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Have you been experiencing electrical issues in your RV?
Are you worried your RV converter isn’t charging your battery?
RV battery systems aren’t always the easiest to fix. That’s why we put together this article on RV converters.
If you’re wondering, ‘how do I know if my RV converter is bad?’ Follow along, and we’ll walk you through RV converter basics, testing, and troubleshooting to get you back to your RV fun as soon as possible.
What is an RV converter?
When you plug your RV into a 30 or 50 amp RV power outlet box, you receive 120-volt AC or alternating current power. RVs need to convert that power into 12-volt direct current, or DC power, to make use of it.
That’s where an RV converter comes in. RV converters turn 120-volt AC power into 12-volt DC power.
It’s important to properly maintain your RV converter because if it isn’t working, there can be all sorts of electrical problems. So, don’t forget to test your converter often.
How do you know if your RV converter is bad?
How do you know if your RV converter is bad? Are there warning signs?
There are definitely common warning signs that indicate you may have either a battery or an RV converter problem. First, if the cooling fan, internal vents, or interior lights aren’t working properly, there may be an issue.
Second, if you see abnormal flickering or dimming of lights on the dashboard or around the RV, it could be caused by converter problems.
And, finally, if your RVs onboard batteries can’t hold a charge, the culprit is either the battery or the converter most of the time.
How to test your RV converter
If you have some of the issues listed above, or if you just want to check that your RV converter is in working order, there are a few steps you’ll want to take.
First, you’ll want to test your DC batteries. To do this, you should:
Disconnect from all power sources and turn off the inverter, engine, generator.
Connect a DMM (Digital Multimeter) to each battery and test them.
If the battery maintains a consistent charge between 12.3 and 12.9 volts, it is working properly. Anything less is a bad sign.
Next, test AC power at the voltage box with your DMM to ensure it is delivering power properly, and that’s not the issue.
Then, finally, you can use a DMM to test your converter at the DC distribution panel.
To do this, take one of the batteries you tested and connect it to your DMM and the DC distribution panel.
Then, connect the DMM to the panel.
Finally, you’ll see if the converter is properly changing the power from AC to DC.
If the meter reads between 12.3 to 12.9 volts, it means the converter is working properly. Anything less or more, and you may need to do some troubleshooting.
RV converter troubleshooting
Unfortunately, RV converters can go wrong in several ways. We’ve included the most common RV converter issues and troubleshooting options on this list, however, not every issue or fix is listed.
Sometimes you may need to order parts to fix the issue or even have your converter replaced entirely. Not all RVs work the same, so consult your owner’s manual for more information.
Check out our Cruise America 12V system troubleshooting video for more information.
Troubleshooting Method 1: Check the battery on the monitor panel.
Sometimes the problem is as simple as a dead battery. All RV batteries lose power over time. It’s called self-discharge. If you stored your RV in the winter and didn’t leave it plugged in with a battery conditioner, it could be just a dead battery.
To make sure that’s not an issue, check the battery’s charge on the monitor panel as pictured below.
Troubleshooting Method #2: Check for blown fuses
Blown fuses are a common issue not just in RVs, but every type of vehicle. Make sure you check the fuse box, so you’re sure the problem isn’t just a blown fuse.
Luckily, if it is a blown fuse, they are easy to replace and cheap to buy. RVs mainly use 5, 15, and 40 amp fuses, which are all common.
Troubleshooting Method 3: Check the circuit breakers.
Another common issue RV owners experience is that their 40 AMP circuit breaker will be tripped. If this is the case, it will need to cool down and be reset.
Troubleshooting Method #4: Check the RV converter cooling fan.
Sometimes, RV converter overheating is the only issue. You should check to see if your RV converter fan is working properly and make sure there isn’t an area of blocked ventilation around the fan.
Troubleshooting Method #5: Check the resistors and circuit board on the RV power converter for damage.
Next, you can check the circuit board of your RV converter for any signs of physical degradation. Sometimes wear and tear may mean it’s just time for a new converter.
Finally, some RV power converters use resistors to control the batteries' voltage and the electrical system. Faulty resistors can cause the batteries to malfunction, so it’s important to ensure yours are functioning properly.
This can be a challenge and should be your last option, because it may require you to disassemble the converter to access the resistors. Still, it’s worth checking.
At the end of the day, RV converters aren’t nearly as complicated as they sound. Don’t worry if you’re having issues because they can be fixed!
What to do if you want the RV fun without the RV maintenance
If all of this RV converter talk isn’t what you signed up for when you were thinking about buying an RV, why not rent?
Owning an RV is an amazing experience, but it’s not for everyone—and that’s OK!
Renting an RV gives you all the thrills, beautiful scenery, and family memories, without the maintenance hassle.
And the best place to rent your RV is at Cruise America. Cruise RVs come fully equipped with everything you need to make your RV adventure the experience of a lifetime.
Check out Cruise’s RV rental options or give them a call and get started on your RV journey today!