Why Are The Outlets In My RV Not Working? Ultimate Troubleshooting Guide!

Outlets In My RV Not Working


Facing electrical problems while camping can get quite annoying. The sad part is that RV electrical systems can be complex as outlets may be getting power from an array of sources like coach batteries hooked to an inverter, a generator, or shore power. This easily causes an RV owner to get confused if one of their outlets fails to work.

From some experience, we know that a tripped GFCI outlet, power inverter switched off, or unhooked generator and batteries are some common reasons ‘Why Are The Outlets In My RV Not Working?’ If you are facing a GFCI problem, you can easily fix the issue by turning the breaker back on in the dedicated outlet. This mostly reverts the trip and your outlets will start working straight away. If your inverter is off, simply switch it back on.

Dead coach batteries, failure to charge, and other electrical problems require a bit of troubleshooting. If you are in a similar position, then you have come to the right spot. In this guide, we shall look at common issues that prevent outlets from working and how you can fix these to revive your RV’s electrical system. Let’s get started!

RV outlets not working

What Does RV Stand For?

RV is short for ‘Recreational Vehicle’. Some people also refer to these as motorhomes but not all RVs truly are. RVs mainly include travel trailers, fifth wheels, and all other types of non-motorized campers.

Does An RV Outlet Function Using Battery Power?

The outlets of an RV do not work directly using battery power because these are usually 120-volt AC outlets. Batteries are 12-volt DC which is why you need to convert AC to DC if you wish to use a battery. However, this drains out a battery fast so it is a good idea to make use of an inverter with adequate battery capacity if you need to power small appliances.

Hairdryers, coffee makers, and microwaves can drain an inverter battery quickly if it is able to support the voltage and amperage required to power your inverter. A small hair-straightening machine, TV, or other smaller devices are often the only ones that can be powered by most inverters. Even with these, an inverter’s battery will drain super fast if it is not large enough. Inverters automatically turn off after sounding an alarm when this occurs.

A discharged battery cannot be used to power your outlets and there is no way to recharge your 12-volt battery in this scenario which is why using an inverter efficiently on a camping trip is crucial. Making use of a generator or shore power is a good alternative.

However, it is important to note that some campgrounds do not allow generators due to the noise they make and also because they are not sufficient to power through a whole night.

So, your final decision should be based on camping needs, whether you are dry camping and whether you are within the perimeters of a campground.

How To Fix An RV Outlet? 

The following steps can be used to fix an RV outlet that is not functioning:

  1. Make sure your power supply is on. This includes checking the inverter, generator, or shore power.
  2. Check the outlets near the sinks to ensure a GFCI breaker is not tripped.
  3. Check the central breaker panel for any tripped breakers.
  4. Check all RV outlets to see if an outlet alone is malfunctioning or whether there is a bigger underlying cause.
  5. Replace a faulty outlet, if all else fails.

Troubleshooting (Outlets In My RV Not Working)

A broken or malfunctioning outlet is common, but the good news is they are easy to fix once you troubleshoot the issue. You will need a receptacle tester, voltage tester, or multimeter to see if the outlet itself is faulty and whether there is an underlying cause. Always check the GFCI outlets first before getting down to other troubleshooting steps.

If your GFCI outlets are fine, you can then start testing out your inverter and other breakers. Make sure the inverter is turned on, is correctly connected to the generator, battery, or shore power and all breakers are turned on. If everything seems fine, the next step is checking each individual outlet.

Make use of the receptacle tester to see what outlets are not working. Once you know which ones are faulty, you can open these up to check whether there are wiring issues. Remember to turn the main breaker off and disconnect the power to prevent electrocution.

Unscrew the wall outlet, check the wiring and make sure they are secure. You can also replace an outlet completely if required with any available household outlet. If you are unsure of doing this on your own, it is always a good idea to ask for help or call a professional. This prevents risks and helps eradicate issues. However, in most cases, an average person can easily replace an outlet on their own in under a few bucks with the power turned off.

Free Power Outlet Electricity photo and picture


Why Do My GFCI Outlets Trip So Often?

Since GFCI outlets are often close to sinks in kitchens and bathrooms, the main cause of them tripping is water splashes. Water splashed onto the outlet leads to an imbalance between the neutral and hot conductors which means electrical leakage to the ground on one of the wires.

