The internet can be very helpful when you have an RV problem. However, for every one or two very helpful sites you may run into 5 or 6 that are not doing anything to solve the problem you face. You have to be careful and check a few different websites to get to the right solutions.
One of the biggest electrical problems you will face in a Forest River RV will be your battery. Without you knowing it, it can fail to re-charge leaving you without DC power. This is a big problem if you are camping off-grid.
To learn more about Forest River RV's electrical problems and how to solve them, just continue to read our article. It delves into the topic so you have the best information possible to diagnose and troubleshoot what is wrong in your RV.
This section covers the electrical problems only. It will list those problems and make a brief description of what may be wrong but the solutions will come in the next section.
The reason we will do it this way is because the solutions are basically the same for every electrical problem you face.
1. The battery has no power- this is a common problem especially when someone forgets to re-charge the battery. But power draining is not the only suspect here. There could be a problem with the terminals, cables, inverter, or shore power connection
2. RV has no electrical power- this problem is faced by many RVers at one time or another. There may be a blackout and if so you can’t do much about it until the power is returned.
Or a fuse blew, a breaker tripped or you have a problem with your inverter or battery. Not to mention a short in the system.
3. Appliances not working- this will be the same for every appliance. You may have a loose wire or connection, trouble with the inverter or converter, loss of battery or shore power, or the appliance is bad.
4. The lights are not working- this can happen from time to time and if the appliances have power, then you need to check for a short in the system or if a GFI outlet has tripped.
Also, you should check the breaker for the lights to see if something tripped it. A power surge could do this. If the lights are the only electrical device not working, then your search area is narrowed significantly
5. The air conditioner is not working- check all fuses, breakers, batteries, and other components first to see if the problem lies with those items. If not, check your air conditioner to see if there is a problem with the unit in the fan, condenser, and other essential air conditioning parts.
This section will provide common solutions to the above problems. If you have checked all of these solutions, you may have to call in a technician to do more sophisticated troubleshooting.
1. Common sources that solve many of the above problems
All electrical items have quite a few common sources and the solutions to those sources are all the same. When you find that you have no overall electrical power or specific items are not working, you need to check the following items and take the appropriate repair steps
- recharge the battery or replace it if it is completely out of power and can’t be recharged
- check the polarity of the cables on the battery and inverter, place them in the correct terminals if reversed.
- check all fuses and replace any that are blown
- reset the breakers if any have tripped
- check your generator to make sure it has fuel and oil, replenish if needed
- check extension cord connections to make sure they are securely plugged into the right sockets
- check all wires and wire connections to make sure they are not damaged, broken, frayed, or loose. Tighten any loose connections and wires, while replacing those that are damaged or frayed
The most important item you need to check before you move on to other more complicated sources and solutions, make sure everything is turned on. Many people forget about the battery disconnect switch and cut off the power without even knowing about it.
Check all your power switches as many people also forget to flip those switches when they want to use a feature.
2. Specific solutions for specific appliances
The air conditioner
If all of the above is okay, it is time to look at this unit if it is not working. In many cases, the air conditioner may be dirty and needs a clean filter or vent. Or the condenser or fan are not working and they may need to be replaced if they can’t be fixed.
After checking all the general fuses, make sure to check the fuses in the fridge. They could have blown and needed replacing. Or you may have a bad control panel or other parts that keep the fridge from working.
Track down the part that is failing and buy a replacement. Sometimes this appliance needs a technician to handle repairs.
The stove & oven
If power is getting to the stove but not the oven or vice versa, then you have a problem with the oven or stove. That may mean replacing either one if the parts are not repairable.
Check the wiring, the ignition system, and the elements to make sure they are all in top shape. These should be repairable parts.
This could be the result of a short in the system or a damaged wire somewhere. It takes a little work to hunt down the problem and fix the bad wire or what is causing the short.
A GFI outlet will help you narrow your search for the electrical problem in your lights. If this circuit breaker trips you know the problem is before the outlet not after it.
No power overall
In this situation, go outside first to see if other trailers or the campground is without power. If so, there is nothing you can do but wait till the power comes back on.
