Troubleshooting RV Converters and RV Inverters


Tucker Ballister

Favorite Trip

5 Months Solo on the Road

Home Base

Hendersonville, NC

Favorite RV

2008 Fleetwood Bounder

About Contributor

Tucker Ballister is our Technical Content Writer. He’s a lover of the open road and the proud owner of a 2021 Sunlite Classic travel trailer (his 3rd RV to date). Check out more of his RV adventures, gear reviews, and outdoor advice at

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RV converters and RV inverters are essential to supply the correct type of electricity to your RV appliances. The video above helps explain why these two devices are essential and where to find them in your RV. But here’s a written breakdown.

What is an RV Converter?

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When you hook your RV up to 30 or 50 amp shore power, that power comes into your RV as alternating current (AC). An RV converter changes that 120-volt AC to 12-volt direct current (DC), allowing you to use appliances that require DC and charge your RV battery simultaneously. Your converter will typically be found next to your RV’s fuse box and breakers.

What Happens When the RV Converter Goes Bad?

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When it goes bad, your converter will give you one of three main warning signs. These can vary depending on make and model, but you’ll typically see one of three things when your RV converter goes bad: 

  • Onboard batteries won’t hold a charge. This could be a bad battery or a bad converter, so further testing is required.
  • Interior lights aren’t as bright as normal. 
  • Vent fans are spinning slowly. 

Both of these final points can be signs that these small RV appliances aren’t getting enough power.  

How to Troubleshoot RV Converters

Testing an RV converter is a delicate process that must be completed in the correct sequence. Consult your owner’s manual for specific testing instructions from the manufacturer, as the exact voltages and recommended testing sequence may vary from model to model.

But these quick tests will help you test most RV power converters: 

Test your Coach Battery

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  1. Disconnect from all power sources.
  2. Turn off the engine, generator, and inverter.
  3. Connect a voltage meter to battery terminals to test.
  4. Set your voltage meter to the Volts DC setting.
  5. Your battery should maintain a consistent charge between 12.3 and 12.9 volts DC.
  6. If you get a reading below 12.3 volts DC, recharge the battery until you get a reading between 12.3 and 12.9 volts DC.
  7. Then wait 2-3 hours and re-test.
  8. If your battery isn’t holding a charge, it needs to be replaced.

Test your Converter’s Output Voltage

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  1. Disconnect battery cables from the coach battery.
  2. Plug your RV into a reliable AC power source.
  3. Set your volt meter to the Volts DC setting.
  4. Place the meter’s probes on the disconnected battery cables.
    1. Red probe to the positive battery wire.
    2. Black probe to the negative battery wire.
    3. Ensure good connections to the cables.
  5. Voltage should read between 13.6 and 14.4 volts DC if the converter functions correctly.
  6. If the output voltage reads 0.0 volts DC or the battery isn’t charging:
    1. If equipped, ensure the battery disconnect switch is in the normal use position.
    2. Check for an open inline fuse in the battery wire circuit.
    3. Check for loose wiring connections.

Check for a Reverse Battery Hookup (if no DC output comes from your converter)

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  1. Check the reverse polarity fuses on your RV’s fuse board.
  2. Visually inspect them for breaks in the fuse element.
  3. If no breaks are found, use a continuity tester to test for continuity.
  4. If you find blown fuses, it’s a sign that your RV battery was connected in reverse.
    1. This could be the case at the battery or the converter.
    2. Check the cables at both locations and reconnect them properly.
    3. Replace the blown fuse with a fuse of the same type and Amperage rating as the original.  

If no blown fuses are found, the connections to the battery and/or converter aren’t reversed, and you’re still getting an output voltage of 0.0 volts DC, contact the manufacturer or your nearest Camping World Service Center for further troubleshooting assistance.

Some RV converters are also equipped with an AC reverse polarity protection feature. If the AC neutral wire and the lead wire coming into your converter are connected backward, it triggers this protection feature and shuts your converter down.

Some converters may have an audible alarm that sounds when the AC wires aren’t connected properly. If your converter is equipped, the alarm will continue to sound until the wires are appropriately reconnected.

Will an RV Converter Work Without a Battery?

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If your RV is unplugged and your battery dies, you’ll be without power in your coach. Using your RV without a battery isn’t recommended, as the 12-volt components inside often draw more amperage than your converter can supply.

