RV Outlets Not Working: Troubleshooting Tips and Precautions

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If you’ve ever encountered a shorted series of electrical outlets on your RV and felt completely stumped for a solution, trust us, you’re not alone. But rest easy, the source of the problem is common, and the fix is simple. In this lesson, RV expert Dave Solberg teaches you what to do when you discover several RV outlets not working.

To help you figure out what’s going on with your faulty RV outlets, Dave walks you through a quick explanation of circuits and standard RV electrical wiring. He introduces an inexpensive tool you should use to detect which outlets are malfunctioning, and demonstrates the proper way to pinpoint the source. You’ll learn why the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) on your rig might be giving you issues, and discover easy ways to avoid a sensitive GFCI. With Dave’s help, you’ll be up and running again in no time!

Discussion
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26 Responses to “RV Outlets Not Working: Troubleshooting Tips and Precautions”
  1. James

    I took my Bounder diesel to Quinn Cat to have some work done. An apparently inexperienced “mechanic” burnt out a board on my Xantrex Freedom 458 inverter and completely discharged and ruined all 6 batteries. After some discussion, Quinn reimbursed me for the inverter repair and batteries. Now I’ve discovered that some of the outlets on the 20A circuit won’t work with the inverter, but do work on shore or generator power. The microwave is on the 20A circuit and will work with all 3 power sources. The non-contact power indicator shows power coming out of the inverter on both the 15A & 20A circuits. Maybe he also burned out a breaker or something in the power switching unit? But the microwave does work on the 20A circuit using the inverter. Any suggestions for what I should check next?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello James,

      If the outlets work when plugged into shoreline power, than it could be another fuse or breaker in-line from the inverter? Who did the repair to the inverter? Might want to get that checked out again, should be easy to tell 120-volt power coming out of the inverter and follow it to the outlets.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
      • James

        Mark Snyder Electric did the repair. He’s the factory repair facility near San Diego. I have confidence that he knows his stuff. From a brief description over the phone he told me that 1 of 2 wires had a short. It was the thermistor wire that the “mechanic” took upon himself to “fix” that was the problem. The RV is in in storage now so I can’t check, but I may have misstated which circuit the microwave is on. I can tell power is coming out of the inverter through both the 15A & 20A breakers by using a non-contact tester and operating the breaker off & on. I was trying to follow the wires through the walls with the tester, but knowing the path would sure help.

        Reply
  2. ROB

    Does it negatively affect the electrical outlets if you start the engine while the RV is plugged in?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Rob,

      It should not affect the 120-volt outlets of the rig starting the engine as the engine alternator is protected by a Battery Isolator Management (BIM) solenoid and is 12-volts. The 120-volt outlets in your coach are wired to the distribution center and protected with a circuit breaker and isolated from the 12-volt system as well.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  3. Kelli

    Hi there,
    While back ago my mother in law was inside the rv (we have a 99 safari zanzibar) running the generator until we coulf get hooked up to shore power. Well when the shore power was hooked up shortly later I lost power to my rv. The park hookup was apparently running “hot” well next thing I know I lost power all together. We changed out the transfer box and my ac runs on shore power until my batteries die because Im assuming mu battery charger runs off of 110. And none of my 110 outlets are working. We are currently running an extension cord through the slide out to distribute power until we can figure out whats wrong with it. Any ideas?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Kelli,

      Several things could have happened when you had the electrical issue. First you need to have your distribution center checked out, just changing the transfer switch is not enough. The distribution center has the circuit breakers for all 120-volt appliances, 12-volt fuses for the lights, roof vents and other applications powered by the house batteries, and a converter that does operate on 120-volt power to charge the batteries. It could just be a circuit breaker tripped or could be a shorted distribution center? One question? You state; “my ac runs on shore power until my batteries die because Im assuming mu battery charger runs off of 110”
      Are you referring to the 12-volt DC systems such as the lights, roof vents, and appliance on LP mode? What do you have the extension cord connected to inside the rig? I would also suggest checking your GFCI outlet either in the kitchen or bathroom as it may have shorted out as well and several other outlets are “ganged” to that one so they will not work as well. If you are handy with a multimeter, you should be able to check 120-volts coming into the distribution center and going out through each of the circuit breakers. There should also be one for the converter and you can check at the batteries for a charge coming to the batteries when plugged into shore power? It should read about 13.5-14 volts