Built-in circuit breakers are made quite sensitive so they can trip immediately to reverse polarity and electrical leakage. If your outlet is still tripping even when there is no water present, it is quite likely that the outlet is faulty, defective, or simply has bad wiring.

You can fix this issue by replacing your GFCI outlets. If the problem persists, it is a good idea to get in touch with an RV service center for a thorough check.

Difference Between RV Converter And Inverter

A converter makes sure that power is uniformly distributed in an RV. They are responsible for converting AC into DC while inverters do the opposite. When an RV is plugged into a 30-ampere or 50-ampere power outlet, it obtains 120 volts of alternating current power (AC). RVs use a converter to turn this into 12 volts of direct current power (DC) for electrical use.

The absence of a converter means appliances and fixtures simply won’t function. A converter does not just ensure power distribution, but it also makes sure that 12 volts are distributed to all outlets when the RV is plugged into a generator or shore power. It also keeps the house batteries charged.

An inverter is the opposite of a converter and is a must in the absence of a generator or shore power. You can use coach batteries with an inverter to channel 12 volts of DC power but this won’t allow outlets and large appliances to function. An inverter converts this to power the RV but can cause your battery to drain quite fast. You can charge coach batteries using shore power or a generator. Motorhome engines can be run to charge the chassis battery and power coach batteries in most cases.

What Happens When An RV Converter Turns Faulty?

A basic indicator of faulty converters is battery drainage even when they are already connected to a generator or shore power. Appliances that work on 12-volt DC will fail to function and lights may start to flicker randomly. Failure of the internal vents, interior lights, and cooling fan also indicates a damaged converter. If your battery is unable to hold a charge, then either the converter or the battery itself may be damaged.

Steps you can take to test your converter include:

  1. Check DC batteries by first disconnecting power and turning off the inverter, generator, or engine. Check individual batteries with a multimeter to see if they have a charge between 12.3 and 12.9 volts to ensure proper function.
  2. Check the AC power coming from the voltage box using a multimeter.
  3. Check the converter located at the direct current distribution panel using your multimeter. The reading should be within the range we mentioned in step 1.
  4. A stored RV may have battery issues so make sure you rule that out before checking the converter.
  5. Check all fuses and replace a blown one if needed.
  6. Check the circuit breakers and cooling fan. Make sure the converter is not overheating and the region where it is stored is ventilated properly.
  7. Check for damages to the converter such as wear and tear, faulty resistors, charring, and burns. If a converter looks damaged, it may be time to replace it.


DC Vs. AC Power In An RV

AC power allows household appliances to run normally when plugged into a wall socket while DC power is stored in a battery and used in electrical RV systems, car charging ports, and USB ports.

Any gadget or appliance with a battery makes use of direct current or DC while alternating current or AC power is supplied through shore power. Inverters convert DC to AC while converters turn AC to DC. Converters are also referred to as chargers.

RVs are often equipped with converters that turn 120-volt AC into 12-volt DC power so they can be connected to shore power. Inverters are great if you want to make use of laptops, coffee makers, and other small appliances. Inverters convert 12 volts to 120 volts but draw a huge chunk of current from batteries to do so. Just 5 amperes of AC power is made from 50 amperes of DC power stored in the battery. This causes a battery to drain pretty fast.

Inverters cannot power large appliances like a fridge, microwave, or AC unlike a converter. Some people also make use of solar generators to charge their inverter batteries when they go dry camping.

Converters have a built-in electricity distribution system while inverters do not come with one. These have to be installed and purchased separately in case of an inverter.

What To Do If RV Outlets Are Not Working With A Generator?

This is often caused due to tripped GFCI outlet breakers. Simply press reset to restore function. If the problem persists, check the main breaker panel and see if a generator breaker is flipped off. Also, ensure your generator is properly turning on.

What Does It Mean When No Breaker Is Tripped But There Is No Power In An RV Outlet?

No tripped breakers and zero power in wall outlets mean there is an issue with the converter, generator, inverter, or shore power. Make sure to also check post breakers where an RV is plugged in for charging.

  • Check GFCI outlet breakers.
  • Check the inverter and battery are functioning and turned on. Ensure batteries are charging.
  • Seek professional help if you suspect electrical wiring problems.


Whenever you lose power in wall outlets, it is a good idea to check all breakers and power gadgets. Always turn the power off before working with wiring and make use of a multimeter to ensure the right amount of charge is present to solve the underlying issue.

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