How Do I Know If My RV Converter Is Bad?

The converter is one of the most important parts of an RV. When you connect the RV to the shore power, the converter converts the 120-volt AC to 12-volt DC. It basically keeps the battery from draining when connected to a power outlet.


If your RV converter has gone bad, all the electrical components inside the RV will fail. Not completely but partially. Also, the battery will be drained. The fuse is the first line of defense to protect from any power surge. They will be completely damaged in such cases. Additional parts will also show signs of impairment.

  • Drains fast, does not hold charge
  • Lights are flickering
  • Fuse is bad
  • Fan not running
  • Electronics like resistors bad


Knowing the signs of RV converter malfunctioning is very important as an RV owner. Early diagnosis can save you from expensive repairs. In this article, I will explain how you can know that your RV converter is damaged.


Signs Your RV Converter is Bad

An RV converter can go bad at any time. Knowing the signs is essential. Because the sooner you step in, the better chance you have to save the converter from further damage. Here are some ways you can know if your RV converter is bad:


Fast Battery Drainage

Draining batteries fast is a sign of a bad converter. If your RV battery is losing charge fast, it might be an indication of a faulty battery or faulty converter. To make sure if the converter is bad, fully charge your RV battery. Then disconnect it from the RV. After that, connect a multimeter to the battery. Set the dial to 12-volt DC.


The RV battery is normally 12.6 volts. So, if the multimeter shows anything less than 12.5, the battery is faulty. Otherwise, it’s the RV converter.


Lights Flickering

As I have already stated above, the converter delivers power to all the electrical components inside the RV. An RV is kind of like a home. It has all sorts of home appliances like TV, fridge, dishwasher, washing machine, etc. Plus, there are lights in the interior.

If the converter is malfunctioning, the lights, whether the main lights or the lights of any appliance; won’t get enough power. So, they won’t be able to light up properly. They might even turn off completely. The bottom-line is any difficulty for the lights to lit up properly is an indication that the converter might have gone bad.


Converter Fan Not Spinning Properly

Every RV converter has a cooling fan. The purpose of this fan is to keep the converter cool. When the converter reaches a certain temperature, the fan starts spinning. The speed of the fan depends on the temperature. Some fans are programmed to increase in speed proportionally, some exponentially.


The fan gets its power from the converter, just like any other electrical part in the RV. Any damage in the converter can cause the fan to malfunction and vice versa. If you see the fan not spinning properly, disconnect it from the converter and connect it to a different power source. If it works properly, then there is a problem with the converter.


Fried Fuse

Fuses are intended to protect the converter from a power surge. When the RV is connected to a 120v AC outlet, the electricity runs through the fuses before reaching the actual converter. This is to ensure that if there is any power spike, the fuses get fried instead of the converter.

Check each fuse individually. See if there is any burn or signs of damage. There is a metal bridge inside the fuse. Check if that’s still intact. In case of any damage, the wires inside will be cracked as well. Any signs of damage in the fuses is a clear indication that the converter has gone bad as well.


Damaged Resistors

Manufacturers don’t use resistors in converters these days. If your RV is an older model, the converter in your RV might come with resistors. Resistors control the voltage and electrical current of the converter. Faulty resistors can impede the battery’s ability to hold charge.

If battery acid builds up on the connection point of the resistors, it is an indication that the resistors are the problem. Repairing or replacing the resistors is very difficult. In such cases, you should take the converter to a professional.


Reasons for RV Converter Malfunctioning

There can be a lot of reasons behind the malfunctioning of an RV. You should know them so you can avoid them. Here are some common reasons for RV converters malfunctioning:


Faulty Circuit Board

Damage to the circuit board can malfunction the converter. Usually, battery acid builds up on the circuit breaker and makes a clog.

You can easily identify it. Just look for any white and flaky accumulation on the board. Acid accumulation also gives off a small smell so there’s less chance you will miss it.


Problem With the Power Source

The power source where your RV is plugged into can cause the converter to act oddly. Any fault in the connection, power outlet, or entry point can cause problems in the converter. A faulty power source can damage the converter as well as all the components inside.

If you want to check if the power source is okay or not, you can try connecting other electrical appliances directly to the outlet. Make sure the appliance is 110 volts. If it behaves oddly, then the problem is with the power source which might damage the RV converter in turn.


Malfunctioning Diode

Diodes have a specific job and that is to flow current in one direction. It also prevents current from flowing in the opposite direction. Several diodes can be used in different directions within the converter’s circuitry. Problems in any of those can potentially damage the converter. Diodes are very small and delicate parts.

Checking them yourself can be difficult. Sometimes, even expert electricians have trouble checking them. So, I suggest consulting expert help.




How to Protect Your RV Converter?

A little knowledge about the proper protection of your RV converter can go a long way. Here are some tips to protect your RV converter:


Surge Protector

A sudden power spike from the power outlet can damage your RV converter. A surge protector can be your savior for such cases.

It isn’t difficult to use. You just connect the surge protector to the power outlet, then connect your RV to the surge protector. It monitors if there is an anomaly in the current before sending it to your RV.


Regular Checking

RV converter damage has some very common signs but you may not know them all as you are not a professional.

So, I recommend taking your RV for regular servicing. Expert technicians can find problems that you wouldn’t even suspect. The sooner the problem is detected, the better chance of easy repair.


Avoid Strange Outlets

A faulty power outlet is detrimental to your RV converter. You never know which power outlet is harboring what type of problems.

A little indifference can damage your converter beyond repair. So always avoid power outlets that you don’t know. Stick to familiar RV camps and shore power.


The converter of an RV does more work than you can imagine. It single-handedly delivers power to all the interior electrical appliances.



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