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C11199

      Reply
  4. Ronald

    Sometimes the GFI in my motorhome works and sometimes it does not. It will trip and not reset after multiple attempts. Then the next day it works fine. I have replaced the GFI outlet and have the same issues with the new one. Any ideas what the problem is. I cannot rely on the outlets connected to the GFI since I don’t know when it will trip.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Ronald,

      I would start by checking the quality of the GFCI you replaced as there
      are some very cheap brands on the market? Next you need to check the
      incoming and outgoing outlets connected to that circuit. Somewhere
      you have something that is overloading the circuit and causing the GFCI to
      trip? Check all wiring as well to make sure there is not a loose
      connection.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  5. Ronald Lopez

    I have a problem with my GFI that I cannot figure out. The outlet will trip and I cannot reset it after multiple attempts. Then at a later time, maybe the next day it will work fine. I cannot rely on the outlets connected to the GFI. I have replaced the GFI and have the same issue. Any idea on how I can track and solve the problem?

    Reply
  6. Jeanne

    I replaced my Driving battery and now my outlets and Ac do not work and I am plugged into 110.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Jeanne,

      I would assume you have connected something wrong as your driving battery has nothing to do with your 120-volt system? When you are plugged into shoreline power, the 120-volt power comes into the rig at the distribution center just like your home. In this you have 120-volt breakers for the appliance such as the Air Conditioner, outlets, microwave etc. You will also have a converter/charger which charges your house batteries. There will typically be 12-volt automotive style fuses here as well with protect the items like interior lights, water pump, vents etc. Check your main breaker in the distribution center and you might need to take a multimeter and verify power coming in?

      Thanks,

      David
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  7. Robert

    Thank you for this video. Solved my issue in about thirty seconds. Cheers.

    Reply
  8. Mike

    Hi

    We have a RExhall Aerex (1994)

    We are getting ready for our first trip of the year, and are testing everything…we have our RV plugged into our house.

    All of the front outlets are NOT working…the ones in our bedroom do work!

    Any ideas??

    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Mike,

      Unfortunately there is no “Easy Way” redo floors and interior walls and if you are not a “good mechanic” as you stated, or have experience with flooring and remodeling, it’s not a DIY project that I would suggest! The walls are a sandwiched design with interior paneling laminated to block foam insulation with integrated aluminum framework or wood in less expensive model. Then a thin luaun wood panel and fiberglass outer skin laminated so a “redo” for the walls in pretty intensive! If your are looking to just change the color, I would suggest painting or applying wallpaper as the covering you have now is a wallpaper applied to a panel just like you would find at a home improvement store. You can’t just cover with new paneling as the thickness would create issues at the windows and other areas.

      As for the floor, you probably have carpet and want to either replace it with other carpet, or another material. The challenge is getting a covering that will withstand the tremendous push of your slideroom and not tear or bunch up. Also, you will have twists in the chassis when driving which will create an issue with wood or tile flooring as well as huge temperature changes which will make the material expand and contract.

      We just completed a renovation of a 2002 Winnebago that had carpet and 2 slide and installed a Luxury Woven Vinyl product from Infinnity which will be posted on the site next month. Look for the videos coming soon.

