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How Powered RV Entrance Steps Work With Your Battery

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life. He shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

Popular Kwikee brand of powered RV electric steps.

Popular Kwikee brand of powered RV electric steps.

When RV Steps Stop Operating

I was sitting outside my RV the other day and a fellow camper came by with a worried look in his eyes.

So, I invited him to sit down and have a cup of coffee with me. As I poured him a cup of coffee, he started telling me about a strange problem he was having with his RV.

He said, "Don, I'll be pulling out in a few days, so I was going through my checkout list of things to do before we pulled out; but when I tried to operate my entrance steps, they would not retract or open, no matter what I tried."

He sipped on his coffee from me and then he went on asking, "Do you have any idea what could be wrong?"

He explained that he had done as he always had and just flipped the stair switch next to the door, but this time when he flipped the switch nothing had happened.

How Your RV Entrance Steps Operate

Far too many new RV owners just do not take the time to understand how most of the electrical equipment in their RV operates.

Though many RV owners consider their RV just a second home, the reality is that although the equipment may look familiar, many of these tools, appliances and other items are powered differently than in a home.

Use Your Main Cutoff Switch

After thinking a minute, I asked him if he had reset set his main cutoff switch when he had set his motorhome up once he was parked in his campsite. Well, he thought for a minute and as his face turned red, he looked at me and replied.

"You know, Don, I honestly don't remember."

So, I explained to him that with a motorhome the entrance steps are powered by the engine battery and not by the coach battery.

The motorhome manufacturers wired the entrance steps to the engine battery for several reasons, but the main reason is that the entrance steps need to operate for use when you are driving down the road and making stops at places such as rest areas, gas stations, and other such temporary stopovers.

Normally, you would just open the door and set the stair switch to the appropriate position where the step stays locked in the extended position; but you must remember that each time you turn your ignition switch on, the step circuit will be reset, and you will need to go through this process over and over.

One thing many motorhome owners forget to do once they are at a campsite, or especially when they put their motorhome in storage, is to open the door and let the steps extend, and then set the cutoff switch so that the steps stay extended regardless of whether the door is open or closed.

By setting these two switches the way I mention here, the steps will be extended for use while you are setting at your campsite, and the entrance steps will not continually operate by opening and closing and eventually drawing down the engine battery.

Entrance Steps on a Camper Trailer

The entrance steps on camper trailers are wired differently than with a motorhome because of the obvious fact that they do not have an engine. So these campers will have the entrance steps wired to the coach battery.

Because of this difference, the owner simply needs to use the stair (or step) switch to extend the entrance steps and then set it to the position where the steps stay open regardless of whether the entrance door is open or closed.

So remember, when you are running around the country in your motorhome, camping here and there, keep your engine battery from being discharged by using your cutoff switch to lock your entrance steps in the desired position once you get to your destination.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Don Bobbitt