If you want everything to work you need to have that 110-VAC campsite power hooked up.
And, you need to check your camper's battery; 1- does it have water in it, and 2- is it charged up?
Your Air Conditioner does run on 110-VAC, but if the temperature control panel doesn't have adequate 12-VDC to it, it will not allow the AIR to run.
Start with understanding these things, and you can get your camper accessories operating properly.
Question: I can hear a buzzing noise coming from one of the circuit breakers, but everything is working. Should I be concerned?
Answer: You should check more closely and determine what might be making the sound you mention, because Circuit Breakers do not vibrate or make any noise of any kind, ever.
Question: We RV full-time. We had a wire burn. How do we find a certified electrician who will come to us?
Answer: The largest certification org. for trained RV technicians that I would recommend is RVDA-RVIA. You can find them on the web and they will be able to inform you of the nearest certified tech.
Question: on a recent trip, we stayed in a campground with full connections for our travel trailer. the first day there, the power converter blew up. (I am a master electrician) So I replaced the power converter and battery, confirmed that I had 12 VDC going to the battery to charge it. However, within a day the battery was completely dead again even while plugged into 120 Vac. Where should I look next?
Answer: The first thing I would do is make sure I have a charging voltage on the battery of 13.5-VDC or higher across the battery terminals. If this is so, then I would next suspect that some 12-VDC appliance (possibly your Inverter?) is drawing excessive current that the Converter cannot handle.
These are the most likely causes of your problem, and I recommend that you purchase a good Surge Protector to put in series with your campsite power and your trailer to avoid future damage from poorly run campground power systems.
Question: I have a new RV that blows the 30-Amp fuse in the front of the unit when I plug or unplug to the land power. On a five-week vacation, I had to replace it fourteen times. The RV repair from the dealership is to wire in a 30-Amp resettable fuse screwed to the frame. This does not seem right to me. I believe there is a problem with the wiring. Is there a staple or screw that may have been put through the wiring?
Answer: If your NEW RV has a 30-Amp service, then I assume it is a small travel trailer because most RV's now have a 50-AMp service.
The manufacturer did not do you any favors using a fuse for your input service because it will do just what you are experiencing, blow the fuse.
So, what is happening to you is that you are drawing too much current overall, and you need to learn how to manage your power usage. You see, some of your RV appliances, like your AC can draw a surge current that if you are near your 30-Amp limit, might blow your input fuse.
The good thing is that your dealer did put a BREAKER in the circuit so that it can be reset, rather than you having to replace a fuse.
The bad thing is that you really need to figure out what you are using in your Rv that is using so much current. I have written a Hub that lists the typical current drawn by most common RV appliances, and sometimes, you just have to turn OFF one appliance while you use another high current one.
Question: I have a 1999 Safari Zanzibar, and I keep tripping a breaker every time I put it on the shore power. It trips the circuit within seconds. I can only run it off of our house batteries. What do you think this is?
Answer: First of all, unplug everything in your RV and try to plug in the shore power. If it still kicks the shore power breaker, then you most likely have a GROUND problem. One thing though; how are your batteries getting charged with your shore power doesn't work? The RV's Converter (Charger) keeps your batteries charged. And it runs on 10-VAC from shore power.
Question: My parents have a section of low voltage lighting in their camper that would pulse. I thought it was a bad switch, so I replaced it to no avail. I have 12v at the switch until the new switch is hooked up, until then will I have no voltage present?
Answer: You will not measure voltage across an electrical switch when it is closed. As to your light pulsing problem this often happens when your Coach batteries are not charging properly and the Converter (Charger) is cycling ON and OFF to maintain the 12-VDC for the internal RV lights and other equipment.
Question: I have a 2007 Forest River Georgetown XL that disconnects the batteries via the battery disconnect switch by itself when I attempt to start the onboard ONAN 5500 Generator. The generator does not start (When I jump the generator via a battery right at the generator +/- posts, it starts). After the disconnect switch trips, it will not connect when I toggle it up. After about 10 minutes, something in the BBC resets, and I can toggle to disconnect switch up and connect the batteries to the coach?
Answer: Your explanation is a little confusing. But, first of all, Your two battery disconnect switches are for your COACH battery and your Engine battery when you are storing your RV, so the batteries do not get drained over time.
