It is not a nice feeling when you are boondocking and find out you have no battery power. Having no power can ruin your evening as you spend the time searching for the answer instead of relaxing from a hard drive. This is not a fun situation to be in when on the road.
Why does my RV have no power? The most common source for this problem is that the breakers tripped on you and they need to be manually reset. To find this breaker, you need to look near the batteries by the tongue of the trailer and reset the breaker.
To learn more about why you have no power to your RV when you are on battery power, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can solve your dilemma right away.
The most common source for this problem would be that you forgot to recharge your batteries and they ran out of power. Other problem sources could be that the battery disconnect switch is in the wrong position, the reverse polarity fuses have burned out or there is a break in the circuit somewhere.
Each of these items needs to be checked before you move on to another possible source. Then you have to make sure that you know the difference between AC-operated devices and DC-operated devices.
The AC-operated features will not work unless you are plugged into a shoreline system. Those features include your microwave, AC unit, television, or anything that plugs into an outlet to work.
Also, check your overload current limiters to see if they have been fried or not. If they are, you would need to replace them so you can get back to relaxing in your RV while you wait for dinner to be made.
When you are looking for the source of your electrical problem, you should not do this if you know nothing about an electrical system or electricity. Or if you hate working with electricity, then you should also let the pros handle it for you.
One of the more complicated sources for this situation is your power inverter. your battery may be charged but the inverter malfunctioned in some way and doesn't allow the power to be sent where it is supposed to go.
The way to check if it is the inverter that has gone bad, you need to follow the cable from the battery to the inverter and look for an auto breaker. These auto breakers can be made in two ways with one being able to reset itself. That would be the thermal device.
The other will have a tab that may pop up when the breaker has tripped. If the auto breaker is fine and nothing tripped most likely the problem will be with your inverter. Some people also call it the converter. If you do not have an auto breaker then the problem may still lie with the inverter.
This is if your battery is still good. Your battery can be fully charged but not be good. However, finding the inverter is another story. The auto breaker will be about 18 inches from the battery but it may not be close to the inverter at all.
If it is the inverter that has the problem, you will need a qualified mechanic to fix it.
The simple source of this situation is that it may be a short in the circuit. Now the word short stands for ‘shorter circuit’. What that means is that the electricity found another path to follow and that path trips the breaker.
The problem is you have to find where the short is taking place. On an RV 12 volt system, that could be a lot of places to check. There are three ways to check for the short and one is to use an LED fuse. However, these fuses are not perfect in detecting the short as they can still light up when even a minimum of power is flowing through the circuit.
The second method would be to go old school and use a tester with a light bulb on it. This should help you find the location of the short faster but it may also take you some time to find the short.
The final method would be to use a clamp ammeter but this device needs to be able to read both AC and DC power. There are AC only clamp meters but those are not the ones you will need.
There is a lot involved in finding a short and this web page may help you out.
Some common signs will give you an idea that there is a problem with the converter. First of all, if you have power to your appliances, etc., the battery is not going to be a problem when you see these signs.
The first indication you will get is when you see your interior lights dimming. The second sign may be that your appliances are not working as they should. Then the third sign will be if your house batteries are not charging correctly.
When you see these signs taking place, you will need to grab both your voltmeter and multimeter. These devices will help you check all your electrical systems to make sure it is the converter that is bad.
The first place to check will be your shore power connection and the DC breaker. if no electricity is coming into your RV then you have a bad converter. You can check your batteries as well.
Charge them so that they are full of power and then remove them from your RV. This is the only way to get an accurate reading. If the batteries did not charge or the power isn’t there, then the batteries are bad. They will need to be replaced if this is the case.
But if the batteries did charge and work correctly then the converter is bad. When you make this determination, then you have to check the different parts of the converter to see which one is the source of your problem.
Those parts include the converter’s fan, the diodes, resistors, the circuit board, and the fuses. You should also check the 110v power source. In most cases, you will have to replace the complete converter to fix the problem.
There are different ways to reset the power in your RV. The first place to check would be, if your RV has them, your GFCI plugs. If they have tripped you have to reset them by pushing a button on your GFCI is designed with.
Next, you need to see if the breakers at the power pole tripped in some manner. If they did, then you will have to shut the breaker off first, then turn it back on again. the same will go for your 110v breakers in your RV.
The GFCI outlet is usually located in the bathroom and it is designed to protect you when moisture hits the wiring inside your RV. When it does, the GFCI breaker will trip and all you have to do is reset it by pushing the button.
If the moisture is gone, then the whole system will be reset and everything should work fine again. If the situation has not been resolved, then the GFCI will trio again. The next device you should check will be a surge protector.
Not all RVs have this and you may have to install one yourself if yours doesn’t. What a surge protector does is prevent you from powering your RV when it senses the electrical conditions are not right or safe for your RV’s system.
The way that the surge protector lets you know there was a problem, is by the damage it receives. To reset, you need to remove and replace the device. Finally, you should check your generator breaker if you have one.
The breaker is located in the generator bay and it may look on to you but looks can be deceiving. Push the breaker off and then back on again and you should be fine.
Every RVer probably has run into these issues at some point in their RV life. They are common to all people who own or rent an RV. They are also very easy to fix in most cases.
1. Microwave not working
Also, check the converter fuses to see if they are switched on. If not turn them on. If the AC did not work as well, then you may have no power in your battery or a problem with the 120-volt power supply.
Finally, plug in your microwave. This does happen from time to time.
2. Fridge not working
- Power supply may not be bringing power to your appliance. Make sure the fridge is turned on. If the microwave display is on but the fridge’s is not then check your converter. The problem may be with the fridge breaker.
3. AC doesn't run
- There may be no power getting to your air conditioning unit so you will need to check your power supplies. If the microwave is working then check the breaker at your converter. If it isn’t, then the problem may be with your 120v supply system.
4. Outlets do not work
The GFCI breaker may have tripped when you weren’t looking. Just push the button to reset. This will only affect the outlets as your microwave and AC work when it is tripped.
If it isn’t the GFCI breaker then check your converter breakers and reset them if they have tripped for some reason.
5. Other electrical issues
But, if those breakers are turned on and fine, then check your converter. They may need to be reset.
You may need qualified assistance to rectify this problem.
If your RV does not have one already, you should consider buying a power surge protection device. There are many horror stories from other RV owners who have unknowingly plugged into a badly wired campsite power pole.
When they did, they cause a lot of expensive damage to their RV. Surge protectors prevent those mishaps.
Some electrical problems are easy to spot, diagnose and then fix. If you are not afraid to work with electricity, you should be able to handle most electrical problems with ease. If you are, go to a pro to make sure the fix is done right.