The electrical systems on your RV can be a confusing subject. What you as an owner really need is a basic understanding of your RV electrical systems so you can be prepared not only to use your RV anywhere you need to, but to protect your appliances from expensive electrical damage.
If you are looking for a technical explanation of RV power and how it works you are in the wrong place. This page is designed with straightforward practicality in mind, to prepare you as an RVer with the knowledge necessary to safely and effectively operate an RV. No math equations, no scientific explanations, just what you really want to know as an RV owner.
First things first, your RV electrical systems can be broken down into two categories: 12 volt systems, and 110/120 volt systems. Your 12 volt systems are run by your RV batteries. Your 110/120 volt systems are run by plugging your RV in or turning on your generator.
Some might say, Wait, I've been told there are actually three electrical systems, and yes, that could also be true by dividing your 12 volt systems into two categories: automotive and house systems. For simplicity and for our purposes of RV practicality, we will ignore the automotive systems in this article because they are very closely similar to the automotive systems found in a car.
Ready? Okay, let's dive right in.
The AC and DC you're seeing referenced on this page are the same AC and DC the 70s/80s Australian super band AC/DC takes its name from.
AC stands for alternating current, referring to an electrical charge that changes direction. DC, on the other hand, stands for direct current and involves a flow of charge in only one direction.
AC/DC chose the moniker because of the raw, electric energy they brought to their music. Fitting, eh?
In today's RVs everything relies on 12-volt batteries to function--everything from the roof air conditioner to the refrigerator. Once the roof air conditioner or the refrigerator are turned on they run on 110/120 volt, but it's the 12-volt that powers the computer that starts them up.
In addition, your water heater and your furnace are also all 12-volt computer operated.
The biggest key to keeping your 12 volt DC system working is keeping your batteries charged. There are four effective methods used to keep your batteries charged and in working order: hookups, your engine, your generator and solar power. Learn more about all of them and the 12 volt DC system here.
Your 110/120 volt electrical systems run many of your daily electrical functions, including most all of your appliances.
It is easy to get confused because you might hear these two terms used interchangeably, but this is simply because these two terms are one in the same. You can say either one and you would not be wrong.
I can't say that either one is used more than the other but I typically refer to it as "110 volt electrical systems." I will continue to use 110/120 volt electrical systems as my notation here, but understand I am referring to one electrical system.
In this section we try to answer all your questions involving your 110/120 volt electrical systems. Most importantly you will learn how to save money by protecting your appliances with your new knowledge of RV electrical systems.
Check out the questions below and click through to read the full answers of the ones that interest you the most.
The first thing you need to know about your RV electrical systems is how much power you can use. There is two parts to determining this. First you need to know how much power is available to you, and secondly you need to know how much power your RV is capable of handling... (Read full answer)
If you have a 30 amp RV and simply plug into a 30 amp outlet you can run your air conditioner and a couple other appliances at once. I've heard of people being able to run two air conditioners at once, but this is rare, and depends on your air conditioners. If you are plugging a 50 amp plug into a 50 amp outlet.... (Read full answer)
To get a better feel of which appliances you can run at once you should know which appliances use the most power. In general, the appliances used to heat and cool will.... (Read full answer)
Whenever your appliances are receiving too much or too little power, they are at risk of major damage. There are many ways you could be receiving the wrong amount of power.... (Read full answer)
The answer to this question depends on whether your RV has 30 amp or 50 amp capabilities. You can easily know which you have by.... (Read full answer)
There is truly an endless amount of things to talk about with your RV electrical systems. This page was strictly designed only for the most basic and general understanding of your RV electrical systems--the stuff you should really know for practical purposes. I hope you feel better equipped to run your vehicle efficiently after reading it.
If you have a question or comment about this page or your own electrical system feel free to ask using the form below. If you think I left something out that could benefit those reading this page please let me; you can use the same form below.
Enjoy this page? Please help us pay it forward to others who would find it valuable by Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, Stumbling, and/or Voting below.
Have a question about your RV? Chat with an expert one-on-one now.*
*Chat provided by JustAnswer.com, a third party not affiliated with MSRVR
If you have a question or comment about the information on this page or your own RV's electrical systems, I would love to hear it and this is where you can share it with me. It's great to hear stories too, so if you've had an experience please share it!
All questions will be answered in the order I receive them and all are FREE regardless. If you would like to have your question moved to the front of the list or you have received an answer on this site that really saved you some money, please consider supporting the website by making any size donation you’d like. While this site is FREE to you it does cost us time and money to operate. Thanks, and keep the questions coming.
