Dave Solberg

RV Electrical Systems Overview: Distribution Center

Dave Solberg
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Duration:   2  mins

Once connected to an outside power source the power coming into your unit is routed through RV electrical systems and distribution centers. The distribution center is where the fuses and circuit breakers are located and where the power is rerouted to the appliances and the converter for 12 volt electric sources.
Though most are similar, RV electrical systems can vary among different units. To get a better idea of the type of RV electrical systems used in your unit, take a look inside the distribution center. In there you will see the circuit breakers that operate the air conditioner, microwave and refrigerator. In most units you will also see the automotive style fuses that operate the 12 volt system such as the stove and lights on the inside of the unit.

If there is something not working properly that is hooked up to RV electrical systems it is possible to conduct some quick diagnostics to determine the cause of the problem.

When self-diagnosing an issue with RV electrical systems you will want to start by checking the circuit breakers. Flip the breakers on and off checking to ensure they are crisp and not sloppy. Look for any signs that the breaker is blown. This means it will not reset and stay up. If a breaker will not reset, it could be a worn or defective breaker. However, verify there is not a short in the RV electrical system that connects to this breaker prior to replacing it.
On the 12 volt side of the RV electrical system you can diagnose an electrical problem by using a meter and testing each fuse connection to ensure there is enough power going through each one.

Older RV electrical systems had the distribution center and 12-volt converter together in one location. They were loud and put out a tremendous amount of heat. Newer models have the distribution center with the circuit breakers and 12-volt fuses in an accessible location, but the 12-volt converter is separate, usually tucked away in a cabinet or underneath in basement models. Out of sight, out of mind.

Once you have taken a look at the electrical system, you will be able to further determine where the power issues are coming from.

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7 Responses to “RV Electrical Systems Overview: Distribution Center”

  1. Mark Britt

    I got 1994 couchman camper got power to converter but got one breaker that keep tripping

  2. Pamela

    How can I go from a 30amp to a 50amp when my box inside is 30amp my main beaker inside is 30amp

  3. Fay A Gohl

    I've 2001 Kenwood 5th will every time I use the air conditioner oven a heater anything itll trip a breaker but would cause that

  4. Daniel

    Hello. I have a '91 Itasca Windcruiser. The other day I went to go start my RV and the starter battery was dead. I attempted to use the "MON" switch on my dash that combines the house batters and jump start the RV. It started to crank over but then stopped. The button did not work when I attempted to use it again. I was able to get the engine started with a different jumper/charger. My issue is now I am no longer getting 12 volt power to the coach. The aux battery switch does nothing. Even when I plug into shore power, I get no 12 volt power. The solenoid that use to click when I pressed the rocker switch no longer clicks when the engine is off. It does click on, however when I have the key in the "on" position, and flip the switch to have the alternator charge the house batteries. As soon as I turn the key off, I loose all power to the coach. I replaced both fuses on the solenoid itself, I check every fuse on the chassis fuse panel and made sure every 12 volt breakers were not tripped. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

  5. Edward Bosley

    So in my 1999 fleetwood avion savanna I can’t located a fuse panel anywhere. I found where the breakers. Any suggestions on where to look?


    I have a in line voltmeter plugged into an outlet in my 2006 Bighorn fifth wheel. Recently it has been showing move volts that 120 more like 130. It used to hover around 115-120. Does it showing 130 mean there's a problem?

  7. Ken

    We just bought a " new to us" travel trailer...a 2010 Heartland and the 12 volt lights cycle between bright and dim on a regular basis, especially when there's a big 12 volt load. Even when plugged into a 30 amp shore power. We have a brand new Duracell gel deep cycle battery. I assume that it has to do with the converter...any thoughts?

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