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A recreational vehicle (RV) offers the comfort of home outside the home. It becomes possible because of electricity. RVs have their own power source that keeps running the kitchen appliances, electronics, heating system, and more.

An RV converter is a vital piece to this power system. Each amp of the electricity runs through it before powering up other devices. The whole system will collapse if it breaks down. So, how to tell if RV converter is bad and what can you do to troubleshoot the problems?

What Does a Converter Do?

When an RV converter not working, it will be easier to identify the problem if you know the functions of this component.

A converter is an electrical device that converts the voltage into DC (direct current) from AC (alternating current). In an RV, it transforms the 110V shore power to the battery’s 12V DC power.

Replacing a converter can cost anywhere between $100 and $1,500. Unless you are a certified electrician, don’t try to change it because even a small mistake can burn out the entire system.

How to Tell If RV Converter Is Bad?

A bad converter will show some warning signs. The light bulbs will be the first to give out. They will start dimming when the converter does not work properly. The electrical devices will also struggle to run because an RV converter failure means they are not getting the proper amount of electricity required for their operation.

If the problem gets serious and the converter is on the verge of a breakdown, the batteries will be the most affected components. They will no longer hold charges because it is the converter’s job to send power to the batteries.

how to test rv converter
Don’t check the converter if you are not an expert.

How to tell if RV converter is bad apart from these symptoms? There are a few other ways to be sure:

Check the Cooling Fan

The converter box has a fan inside that saves the converter from overheating. It turns on when the interior temperature rises and turns off when the temperature goes back to normal. If the fan does not work, the converter turns excessively hot and interrupts the normal functions of RV electronics.

How to test RV converter cooling fan? Taking a voltage test is the easiest way. Use a multimeter to detect any issues with voltage, and if there is any, you will need to resolve it immediately.

The fan is the culprit if the 110V line does not show any problem. The cooling fan works when the electricity runs past it through the thermostat or thermal sensor. If the fan runs after connecting it to a direct power supply, you have to replace the sensor. But if the fan shows problems, replace it with a similar model.

Check the Circuit Board

How to tell if RV converter is bad? Look into the circuit board. Examining it needs expertise and knowledge, so don’t try to do it if you are not comfortable around electronics. You may find these problems with the circuit board:

An acid leak from the battery.

If you decide to go ahead, unscrew the board and do a visual inspection. If you find a strong acidic smell and layers of white flaky substance on the connections, it must be coming from leaked battery acid.

Cleaning this acidic substance is easy, but you have to make sure first that the electric connections are off. Disconnect the batteries, shore power, and solar panels. Then, make a cleaning solution by mixing one teaspoon of baking soda with 12oz of water.

Dip a Q-tip into the solution and gently rub it on the affected areas. When the connections are spotless, leave the board open unless it is completely dry. Then, attach the screws to connect the board parts together and switch on the power sources. If you still face the problems, then the converter might be defective.

Defective diodes.

The diodes in the circuit perform some important functions. They help the electrical power to flow in one direction and prevent it from going to the opposite way. Diodes are the reason for your electronics to not blow out after powering up.

You can test them by using a digital multimeter. This is how to tell if RV converter is bad. You have to replace it if the diodes are malfunctioning.

Check the Fuses

rv converter not working
The fuse box should be the first thing to examine.

Checking the fuse is mandatory for any electrical issues. Some people look into all the possible components except for the fuses but they are possibly the first things to give up when there is an issue with the electrical system. The fuses blow up and break the connection when there is an electrical surge to protect your electronics and wires from melting. If any of the fuses is burnt or looked damaged, change it immediately.

About Chris Coleman

Chris Coleman is an interesting travel blogger and outdoor photographer with a great sense of humor. He owns an RV Accessories shop in New York City so he has the knowledge necessary to provide thorough reviews and give advice on how to choose the right products for RV travel. He puts all that RV knowledge and experience to good use in his sharing posts. Besides product buying guides/reviews, Chris also writes informative articles, how-to articles and RV camping guides in his own interesting viewpoint. Chris’s blog is one of the most reliable information sources for RV campers no matter if you're an expert or a determined beginner.

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