Help!! No 12 volt power!

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

efhole

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 21, 2011
Posts
51
Location
Knoxville, Tennessee
Just finished up a week of camping and mid trip, my lights, furnace and slide out power completely shut down. This happened twice, so I shut everything down for a few minutes and plugged back in. Doing this made the system power back up a couple times before it finally went out altogether the next day. All my electical outlets worked so I bought a lamp and space heater to help ease the agony. I took my battery to a local auto parts store for them to check. It was almost dead and no longer held a charge. Upon installing the new battery I bought, I was able to run a little heat from time to time and had lights and was able to close my slideout before coming home. I am ignorant when it comes to RV electrical systems and fairly new to RV's altogether, but it almost seems to me that my converter is bad. I was unable to check it because of is location, crammed under the fridge with copper pipes and electrical wire all around it. Can someone please explain what my issue may be? I dropped it off at the local Campingworld for them to troubleshoot, so I am hoping that this don't amount to a huge chunk of change. Thanks!!
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
24,948
Location
Davison Michigan
Sounds like a problem on the 12 volt side of life,, Possible issues are as follows:

Battery too small
Battery old and "Anemic" (loosing capacity and in need of replacement in reverse order)
Converter not charging battery fully  NOTE: some converters are very very S*L*O*W*! chargers.

Finally you may have a partial short tripping a circuit breaker (Self resetting, such as a "Short Stop" model)

Suggestion: Your digital multi-meter is your friend.. Start by measuring the voltage across your battery terminals.. Also, answer these questions:

1: Battery(s) what size are they
2: Converter make and model.

NOTE: many RVs epically trailers, the converter is built into the power distribution center so if you can't find the converter,, What is the make and model of the power distribution center (Breaker/fuse box).
 

efhole

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 21, 2011
Posts
51
Location
Knoxville, Tennessee
The battery that was in the RV has been in the RV for 6 years, so I don't think it is an issue of being too small. However, it barely registered power when auto parts store checked it and wasn't holding a charge at all. I bought a new battery and installed it. When the battery was disconnected and the RV was plugged in at the campground, there was still no power to the lights, furnace or slideout. If it was a battery problem, shouldn't I still be able to get power to the lights, furnace and slideout without a battery connection? I unhook my battery when the RV is stored at home and am still able to have lights/furnace when I plug it in. As for the converter, there' never been an issue like this since I've had the RV (1 year) and have taken it campin several times. Its a 2004 model 5th wheel.
 

Seajay

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 7, 2011
Posts
448
Here is what happened to me similar too your situation. 
One.......  my ''house batteries died'' and I had no power to any 12 volt appliances.
Two........  I bought two new six volt house batteries and everything worked fine .....for a while
Three.....    My house batteries went dead again after a while while I was traveling....
Four......      I called a ''tech'' for help and he told me that the ''inverter that charged my batteries had probably gone bad''    He said to plug in the coach to 110 volt outlet and go inside and listen............  He said I should hear the fan on the inverter turn on when the inverter started running..........  I did and it didn't .............. I said ''Shux''..........
WORTHLESS INFO...  The inverter is like a battery charger that re charges your house batteries when they get low.  This devise is well hidden in various places which are really hard to reach or see.  Some are under the bench seats in your dinette.    Some are hidden under the bottom drawer in the cabinets.  (remove the drawers and use a light).....  Mine was hidden under the stove, the bottom drawer of the stove, in the dark, with about one inch of clearance above it.  It was  plugged into a ''outlet'' and the unit weighed slightly less than half a ton and was bolted to the floor with screws.  I could see one of the screws and feel the rest... I said shux again.  It was a situation where I could see the inverter but not reach it or I could reach it and not be able to see it.    I said SHUX real loud again.  My inverter was heavy and with much cursing I  got it un boalted from the floor and un plugged from the outlet and the wires to the batteries undone  and after much swearing and cursing I got it out from under the stove without removing the stove.
I read the legend plate on the inverter and goggled the company name and ordered another one after several tests to be sure mine was shot.  As I remember, the new one was less than 200 bucks but not much......  They shipped it to me and I put it back under the stove WITHOUT BOALTING IT TO THE FLOOR.  I plugged it in and it recharged my house batteries without a problem......
One more thing to remember,    YOU CAN HEAR THE FAN ON THIS INVERTER WHEN IT IS RECHARGING YOUR BATTERIES  ..... iT IS A SOFT HUMM and that is the fan cooling the fins on the transformer.  Learn to LISTEN FOR THAT ''HUMMMMMMM''.....