If the other campers have power, then check your shore power connection. See if the breaker tripped or your extension cord came loose or was unplugged. Just plug it back in or reset the breaker.
If the breaker trips again, you need to contact the campground manager and have them check their system for a short. Or your generator is out of fuel or oil and needs to be refilled before it will send power to your RV.
Make sure the extension cord from it to your RV is secured on both ends. If you are still on shore power, make sure you did not plug into a 50-amp outlet when you needed 30-amp power or vice versa.
Also, check your battery and inverter or converter to see if those parts failed on you. You may have to replace the latter two components if they have gone bad.
When it comes to appliances and other electrical features in your RV, there are always a number of other parts inside those appliances that can go bad. They may be hard to find and a technician may be needed to handle the troubleshooting and repair.
While just about every RV owner carries tools in case they have minor problems. They should include the following tools to help them troubleshoot and diagnose electrical issues.
1. Multimeter- these come with two probes to help you check if the amperage is at the right levels or not. Plus, many can check accurately AC/DC Voltage, DC Current, Resistance, and Diode.
Just spin the dial on the front to the gauge you need and use the probes to find where the problem may lie.
2. Voltmeter- usually the same as a multimeter and you just need to select volts to get an accurate reading. While they may be the same as a multimeter, they are often referred to as separate tools
3. Circuit or continuity tester- this little device has a light inside attached to a probe. An alligator clip is on the other side and you need to touch both ends along the electrical path.
If the light illuminates then you have a complete circuit.
4. Misc. Testers- there are a variety of testers on the market you can invest in and use. Many of them are dedicated to just testing voltage but they all come in handy at some point in time. These extra meters or testers are:
- Wand voltage tester- just needs to be near wires and connectors to test the voltage range
- Digital clamp tester- more for advanced electrical work but it is a step above the multimeter. It includes a current sensor along with doing the job of a multimeter
-Solenoid voltage tester- easier to use than a multimeter, this device will test voltage and polarity. May not be as accurate as a multimeter but it is cheaper to buy.
- Plug-in circuit analyzer- made for three-pronged outlets and can’t be used on two-prong outlets. This is an easy-to-use circuit tester that tests ground outlets
- Neon Voltage tester- this little device only tells you if the voltage is present or not. It won’t tell you how much voltage is there and you would need a voltmeter to do that. It will also tell you if the outlet is properly grounded or not.
- Non-Contact Voltage Tester (Inductance Tester)- an easy way to test to see if the voltage is present at a light, outlet, circuit breakers, switches, and electrical wiring.
Most of these devices may not be for RV or homeowners due to the fact those electrical needs are not as sophisticated and complex as other systems. To find the right tester for your RV needs, look at the electrical issues you have to deal with and buy the tester that meets those needs.
A multimeter will replace about half or more of these testers as these devices are designed to handle most RV electrical problems. However, many are battery-operated and you will need to keep an eye on those batteries if you want this meter working when you need it to.
There are several sources that cause overall electrical problems. We are not talking about blackouts, power surges, and similar issues. There are some other sources that contribute to these problems over time:
1. Excess moisture- if you have a leak in your plumbing system or you are camping in regions with extreme humidity, the excess moisture can take its toll on wiring and other electrical components.
You will need to check your insulation to see if it is still doing its job and keeping excess moisture out. Check your seals and plumbing for leaks as well
2. Poor maintenance- maintaining battery quality as well as inverter performance requires checking wires, connections, etc., to make sure they are not corroded or loose. Keep an eye on your wiring to make sure excess moisture does not rust connections as well.
3. Wear & tear- road vibrations, bumps in the road, and normal use will wear down any electrical system or appliance. After a bumpy ride, make sure your fridge is still level and that the vibrations and bumps in the road did not loosen any wires or individual appliance components.
No matter which RV brand you own, you will face electrical issues at some point in time. What will help you to solve these issues quickly is if you create an electrical maintenance checklist.
This checklist will tell you where you need to search to find the source of the problem. Once you find the problem you can stop searching and repair it.