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Why Is My Camper Tripping the Breaker?


Camper keeps tripping breaker - likely causes

A tripping breaker is one that almost anyone who owns a camper has come across at some point. But if your camper keeps tripping the breaker, it moves from a small hiccup to an annoyance. 

The reason your camper keeps tripping your breaker might be because you are overloading your RV’s internal circuit breaker or the external power source. The circuit breaker could also be worn out with age, you have an appliance short circuit, or your extension cord is too long or has gone bad.

In this article, we will go over all of the possible reasons why your camper could be tripping a circuit breaker and what you can do to prevent this from happening. Let us get straight to it.

Power Source Overload

An overloaded power source is the most common reason why a camper might trip a breaker, especially in 30 amp campers. This occurs when you have too many appliances drawing power from the power source at one time. It cannot supply all of the devices with the energy they need and thus trips the breaker to stop any damage from being caused to the camper, appliances, or the power source.

What to Do

If your camper keeps tripping a breaker, checking to see if you are overloading the power source (whether it be your camper’s battery or an external power source) should always be the first thing you do.

Try not to run all of your appliances at once, as this can often trip a breaker.

So, for instance, switch off your water heater when you are not using it and switch on roughly thirty minutes before you will need hot water or try to wait for the AC to cycle off before using your microwave. This can seem like a nuisance at the start, but it will help, and you will get used to it over time.

You can also run your water heater on propane rather than on electricity, as this will take a tremendous amount of strain off of your power source.

Faulty Breaker

Over time, both the breakers on your camper and an external power source (if you are using one) start to wear out from use. They will become weaker and more susceptible to tripping, even if there technically is not any reason for them to trip. If you have a relatively old camper, worn out or faulty breakers may be the reason why your camper keeps tripping the breaker.

What to Do

As mentioned previously, breakers can quickly become faulty with age, and if this is the case, you will need to replace the defective breaker with a new one.

You will be able to tell if a breaker needs replacing if it is very loose and can easily be switched on and off. Breakers are usually quite stiff and require a bit more effort to switch on and off. So once you have found the faulty breaker, you can replace it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.

Appliance Short Circuit

If you find that it is not your main breaker that keeps tripping, but rather one of the breakers that leads to a built-in appliance (like a fridge, microwave, water heater, or AC) or to a power outlet that you plugged an appliance into, it may be that you have an appliance short circuit.

This happens when there is an irregular connection at the meeting point between two electrical circuits. This will cause your breaker to trip because it is trying to prevent the circuit from being damaged or overheating, as this can result in a fire or an electrical explosion.

What to Do

If the breaker to one of your appliances is the one that keeps tripping, either the connection or the appliance itself is likely faulty. You will need to check the breaker connection as well as the appliance’s wiring. Once you have found the culprit, you will need to either reconnect the wires properly or replace the faulty appliance.

Extension Cord Problems

If you are using an extension cord to connect your camper to an external power source, the extension cord may be the source of your troubles. The more distance there is for the current to travel between the power source and your camper, the bigger the margin of error becomes.

There is also the possibility that the wires of your extension cord are faulty or not connected properly, which can cause your camper to trip a breaker if there is a sudden surge in the power it is receiving.

What to Do

If you think that your extension cord is at fault, unplug it from the power source and camper and give it a thorough inspection to ensure that none of the wires are fried and that there is not any dirt in the connections. Also, be mindful of how long your extension cord is because this could also give you some issues.

If you are connecting your camper to your house’s power supply, it might be a good idea to have an electrician install a 30 amp outlet designed explicitly for camper connections to the outside of your house.

Make sure to have it installed as close to where you park your camper as possible. 

Also, ensure that any extension cord you are using to connect your RV to an external power source has been grounded.

Other Wiring Issues

In some cases, the thing that can cause your camper to trip a breaker are wires that have broken or come loose from their connections. This can happen if you often take your camper on very rough and uneven roads.

The broken connections can cause short circuits in your camper, which will result in one or all of your breakers tripping.

What to Do

If none of the above options were the cause of your problems, it is time to check your wires. You can check the connection between your wires and breakers by opening up the breaker panel. If you find a connection that has come loose or a broken wire, you can fix and reconnect the wire yourself.

However, if you cannot see any issues at first glance, it may be a good idea to call a professional to come to take a look at your camper. They will also be able to fix any issues they find quickly and decently.

Here is a short video you can watch about troubleshooting the problems of your camper breaker:

RV circuit breakers

Conclusion

Whether you are connected to your house’s power, a power outlet at a campground, or using your camper’s battery, having a breaker that keeps tripping is frustrating. Luckily, there is almost always a solution to the problem.

Be it practicing better appliance management, replacing a breaker, replacing a faulty appliance, having a suitable external power source installed, using a shorter extension cord, or making sure that all of the wire connections inside your RV are okay, you can find a way to fix your breaker problems (or have someone else fix them for you).

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Paul

As a homeowner, I am constantly experimenting with making the structure of my house more energy-efficient, eliminating pests, and taking on DIY home improvement projects. Over the past two decades, my family has rehabbed houses and contracted new home builds and I've learned a lot along the way. I share my hard-learned lessons so that you can save time and money by not repeating my mistakes.

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