RV Lights Not Working When Plugged in: Common Reasons

Your RV lights not working when plugged in could be because of a flat battery or blown-out bulb. Although these are predominant and apparent reasons, other causes might need your attention.

RV Lights Not Working

This post will run you through every potential reason for light failure and recommend valuable repair methods to fix the issue once and for all.

Why Are Your RV Lights Not Working When Plugged In?

Your RV lights are not working when plugged in because of a faulty bulb, electrical wiring defects, or a blown fuse. A dead battery or defective converter does not transfer power to the lights and keeps them off. Moreover, the lights won’t function due to worn fixtures or switches.

  • Blown Camper Ceiling Bulbs

Like the bulbs in your home, the camper ceiling bulbs can also blow. Most RV light bulbs are 12-volt with DC power or 110-volt with AC power. The bulb type depends on the fixtures, so you cannot use them interchangeably.

Reasons of faulty RV Lights

Moreover, RV bulbs might be powered by a battery, solar panel, or direct electric connections. Thus, you should consider these factors while inspecting them for potential damage. An RV 12 volt system not working when plugged in can have multiple reasons, such as:

  • Overload or electrical fluctuations
  • Corrosion on bulb terminals
  • Use of wrong wattage bulbs

You can check the bulb, and if it looks burnt or has a broken filament, you will need to replace it.

  • Inoperational Lights Due to Electrical Problems

All electrical systems have one or more fuses that protect different devices from damage. The RV circuit for interior lights also has fuses that might blow to protect the more expensive equipment. They can blow or break if there is an electrical problem so other parts don’t get affected.

A broken fuse is a common vehicle problem, and thankfully, it is detectable even by people who do not know much about electronics. Sometimes visual inspection is enough to detect a problem with the fuse, but you can confirm by using a multimeter. In case the RV lights not working fuse is good you need to check other connections and wires. Broken wires can disrupt the electric flow and cause the camper light problem.

This problem also explains the question, “Why are some lights in my RV not working?” It is like this because specific wires can be faulty; for example, the bathroom wires might get damaged, so bathroom lights will stop working. You can detect this issue by following the wiring until you detect the affected one.

  • Dead RV Battery Not Powering the Lights

The camper battery powers many devices, such as lights, slide-outs, refrigerators, and even a television. Therefore, a dead battery explains forest river camper lights not working when plugged in. These batteries have a limited life, so they are bound to fail after that period. Sometimes they stop working if they have corroded terminals because the buildup prevents the electric flow.

The corroded battery has hope because you can clean the terminals and make it work again, but a dead battery needs replacement. You can detect a problem with the battery if none of the battery-powered devices work.

You can also check the battery’s condition and look for cracks or leaks. If there is no leakage, you can check the connections. The battery may fail to power the lights if the connections are worn. Using a multimeter to obtain the voltage can confirm any battery defects.

  • Faulty Converter Causing Camper Light Failure

A converter is a necessary RV component because it converts the direct current from the battery to the alternate current. The significance of the conversion lies in the fact that all devices in your RV need AC. A fault in the converter will prevent the power transfer from the car battery, and the lights will not work.

The converter may get damaged due to the following reasons:

  • A defect in the converter’s fan will lead to overheating. The fans are an essential cooling component of the converter, so when they stop working, the converter fails.
  • Power surges or sudden electric fluctuations due to a problem with the electric equipment or improper grounding. These issues can burn the connections or damage the converter.
  • Improper wiring with the electric source, for example, reversing the polarity, may damage the device.
  • Water or moisture can damage the converter if exposed.

You can test the converter if you blame it for motorhome interior lights not working. Using a multimeter to read the voltage between the two terminals can help. If it shows a zero reading, you have to replace or repair the converter.

  • Damaged RV Bulb Switches

Damaged switches can be a reason for the lights in your RV not getting power when plugged in. A switch completes any circuit, so anything harming it will break the circuit, and you will fail to switch on the lights. The switches can wear out if you have not used them for a long time. It happens because, over time, dirt or other particles settle and damage it.

A leakage inside your RV can also damage the button because exposure to moisture harms electric equipment. Moreover, like other electric devices, a current overload can harm the switch and make it useless. There is also a possibility of control button failure if you live in areas with extreme temperatures. Extremely cold, hot, or humid environments damage the switches.

