How to Troubleshoot a Battery Converter on an RV

by Thomas West

Most likely the lighting fixtures and other accessories in your recreational vehicle operate off of your RV's 12-volt battery. This allows you to enjoy your RV while parked in primitive areas where electricity is not available. However, your lights and accessories would be ruined if you connected your RV to an outside electrical source without using a battery converter, also known as a power inverter. The converter installed in your recreational vehicle converts 110-volt alternating current (AC) to 12-volt direct current (DC). The converter also charges your RV's battery while you are connected to outside electrical power. You can troubleshoot your converter to ensure it is working properly in just a few minutes.

Locate your RV's battery compartment. Check for a battery box mounted on the tongue for travel trailers. Know that motor homes may have a cover on the exterior of the vehicle that needs to be removed to reveal the battery. Check your owner's manual for the location of the battery.

Disconnect the cable from the negative battery terminal by loosening the clamp nut with an adjustable wrench in a counterclockwise direction. Lift the cable from the battery and push it aside.

Plug your RV's external power cord into an electrical outlet.

Turn on your RV's lighting fixtures and other 12-volt accessories, such as water pumps and built-in radios. Note that if all 12 volts lights and accessories are operating properly, your converter is functioning as it should.

Locate the battery converter, which should be inside the living quarters of your RV. Check your owner's manual for the location of your battery converter, if necessary. Check the temperature of the converter with the back of your hand, as converters will generate a small amount of heat when operating. Make sure the converter's cooling fan is working by listening for a hum.

Replace your converter if the lights and other 12-volt accessories do not work, the converter is not warm, or the cooling fan is not working.

Unplug the RV's power cord and reconnect the negative battery terminal when you are done troubleshooting. Tighten the negative battery terminal with an adjustable wrench in a clockwise direction.


  • check When checking the converter on motor homes, do not disconnect the engine's starting battery. Motor homes will have at least two batteries, one for starting the engine (two for diesel powered motor homes) that will be located in the engine compartment. The battery that we are concerned with is usually mounted in the living quarters of the RV, either under the floor board or in an external compartment. Check your owner's manual for the location of the converter battery.

Items you will need

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

More Articles

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera rv on highway image by jedphoto from