Your battery is essential for providing the power to operate these components safely. If your RV is plugged in and the battery is disconnected, some small electronics, such as RV lights, may work off the converter alone. But maintaining a healthy battery in your RV is essential to safe RV use.

If you do need to disconnect your battery for any reason, power off all 12 volt appliances inside. Then consult your owner’s manual for the proper disconnection and replacement procedures.

What Does an Inverter Do in an RV?

If you’re dry camping or boondocking and not using a generator, installing an RV inverter is a good idea if your RV didn’t come with one pre-installed. RV inverters change DC to AC, but you’ll need to consult your owner’s manual for specifications on what type of inverter suits your RV and the appliances you want to power.

How to Test an RV Inverter

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Use this sequence to test if your RV’s inverter is functioning correctly:

  1. Disconnect from shore power and other power sources (like an RV generator).
  2. Turn on appliances powered by the inverter one at a time.
    1. If an appliance is working, turn it off before testing another appliance.
  3. After checking appliances, plug a small accessory into any outlets powered by the inverter to test them.

Most RV inverters only operate one or two circuits of your RV’s electrical system. Some high-end luxury RVs offer the ability to invert all circuits using multiple inverters. But most RV inverters power specific outlets or appliances, such as your refrigerator, microwave, or television.

Your owner’s manual will tell you which outlets or appliances should be powered by your inverter. But if you’re having trouble locating that information, contact your RV’s manufacturer.

If all the appliances and outlets on the inverter’s circuits are working properly, your inverter is doing its job. But further troubleshooting is required if you encounter a lack of power at any outlet or appliance.

How to Troubleshoot RV Inverters

Different symptoms will call for different RV inverter troubleshooting procedures. Because there are various inverter makes and models out there, your owner’s manual is your best resource for specific troubleshooting procedures.

That being said, here are some general troubleshooting tips for RV inverters: 

Check for Adequate DC Power Supply

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  1. Most RV power inverters are equipped with a status light.
  2. If the status light is off, you usually have one or two problems:
    1. The inverter is switched Off.
    2. There’s no DC voltage connected to the inverter.
  3. To remedy:
    1. Switch the inverter On.
    2. Connect a battery with the correct voltage.

A healthy RV battery should have a voltage above 12.5 volts DC. If the voltage is between 12.5 and 10 volts DC, your battery may be wearing out, but it may just need to be charged. Charge it until you get a reading of about 12.5 volts DC and wait 2-3 hours before retesting.

If the voltage is below 10 volts DC on the initial test, your battery may be bad, but it may also need to be recharged. If there’s a continuous draw on the battery, such as a light that was left on, it could draw the battery below 10 volts DC. While this may shorten the battery’s life, it doesn’t mean you have a bad battery.

Please refer to our guide on troubleshooting RV batteries and lights for tips on ensuring your RV is equipped with healthy coach and engine batteries. And if you have determined you have a battery, you’ll need to replace your RV battery before further testing.

Test Incoming AC Voltage

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  1. Some units are equipped with a dropout setting if the incoming AC voltage is lower than the programmed threshold (80 volts AC is standard on many units.)
  2. To test:
    1. Set volt meter to the volts AC setting.
    2. Connect meter probes to AC neutral and lead wires.
      1. Red probe to lead wire.
      2. Black probe to neutral wire.
    3. Ensure voltage is present and above your inverter’s volts AC dropout level.

If it is below the minimum threshold, you have an inadequate shore power source that could damage your RV’s electrical system. You should already be utilizing a surge protector to protect your RV, but disconnect immediately if you find low voltage.

Check Circuit Breakers and Fuses

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  1. Turn off any and all appliances/devices that aren’t functioning properly.
  2. Locate your RV’s electrical panel (consulting your owner’s manual may be necessary).
  3. Identify the breaker that serves the malfunctioning device/appliance.
    1. The chart on the inside of the panel door should indicate which breakers serve which parts of your RV.
  4. Note the position of the breaker’s handle. If it’s tripped, it’ll be positioned somewhere between the On and Off positions.
  5. To reset, push the handle to the Off position before returning it to the On position.
  6. Turn the malfunctioning device/appliance on to test.
    1. Leave it on for 30-60 seconds to confirm it’s working properly.

