RV not getting power when plugged in is probably caused by a tripped breaker, a blown fuse, or a damaged power cable.
Although it’s a common problem, the good news is you can fix it without much trouble. This blog post will take you through all possible causes and fixes.
- 1 Why Does the RV Not Get Power When Plugged In?
- 2 How To Fix an RV That Doesn’t Get Power When Plugged In?
- 3 Conclusion
Why Does the RV Not Get Power When Plugged In?
The RV does not get power when plugged in if there is a tripped electrical breaker or a blown fuse. The RV can also face power problems due to damaged shore cables, batteries, or GFCI. Moreover, a problem with the inverters or converters causes similar issues.
Tripped RV Circuit Breakers
RV lights not working on shore power can be due to tripped RV circuit breakers. To confirm it, you can inspect the breaker panel in your RV and verify if any of the breakers have tripped.
You can also use a multimeter to check the voltage. Find the main circuit breaker box and turn off all the breakers.
Then set the multimeter to the Ohms setting and connect the probes on the breaker’s two terminals. A zero reading means the breaker is good, but if you get a reading of infinity, it means the breaker is faulty and needs replacement.
If you have no power in camper except microwave, it can be due to specific breakers tripping. A breaker related to the outlets and electrical elements may have tripped.
The breakers weaken over time which causes more frequent and unneeded trips. In that case, it will keep on tripping unless you replace it.
But if the breaker is not old, it may trip due to the following reasons:
- A malfunctioning appliance connected to the circuit can cause the breaker to trip. A damaged power cord, a short circuit within the device, or an internal fault hurts the appliance and trips the breaker.
- The breaker trips when there is a short circuit. It happens when a live wire comes in contact with a ground or neutral wire. As a result, excessive current flows through the circuit.
- When a hot wire touches the ground surface, the grounding fault causes the breaker to trip. It usually happens when there is faulty wiring or damaged insulation.
- Electrical load higher than the breaker’s capacity causes it to trip. It happens if you run many devices at a time. It overloads the circuit and the breaker trips.
Loose or Damaged Shore Power Cable
Sometimes the problem lies with the RV power cord. Make sure you plug in the cable correctly to prevent loose connections. Also, notice the condition of the cable because if it looks damaged, it would need replacement. There are many ways to test the power cord. A popular way is to use a multimeter to analyze the cord voltage. You can easily buy a multimeter at the hardware store.
You have to attach the positive and negative leads of the multimeter to both ends of the cord. The cord works well if the voltmeter registers anything above 12 volts. You can also test the power across the transfer switch on the generator.
If you have an ammeter instead of a multimeter, you can use it instead. The ammeter measures the current flowing in the cord.
So, if you have a broken or damaged cord, the ammeter will show a reading of more than ten amps. It has two leads, like the multimeter, and similarly connects to the cable.
The cable may get damaged due to one of the following reasons:
- Physical damage if you bend, flex, or twist the cable.
- Cable insulation cracks after getting pinched between doors or other equipment.
- Rodents can chew the insulation and cause internal damage with their sharp teeth.
- Mishandling the cable by pulling, yanking, coiling, or subjection to high strain weakens it.
- Exposure to moisture corrodes the wires, and if there is a damaged seal, it can compromise the RV’s safety.
- Exposure to high temperatures or overloading of current leads to overheating that damages the shore cable.
A Burnt Fuse in the RV Fuse Box
If you feel no power in RV when unplugged or plugged, there might be a burnt fuse in the circuit. The fuse burns due to various problems, but the purpose is to protect other electrical equipment from failure. It usually happens if there is a short circuit or electric surge. You can quickly test a blown or burnt fuse by visual inspection or a multimeter. A blown fuse can also be why the camper has power but no lights.
The exact location of the fuse box may vary in RVs, so you can consult your RV’s user manual and spot the fuse box. Once you find it, remove the cover and identify the burnt fuse. You can set your multimeter to ohms and place its probes against the two terminals around each fuse.
The fuses that give a zero reading will be fine, while the ones that show a reading of infinity will be burnt. While you are at it, we recommend checking the wiring around the fuse box. If you notice any damaged or frayed wires, you should get them replaced along with the blown fuse.
A Problem With Your RV Battery
Sometimes there is a problem with the RV battery that prevents the RV from receiving power. You can check the battery connections and see if the battery charges. If you have an old battery, it can get weak and create power issues. It can also be why the RV power only works when plugged in. You can check the battery terminals. They must be corroded if they have a white or blue buildup. Sometimes the terminals get cracked for various reasons, such as high temperatures.
