Published Date: September 6, 2020
Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by Camper Front
Going on a camping trip with your RV is all fun when there is electricity to power up your refrigerator, charge your phone and laptops and even use entertainment devices if you have one.
Now, if you have had your RV for a couple of years, it is normal for some parts of it to start experiencing a fault, one of which is the converter.
But how do you spot a bad converter?
In this article, we’ll be looking at how to tell if an RV converter is bad so you can tackle the problem immediately before you are left in a “blackout” situation in the middle of nowhere.
What is an RV Converter?
Before we go into the warning signs, if you are not “electrically inclined,” you might be wondering, what is an RV converter?
Well, a converter is used to change AC power to DC power. RV systems have in-built converters so that you can charge your battery while you’re parked at a campsite with electrical hookups.
There are many different types of converters, but the type that is used in an RV is known as a controlled rectifier. This is because the process of converting AC to DC power in an RV is called rectification.
Read Also: How to Heat a Caravan Without Electricity
How to Tell if an RV Converter is Bad
Now that you already know what an RV converter is all about, let’s talk about how to know if your RV converter is bad.
When you notice any of the signs/issues below, then your camper converter is probably faulty:
Batteries Draining Quickly
An RV converter is designed to give off 12V DC power to your RV’s batteries, so if you notice that they are not giving up to that amount of power, that is the first indicator that your converter is getting bad.
But before making any changes, you have to test your batteries in order to find out if they are still capable of holding a consistent charge.
A great way to do this is to charge your batteries to the fullest, then remove them from the RV and leave them out for approximately 30 minutes, after which you then use a multimeter to test the batteries.
If you get a negative reading, that means your batteries need to be replaced, but if they are still fully charged, then you can go ahead and replace the converter.
A Malfunctioning Cooling Fan
An internal cooling fan is usually embedded in an RV converter; this helps to cool it down. Whenever you connect your RV converter to a 110V AC power supply, the cooling fan starts to run intermittently, but if the voltage at this 110V has a problem, the cooling fan might not work properly.
Rv converters fan tend to get damaged or worn out easily from constant use, and when this occurs, a lot of heat will be generated in the converter, which would cause some parts of it to get damaged, which will then cause your RV’s converter to start malfunctioning.
You can actually test to find out if your converter’s cooling fan is faulty. To do this, all you need to do is connect the entry points of the converter to a multimeter; if you don’t get a reading with a multimeter, it might just happen to be that it’s the cooling fan that’s faulty and not the converter.
It may also be the 110V line, or the thermostat or thermal sensor that is faulty. To ensure that all these are working properly, you can supply a current different from the 110V line to them; if they work okay, then you can rule out if the problem is in the 110V line.
But if they don’t, you may need to replace the thermal sensor, the cooling fan, or even the converter as a whole.
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Clogged Connections on a Circuit Board
To get through this step, you need to have some previous experience and general knowledge of electronics. Before you do anything concerning your battery’s circuit board, you have to be an experienced electrician, or you have to take it to one.
To determine if the circuit board is the problem, you have to open it out to check if there is any battery acid on the connections. Battery acid is basically a white substance that has quite a distinctive smell, so it is relatively easy to spot.
If you find some battery acid spilled on your battery’s connections, you will have to clean it. But you have to make sure the electricity in your RV is turned off.
To clean off the battery acid, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with approximately 12oz of water, then use a cotton swab to gently remove the battery acid from the connectors.
After cleaning, leave the circuit board to dry properly then screw back the board. If after cleaning off the battery acid and you are still experiencing problems with your RV’s electrical system it is highly likely that the RV’s converter is bad
Abnormal voltage range
An abnormal voltage range is another vital sign of a bad RV converter. This tends to occur either at the entry point of the 110V AC supply to the RV or in the 12V direct current breaker box.
You can use a voltmeter to test the voltage at both points.
But firstly, You have to first check whether the voltage at the entry point is around the normal range, after which you need to check the DC breaker box. If one or both of them gives bad readings, you should be able to identify the cause of the problem.
Read Also: How to Heat a Camper Without Propane
Without electricity, your RV is basically a tent. There’s nothing worse than going off-grid and having your electricity cut off due to a faulty converter or any electrical problem. You have to know how to tell if an RV converter is bad to avoid having such accidental problems.