If your breaker trips again or is repeatedly doing so, there are two possibilities: a defective breaker or the appliance is drawing too much battery power. In either case, consult an RV service technician for advice on your best course of action.  

Examine the Cooling Fan

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  1. If no issues are present with your battery, incoming AC shore power source, circuit breakers, or fuses, your inverter’s cooling fan could be the culprit.
  2. The fan should cycle on and off periodically when your inverter is in use.
    1. Listen for the fan to cycle to ensure it’s functioning properly.
    2. Heat buildup can melt or damage critical inverter components if it doesn’t.
  3. To check:
    1. Visually inspect your inverter for melted parts or other deformities.
    2. Ensure there’s plenty of open space around the inverter to allow airflow.

Working with electrical systems on recreational vehicles can be tricky. While they’re not overly complicated, minor errors when troubleshooting can damage sensitive appliances. Sometimes, you’re better off scheduling an appointment at your nearest Camping World Service center.

And if you’re still learning the ins and outs of RV maintenance, check out our downloadable RV ownership and maintenance booklet!

But if you want to enjoy the RV lifestyle without worrying about RV maintenance, consider renting an RV for your next adventure.

What additional questions or comments do you have about RV converters and inverters? Leave them in the comments below!

  • Comment (38)
  • John says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Half of my Rv goes out when I change the temperature control on the fireplace. After an hour or so the lights will come back on. I have to turn the the fireplace on. It will work until I change the temperature 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️. What could be the problem?
  • Chance says:

    my 2016 heritage glen fifth wheel has a draw down on power when the heater tries to kick on and will not ignite and all the lights go dim

    • Hi Chance!

      I reached out to our technical service team and here’s their reply:

      This sounds as though the main blower motor on the furnace is drawing excessive amperage for some reason. This explains the dimming lights. The furnace will not go for ignition if the sail switch cannot close due to the fan speed being less than 75% of it’s rated capacity, which also points to the blower motor. The furnace in this unit uses a single motor to drive both the combustion air blower and the room air circulation fan. The fan motor should have it’s connections tested, it’s wiring tested for continuity through the windings and also for a short to ground through any of the windings. A voltage output test from the circuit board to the fan motor and an amperage draw test of the fan motor should be done and compared to the ratings on the fan motor data tag. If the fan motor only hums or turns very slowly, it can be isolated to a known good, stand alone 12vdc power source to verify component failure. There are no start or run capacitors on this fan motor. Carrying out these tests will undoubtedly disturb the LP connections so a thorough LP system test must be conducted at the conclusion of the work.

      Due to the sensitive nature of disturbing those LP connections, you may want to schedule an appointment to have one of our certified RV technicians diagnose the issue and recommend a repair. Here’s where you can find a service center near you:

  • Mark W. Sutton says:

    My converter begins to smoke when I plug into shore power. I replaced the converter but the new one smoked as well. Whats going on?

  • Mark Taylor says:

    Why does the Battery get so Hot to the touch when connected

    • Hi Mark,

      I apologize for the delay, but I wanted to reach out to our technical service team. Here’s their reply:

      This could be a very dangerous situation and the unit must be taken to a CW service center immediately for a free courtesy inspection. The water may be low, a cell shorted, or an improper charge curve may be present. Batteries can get warm, but should never be too hot to touch. Batteries can explode, catch fire, or damage the sensitive and expensive electronics in the RV. This RV should not be used or even plugged in to 120VAC power until this inspection has been completed.

      Here’s a link for you to locate your nearest CW service center:

      Please let us know if you have any follow up questions!

  • Thad Terry says:

    I have a 2016 Passport. I had to replace my batteries and accidentally let the negative cable hit the positive post. It blew both reverse polarity fuses. I replaced the fuses and now the top fuse blows everytime I put in a new one even though the batteries are connected the right way,
    Help please!!

    • steve Chessmore says:

      I have a 2021 keystone e hideout my battery doesn’t stay charged, do I even have a inverter I don’t see anything in my compartment plz help I went thru two batteries already

      • Hi Steve,

        It’s hard for me to say that your issue is inverter-related for certain. I’d highly recommend scheduling an inspection at your local service center. Our techs can perform the proper electrical tests to identify the power issue and recommend your options for repair or part replacement.

        Here’s where you can contact our service department:

        Hope that helps!

