On a hot summer day, your RV AC is essential. But why does your RV AC trip the breaker on hot days when needed most? This post will review why your air conditioning is more likely to trip the breaker on hot days and what you can do about it to get it up and running again, including:
- Checking Power
- Checking Circuit Breakers
- Dirty Air Filter
The most common cause of AC tripping on hot days is an electrical problem or a dirty air filter.
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With the AC breaker tripping, you have a couple of potential sources of the problem. The first source to check is if you have an electrical issue with shore power.
Your RV AC system, in basic terms, is an AC unit (usually on the roof) controlled by a thermostat within your camper. The AC unit gets its power from the RV site’s shore power.
During a hot day, you and many others will consume a lot of power. This power consumption can cause spikes in the electric grid and affect a power-consuming appliance, such as an air conditioner.
A quick way to see if this is a power issue is to observe if you have any other camper issues on a different circuit breaker—for example, your microwave. You will need to use a higher-power appliance that is on the same 120 voltage. Other appliances that run on battery, such as lights, are DC power and run on a different voltage (12V).
To test, turn off your AC system and run the microwave. If the microwave functions properly, your electrical system should be good, and you can focus on your AC unit.
Another way to know is if it is your main breaker tripping or the AC breaker. It is likely a shore power electrical issue if your main breaker trips. More on this is below.
Your air conditioner’s electrical wiring gets power from the main breaker and then routes through its specific ac circuit breaker.
Your RV circuit breakers are rated by amps. If you ever exceed the amps rating, that causes the circuit breaker tripping. If you have an RV with two air conditioners, you likely have a 50 amp main breaker. If your RV or travel trailer has one air conditioner, you likely have a 30 Amp main breaker.
This air conditioner breaker is usually a 20 amp breaker. If your ac breaker is the only circuit tripping, the issue is likely associated with the air conditioning unit itself. Let’s take a look at the next possible causes in the next section.
That added heat can strain your AC system during the extra hot days you want it to produce cold air. And if your air conditioner circuit breaker is only tripping on the extra hot days, then the issue is likely caused by the added stress from running continuously.
Dirty Air Filter
As your AC system runs, all the air goes through a filter. As your AC runs on hot days, you will get a dirty air filter, which will cause more strain on things such as your AC compressor, evaporator coil, condenser coil, and fan motor.
As the air filter becomes dirty, it will reduce the efficiency of your air conditioning system and make all the components work harder to produce cold air. As your air conditioner works harder, it will draw more current and voltage to meet the demand. And once that added power exceeds the amp rating of the air conditioner, it will cause the breaker to trip.
Clean or replace your air filter. Dometic (manufacturer) recommends (a minimum of every 2 weeks of operation) removing the return air filter behind the return air vent grille, washing it with soap and warm water, letting it dry, and then reinstalling it. That reduced air constriction will allow your AC to run more efficiently without tripping the breaker.
Your RV air conditioning system works hard to keep you cool, especially on hot days when that cold air is needed most. The most common cause of the air conditioner tripping the breaker is a dirty air filter from running so much. Cleaning that filter can reduce the added strain and power requirements with fewer breakers tripping. Also, check that your shore power is stable and there are no voltage issues there.
Tony is an avid camper and RV traveler. He fell in love with camping on his first RV trip with his wife over 25 years ago. Tony loves sharing lessons learned and tips about RV maintenance and safe traveling.