Causes and Solutions for the RV Converter Draining Battery

Many people who use their RV as a second home or for weekend getaways, will agree that one of the most frustrating things about owning an RV is having to worry about draining the battery.

Ever wake up in the morning and find no juice left in your battery? Can an RV converter be the source of the trouble? Let’s find out the causes of an RV converter draining battery and the solutions to these problems.

rv converter draining battery
Photo: @norootsnoproblem

What Is an RV Converter?

As the name suggests, it’s a converter that switches your vehicle’s 12-volt battery power to 120 volts of AC electricity. This allows for running the appliances in the trailer, such as TV, computer, and lights without having to run the generator all day long.

It may also be called an inverter because it can convert DC voltage (direct current) into alternating current (AC). An inverter converts from one form of electric energy to another and is usually used when generating small amounts of electricity by using solar panels or other renewable sources.

Converters are generally found in vehicles with off-road capability, so you can charge up batteries if needed. However, most RVs use converters built into their electrical system, which makes them work just like any household appliance.

Related: Best RV Converter Chargers

Can an RV Converter Drain the RV Batteries?

No, it can’t. Your converter is only as good as the battery. Its job is to convert from one form of electric energy to another; it does not draw power directly from the battery. When the RV is connected to an external power source, electricity runs through the converter to the appliances. There is no need for it to draw any power from the batteries.

RV converter draining battery reasons
An RV converter cannot drain the batteries. (Credit: Truck Camper Adventure)

When you connect the RV converter for the first time, it will consume a little power from the battery. But that negligible power draw does not affect the battery’s performance. If the battery is not damaged or already drained off, there is no way to drop charge by using appliances while the converter is connected.

However, you can still experience the problem of the RV converter draining battery. Why does this happen?

RV Converter Draining Battery: Reasons and Troubleshooting

If the converter has a problem, it cannot process the outside power and supply it to the appliances. In that case, the appliances and tools will draw power from the batteries despite being connected to the converter.
If the batteries are losing power without any explanation, you should look into the converter to find the problem. The common troubling sources are:

Cooling Fan

The cooling fan keeps the entire system cool and operating smoothly. If this fan does not work properly, you will start to experience several issues such as power fluctuations, excessive heat, or other problems that can quickly lead to an expensive replacement.

Issues with the cooling fan mean that the converter will not work properly. Look at how well-ventilated the converter is outside. With no ventilation available for the unit, there may be an issue with airflow inside. Also, debris has built up on top of the fan blades over time. The fan can also simply break down due to excessive wear. The RV converter draining battery will happen if you don’t fix the fan.

Clean out dust from vents and the blades. Change the fan if it’s damaged. If the symptoms persist, it may be time for a new converter altogether.

READ MORE:

Circuit Board or Circuit Breakers

The RV converter circuit breaker is responsible for protecting the electrical components from voltage spikes. When the power supply to your motorhome surges, it passes through the RV’s fuse box and then goes into a wire that connects to the circuit breaker in question.

If the converter is malfunctioning, a bad circuit breaker could be the reason. Call a technician to find what has gone wrong with the wiring and replace any parts where needed.

Resistors or Diodes

RV converters have a number of resistors and diodes that can do different things in the circuit. The most important one is to protect your RV from being overloaded with power when it’s plugged into shore power. Its job is to regulate voltage and current coming in from the plug so there are no spikes or fluctuations (otherwise known as “brownouts”). It also protects against surges caused by lightning storms.

resistors and diodes
Bad resistors and diodes can cause converter malfunction.(Credit: Windell Oskay / Flickr)

When these parts do not work, it can cause many other problems with your RV appliances and electronics. For example, if the converter is no longer regulating voltage and current coming in from shore power then you risk too much electricity running through a circuit, which may result in an electrical fire or overloading circuits on board that were never designed for such high levels of electricity. Also, as the converter is not working, the batteries will be the only source of power; hence, be draining.

Fuses

Another reason for an RV converter draining battery could be blown fuses. A small, fragile component of the RV system, the fuse can be easily identified by its black casing and typically has a green wire connected to it. The main job of this part of the electrical system is to prevent overloading or other damage from occurring if there’s too much amperage passing through the transformer at one time. If your RV’s converter suddenly stops working properly, you may notice a few symptoms.

Fuses typically take the brunt of an electrical overload. So, if it has blown out and stopped working correctly, the converter will not work. If this sounds like what is happening to your vehicle’s converter, there is no need to panic. Just examine the fuse box and change the blown fuses. Also, check all low voltage wires leading up from the converter to the rest of your electrical system (i.e., lights, appliances). Look for any signs of burns or rust and make sure all switches are in the on position. Replace the damaged wires and that should bring everything back to order.

Related: How To Test RV Converter In Quick Ways

Last Updated on June 27, 2021

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Peter Wade is a co-ordinator and writer at www.RVTalk.net. His hobbies are coffee, RV camping and photography. He now enjoys exploring the U.S. by RV with his two dogs. After obtaining a MA degree in Public Relations and Journalism, he had 8 years of experience working for R&D Department of Outdoorsy. Peter provides a unique look and insightful knowledge about the RV lifestyle, and fills his blog with everything from RV camping guides to reviews about necessary RV accessories. If you are an RV enthusiast and want to get the most-updated trends of RV industry, Peter’s articles are the must-visit contents.

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