Apart from the terminals, it would be best if you inspected the battery connections. If they appear damaged or frayed, the battery will fail to power the RV. You can also use a multimeter to see if the volt battery works. Find the battery inside your RV and remove the cap to test it. You will see two metal plates inside. One would be the positive electrode, usually red, and the black one would be the negative electrode.
Attach the multimeter probes to these plates and note the reading. Your battery functions well if it shows a reading of 12 volts or higher. However, it needs replacement if the multimeter offers a reading of less than 12 volts.
Issues With the RV Converter or Inverter
An RV or travel trailer converter converts the AC power to DC power. When you connect your RV to an RV generator or shore power, it receives an alternating current. The converter turns this power into direct current to make it available for devices such as the battery and lights. The inverter has the opposite function. It changes the direct current to alternating current to make the power available for AC devices. These devices include RV fridges, TV, laptops, and more.
So, when the inverter or converter gets damaged, the RV electrical power supply gets disturbed. You can consult your RV owner manual to find and test both components.
Once you remove the converter cover, you will find a transformer with many fuses. Use your multimeter set to ohms and connect the probes to the terminals of the transformer. You should worry about the converter if you get a reading of infinity.
Also, check the wires around the fuse box because if they look damaged, there will be no power to RV converter. Checking the inverter involves the same steps.
Here are a few reasons that can damage the power converter and inverter in your RV:
- Not using surge protectors causes damage. The surge protector monitors the voltage spikes in the RV electrical power supply and takes urgent action.
- Improper wiring can lead to problems such as loose connections and reversed polarity.
- They damage the power converters and inverters.
- Improper ventilation damages both components. Without airflow, these components will overheat and fail.
- Obstructions such as dirt or debris block the ventilation points and damage the converter and inverter.
- Drawing more power than the capacity of an inverter or converter overloads them, and they fail.
Tripped RV Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
An RV plugged into a power pedestal may not get power due to a tripped GFCI outlet. The outlet is a safety device to protect the RV from electrical problems such as shocks and ground failures. The GFCI outlets monitor the electric flow through the circuit and interrupt it if there is a current imbalance.
The imbalance occurs if there is a grounding fault, where electricity diverts to an unintended path, be it a person or a damp surface. Apart from grounding faults, the GFCI trips if there is a problem with the power pedestal or any power source. Moreover, the electrical outlets may trip if not properly sealed, especially in bathrooms and kitchens.
How To Fix an RV That Doesn’t Get Power When Plugged In?
To fix an RV that doesn’t get power when plugged in, start by replacing the faulty electric breaker or the blown fuse. You can also reset the GFCI to restore the electric supply. Lastly, replacing or repairing the cord from the generator can solve the problem.
Replace the Circuit Breaker or Blown Fuse
The electrical breakers and fuses are protective equipment in most electrical systems.
They disrupt the current flow if there is an electric fluctuation in the system. Replacing a breaker or fuse is easy, so you can do it yourself.
- Before you start, cut all electric supply to the RV.
- You will need a screwdriver to unscrew the panel that holds the breaker.
- Pull the panel out to remove the breaker and install the new one. You will find two terminals on the breaker, brass, and silver. Connect the black colored wire to the brass terminal and the white one to the silver terminal.
- Lastly, screw the panel back in its place and test the breaker by turning it on and off.
Reset Gfci in Your RV
If you want to know how to reset power in RV or camper, check the GFCI, and see if any tripped. These outlets have a “Reset” button that you can press to restore power to the outlet.
Replace or Repair the Damaged Power Cable
Want to know how to turn on power in camper if it has a damaged cord? Replace the cord. Unplug the cord from the power outlet and unscrew the panel covering the cord.
After removing the panel, you will find three wires, i.e., black, white, and green. Disconnect each wire and pull the old cord.
Connect these wires to brass, silver, and green terminals, respectively. Screw the panel back, plug the cord into the electric source, and test it.
An RV not getting power when plugged in has many reasons, but the good thing is you can fix it.
The following points summarize the article:
- Tripped breaker and GFCI, burnt fuse, and worn power cable from the generator prevent current flow.
- Problems with the inverters and converters prevent current flow to RV appliances.
- You can restore the RV’s power by replacing the breaker, fuse, and cable or resetting the GFCI.
Take these steps to diagnose the problem and restore your RV’s power.
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