        • Tracey says:

          Ok I have a 1993 ford econoline motor home. I believe the RV is called Santara by Coleman. That I am not 100% on. Anyway, it was accidentally hooked up to a 220 plug. And since then when the RV’s ignition is on and it is running, everything works fine. But when the engine is off and it is plugged in to a power source, the a/c works, the outlets, and the stereo. But the stove, fridge, microwave, and I think the over head lights will not work? Help how do I fix this?

          • Hi Tracey,

            Have you checked all breakers and fuses on your RV’s electrical control panel?
            Is the fridge in that unit a two-way (AC and propane) or a three-way (AC, DC, and propane)? And is it not working on any setting, or just when you’re connected to shore power?
            When you say the stove isn’t working, are you referring to the igniter? Or do you have an induction cooktop in that unit?

            I’d wager that our certified RV technicians would have several additional questions, so your best bet might be to schedule an appointment to have your electrical system inspected. Here’s a link where you can find the nearest service center to your location:

    • Hi Thad,

      I reached out to our technical service team to get their thoughts. Here’s their reply:

      Are you absolutely certain they are properly connected? Positive cables can be red, black, yellow, or any other color. Negative can be white, black, green, or any other color. The 2 main fuses protect against reverse polarity and overload. If it keeps popping, it is likely: -too small -reverse polarity -overloaded -damaged wiring or component -battery charged with reversed polarity.

      Let me know if you have any follow up questions!

  • Bernie Hammond says:

    2014 KZ SPREE camper trailer I heard a pop lost power in 2ac outlets and 3dc lights. Checked fuses and circuit breakers all ok fuses ok breaker not tripped reset all still no power. Need help any suggestions.

  • Bill Buckalew says:


    We are having refrigerator control problems, and wonder if they could be caused by converter issues, and would appreciate your input.

    We have a Parallax Model 7355 55Amp converter – 2003 vintage. When I measure DC voltage feeding the DC power distribution board from the converter, I get 13.6v DC, but also measure a 28v AC voltage. I read somewhere that this is known as AC ripple and can adversely affect DC control boards (such as the one on our refrigerator).

    The refrigerator will operate fine on propane, but the minute shore power is hooked up, or the generator is turned on, the refer stops working and the refer control board freezes in the “on” position.

    Would appreciate your thoughts, including whether this AC voltage could be causing problems, and if so, what we can do about it.


    • Hi Bill,

      I reached out to our technical service team and here’s their response:

      This sounds like a solid diagnosis. The AC ripple can be perceived by the digital control board as a valid command, resulting in malfunctions. The likely cause is the bridge rectifier or capacitors in the converter. The converter can be easily removed and bench tested on a separate 120vac system and check for AC ripple from the DC output terminals. A good test battery should be attached for a truly accurate test. The full wave bridge rectifier should not have any AC ripple. A ground conductor test and a hot skin test should be performed fist, though, to eliminate these possibilities and to ensure the unit is safe to work on.

      Let us know if you have any follow up questions!

  • Evelyn Toews says:

    Hi, my fridge has power but not cooling, my lights keep burning out and the fan to my panel/ converter is running all the time and goes into high speed. I have an older StarCraft hybrid

  • Michael Robinson says:

    RV has no power at all. On shore power interior lights are very dim. Nothing else works. Generator only clicks when start button is pushed. I now have a fault light on the inverter. I am assuming this is all connected. My question will a bad inverter cause a short which would cause these issues? Seems like something is grounding out which is affecting the whole system.

  • Andrew says:

    I have a van that’s power display reads dead when engine off and high when engine running or plugged into house. Also converter charge light out. I’m guessing my converter is done? Fuses looked ok. Ideas? Thx

    • Hi Andrew,

      There appears to be no power from the converter, so I would first inspect the fuses in the fuse panel and on the converter if so equipped. Also the battery disconnect switch must be in the on position if you have one. The converter should then be bench tested if these items are ok.

      Let us know if you have any follow up questions!

  • Emily says:

    My inverter breaker makes a hum in my RV and we think the fan doesn’t work. Could the fan be the problem or could it the inverter. When we turn off inverter breaker it stops. Help

    • Hi Emily,

      The inverter in my trailer hums when the fan automatically kicks on to keep it cool. Could this be what you’re hearing?

      Can you confirm the fan isn’t cooling the unit as expected? Are you noticing any other electrical issues in your RV?

