One of the joys of the RVing lifestyle is that you can travel to parts unknown while still enjoying the comforts that electricity has to offer.
And that’s why it’s all the more frustrating when you have electrical issues in your RV.
If you’re having problems with electrical devices, plug-ins, and/or appliances not working in your RV, the first thing you should check is your RV circuit breaker.
But that probably has you asking: where is the circuit breaker in my RV?
RV circuit breakers are located in different places depending on the style of RV you have. However, they will usually be on a wall near the floor. Circuit breakers in campers are generally located under the fridge, under a cabinet/pantry, under the bed, or possibly even hidden inside a cabinet.
Some older rigs — like my vintage Airstream from 1988 — will have the breaker at the back of your camper above the bed.
You can find your circuit breaker by locating a plastic or metal panel door in your RV — once you open it, you’ll see a series of breaker switches that will look like your circuit breaker switches at home.
In this article, we’ll unpack exactly how to find your RVs circuit breaker, the different types of circuit breakers in your camper, and how to troubleshoot a breaker that keeps tripping, causing a loss of power.
RV Circuit Breaker Basics
Before we talk about locating and switching your RV circuit breaker, it’s important to know answers to a few general questions:
What exactly is an RV circuit breaker?
Just like your breaker at home, your RV’s circuit breaker is designed to protect you and your camper in the event of a power surge, short circuit, or overloaded plug-in that could be dangerous.
A circuit breaker is designed to cut off — or break — power to all devices on a particular circuit before they can cause damage.
For example, I full-time in a 1988 Airstream with a 30 amp breaker (we’ll chat in a second about how 30 amp is the most common RV breaker).
If I try to run two large space heaters in my RV, I’ll almost always trip my breaker because I’m trying to run too much power through my circuits.
My circuit breaker protects me by shutting down the system before it might overheat and cause a fire.
What circuit breakers are in 30 amp versus 50 amp RVs?
The majority of RVs with one air-conditioner are wired on a 30 amp circuit whereas campers with two air-conditioners are wired on a 50 amp circuit.
RVs with 50 amp circuits will generally allow you to run more electrical appliances before tripping a breaker.
For example, you could likely run two space heaters at the same time without tripping a breaker in a 50 amp RV.
By knowing whether you have a 30 amp or a 50 amp RV, you’ll be better able to know the limitations of your RV circuit breaker.
What types of circuit breakers are in my RV?
RVs usually have a few different types of breakers inside them. Understanding what they are will help you find these RV circuit breakers when you need them:
1. 110 Volt Breaker
This is the breaker that controls any 110 volt appliances and plug-ins.
For example, normal plug-ins, the air-conditioner, and your battery charger all run on 110 volt power.
This is your main breaker that we’ve talked about before (the one likely located under a bed, fridge, or cabinet).
2. 12 Volt Circuit Breaker
Almost all campers power things like interior lights, water heater ignition, and radios with 12v power.
That’s because it’s easier to run 12v power off camper batteries than 110v power.
Because this is a separate electrical system, your 12v power system has its own breaker.
But, unlike the switches in your 110v panel, these will likely be fuses, which are more complicated to fix if they trip.
The good news is, unless you’re wiring in new 12 volt lights or actively modifying your 12v electrical wiring, tripping a 12v circuit is very rare.
NOTE: If you do try to modify or add to your 12v system, seek the help of a qualified RV professional.
3. Other Breakers
Power pole — If you’re staying at an RV park and plugged in, you’ll be plugged into a power pole. This pole has its own breaker that can get tripped sometimes.
Breakers on plug-ins — Plug-ins known as GFCI plug ins will have black and red switches on them that function as a circuit breaker for that outlet. If you have a plug-in like this that’s not working, you should first try resetting the circuit on the plug itself.
Breakers on devices — Some devices (like hairdryers) have their own built in circuits. If they do, you’ll see a set of red and black switches on the plug that will need to be used if the device trips.
Where Is The Circuit Breaker In My RV?
As noted above, most RV circuit breakers are located near the floor, under the fridge, under a cabinet, or even inside an interior storage compartment.
Ultimately, you are looking for a small plastic or metal panel door. Behind this door, you’ll find a series of switches that will look very similar to your circuit breaker box at home.
Oftentimes, there will be an image on the inside of the panel door that’ll help you see which circuits go to what items in your RV.
If you look around and are unable to locate the circuit breaker in your RV, consult your owner’s manual because it will tell you the exact location.
Where Is The 12 Volt Circuit Breaker In My RV?
As noted above, nearly all RVs have a 12 volt circuit panel that powers lights, ignition switches, and other low power devices will usually be located near the batteries in your RV that power your interior lights and other appliances.
Your 12 volt circuit breaker will also usually be made up of fuses rather than switches. These are more difficult to work with and might require professional help should you ever blow a 12 volt fuse.
It is rare that a 12 volt fuse will blow unless you actively rewire items in your 12 volt system (e.g. add new lights, a more powerful radio, etc.).
RV Circuit Breaker FAQs
When you ask: where is the circuit breaker in my RV? You’ll also probably be asking yourself some or all of the following:
How do I reset my RV circuit breaker?
If power cuts off to part or all of your RV, locate your circuit breaker and simply turn the offending circuit off and then back on.
You can usually tell which switch in the circuit breaker is tripped because it will be in a different position than the other switches or will show a red color on the switch itself.
I’ve checked my RV circuit breaker and reset all the switches but the power is still out – why?
Remember that individual appliances and plugs can have their own breakers. If you’ve reset these and still do not have power, try the following:
Check the power pole that your RV cord is plugged into to see if that circuit is tripped
Confirm that the entire RV park isn’t experiencing a power outage
Check your RV cord to make sure it looks solid and doesn’t have any imperfections
My circuit breaker keeps tripping — why?
Circuit breakers will repeatedly trip for the following reasons:
If you plug too many power hungry devices (e.g. space heaters or electric stoves) into one circuit, you’ll overload it and constantly trip the circuit. Try unplugging these devices to see if that resolves the problem.
Short circuiting appliances
I have a 1987 motorcoach that would consistently trip the circuit with my RV heater and lights on it within 30 mins of use.
I finally isolated the problem to a fan over my stove that had a bad internal switch and was wired to the same circuit.
This switch was causing the entire circuit to trip, cutting off power when I tried using anything on the circuit.
By fixing that fan, I fixed my circuit problem. Sometimes, your circuit breaker is fine but it’s the things hooked up to it that are actually short circuiting.
You can test this in your RV by unplugging suspicious appliances to see if this prevents the circuit from tripping all the time.
How do I know if my circuit breaker is bad?
If you’ve tried all of the above and your circuit breaker still keeps tripping, you might have a bad breaker.
To fix this, you will need to replace your RV circuit breaker with an identical unit.
Be sure to work with a certified RV professional to install a new circuit breaker because you do not want to try and DIY an electrical project like this unless you are certified.
Finding your circuit breaker in your RV isn’t usually a difficult task and your RV owner’s manual will show you exactly how to find all the pieces of your RV’s electrical system.
But when you trip your circuit breaker, it can result in a frustrating loss of power and confusion as to the cause.
By walking through the game plan above, you’ll have what you need to find your RV circuit breaker, troubleshoot it, and fix any recurring problems your RV circuit breaker might be causing you.