If your RV converter works intermittently, the most common cause is a loose connection somewhere. Since an RV is always moving around, loose connections can occur, making your converter work sometimes.
When your RV converter is not charging as it should, a little investigation can help you determine the problem and solution. In this post, we will review the likely locations that would cause the converter to work immediately and what you can do about it, including:
- Shore power
If your cooling fan runs intermittently, this is normal, as the converter is charging the battery and then stops once it is topped off. If your converter is not always working and not providing the charge you need, keep reading this post.
Table of Contents
A good place to start for any issues is at the power source. In this case, let’s start by checking your shore power connection.
Since your converter works by converting AC power into DC power, any issue with that connection would cause an intermittent problem.
Check your shore power cord for loose connections at your RV or the pedestal. Ensure that your outlet is securely inserted into the 30 amp or 50 amp RV outlet. Dozens, if not hundreds, of people have used an RV park pedestal, and the inner connectors could be worn out, causing a loose connection. Especially as campers excessively wiggle out the plug.
Also, check the shore power cord itself for any damage. Rodents or running over the cord cause a disruption in the power flow.
Another quick test of this is to operate an appliance that runs only AC power, like an air conditioner. To do this test, turn off your inverter if you have one. Since the inverter works with your electrical system and gives you AC power, it may give you false results if it is providing power. If your air conditioner runs perfectly fine without interruption, then the shore power works fine. If it’s cold outside and you don’t want to run your air conditioner, you can also run your microwave to see if it is running properly.
Using other appliances, like an RV fridge, usually won’t work to test as they run on battery and propane power. This will also give you a false test to see if your shore power is working properly.
Another cause of the converter working intermittently is a loose connection to the house battery. As you drive your RV and set up camp, any loose battery cable connection can cause the converter to work or not work. Even a camper’s slightest movement and shake can move the cable and cause a disconnection.
Check your battery terminal connected to the battery cable. Ensure that the bolt or screw is secure and tight. Get a screwdriver or wrench and ensure it won’t come loose again as you travel.
Another thing to check is the battery cable itself. Ensure there is a good connection from the wire to the connector. Sometimes this can also get loose and cause a loose connection and the loss of battery power.
Also, while at the battery terminal, check that the connection is clean with good metal-to-metal contact. If you see any signs of corrosion, you will want to clean the terminal with sandpaper or a wire bush. You want to see shiny metal for both terminal and the battery cable to transfer that battery power.
Battery Disconnect Switch
Do you have a battery disconnect switch? If so, you may want to check the switch for any loose connections. Since the battery disconnect is a switch for your main battery cable, any problems with the connection will give you intermittent power.
Check the bolt and connections to the disconnect switch. Just like the battery terminal, these connections need to be secure and clean with good metal-to-metal connection.
Having a low voltage battery can also make your RV converter work intermittently. If the battery is low on voltage, the converter will work extra long to get that battery charged to the proper voltage. This will cause your cooling fan to run, and it may be unable to keep up with the constant load. This will give you a sense that the converter is working intermittently when it is just trying to cool off before charging the converter again.
Check your battery voltage with a volt meter. When the converter is not running, the voltage should be anywhere from 12 volts to 12.4 volts. When your converter is running, it should give your battery a voltage reading of 13.4 volts.
If you have a low voltage reading on your battery and want to check if it’s the converter, use a separate battery charger. You can even charge with a solar panel if you have one. If you still have a dead battery and the converter can’t keep the voltage up, continue investigating the converter.
The circuit breaker box is the next location that can cause your converter to work intermittently. This is where your converter, breakers, and fuses are housed. If you ever had a blown fuse, this was where you could replace it and be on your way.
Your power converter is connected to the circuit board by battery cables. These cables should be black and red and look just like the battery cable connected to your battery terminal. The connection to the circuit board is a lug with a set screw that tightens the battery cable. Check that this set screw is tight and that the wire has a good connection in the lug. Give it a little wiggle. If you see any movement of the wire in the lug, it will need to be tightened.
Please be careful with a screwdriver while working on the breaker panel and the circuit board. AC power and DC voltage are going through all of the metal connections. You never want to touch two pieces of metal simultaneously, and you want to use an insulated screwdriver that electricians use.
When your RV converter works intermittently, a loose wire is the most common reason. The first step is to check your power source. Ensure you have a good connection with your pedestal outlet and that the cord is in good shape. If all is well there, check your RV battery, connections, and voltage. You will also want to check the disconnect switch as they have been known to cause some problems. Finally, check your breaker box and ensure the converter cables are securely set in the circuit board lug.
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.