You make it to your campsite, you are all ready to get settled in, you plug your rig into the shore power, and…nothing happens. The lights are out, the amenities aren’t working. There is no power in the RV. Don’t worry just yet! There are a few reasons why an RV might not be getting any power.
So why isn’t your RV getting power? There could be an issue with the circuit breaker, the batteries, the surge protector, or the generator.
Before we get started, remember safety first! Use proper safety when dealing with electrical outputs. If it seems dangerous or if you are not comfortable with dealing with electrical issues on your own, stop working and contact a licensed RV professional.
That being said, let’s get into what might be going on with the RV’s power.
RV Not Getting Power: First Steps
Ok, so the RV is not charging or turning on when plugged in. First, find the camper’s main GFCI, the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. You’ll probably find it near the bathroom, though different RV models have it in different locations.
Your RV manual will tell you exactly where it is and how to reset it.
As a side note: always be sure to find your camper’s manual before your trip and have it in a handy place, just in case you need it. You do not want to be all the way to the campground and not be able to find it, or worse, realize that you left it at home.
This is the easiest troubleshooting you can do for your RV’s power, and chances are good that this will fix your problem. But things don’t always work out the way we want them to. In case this does not solve your problem, here are a few other possible solutions.
Reset The Circuit Breaker
Just like at home, sometimes unplugging it and plugging it back in, or turning it off and then turning it back on, will do the trick. Try resetting the main circuit breakers at the power pedestal and the main 110-volt circuit breaker.
Check Your Battery Health
They are what power the RV, after all. Check them for leaks or any other visible damage. RV batteries are built to be tough and handle a lot of power, but they don’t last forever. They can degrade over time or be damaged, especially in winter if they freeze.
In the case that they are damaged, be sure to wear protective gloves, sleeves, and cover your skin before handling them. Battery fluid is toxic and can irritate or even burn exposed skin.
If the batteries look fine, try disconnecting them from shore power and reconnect them to a different power source. If everything works fine, then the issue is probably from the shore power and not your RV!
Checking The Breaker
If nothing so far has worked, then the time has come to check the main 110-volt circuit breaker. This is usually located under a panel that must be removed in order to access it.
If the wires have power, then the breaker might be your issue. Breakers can go bad or rust, so this is a very real possibility, especially depending on your climate.
A final option is to check the wiring between the power outlets and the breaker. Connections might be loose or broken which will stop the vehicle from receiving power. If that is the case, the RV will likely require some professional help.
One Last Try
If you have tried everything we’ve recommended so far and nothing has worked, then it is time to make an appointment with the closest RV repair facility or dealer. They will be able to diagnose the problem and recommend the next steps.
Once they have your RV back and running with full power, you will be able to get back out on the road.
How Do I Prevent Power Issues With My RV?
One of the best steps you can take for preventing power failures and other issues is to charge your batteries. Remember, RV batteries do not recharge themselves the way car batteries do, which can make them more likely to have surprise discharges.
Is Keeping My RV Plugged In Bad For My Batteries?
Many RVers keep their RV plugged in for a variety of reasons, but usually, they do it to winterize their vehicle or while they are spending a big chunk of time on the campground grid. However, keeping your RV plugged in for a long time can be detrimental to the vehicle’s batteries.
Though not damaging if done on a short-term or infrequent basis, keeping your RV plugged in long-term can deplete electrolytes in the battery cells.
The batteries are not designed to receive a constant trickle charge, so they will gradually lose battery life. They will still charge, but they will not charge to their manufacturer’s specified maximum capacity,
The last thing you want when you pull into camp and hook up to the grid is to not get to use your camper’s amenities. Talk about a letdown!
Fortunately, there are several ways you can troubleshoot your RV on your own. We hope this guide can help you with your RV’s mysterious power problem, or that it gives you some ideas if you ever have a problem in the future.
Remember, when in doubt, don’t take chances with electricity and electrical work. Always triple-check that the power is shut off and there are no live wires. Then check again.
When in doubt, contact a professionally licensed RV mechanic. Never work on electrical wiring if you are not sure you know what to do. That’s what the professionals are for!
So stay safe, stay fully charged, and have fun taking your fully powered RV out on the open road.