What to Do When Your RV Shore Power Isn’t Working

Getting parked to hunker down for the night or longer? Pulling up to an RV park and RV shore power means you are probably getting ready to do a little maintenance. This can include draining tanks, cleaning, and getting your battery charged up.

But if if plugging into RV shore power suddenly doesn’t work? Kind of a disappointment since you are paying for it, and it’s among the most reliable sources of electrical you have in the RV.

A lack of shore power could mean a few things, from issues with the power station itself, to cords, or breakers. We’ll help you investigate why it might not be working.

Pedestal Breaker Issues

Let’s start at the source of the power: The pedestal used for providing shore power has a couple of things that might need work before you use it. Pedestals often have a breaker switch that allow for the flow of power to your RV via their electrical system. These breaker switches aren’t always on or set quite right.

Have you ever been looking at a breaker box to see if a circuit is blown and couldn’t quite tell if the breaker switch was on – if the obvious red tab was there? That can happen! 

Try to flip the switch off and on (or just on if it’s off) and see if that makes a difference. Breakers can get stuck. Also, if it does get stuck, notify the RV park so they can fix the issue for the future.

GFCI outlets

Without getting too acronym filled and technical, GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. These kinds of outlets are commonly, and properly, installed near sources of water like your sink and bathroom. A GFCI is designed to turn itself off when it detest issues with the grounding part of the outlet.

A GFCI turns itself off very fast compared to a traditional breaker – which to be fair is pretty quick in itself. The biggest advantage is that GFCI outlets lessen the chances of you getting shocked by plugging into a bad outlet or using a bad appliance.

What does that have to do with shore power? GFCI outlets can be fickle. If they are chained together, they can cause further strangeness during power outages or after power issues. Resetting a GFCI is as simple as hitting the reset button on the outlet itself. One GFCi acting strange can indeed find a way to turn off power to other outlets.

While GFCI might be annoying in moments like that, they are also quite helpful in protecting you against electrical shock. 

Check your Surge protector

That wonderful surge protector that keeps your RV from receiving too much power might either be doing it’s job… or be broken. RV surge protectors don’t last forever, and can typically take one solid power surge before they are less effective.

A surge protector or electricity management system with a display or lights for communication might also tell you that there is a problem with incoming electricity. This is a great thing to know before it sends in surging power and destroys appliances.

So check the surge protector and see if you have any warnings. You might need to either replace the protector or tell the RV park they have a problem.

Check the generator breaker

This is a weird situation, but a tripped breaker on a generator can cause power to stop flowing. The generator breaker is typically in the generator bay. Like we suggested earlier, the breaker might not look tripped – but it could be anyway.

Try flipping the generator breaker on and off to see if it makes any difference.

Check the Power cord

This one sounds simple enough. It’s possible that the cord you are using to connect your RV shore power to your RV is not working properly.

The power cord itself might be work. You can try to use a multimeter on both sides of your wrapped up power cord to see if electricity is flowing through. Believe it or not, extension and power cords don’t last forever!

Also, obviously check it for signs of wear and tear. It’s also possible an internal break is causing the issue.

Check your RV circuit breaker

The breaker for your main RV circuit could be off. This is the main panel that brings power into your RV, regardless of where it comes from.

You’ll especially want to check the main, top panel. The top panel tends to be a bit more difficult to actually move, but give it a good push to turn it off and on in an effort to see if the switch isn’t allowing electricity through.

Check for battery damage

Like a GFCI, the battery can disable power from coming through to the rest of your RV by refusing to accept. 

An old battery can reject power. You may want to consider replacing your battery if it looks warn. You can also get a battery test done for free or cheap at any RV service centers and battery stores.

Fixing battery issues will also help you maintain power for longer when you are off the grid. You don’t really want to learn that your battery has stopped working when you are also out of gas and propane – it’s a good backup to have!

Conclusion

There are a few ways to figure out if RV shore power problems are you or the power providers’ issues. Try your circuit breakers, your generators, and your battery. Small problems in any of these can cause power to not flow. The good news is that any of these issues popping up are also leading you to learn about a potential safety hazard that you have been protected from.

You can also ask the RV park what is going on to ensure they don’t have a larger problem with their pedestal that requires electrical attention.