The Two Kinds of RV Outlets
There are two kinds of outlets in every RV, regular and GFCI.
GFCI outlets are what you find in bathrooms and kitchens. They’re the outlets that have the test and reset buttons in the center of the outlet.
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GFCI or GFI outlets are made to cut the power when a “current leakage” or power surge is detected.
An example of this is when water gets into an outlet creating a surge of power as electricity flows through the water.
A working GFCI outlet should cut the power to the outlet in this type of situation which is why they are often found in bathrooms, kitchens, basements that are prone to flooding, and outdoor outlets.
Regular non-GFCI RV outlets are the same as the ones you can find in your home.
They are usually 15 amp and will only work when the RV is connected to an AC 110 volt power source.
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How RV Outlets Are Wired
The outlets in RVs are wired together in groups. So the outlets in the bedroom might be directly connected to the outlets in the slide out or even the ones on the outside of the RV.
If one of the outlets in the circuit is having issues, the rest of the outlets will stop working as well.
It’s very common for the regular RV outlets to be wired to a GFCI outlet.
That’s why if the GFCI outlet in the bathroom is tripped other outlets in the RV will stop working as well.
Sometimes there are GFCI outlets on the outdoor outlets or outlets in the outer storage compartments.
It’s a good idea to look around and locate all of the GFCI outlets so you know where they are.
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Non-GFCI RV Outlet Troubleshooting
Here are a few things you can try if your non-GFCI RV outlets aren’t working.
1. Make sure the RV is plugged into power.
The outlets in an RV will only work when the RV is plugged into power.
Outlets use 110 volt AC power and when an RV is only using DC power from the batteries they won’t work.
Unless you’re using an inverter that turns the 12 volt DC power from the battery into 110 volt power, the RV has to be plugged into a 110 volt power source for the outlets to work.
2. Check for another GFCI outlet.
I know everyone says this but it’s most likely a tripped GFCI outlet that’s causing the regular outlets to not work.
It’s common for regular RV outlets to be wired to a GFCI outlet. So if that outlet trips the entire chain of outlets will go out.
There’s always a GFCI outlet in the bathroom, but there can be one or two in other places.
Sometimes they’re in areas that most people wouldn’t think to look.
Check all of the outlets on the outside of your camper and inside the outside storage compartments.
Sometimes the inside outlets are connected to a GFCI outlet outside.
Note a GFCI outlet needs power to reset. If you are pressing the reset button when the power is disconnected to the entire RV it might not reset.
3. Look in the breaker box.
Not all of the GFCI outlets in an RV have a reset button on them.
Some are connected to an actual breaker switch that can be found in the RV breaker box with the other breakers and fuses.
The GFCI outlets might be connected to a fuse as well, make sure you check both the fuses and the breakers.
Sometimes if you flip off the GFCI outlet breaker and then turn it back on it can reset the system and get the non-GFI outlets working again.
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4. Check the wiring on all the outlets that aren’t working.
RV outlets are often wired together, so if one stops working the rest won’t work either.
It’s very common for the wires behind the outlets to fall out because of bad installation quality and the vibrations from the road making the connection loose.
Make sure you disconnect the entire RV from power before you start removing the outlets to check the wiring.
When you remove an outlet test the wires on each one by pulling them just a little bit.
If a wire is loose and about to fall out it could be what’s causing the issue.
5. Check the wiring behind the distribution panel.
The problem could be coming from the distribution panel the outlets are getting their power from.
Make sure you unplug the entire RV from power and also disconnect the RV batteries before messing around behind the distribution panel/breaker box.
Look behind the unit to see if any wires have started to come out.
If you know which wires are going to the outlets you can also pull them a bit to see if they are loose.
6. Replace the GCFI outlet or breaker.
If a GFCI outlet that has a reset button on it isn’t working even when you press the reset button the outlet may need to be replaced.
The breakers in these kinds of outlets can wear out after having to cut the power a few times, a replacement might get things working again.
The breaker for the GFCI outlets that don’t have a reset button on them could be the problem as well. If you’ve tried everything else replacing the breaker is the next step.
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7. Reset the power source the RV is plugged into.
If you are plugged into a power pedestal at an RV park or campground that may have been affected by whatever made the RV outlets stop working.
Turn off the breaker to the power pedestal and unplug your RV. Then plug back in the RV and flip the breaker to the power pedestal back on.
You can also try resetting the GFCI outlets again after this to make sure they are properly reset as well.
It sounds crazy but sometimes the power pedestal can be the problem.
Have any questions about resetting non-GFCI RV outlets? Leave a comment below.