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The air conditioner system in your RV could show many problems like making noises, not blowing cold air, leaking water, and more. But it also may happen that the RV air conditioner won’t turn on sometimes.

Most people may think they have to replace the whole unit since the old one is acting dead. However, there are still ways to find out the source of this problem and do the RV air conditioner troubleshooting.

RV air conditioner won’t turn on
What to do when your RV AC won’t turn on? (Source:

RV Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On: What Are the Causes?

An air conditioning system is designed to serve for 10 to 20 years. However, like any electronic device, it can stop functioning or show other issues.

What should you do when the RV AC not working? Check these following components to find out the possible cause.

Examine the AC’s Power System

When the RV AC not turning on at all, you will need to find out if it gets the power supply.

The first thing to look into is the 12V panel if the fuse is blown or the breaker is tripped. The thermostat also draws power from the same panel. If the thermostat also does not work, you can change or repair the power panel.

rv ac not working
Check the AC system’s power panel.

If it is a blown fuse or a tripped off breaker, you simply have to change the fuse or reset the breaker. It may happen when the power supply of your campsite is too weak to power up the AC system. However, this is not a problem in the campgrounds these days as they use a 50A service for modern AC systems. It could happen in the sites that still use the old 15A power poles. However, you should still check the breaker as it can trip for some other reasons.

If the power system is fine and working, you have to check some other components.

Wiring Issues

The wires that run from the AC unit to the power outlet could be another reason for the RV air conditioner won’t turn on. If this is the case, you should contact a professional HVAC mechanic to handle the issue. Dealing with frayed or dead wires could be tricky and dangerous for amateur DIYers.

Faulty Motor Or Compressor

The whole system will shut down and won’t start off if the motor is malfunctioning. You need to check the motor to see if the issue is repairable or you need to replace it.

Similarly, problems with the AC compressor may cause the whole system to shut down.

Check The Thermostat

Another reason the RV air conditioner won’t turn on is the faulty thermostat. It is defective if touching its wires to each other turns on the AC system. In the case of a wall-mounted thermostat, use a multimeter to check its voltage.

However, you should examine the AC system’s control board if both thermostat and capacitors are functioning. Even if the thermostat is defective, you can easily replace it. But changing the AC unit’s control board is more complicated and requires professional expertise.

A failed capacitor or contactor is the reason RV AC clicks but won’t turn on. If this is the problem, always hire a professional to do the repair work. Capacitors store high-voltage power and there is a chance to get electrocuted if you attempt any repair.

rv air conditioner won't turn on
Take professional help for changing the capacitor.

Dirty Components

Dirt buildup in several components including filters, evaporators, and the condenser is one of the leading causes of AC system breakdown. Regular servicing and cleaning is an effective way to avoid this problem. If your AC unit has filters, these should be changed when they are dirty or according to the recommended schedule in the owner’s manual.

Low on Refrigerant

An air conditioning system won’t work if it is low on refrigerant. Even if it turns on, it is unlikely to function properly. It will be easier to refill if your AC unit uses R410A or R-134A refrigerant rather than the R-22 types. You should ask for professional help for the refill.

Even the most reliable air conditioning system can show troubles. But buying from a renowned brand that has good reviews makes sure that you will get good service and will be covered with a warranty if the unit breaks down.

You will find some of the best RV air conditioners from brands like Coleman, Dometic, Honeywell, and Frigidaire to avoid issues like the RV air conditioner won’t turn on.

AC Unit Issues: Repair or Replace?

Despite checking for the issues mentioned above, if the air conditioner still shows problems, you should ask for the help of an expert HVAC mechanic. If the unit is over 12 years old, repairing won’t be a good option. Even if it is possible to fix, evaluate the repair costs before making the final decision. Buying a new one is the better option if the expense is more than 50% of the unit’s price.

Best RV Air Condition Units

Even the most reliable air conditioning system can show troubles. But buying from a renowned brand or a product that has good reviews makes sure that you will get good service and will be covered with a warranty if the unit breaks down.

To avoid issues like the RV air conditioner won’t turn on, you can try any of these following models:

Coleman Mach 15. With the option for both ducted and non-ducted installation, this unit offers a high-performance cooling ability. This small powerhouse can cool down your medium or large motorhome even in a desert hot condition.

Honeywell Portable Air Conditioner. If a portable AC unit is what you are looking for, this model is a great choice. Rated at 9,000 BTU, the device also works as a dehumidifier. It also operates quietly, ensuring you a good night’s sleep.

Dometic 640315C Penguin II. This unit packs a punch despite having small dimensions. Rated at 13,500 BTU, you can use it as both ducted and non-ducted systems. Its aerodynamic design creates only a low amount of drag.

Zero Breeze Portable AC. Another portable unit that is great for your home on the wheels. The device is lightweight and rechargeable.

Frigidaire FFRA0511R1. This AC is a good option if you need air conditioning only for a single room. Running quietly, the device also keeps you safe by sliding out an antibacterial mesh filter. It starts at 5,000 BTU but higher capacity models are also available.

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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