An RV breaker that keeps tripping is likely the result of overloading or short-circuiting. Overloading is when you connect more appliances that your system can handle. Short-circuiting, on the other hand, happens due to a variety of factors, such as faulty wiring, or normal wear and tear.
While these are the most common reasons that RV breakers trip, faulty building practices or aging equipment can also cause them to work less efficiently.
This article will discuss everything you’ll need to know.
Reasons that RV breakers trip
If your camper has a 30-amp circuit breaker, you may want to tread carefully when turning on devices. Air conditioners, water heaters, and microwaves tend to consume more power compared to other appliances. That means using all of them at once will trip the circuit breaker.
For instance, your AC draws about 14 amps; your microwave draws about 10.4amps, while your electric water heater draws about 10.4amps when tuned on. When you run all of them, you go past 30 amps, leading to a trip in the circuit breaker.
Short circuits can be caused by many factors such as faulty wiring, normal wear and tear, loose connection, and many other reasons. In most cases, you can identify a short circuit through a burning smell usually left around the breaker.
You can also notice some black or brown discoloration around the circuit. It is even worse when your plug catches fire if your breaker fails to trip in time.
3. Faulty equipment
If you turn off most devices and your RV breaker still trips, the breaker could be failing. It is also one of the first signs it is no longer efficient. Also, if the breaker trips back to the OFF position even after resetting and all devices off, you need to replace the breaker immediately.
The typical signs of a bad circuit breaker are also accompanied by a burning smell coming from the electrical panel, some ragged wires, burned parts, and even apparent signs of wear and tear.
What to do when your RV breaker trips?
1. Locate your breaker
Many new or first-time RVers don’t know where their RV breaker is located. Even if you have been RVing for a while and never had electricity problems, you may as well be asking the same question.
Now, your RV circuit breaker is quite easy to locate. You need first to locate the breaker panel. It is a series of fuses and breakers that are well covered by a piece of plastic. You can find them near the RV wall or the floor.
Some hide them under the bed, behind the refrigerator, below the pantry or cabinet, and some position the breaker panel inside the exterior storage bays, making it challenging to locate.
2. Determine whether it’s overloaded or short-circuiting
To figure out what could be causing the tripping, you need to identify what the circuit breaker is protecting. Check for the label next to the tripping breaker or a sheet on the circuit panel’s door.
Once you know what is being protected, unplug all the devices on that circuit and rule out any case of overloading. Next, reset the circuit breaker by pushing the switch ON. If it keeps flipping ON and OFF, then the breaker needs to be replaced.
i. Signs your breaker is overloaded
The electrical circuit breaker on your RV is designed to automatically shut off and on to protect the electrical power system and all the devices connected to it. The breaker trips when you plug too many devices at once as it cannot handle the excess current load.
The electricity flow is cut off to keep circuits from overheating and causing damage. In simple terms, fires would be pretty prevalent if circuit breakers didn’t exist.
ii. Signs your breaker is short-circuiting
If the circuit does not trip immediately, the chances are that you have overloaded the circuit. To fix this, consider moving some components to other circuits. If the circuit still trips, it could be a short circuit.
A short circuit is a common culprit and the main reason why your circuit breaker could be misbehaving. It’s more dangerous than an overloaded breaker as it is caused when hot wires come into contact with neutral wires in your electrical system.
When this happens, a massive amount of current flows through the circuit, creating excess heat than what the circuit can handle. As a result, the breaker trips to shut off the circuit to prevent fire.
3. Turn off excess devices and turn the breaker on
Once you have turned off excess devices, you can locate the tripped breaker and flip it back on. If you find that the breaker keeps tripping every time you turn on a different device like the AC, you may need to do some little demand management.
Low voltage can damage AC units and cause other appliances to underperform. It also causes the AC unit to draw more current.
How can I prevent my breaker from tripping in the future?
1. Monitor your voltage
To prevent your breaker from tripping, you need to start using your appliances properly to avoid overloading the circuit breaker. Learn how many amps each device uses and monitor how the distribution is working.
It’s essential to monitor your RV voltage. The voltage can signal you when there is a problem and prevent further damage to your batteries. You can recognize a problem by merely glancing at a reading.
You also need to monitor and count your amps correctly over a period of time. Remember, your system voltage is relatively constant. Counting amps allows you to determine how you can use various appliances at a given time.
2. Check your converter frequently
It’s also worth checking how your converter is working to make sure that it is working efficiently. There are common warning signs that indicate all may not be well on that side.
For instance, if the internal vents, cooling fan, or interior lights are not working correctly, your converter could be indicating an issue. Similarly, if there is an abnormal dimming or flickering of lights around the RV or on the dashboard, the converter could be having problems.
If you found this article helpful, please check out my other articles on RV circuiting. I cover how to fix and replace broken breakers.