      Thanks,

      David
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/C12789

      Reply
  9. stellagirl2017

    I’m at my wits end trying to figure out why most outlets aren’t working. I’m plugged into my moms house using a 12 gauge construction cord. I’ve checked the outlet in her house and both ends of my cord. All read correct. My GFCI was tripped in the bathroom. I tried to reset it to no avail. I went to the breaker box and nothing was tripped. Just for experimentation I flipped both switches off on the double 15 amp breaker. I then reset the GFCI. I can flip the left side breaker on but when I switch the right side on the GFCI trips again. The only outlet working is the one to the microwave. I replaced the GFCI and double 15 amp breaker. This didn’t fix the issue. I tested all the outlets with a tester and got nothing except “open ground” reading on 1 outlet. All the lights are working just not getting 110 to the GFCI or outlets. Stumped here please help.
    Carol

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello,

      It sounds like there is a short in the system or bad wiring. It can be a very small short to cause the GFCI to trip. If the wiring in an outlet are touching each other, it can trip the GFCI. Really the only way to find it is to trace the wiring and see what may be causing it. I would start with the outlet that says “open ground”. You have to check the wiring on the outlet. The other outlets could be run off of that one and if the first outlet in line is not working, the rest won’t work. There could be something plugged into the outlets that are causing the GFCI to trip as well. I have seen this from coffee makers and phone chargers often. If the fridge is connected to the same circuit of outlets and there is an internal short in the board or heating element, it can cause this too. Try unplugging the fridge from the outlet and see if this helps. Things like the microwave, water heater and AC are going to be on separate circuits so if those work and it is just the outlets you would have to pull the outlets out and see if the connections are bad and wires possibly touching causing a short. Check all of the ground and neutral wires at the distribution bars, some may have come loose. I’m sorry I can’t pin point the problem, checking the wiring from the breaker to the outlets and then the outlet connections themselves are really the only options.

      I hope this was helpful!

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  10. David Schram

    Half of the plugs on my RV does not work. I tried to trip the GFCI and it would not work. So I brought a new one. It still does not work. When i work up a voltmeter the plug has a third of the voltage as the other plugs?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear David,

      Thank you for your patience. In response to your question-

      It sounds like a loose connection or bad wires. If you are getting low voltage this is usually an indicator of a loose wire or a break in the wire somewhere. Since there is voltage, it is connected in the system but there is a bad connection somewhere. Most outlets just jump to another one in the circuit, they don’t all go back to the breaker. I would take try to trace where the wires are coming from and check the outlets they might be getting the power off of. It is possible there is just a bad output connection on one of the outlets and it is causing the ones further in line to not work or have little voltage. Make sure to check all connections at the breaker panel too though. It is possible there is a loose power, neutral or ground causing the issue as well. I hope this helps!

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/c17207

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  11. Rita Pospisil

    All the outlets have electricity coming through, but when a fan in plugged in it does not work. We took the fan in the garage to see if the fan (new) was faulty, but it was not. What should we do? Help. We bought our RV used and are having lots of trouble 🙁 We have a Forest River Salem LE 2002.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Rita,

      Thank you for your patience. In response to your question-

      There could be an open neutral or ground in the system. If it happens at all of the outlets you will have to check the voltage at the hot buss bar at the distribution center and the neutral bar, also checking to make sure the connections are tight. You want to inspect the ground wire as well. There could even be a problem with the shore cord coming into the RV. I would get a circuit tester and test the outlets to see what it reads, you can pick them up for a few dollars and it will give you a better idea of what to troubleshoot. Most likely the problem is at the distribution center since it is happen at all of your outlets.

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership.
      https://go.rvrepairclub.com/c17236

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  12. sell rvs denver

    Can I simply just say what a relief to uncover somebody who actually
    understands what they are talking about on the web. You actually understand how to bring
    a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people should read this and understand this side of your story.
    It’s surprising you are not more popular given that you definitely possess the gift.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Judy. Can we please get the year, make and model?
      Thanks
      Jean-RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply

Tags: Dave Solberg, fixing RV outlets, Free Videos, GFCI repair, RV electrical maintenance, RV repair tips

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