RV Converter Draining the Battery

A RV converter cannot drain the battery as it does not require power to operate. All that a converter does is turn power from one current to another and does not need power from the battery to do that.

If your battery is losing power then it’s probably because of a weak power source or the battery is faulty. 

Here is how they work

What Does the Power Converter Do?

A power converter turns AC power into DC power for the RV applications.

Nowadays, campers can bring their home experience with them wherever they travel, thanks to sophisticated RV trailers. These cars have two independent electrical systems, a 120V AC system, and a 12V DC system.

Appliances such as TV, carbon monoxide detector, and lights consume less power and therefore run on the 12V DC system. On the other hand, furnaces, showers, microwaves, curling irons, and coffee machines typically run on the 120V AC system because they are energy-intensive. While the 120V AC system does not require charging, the 12-volt DC system contains batteries that must be regularly charged even while the RV is not in use.

While there are numerous ways to charge your RV batteries, the quickest method is to plug into a power source, such as a generator or a campsite electrical hookup. A converter helps convert the grid's or generator's AC electricity into a 12-volt direct current (DC), which the battery can store. If the battery is full and you want to save some for later, the converter also enables you to consume power directly from the grid or generator without touching the battery power.

A properly working converter does not drain batteries. If it seems the RV converter is draining the battery, it must be because of one of the following: power source not providing enough voltage, loose/poor connections, cooling fan not working, faulty fuse, dead battery, among others.

Troubleshooting an RV Converter problem

There are several approaches to identify the exact issue causing your RV battery to drain when connected to a converter. But you should purchase a multimeter or a voltage meter first to help with this troubleshooting.

These tools take various electrical measurements from the system to determine what's working correctly and what's not. In addition to calculating voltage, a multimeter can also measure amperage and wattage. Here is a detailed look at how to troubleshoot your RV converter draining battery problem.

Why Is Your RV Converter Draining Your Battery? 

The power source is not supplying enough voltage.

Before you suspect your electrical wiring and equipment, if you see that your RV converter is draining your battery, ensure you are receiving enough power from the grid. Sometimes, the power grid may be the source of the issue rather than your devices.

An unstable or inferior power source can bring about power spikes, surges, and cuts. Lighting that flickers, malfunctioning gadgets, and interfering with tv or radio reception are a few examples of problems caused by a poor power supply. Inadequate conductor wires supplying electricity to your trailer or network overload are some of the causes of poor-quality power supply.

Loose connections are another cause of inadequate power supply. It can involve your trailer or the electrical system. Connections are important when it comes to taking power from the grid. Your battery may occasionally not charge due to faulty trailer wiring, such as damaged converter cables, improperly connected terminals, etc.

In severe circumstances, a loose connection might result in electric shocks. Always ensure your RV wire connections are in good order and shape to carry power from the grid to your trailer. It is advised that you change the cables right away if you discover a problem.

Onboard batteries can't store charge.

Every battery has a predetermined life span. Your battery's lifespan is influenced by various elements, including its model, design, and maintenance practices. If you treat the battery well, it should last as long as the manufacturer says. However, even if you've followed best practices throughout, there will come the point when the battery can no longer retain charge.

The battery must be replaced in that situation because it has run out of life. However, before drawing such conclusions, you must first test it. Sometimes the battery may simply be so depleted that the converter struggles to charge it. In such a case, it might take time for the battery to start charging. However, this is rarely the issue; in most cases the batteries are just dead.

Batteries that lose significant charge when left idle for a short time, e.g. a day or two, are typically damaged or approaching the end of their life span. You may check to see if yours can hold charge by fully charging it, unplugging it from your trailer, and then allowing it to sit idle. If you test it later and see that the charge has dropped considerably, your battery is defective. The typical deep-cycle battery should live for roughly five years, although some last shorter than that for various reasons.

Additionally, you can check the battery for leaks. Due to the seasonal use of trailers, RV batteries frequently go unchecked. Consequently, the battery may get cracks, broken terminals, etc. Such things are important to watch out for because they can help you decide when to get a new battery.

However, if the meter shows your battery holds a charge well, but when you hook it to a converter, it starts draining, you should check it for problems.

Faulty converter devices

  • If your RV converter is not working properly, it may be due to a fault in the device or because the electricity reaching it is below the acceptable range.
  • To check if power is being delivered to an intended location, simply open and close the section's breaker.

Converter overheating brought on by a broken cooling fan.

  • Converters have built-in fans that turn on and off based on the converter's internal temperature.
  • If the fan is not running within acceptable AC voltage levels, something is wrong and may need to be replaced.
  • When replacing converter fans, always get the same as the previous one
  • You should monitor the converter's temperature even if the fan is working properly.

Defective fuses

Fuses are little electrical parts that are interspersed throughout the electrical circuit. Fuses are made to blow anytime there is a power sag or surge to prevent the faulty power supply from damaging your equipment or electrical wiring. You can begin by checking each fuse within the trailer. Your electrical system may be having trouble functioning because of a burned fuse. Do not delay if you see a damaged fuse. Replace it immediately.

A spare set of fuses should always be kept in your toolkit. Trailers use various amperage fuses. You can obtain them singly or in sets. Kits with blade fuses  are color-coded to make it easier for you to identify the right fuse for a particular amperage.

Circuit board corrosion by battery acid

  • If the converter is misbehaving, it might be because battery acid has collected in several connections on the circuit board.
  • To check, unscrew the converter and look for a white, crusty residue on the board. If you see it, clean it off with a cloth or q-tips dipped in a solution of baking soda and water.
  • Avoid oversaturating the cloth/q-tips so you don't drown the circuit board. Once you're done cleaning, allow time for the board to dry before putting everything back together and hooking up power again.

Battery acid buildup on resistors

Resistors are used in some trailer converter circuit boards to regulate voltage. You can find your converter's resistors hidden below the circuit board. They usually have gates, i.e., connection points, and in case of battery acid buildup at these gates, the converter won't work correctly.

These resistors are nearly tough to change on your own. It would be best if you took the trailer to a specialist. They can tell you whether the right thing is to replace the resistors or get a new converter.

Faulty diodes or resistor

A diodes makes sure that the current flow is unidirectional. a resistors control how much current flows through a circuit.  If either are defective, they may be the reason your converter is misbehaving. A faulty diode might result in overloading circuits.

Sadly, even with an expert's help, they are challenging to test. The best course of action is to get a new converter if you find a problem with the diodes.

Solar Panels 

If you have solar panels powering your RV, is it possible that they are draining your batteries at night or while idle. Check out our full explanation here

RV Converter and Battery Best Practices

•To maintain the condition of your converter and battery and prevent power loss, keep batteries charged to avoid sulfation buildup.
• Batteries can be topped off using green technologies, alternator charging, generators, or shore power.
• Store RV batteries in a cool, dry place and test them monthly to ensure the charge hasn't dropped below 80%.
• Before connecting your RV to an electrical outlet, always double-check that it is secure.
• Invest in RV surge protectors to safeguard your electronics.