RV electrical problems arise from a number of sources, but the most common cause of RV electrical system failure comes from expecting the available electrical source to carry too large a load. If the RV’s batteries or the electrical outlet are set up to handle 30 amps of power, yet there are electrical appliances drawing 50 amps of power, there’s an electrical shortage just waiting to happen.
Working with the RV electrical system can be lethal. Any work done on the appliances or electrical system should be by a trained electrician. While an untrained person can check for minor problems such as tripped breakers, someone with knowledge of electrical systems should make any repairs.
Every RV has an electrical rating. Newer motor homes with one or two air conditioners and other electrical appliances have a 50 amp rating on a 110-volt service. If the motor home uses the 30 amp rated system available at an RV park, then it’s necessary to shut down certain electrical systems or alternate their use. If that becomes necessary, it’s important to know the electrical rating of each appliance so as not to overload the RV electrical system.
Knowing what appliances are on each circuit can help the RV owner prevent overloading of the circuits. The camper typically comes with a circuit diagram or the RV manufacturer should be able to provide one. It’s also possible to turn circuits off one by one in the breaker panel to see which appliances work and which ones don’t.
One of the easiest things to do to avoid putting too much strain on the RV electrical system is to power down all appliances before plugging in the RV to a power source. This lets the power source gradually work up to full capacity when the appliances come back on one by one.
The battery that runs the vehicle is entirely different than the battery that runs the electrical system for the appliances in the camper. Dry camping, or camping without electrical hookup, requires that the RV batteries be powerful enough to handle the camper’s electrical needs. If a battery only has a 30 amp rating, then it’s necessary to run appliances with no more than the equivalent of 30 amps of power. If camping for an extended period of time, there should to be some way to generate power or additional charged batteries need to be on hand.
- rv,motorcoach image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com