Your Power Control Panel utilizes your COACH 12-VDC battery to operate, and it senses whether there is SHORE power. If so, when you start your generator, this panel will control some solenoids that make sure that you never have both Shore power and Generator power at the same time. My best guess is that your COACH battery is NOT fully charged, or may not be getting charged. You should make sure that this battery and charging system is operating properly first of all.
Question: I have a 1995 Winnebago Vectra that the 12-volt lights work when the motorhome is plugged in or the engine is running but they don't work when everything is off. The batteries have 12.6 volts when tested. Why won't the 12 volts light and where do I start to check for the problem?
Answer: The COACH battery(s) provide the 12-VDC System inside your RV. They power your interior lights, fridge control circuit board, your Alarms, your temperature control circuit board and other things.
The battery is kept charged by the built-in Converter(charger) that operates on 110-VAC (external power) and when the voltage is actually at 12.5 VDC or lower the battery is NOT charged. You should measure around 14.5 VDC or so, if the charger is running and around 13.5 VDC if it is charged.
You should check that the battery is being charged first, then if it is but the voltage is LOW as I mentioned, check the battery for water and check the date on it. It could just be ready for replacement.
PS. - The engine running should have nothing to do with your interior lights operation or the charging of your COACH battery.
Question: My new battery charges back up, but I don’t get any voltage measuring from the thermostat negative to trailer negative so no ground problems. I can jump the thermostat DC in to the cooling wire and I hear the relay click, same with the fan. The Cooling and or Fan do not turn on, but if I jump the 110v at the control box the fan and cooling turns on. What could be wrong?
Answer: Being remote from your RV, I am honestly stumped. I recommend that you contact the AC manufacturer's customer service people, or call in a local certified RV technician to go over your problem.
Question: My compressor for the AC buzzes like it’s trying to start and then shuts off after 5-10 secs. The AC thermostat is new, all capacitors are new. The compressor gets burning hot to the touch. The drain for the condensation is not clogged. All the coils and fins are clean. Could it be the compressor? Basically a whole new unit?
Answer: From your symptoms, I would sit down, have a cold drink, gird myself and call the local RV AC service tech with the assumption that at least the Condensor is bad.
Sorry, but they can lock up like you describe.
Question: How do I figure out a bad breaker or switch? I have a KZ hybrid, and the awning buttons on the awning arm work fine but the switches inside are not working. The only thing that works is the one that brings the awning in.
Answer: Because your exterior control switches work fine, that would imply that the inside ones would also, because they would normally be wired in parallel. The awning motor works on your 12-VDC 12-VDC battery in your RV. Because of these symptoms, I would not sspect a breaker, but rather the interior awning swithc that doesn't function properly.
Question: We have a 1990 Itasca, and the circuit breaker for the AC unit keeps tripping on especially hot days. We replaced the circuit breaker, and now nothing will work. We even tried putting the old one back in and still nothing. We're pretty sure it's the same amperage. Any suggestions on what could be going on?
Answer: As AC units age, they draw more current each time the compressor tries to start up. They can draw as much as 3-5 Amps each.
As to your breaker, if it is the right replacement then you should first call the campground office and have them send someone to check out your campsite power box as the breakers on it could be kicked. Do this before you do anything else inside your RV.
Question: The galley, bathroom, and left exterior light on my lance lite 835 camper are not working. The GFCI in the kitchen has no power going to it. We have checked the fuses and the breakers and the power converter. We are currently checking the switches themselves. Do you have any ideas what the problem may be?
Answer: As I understand it, your Exterior lights on the left side are not working? Well, these lights are powered by your engine battery just as your other exterior lights are.
Your gallery, bathroom and GFCI circuits are all powered by your AUX or House battery which is kept charged by your Converter when your camper is plugged into the campsite power.
So, check that your AUX battery is fully charged.
Next, check the MASTER GFCI and see if it needs to be reset because this GFCI provides power to your other Slave GFCI receptacles.
Question: What is the problem if I have no power to my 110-VAC outlets?
Answer: Some of your 110-VAC outlets are on your GFCI circuit, and you should check your Master GFCI for a RESET switch.
This is one of the more common causes of this problem.
Question: My A/C is coming on every 10 to 15 minutes, and everything is shut right; no air pockets anywhere. Why is it coming on so often? I have it set on auto and cool, and at 79, but it's so cold in my RV.
Answer: The first thing you should do is check your walls and find the sensor for your temperature control panel. It will usually be either near your control panel, if it is centrally located or it will be near the center of the RV at chest high. This sensor must be open, and airflow is going by it must be unencumbered. Some people I have met put a small fan in their RV so that there will be decent air flow.