I am not saying that this is your problem but I will bet you a dollar to a hot six pack that this is it. 
I would advise you NOT TO USE MY ADVISE BECAUSE I AM USUALLY WRONG but if you do use my advise,  you must pay me ten cents the next time you see me ......  GOOD LUCK MY FRIEND ... 
Pray for our troops........ every day...........cj
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,954
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Your old battery well and truly deserved replacement, and that was the first problem. But it appears you have a converter/charger problem as well, since it should have been able to provide plenty of 12v power as long as you were plugged to shore power.  My first guess would be a blown fuse in the converter and a second possibility is a tripped circuit breaker in the supply to the converter/charger.  And last, the charger itself may have failed and simply isn't charging anymore.

I'm not familiar with the wiring and components on your Wilderness and you didn't mention brand and model of converter/charger, so it's difficult to be more precise.
 

efhole

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 21, 2011
Posts
51
Location
Knoxville, Tennessee
Well......I took it to Campingworld, where they checked out the inverter/converter (whichever I have)and they told me everything checked out fine. They tested my charger, my battery I just purchased, the fuses, breakers, lights, furnace, the whole 9 yards. Everything that didn't work at the campground, now works just fine after I replaced the battery. One of my co-workers told me that since the old battery was not taking a charge at all, there may have been safety/shutdown feature on my inverter that causes it to shutdown when the battery will not accept the charge it is trying to send it. He said or the inverter could have been overheated by trying to charge a dead battery, thus causing it to shutdown from being too hot. What he said made sense, but I still can't get to my box to verify the name and model to check for myself. All I know is now everything works on my 5er and I am $163 for Campingworld to tell me that!
 

Brother Bear

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2008
Posts
448
Location
Great Plains
for the record, RV converters change 110V power to 12V power. RV inverters change 12V power to 110V power. While some inverters do have a battery charge function as well, it is the converter that charges your battery from shore power.
 

efhole

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 21, 2011
Posts
51
Location
Knoxville, Tennessee
Unfortunately, I do not know. It is crammed behind the copper fridge tubing surrouned by lots of electrical wiring underneath my refridgerator. It is just too difficult to get to. As a matter of fact, it took me over an hour to even find it. We may never know! :-[
 

Koodog

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Posts
465
Location
Boncarbo, CO
Brother Bear....thanks for the definition for folks between converter and inverter.

Efhole....the "converter" is basically a power supply unit which turns 110VAC into 12VDC to power up trailer and charge batteries. I have heard that some converters do indeed need a battery to work correctly. I've not had a trailer which this was the case. All of the ones I've had you were able to remove battery and still have power in trailer if hooked up to shore (110VAC) power. Last issue I had with a converter was a broken wire on the cooling fan. This caused the converter to put out power until it got hot, then it cycled power off an on. The lights would get bright then dim in a rapid fashion. I suggest you figure out how to get to yours because at some point you will need to. In the 3 rigs I've owned  I had to repair 1, and replace 1.

It could be a heat issue with yours also as CW did not find anything wrong. I would hope they had checked the model to determine if a battery was indeed needed for it to work.
 

denmarc

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 8, 2009
Posts
2,502
Location
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Seajay said:
Here is what happened to me similar too your situation. 
One.......  my ''house batteries died'' and I had no power to any 12 volt appliances.
Two........  I bought two new six volt house batteries and everything worked fine .....for a while
Three.....    My house batteries went dead again after a while while I was traveling....
Four......      I called a ''tech'' for help and he told me that the ''inverter that charged my batteries had probably gone bad''    He said to plug in the coach to 110 volt outlet and go inside and listen............  He said I should hear the fan on the inverter turn on when the inverter started running..........  I did and it didn't .............. I said ''Shux''..........

Did you really say "Shux"?  I haven't heard that word since the "Mayberry RFD" days!    ;)
 

efhole

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 21, 2011
Posts
51
Location
Knoxville, Tennessee
Koodog said:
Brother Bear....thanks for the definition for folks between converter and inverter.

Efhole....the "converter" is basically a power supply unit which turns 110VAC into 12VDC to power up trailer and charge batteries. I have heard that some converters do indeed need a battery to work correctly. I've not had a trailer which this was the case. All of the ones I've had you were able to remove battery and still have power in trailer if hooked up to shore (110VAC) power. Last issue I had with a converter was a broken wire on the cooling fan. This caused the converter to put out power until it got hot, then it cycled power off an on. The lights would get bright then dim in a rapid fashion. I suggest you figure out how to get to yours because at some point you will need to. In the 3 rigs I've owned  I had to repair 1, and replace 1.

It could be a heat issue with yours also as CW did not find anything wrong. I would hope they had checked the model to determine if a battery was indeed needed for it to work.



Well, I plugged her in to shore power when I got home, disconnected the battery and ran the heat and lights for about 30 minutes and it ran just fine. I'm wondering if i ran it long enough to determine if I have a wire broken or loose? The last thing I want is to get back out to a campground and for this to happen again. I may let it sit all day on Saturday with everything functioning to see if it does it again. Thanks to all for the good advice.
 
Top Bottom