How to Troubleshoot Your RV Electrical Outlets 10388

If you have no power at your electrical outlets, follow these simple troubleshooting steps to identify and correct the issue.

Check the Power Source

What power source are you drawing electricity from? Verify the power source is good to go.

Shore Power

If you are using a campground pedestal or a generator, check to make sure the shore power cord is securely connected. For the pedestal breaker, ensure the correct breaker switch is in the ON position. Adding a surge protector with an electronic management system to your shore power cord setup can help you troubleshoot whether the root cause is a power source issue.

Batteries with Inverter

Check your RV house batteries are charged and connected. Also check for corrosion.
If your batteries are good, then confirm your RV power inverter is turned on. The inverter transforms the 12 volt DC electricity from your RV batteries into 120 volt AC electricity delivered to the RV’s electrical outlets.

Check GFCI Outlets

RV interior
Most GFCI outlets are near wet areas of the RV, such as sinks (Image from Camping World).

Just like your house and other buildings, your RV is equipped with GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets. The most common reason outlets stop working is because a GFCI outlet is tripped somewhere in your RV. Start with the GFCI outlet closest to the inactive electric-powered component and work your way outwards checking for tripped GFCI.

A GFCI outlet is easy to identify because it has TEST and RESET buttons located in the center of the outlet. When pressing the test button, you will likely hear an audible click. Pressing the test button should open the internal circuit. An opened circuit is a “tripped” circuit.

With the test button tripped, you will no longer be able to run any components plugged into that circuit. If you find a tripped GFCI, push the GFCI reset button to try closing the circuit.

Most GFCI outlets are near potentially wet areas of the RV, such as the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and exterior outlets. GFCIs protect any electrical device plugged into that receptacle as well as additional outlets connected to the same circuit, meaning they’re connected by the same electrical line. This is why an outlet without GFCI buttons can appear to not work.

GFCI Mapping

If pushing the reset button doesn’t work, the “circuit” in GFCI implies that there are multiple outlets being protected. If an outlet does not look like a GFCI outlet, it may still be in the protected circuit. To make future troubleshooting easier, you can do GFCI mapping.

For GFCI mapping and testing, you can use a simple outlet tester or your multimeter tool (which is recommended to carry in your RV toolkit). Use the tester to determine which standard outlets are tied to a common GFCI.

With the tool plugged in, trip the test button on the GFCI. The lights should disappear, indicating an interrupted power flow. Reset the GFCI and the lights should come back on.

Now that you have verified power to that outlet, push the test button. With the GFCI tripped, plug the tool into adjacent outlets. Use colored tape to mark which adjacent outlets are showing no power. These outlets are likely tied into a common circuit. Repeat this step noting all outlets that show no power. Next, push the GFCI reset button. Verify that power has been reestablished at the previously dead outlets.

In larger coaches, you’ll likely find two or three separate GFCI circuits. So for this step, you may want to have three or more different colors of tape on hand for each circuit or simply number the tape. The mapping method for multiple circuits is the same as a single circuit. You’ll simply need to repeat the process a couple of times.

As you’re testing outlets, remember to check all exterior outlets. It’s likely the exterior outlets are tied to an interior GFCI. Exterior outlets often share the GFCI circuit with the bathroom.

If your tool indicates incorrect wiring to that outlet, have your RV checked by a trained maintenance professional at your nearest Camping World Service Center.

Note: You might find some outlets don’t lose power when any of the GFCIs are tripped. This does NOT mean that you have a problem. It simply means that the coach manufacturer determined that GFCI protection was not needed at a specific outlet.

Power Restored

Traveling with a caravan (motorhome)
Simple troubleshooting to restore power to your RV outlets.

Following these simple troubleshooting steps will help get your RV outlets working. If the power outage goes beyond the outlet, you can check this basic troubleshooting guide for RV electrical systems. Good Sam members can call the Elite Service Tech Advisor support line for a real-time step-by-step troubleshooting walkthrough for your specific RV model.

Melody enjoys translating dense technical topics into do-it-yourself guides. Her passion is empowering people for self-sufficiency and making informed decisions. When she isn’t climbing, sky diving, or traveling with her canine co-pilots, she finds foodie gems and customizes RVs to match lifestyle capability needs.
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