Next, I don't know how old your Rv is, but all Air Conditioners can only put out so much cool air, and it cycles when the temperature at the sensor says it has dropped below the limit you have set.
It serves no purpose for an owner to set a temperature limit that makes your AC run continually. By running all of the time, your AC is telling you its limited capability. So, you should set the temperature control to a temperature where your AC only cycles once aver half an hour or so. This is a point where it can cool and not use so much electricity and not end up freezing up.
I suspect that your temperature sensor is blocked so check that first, and then see of the unit is frozen and then set the thermostat to a realistic setting for your AC to achieve.
Question: I have a 2017 Jayco pull-behind, and we had to have the water heater replaced a year ago. It is now throwing the 2-Amp fuse. Do we need to return to mfg?
Answer: I'm surprised that a water heater has a fuse value of only 2-Amp. I think that is wrong and you should check your JAYCO customer service and see what the actual value should be.An RV water heater is a "fast heating" appliance and i think the fuse should be significantly higher than just 2-Amps.
Question: I have a 1995 Europa MH with a new converter. Just came out of the RV service center (power window and generator). After parking, shutting off the headlights, hooking up shore power I noticed that the rear lights remained on. I rechecked- lights off, power on, battery lights indicating charging on Friday night and every place is closed. I disconnected the lights, each side and the middle. Is there any novice troubleshooting for my Europa MH's electrical problems? I checked the breakers and fuses- all seemed to be working.
Answer: First symptom; "battery lights indicating charging" - Your battery lights should indicate "charging" whenever you have 110-VAC either from your shore power or your generator. Second symptom; "rear lights on after engine and lights switch OFF. - Your 110-VAC power sources, neither shore power nor gen power are connected to your vehicle lights. So, if any of your "vehicle lights" stay on and your vehicle light switch is OFF then you are dealing with something in your vehicle's standard wiring system.
You have a fuse panel under the hood that manages the power to all of your "vehicle", not your "Camper" electrical equipment. You could just pull the fuse for the running lights until you are next ready to pull out.
Question: The GFCI in my RV bathroom tripped. It would not reset. I checked the breakers and none had tripped. However, when I flip the double 15 amp breaker off the GFCI stays reset. Is this a converter problem. Would low water level in the batteries cause the GFCI in my RV's bathroom to trip? I double checked the line and load wires on the GFCI to make sure I connected them correctly and also made sure the ground wire was connected. I'm at my wit's end here and no children that are mechanically or electrically savvy.
Answer: Your GFCI with the reset is the MASTER unit and it has several other receptacles that are SLAVE to the MASTER.
SO, unplug everything plugged into these other receptacles to make sure there is NO load before you try to reset the MASTER GFCI.
Your GFCI is only 110-VAC so your batteries have nothing to do with the operation of the GFCI.
Also, the Ground wire absolutely MUST be connected PROPERLY to your GFCI receptacle for it to operate the way it is designed.
Check those other receptacles for equipment that you must unplug first of all though.
Question: The air conditioner in my RV doesn’t work well. My toaster won’t brown the toast, even after seven minutes, and my microwave takes four mins to heat a small coffee. I’m sure the campground circuit is overloaded as I’m not getting the full 30 amps. Everyone in the campground is having the same issues. Is this low amperage damaging my camper?
Answer: If you're not getting 110-VAC to your RV, and when you operate an appliance it loads down the voltage, then you could be damaging your appliances or other electrical equipment.
The campground must provide adequate power to everyone's campsite, or they should tell their campers that they need to leave because their power source is dangerously low.
This is a problem for the campground, and if they don't accept responsibility for any damages, then I wouldn't go there again.
Question: My RV was plugged in, and everything was working, but now the fridge and A/C are not getting electric. I checked all breakers and fuses already. What could it be?
Answer: If your Fridge is a 2-way, then it and your temperature control panel use 12-VDC. So, check your coach battery and make sure it has water in it, and that it is fully charged.
If not, then these appliances will not operate properly.
Question: We have a 2009 Newmar Ventana and nowhere can we find a wiring schematic. The bedroom slide has 3 outlets, 2 on side walls, and 1 under the bed to power an air mattress. All three outlets are dead. I have checked breakers & gfi. How can I further troubleshoot my RV's electrical problem?