  • john Vogan says:

    My shore power trips a breaker on the main breaker panel in the house. If I flip the breakers in the trailer off, the breaker wont trip. How would you suggest that I trouble shoot.

    • Hi John,

      My question would be what kind of receptacle you’re plugging into. If it’s a 15 amp or 20 amp 120-volt AC outlet, you won’t be able to use all RV appliances as you would if plugged into a 30-amp power source. What appliances are you trying to run when the breaker on the main panel trips?

      Here is the average amp draw of larger RV appliances:

      Air Conditioner: ~15 amps
      Electric Heating Element for Water Heater: ~10 amps
      Microwave: ~10 amps
      Refrigerator: ~5 amps

      You can see how quickly you can trip a breaker if running multiple appliances simultaneously.

      Hope this helps!

  • Scott Nuechterlein says:

    I recently installed my own inverter, which is connected to a battery bank that is charged by a solar charger via panels on the roof. My goal was to keep the battery bank totally isolated from the house battery so that when connected it would be much like connecting a generator or shore power. The way it connects to the RV is on the side where you would connect a generator or shore power with a generator cable. Everything seemed to be working fine until the inverter randomly started shutting down. In an effort to troubleshoot I tried running it with the converter breaker off, ran the air conditioner for two hours straight and had absolutely no problems. Could the converter be interfering with the inverter somehow? Note: the battery bank is not grounded to the frame because the house battery is and I didn’t want to create a ground loop, but I imagine somewhere along the line coming from the inverter to the RVs AC panel There is a ground going to the frame which might be causing this problem? I thought about plugging a bonding plug into the inverter but not sure if that would do anything. One thing I notice is that when the inverter shuts down it’s pretty hot to the touch, even though it’s not really powering anything. Furthermore, when I ran it with converter breaker off it ran noticeably cooler. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Scott,

      I ran this by a few of our technicians and they had the following questions (and comment):

      – What is the make and model of the inverter?
      – Where are you getting the ground for the inverter?

      When you are using the convertor to operate the inverter, you are actually using the convertor to power the inverter and the inverter to power the convertor (dog chasing it’s tail). We’d want to see a full wire diagram of what has been done.

      It may be best for you to schedule an appointment to have your installation inspected by a certified RV technician:

      Let us know if you have any follow up questions!

  • Jack says:

    I just replaced my old 12 volt batteries with two 12 volt Renogy deep cycle 100ah and the only thing that is working is the powered step and the generator starter, however there is no power to the lights, water pump or fridge like it had previously with the other batteries that had lower ah. It is a 2008 Fleetwood Tioga 25G. What should I look for and troubleshoot?

    • Hi Jack,

      I ran your question by a few of our service technicians and they believe there are two possibilities.

      Either something did not get hooked back up, or a circuit breaker was tripped while reconnecting the batteries. The step and the generator are most likely tied to the engine battery.

      Your safest bet is to have an RV technician inspect your installation ASAP:

      Let us know if you have any follow up questions!

  • Arty says:

    I have a 2007 Alfa, see ya founder, my batteries will only charge when the engine is running. Nothing on shore, power, or while the generator is running.
    Also, I only have 120 V going to the AC on short power and while the generator is running but nothing to my outlets unless I turn on the inverter.

  • Jessica Hodnett says:

    Just replaced the converter in my RV. When I disconnect from shore power I don’t have any DC power. Can you help me?

  • Timothy Titchener says:

    I have a Magnum ME2012 inverter running off 4 – 6Volt batteries. I had the house batteries replace recently. After installing the new batteries when I turn on the disconnect switch to the inverter from the batteries the inverter cycles on and off. When I unplug from the 50Amp input the DC in the coach cycle on and off (12 volt lights come on then off). Any ideas?

    • Hi Timothy!

      I shared your question with our our technical service team and they recommend taking the unit back to the dealer to have the wiring checked on those new batteries. Probably a simple wiring error, but it must be corrected so it doesn’t cause any harm.

      Here’s where you can find the closest dealership to you:

      Let us know if you have any follow up questions!

  • Daryl Dame says:

    Why is the time delay fuse going off on the furnace.

    • Hi Daryl!

      Can you go into a little more detail on the events leading up to your issue?

      If you can walk me through your steps of operation and what others signs you’re seeing (i.e., the blower motor comes on before blowing the fuse each time), I can offer a more detailed solution.


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