Traveling with your mobile home is one of the most thrilling adventures you can ever have. However, having a malfunctioning power converter in your RV before or during the trip, all your expectations and excitements during your trip will be illusions. To be safe, explore carefully RV converter troubleshooting tips discussed in this article.
An RV converter is uniquely designed to provide you with those small things that make you feel at home. But for you to feel homely during your camping trip, there is a need for electricity. You can use the power to charge your smartphone, cool your niceties in the refrigerator, and it is also possible to prepare your food with RV powered stove. Generally, you can have all the services that are reliant on electricity when your RV power system is working rightly. Every amp must run through a converter to be transformed into Direct Current in order to power appliances like TV, stove, and others. You should know that RV converters are expensive, therefore in case of replacement, you should always consult a professional service. Trying to do it yourself in order to save some bucks, you risk burning your entire system.
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Another important point to know is that you will need to use an RV power converter when using the generator or if you want to charge the RV batteries. In places that have enough sunshine and you use solar power, you will not need the RV converter.
How to Tell if Your RV Converter Is Bad?
Many recreation vans or motorhomes use RV converters to operate electrical appliances like vent fans, refrigerators, lighting, and heating system. They work by converting 110-volt AC power into 12-volt DC power that is needed for the optimal performance of items.
There are some cases where the converter starts malfunctioning to the extent that there is total power loss to all fixtures, especially if it is a bit old. And in other instances, the power is insufficient to run the entire RV electrical system. See below for signs that your RV converter is bad.
- The battery cannot supply a constant change. This is one of the common signs you can see to know that your converter has performance issues if the battery is not retaining the charge as before. The battery should supply the power based on the amount it draws from the system which is driven by 12-volt DC power. The onboard batteries will send a failure signal by failing to hold a full charge.
To identify the faulty battery, you should charge all of them, then disconnect them from each other in order to note the discharging capacity of each. After disconnection, you can use a multimeter to check which of the batteries is losing voltage than usual.
- Abnormal voltage range. It happens where the voltage range entering goes beyond or below how it is expected on either the RV converter or 12-volt breaker box. The voltage entering the RV converter should be between 108 to 130 volts and 11 to 13 volts in the 12volts breaker box.
To be able to check effectively, you need a voltmeter. Then, start by checking the amount that is entering the RV converter if it is in the normal range. Again check the voltage capacity entering the DC box. If in either case, there is any inconsistency, you can conclude that is where the failure arises.
- Cooling fan malfunctioning. If the cooling fan is not working well, then it is a sure sign that the RV converter is having issues. The fan works when the 110V AC is continuously supplied to the system. If by any chance the entry voltage is not correct or varies, the fan won’t work. apart from indicating voltage change at the entry point, the fun itself may be defective. So before thinking that the converter is the problem and end up replacing it, do a thorough test on the entry voltage.
After ascertaining that the 110V converter is correctly working, inspect the fun and, if possible, replace it. That way you will have solved the problems. It is also possible that both the fan and the converter are failing. It could be possible that the fan itself is ok but the problem lies with the thermal sensor or the thermostat. So the cooling fan will not operate if the current cannot flow through the thermostat to the thermal sensor.
You should check if the thermostat or thermal sensor is working by testing if the current is passing or not. If the current is not passing, try bypassing the thermal sensor. If the fan starts up, you are safe and you won’t have to replace it. Else, the two will need replacement.
Troubleshooting Your RV Power Converter
You should understand that a number of aspects can cause that failure in the working of your RV converter. To find the root core, start by checking all the electrical connections and guarantee they are tight clean and dry. With the entire system check, you will have an idea of the causes of problems.
Examine the circuit board
If you have the necessary skills with electronics. Go ahead and unscrew the circuit board. Investigate if there is any acid leak. Sometimes acid will leak and cause a clog in the connection. It is easy to identify the acid smell on the connection. If there is any leak sign, you can easily clean it. But firstly disconnect the batteries, shore power, and the solar panels.
Prepare a mixture of 12 ounces of water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Make sure that you clean thoroughly and allow some time to dry before reuniting the panels completely. If still after cleaning the problem is still there, know the converter is the faulty one.
Some circuit boards have resistors for controlling the voltage flowing from 12V DC sources. Locate the resistors carefully, and in case there is some battery acid in the connection joints on the resistors, it means the battery has issues.
The diodes work to ensure that current only flows in a given direction. Moreover, they also prevent the reversal current that could otherwise blow the electrics. It is not easy to test them, and where they are the cause of abnormalities, the only solution is replacing the converter.
Examine the fuses
In most cases, when addressing the electrical problems fuses are the apparent thing commonly ignored. Fuses typically work to ensure in case of power surges, they break the connections to ensure wires and electrical devices are safe from blowing or melting. It is advisable that you carefully look at your fuses in such a scenario and if you notice even a slight crack on the fuse, then replace them as soon as possible.
Check your accessories
Before rushing to conclusions on which area to replace, it is recommended that you first scrutinize your DC devices. Sometimes you may be thinking the RV converter is failing when your devices are causing all the miseries. So you should be sure the DC outputs are current as expected.
Examine the 110-volt power source
Sometimes you may find the failures you hook other parts of the system with, are just arising from the 110V power source. The best way to ascertain is to connect the power source with 110 appliances that are in your RV like refrigerators or microwaves. If you find that bypassing the RV, the system operates well, then know the RV is the problem.
Addressing professionals is another option. If working out through the guide above is not something you can try yourself, reach out to the service of an expert. You may be lacking enough courage and experience to check the cause of problems in the converter. Therefore, it is ok spending some money to pay for the services and the professional will solve the predicament.
RV Converter Basic Maintenance Guidelines
The motorhome is the luxury equipment that means so much to you. For your safety and financial good, let your RV converter be always in good condition and maintained. By having a close check regularly, you can identify any possible tear or anything before becoming bigger. It is easy to find out some warps or bees nest in your RV. if fabrics stuck or damage your awning, the repair cost could be very costly.
You should always replace the fuel, coolant, and air in your RV converter when need be. It is part of care and maintenance. To have a properly working RV, you should be inspecting hydraulic filters, fuel filters, and coolants every time you change the oil.
Generally, treating and cleaning your RV slide outs and seals can have a significant impact on the performance of your RV. So regular cleaning of seals will prevent any possible problems. Wear and tear of motors are mostly induced by improper care or cleaning of the RV. RV slides need proper lubrication to ensure they run in and out with the lowest wear and tear possible. For windows, also apply suitable lubricant to provide an appropriate seal on the rubber.
Further, ensure the wastewater system is kept in the right condition. And you should use the proper amount of fluids to ensure that everything flashes out. When the flashing fluid is not used in the proper amount, there could be so much build-up that can lead to clogging of the system. The waste build-up may lead to valve seizing and failure of operations.
Those are just some of the tips for maintaining your RV converter. There is much you can do to improve the working of your motorhome system.
If you have checked all the things we have discussed above, and still your system is failing you, the option is that you will need to buy a new converter. Always buy the kind or type of RV converter that you can afford without crushing your budget. Some converters have costly spares. Before starting on any trip, make sure you test every part of your converter system. Trips without electricity are boring, and the main point is that you should periodically check the functionality of your converter.
Finally, when you face any serious problem with your RV converter, seek the help of a certified specialist. The expert will give the best direction on whether you should repair or replace it.