Answer: The first thing for you to do is to check if your Power Control panel is displaying that you have 50-Amps service and that all of the green lights are on indicating that your 220-VAC is allocated to everything.
Also, I am assuming that you have no AC power to anything else either.
Question: We purchased a one yr old Mercedes motorhome with 6000 miles on it from an RV dealer. We are on our first trip to Yellowstone from WV and fridge quit. We had it plugged in at home, and the fridge was extremely cold. While driving, it showed it was running on gas, and the light was not flashing, so we assumed it was ok. When we stopped to eat, the temperature inside the fridge was 60. It works when plugged into electric. Any idea of what we can try? It is evening now, and nowhere is open.
Answer: When you are traveling and are not plugged into 110-VAC, your 2-way Fridge will operate on propane, but it must have 12-VDC from your COACH battery, which is charged only when you are plugged into 110-VAC.
So, you should check that COACH battery for adequate water level, and always keep your RV plugged into 110-VAC when you are parked at a campsite. This way the COACH battery will have a full charge and easily keep your Fridge and other 12-VDC accessories running for a full day and night.
I believe this will take care of your problem. When you are traveling, so keep that COACH battery charged before you take off.
Question: The fridge and A/C in my camper work fine, but not my interior or exterior lights. What could cause that?
Answer: Not very much data to react to, here. IF your RV is a motorhome, your exterior lights operate on your engine battery. But if your Rv is a trailer, they operate on your Coach battery.
So, as you probably know, your interior lights operate on your COACH battery voltage, the same as with your temperature control panel and your Fridge control panel.
First, I would check if my battery(s) is charged and your Converter is operating properly.
If they are OK, then you should check your DC Fuse Panel for a blown fuse.
Question: I have a 1999 dutchman camper pull behind. When I plug my 12-volt battery up, the 4 running lights light up, but the one on the back stays off. I know these should only be on when hooked to your vehicle and the parking lights are on. Do you have any ideas on this problem?
Answer: As you probably know, your Dutchman camper battery is only for powering your camper's interior 12-VDC systems and appliances, and should not be wired to your camper's running lights.
Being this old, You should check the following potential problems;
1- The GROUND wire for your battery and the GROUND wire from your tow connector should both be firmly connected to your camper's chassis, and the connections should not be rusty or loose.
2- the HOT wire for your running lights of your camper should be wired to the connections shown on a standard wiring chart for the specific type of connector you are using (4-wire, 5-wire, or 6-wire). Check this article for the proper connector wiring;https://axleaddict.com/rvs/RV-Towing-and-Electrica...
Question: As we are driving we have lost all electrical power to all of our lights and gauges. What fuse or relay could be dead?
Answer: Your problem will be in your Chassis electrical system and not your Coach electrical system.
Depending on your RV manufacturer you will have a fuse panel under the dash probably on one of the fenders for easy access. And with some, there will be another fuse panel under the dash.
Question: I have a 2006 Georgie Boy class A. We camped this weekend with no problems. When we pulled out, I heard an alarm after unplugging. I noticed that the radio wouldn't turn on. Then I saw that the fridge was off, I checked my status panel, water pump, and water heater. All were without power. I fired up the onboard generator, and still no power. Once I got home, I plugged into my 50 amp service, and everything came on fine. Any idea what this could be?
Answer: The RV radio should operate on your engine battery and has nothing to do with the COACH 12-VDC system.
The Water Heater runs on either propane or 110-VAC, and you should have switched over to propane when you unplugged.
The fridge's control circuit board, your water pump, your AC Power Control Panel and your interior lights run on your 12-VDC COACH battery.
As to your generator, when you started it, the power control panel (which operate on your COACh battery.
So, I would get that battery checked for water, and that it takes charge, so that all of those things I mentioned can work properly.
Question: I have lost power to lighting and air in my RV. I have checked everything, but I haven't found anything. The outlets work, though. What should I check now?
Answer: Your symptoms make me think that your 12-VDC battery(s) are not properly charged. In an RV, the interior lights, the temperature control panel, the 2-way fridge control panel, and your alarms all run on your 12-VDC Coach battery. This battery must be kept charged for this equipment to operate properly.
I recommend that you ask yourself:
1- Does your battery have water in it?
2- With a multimeter, can you measure at least 13-5 VDC across the Coach battery?
These are the most probable causes of your problems. Check these before getting into anything else.