RV Outlets Not Working? Here’s What to Do

Tripped Outlets

Question: Where does one go to reset tripped outlets? All of our electrical outlets have lost power, but everything else is fine. This is for a 26ft TrailCruiser by TrailLite.

Answer: Without knowing the particulars on how your RV was setup or modified by the dealer and or former owner, it is difficult to provide a precise answer. But we can offer a few thoughts.

First, your rig may have a panel of circuit breakers and/or a GFCI reset button. So look for that and consult any specifications or manuals you have for your RV.

If you cannot reset a breaker or switch, then you may need to trace the electrical circuit(s) that are giving you trouble. However, this must be done with caution and armed with all the tools at your disposal.

If it were our rig, we would definitely consult the owner’s manual and wiring schematic specific to our RV.

If you do not have an owner’s manual, contacting the manufacturer may shed some light on the problem. If contacting the manufacturer does not help then try asking the RV dealer or the former owner from whom you bought the rig. If that is not possible then the only option is to physically trace the wiring.

In tracing wiring, the objective is to identify any circuit breakers, a tripped GFCI outlet, or a loose wire. To do this you will need a continuity tester/test light (such as a neon tester, electrostatic wand, volt ohmmeter, three-prong outlet tester) and a lot of confidence on working with a live electrical circuit.

You will have to identify the power source for the circuit to determine if you have power to the circuit. Once you have determined that you do have power at the source then you can move on to the circuit itself.

Test for power at the breaker then follow the circuit to each outlet looking for a break in the circuit or a bad outlet. If any of these terms seem foreign to you, then please do not attempt to do this. Instead, take the RV to a repair center.

Comment: This is not an uncommon issue – people would think that the company who made their coach would try and make things simple – but they do not.
As to your question, there is for the most part two locations to look for any power issues: #1) the first location anyone should look is the fuse box, it could be a tripped breaker if 120 volts and a blown fuse if 12 volt is the issue, then #2) this is the one most if not all miss, THE GFI OUTLET. You have to look at all the gfi outlets as the company most likely has it set up so that when a gfi trips in a kitchen it will kill the outlets in the lower part of the coach, and if in the bath it could kill all the outlets in the upper half of the coach.
So as you see, if a gfi issue – it is not just that outlet. Also, for most gfi outlets, it is difficult to see if it tripped – you need to push the reset button to know for sure.
So I hope this helps you and others as this is a common issues as I stated above.

Wall Outlet Won’t Work

Question: The wall outlets in the kitchen of our Canyon Trail 5th wheel just quit working. We checked all fuses, and they are fine. What else could be the problem?

Answer: It could be a number of things that is causing the problem. We have several pages on our site which have addressed similar questions, so we suggest these as resources for troubleshooting the problem.

Your easiest solution is to replace it. Like breakers, GFCI’s have a finite life span. If it has not been replaced, then based on the age of the unit I’d look to replace it. Another thought is that the wiring could be loose and tightening the connections might solve your problem, but my opinion is that it has reached its useful lifespan.

Have 1998 Safari Sahara, the gfi plug in kitchen losses power but does not trip breaker on plug or throw any breakers, and comes back on after 10 or 15 minutes. Any ideas?

Some Power Outlets Not Working

by Keith (Lucedale, MS USA)

Question: The TV outlet and a couple other outlets and a couple lights just quit working all at once. I have flipped all the breakers and checked them with a meter. Plus i have pushed the reset button on the GFCI plug near the bathroom sink – it is working. Is there anything else I can check that might fix the problem? Trailer is a 2002 33 foot Montana.

Answer: It seems hat you have a wiring problem where a connection has gotten loose or cut – either on the ground, or less likely, the positive side. The fact that some of the 12 volt lights also quit working seems to indicate that something cut/disturbed the wires both on the 110 volt and 12 volt side.

Since you have a meter you should be able to trace the problem from the outlet or light back to its source. If you have wiring diagrams it will be of great help. If you cannot trace the wiring then the next best course is to run new wiring (I know it might be a pain).

Otherwise you will have to take it in to a repair place. Just be ready to dig deep in your pockets if it takes them a long time to find the source of the problem.

Outlets Not Working

by Dennis (Marysville, WA)

Question: We have no power to outlets in our fifth wheel when using electric, but we do have it when we use the generator. Can anyone help?

Answer: Here are a few thoughts. Your problem my be in one of the following: the converter, your power cord, the wires that connect your power cord to the converter, or the power transfer switch.

CAUTION: Never work on a converter or a power transfer switch while it is connected to live power unless you are skilled in electrical trouble shooting. Don’t risk injury or your life.

However, if you feel comfortable working on the converter you can check to make sure that all of the converter connections good and tight.

Also make sure you have a good battery connected to the converter. We have heard that a bad battery can cause similar problems.

Also try resetting all circuit breakers in the converter and make sure that they are good. If you have a GFI outlet reset that too.

You may also want to check the power transfer switch – but please heed the caution above.

If you feel comfortable working on the power transfer switch, you can check the contacts to make sure that they are operating properly and that the contacts are not pitted or welded shut.

If you still do not have power at your outlets then you will need to take your 5th wheel to a professional to resolve your power issue.

Electrical Outlets Have No Power

by Gary (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Question: I had shore electric on every outlet working properly and then unplugged electric and turned the generator on and had no power to electrical outlets. Any ideas?

Trying to diagnose an electrical problem remotely is difficult at best, but here are some things to check:
1 – Check generator circuit breaker(s) and reset if needed.
2 – Check GFI outlet and reset if needed after you turn on the generator. We sometimes have to do that to get the outlets to work.
3 – Recheck and reset (if needed) all your 120 Volt breakers in the main house panel after you turned on the generator.
4– Check for power leaving the generator.

If all of the above is OK and you still do not have power at the outlets then the problem may involve your power transfer switch. Trying to diagnose or fix one is a job best left to a qualified RV repair facility. However, if you feel handy and are very comfortable working with live power circuits, here is a link that might help: http://www.progressivedyn.com/troubleshooting_transfer_relay/. It shows how to diagnose power transfer switch problems. Your transfer switch my be different but the procedures should be the same.

Please let us know how things work out.