Click on the links below to read other thoughts and stories regarding RV electrical systems. They were all contributed by visitors to this page, just like yourself.
Electrical Problem Loosing 12V
Question: I have a 2005 Keystone Cougar Bumper Pull, When i plug the trailer into the receptical for power all Electrical components work. However once …
Just Plugged Into 240, Now What?
Question: So.......... Zap!! There went my RV's Electric. A 240 power source was used, I think you know the results. I am assuming inside the switch …
Why Is My AC Fan Cutting Off and the Compressor Is Still Running?
Question: I turn my older roof air on and it runs fine and cools good for about ten minutes.Then the fan cuts off and you can still here the compressor …
No Battery Required On New Breckinridge Park Model Trailer?
Question: I have a friend who owns a new Breckinridge Park Model trailer. His dealer told him to remove the battery as the trailer is always connected …
Fan Won't Start Unless I Spin It On RV AC
Question: My AC compressor comes on but the fan won't start unless I give it a good spin manually. Do I need to replace fan motor? It's a 2002 Dometic …
Speedometer Not Working After Electric Step Repaired
Question: Recently our electric steps stopped working on our 2001 Damon Intruder and I took it in to a local RV place for repairs. After some goofing …
Can I Remove Male End of 30 Amp Electrical Cord and Replace with 50 Amp?
Question: Hello, I had a 26' Jayco travel trailer for years. I had electrian install a 30amp outlet in the garage and a 60ft extension cord. Used it …
What Type of Battery Does My 1991 Sprinter Travel Trailer Need?
Question: What type of battery does my 1991 sprinter take. we bought it and it had a car battery in it. I know this is not the right one. Robbie: …
2006 Fema Fleetwood Travel Trailer Power Converter
Question: I have a 2006 fema fleetwood travel trailer. When I first bought it, no problems. Now the 12v lights go out, stay out for 5 to 15 minutes, …
RV 15K throws breaker sporadically.
Question: 2009 SunnyBrook 5th wheel with two 15K Dometic AC w/heat strip. The rear AC started tripping the 20 amp breaker last May. Parked in RV park, …
Voltmeter in the Green?
Question: I bought a Voltmeter like the one suggested here (Very Nice). The campgrounds are mostly on the low side of green. When I turn on the air …
Zap! There Went My RV's Electricity!
Question: I'm running my rv air conditioner at home to 120 outlet- now it is running at 95 degrees with heat index over 100. I keep popping the breaker …
Electrical For Converting A Bus To Motorhome
Question: We are converting a bus into a motorhome and are wondering the best way to power some things when we are parked. We are looking to be as thrifty …
Air Conditioning Travel Trailer
Question: On a hot night my husband wants to go out and sleep in our travel trailer which has AC. He uses an adapter to plug into the house electricity. …
Running Lights Not Working On Boat Trailer
Question: We have a boat trailer and the brake lights and signal lights work, but no running lights. Hooked it up to two different vehicles with same …
Slide Out Portion Has No Lights
Hi we own a 33ft Tahoe 5th wheel 2000 serial number 5H203A. The slide out portion is the dining room and living room. There are plug ins on either end …
Breaker Trips on RV Air Conditioner
Question: What would cause my breaker to trip when using the air conditioner in my rv when it is very hot outside? I am in Arizona in an rv park with …
RV Electrical Systems Problem
Question: What would make the electrical system shut down after running a few minutes and then come back on on its own. The 110 volt air conditioner, …
AC Is Out After A Power Surge
Quesion: My RV AC isn't working at all after a power surge. (lightning strike or possibly connected to a 220 power source by mistake) How do I check …
Tripped Circuit And Cooked Batteries
Question: We changed the oil in the generator (keeping it in good shape). Not realizing that we were still plugged into 110 from the house, we started …
Generator Has Stopped Sending Power To RV
Question: Generator on our Cruise Master RV has stopped sending power to the air conditioner, refrigerator and microwave. The generator was serviced …
Auxiliary Power Switch Shutting Off
Question: I have a 89 Winnebago chieftain. My auxiliary power switch shuts off as soon as I turn it on. Any ideas? Robbie: If you are talking about …
Hi, I'm Robbie. Welcome to Money-Saving-RV-Repair.com!
Like the name implies, this site is all about helping you save money while keeping your RV in tip-top shape--and that is all about you having the knowledge to do so.
I've been a technician in the RV industry for 30 years, operating out of San Diego, California. And let me tell you, I love my job.
But I also love empowering RVers with the knowledge they need to make the right decision on repairs, or to make the fix themselves--and that, my friend, is the reason for this website. I hope you enjoy.
Or, learn more about me, my RV service practice, & this website here.