You can observe the switch to see its physical condition. If it looks fine, unscrew it and check the connections on the backside. Loose connections on the button can also prevent you from turning the lights on.

  • Defective Camper Light Fixtures

If you think RV lights not working on shore power but the connections are fine, you might have defective RV lamp fixtures. If you have installed a new light fixture and the light does not turn on, there might be a manufacturing defect.

The fixtures can also develop defects after using them for some time. The most obvious and prominent reason for the damage is the never-ending vibrations. The vibrations while driving the RV gradually loosen the fixtures, so they fail at a certain point.

The fixtures also obtain damage when exposed to moisture, so if there is a seal or gasket leak around them, you need to fix it. Most modern fixtures are fit for LED lights, but the traditional ones are suitable for halogen or incandescent bulbs. Those fixtures produce more heat and get damaged after overheating.

  • Tripped RV or Motorhome Circuit Breaker

A circuit breaker, like the fuse, is a protective component of most circuits. It may trip due to various reasons and prevent the lights from turning on in your RV or motorhome. The breaker may trip if you use many devices such as a refrigerator, TV, and lights. It overloads the breaker, so it trips. Other reasons include short circuits, faulty electric devices, or ground wire issues.

How Can You Fix Your RV Lights That Do Not Work?

You can fix your RV lights that do not work by changing the expired bulbs or replacing the non-operative RV components. For example, you can replace the damaged switches or the battery. Additionally, you can compare the repair and replacement choices for a bad converter and resolve the issue.

  • Change the Expired Bulb

If you have detected a blown or expired bulb in your RV, replacing it will fix the light situation. Standard bulbs are inexpensive, but if you want high-end bulbs to create a specific ambiance, you will have to spend more.

You can consider many factors before you make the final bulb purchase. For instance, ask yourself if you want LED, incandescent, or fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs differ in life span and electric consumption. Always buy a bulb with a base compatible with the fixtures in your camper. You can check the sockets and required voltage so you can buy the right one.

Fix RV Lights on Vehicle

Some bulb-buying decisions revolve around personal choices. For example, some people prefer bright lights, so they go for bulbs with higher lumen. You can also consider the color temperature and choose from warm and cool lights.

Changing the bulbs in an RV is as simple as changing them at home. You can start by turning off the power to ensure your safety. Remove the old bulb and without touching the glass of the new one, screw it into the socket.

  • Replace Worn RV Components Affecting the Lights

Some RV components are easy to replace, so even an inexperienced person with the necessary tools can replace them. For example, you can replace the on/off switch yourself.

  1. You can start by disconnecting the car battery and removing the switch cover with the help of a screwdriver.
  2. Look closely at the wires and remember the connections so you can put them back later.
  3. Remove the wire nuts to disconnect the wires, remove the screws from the switch, and pull it out.
  4. Hold the new switch and connect the wires to the terminals.
  5. Put screws or clips to secure the switch and see if the lights work.

If the lights do not work because of a flat battery, you can buy a new battery and install it yourself. The battery can cost from $100 to $500, depending on various factors, but you can save on the labor cost.

Detecting a faulty RV converter will leave you with two choices, i.e., repair or replace. The decision is yours, but if the converter is old, it is better to replace it.

If it is new, you should consider the extent of the damage and take professional advice. You can also get a quote from your mechanic and compare the converter repair and replacement costs to make the final decision.

RV Light Electrical Issues

Could a Faulty Electrical Connection Cause My RV Lights to Not Work When Plugged In?

A faulty electrical connection in an RV could indeed be the cause of lights not working when plugged in. If the power supply is compromised, it can disrupt the flow of electricity to the lights. To identify the exact issue, professional inspection is recommended. Understanding the difference between reflector and projector headlights, however, is unrelated to this topic.


Now you know why your RV ceiling lights not working when plugged in, so your next move should be detection and repair.

The following points can be beneficial in restoring your RV lights:

  • The lights do not turn on due to RV electrical issues, battery failure, or converter defects.
  • The RV LED lights also fail if there is a bad switch, fixture, or bulb.
  • You can replace the battery, bulb, switch, or converter to lighten your RV.

These facts will help you restore a comfortable RV camping experience at night.

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