A camper fridge not working on electric could mean many reasons, such as blown fuses, a faulty circuit breaker, and a shorted heating element. Sometimes, the culprit can be as simple as an unlevel floor. If you own a DC fridge, you might need an AC converter for it to work on shore power.
Why is my RV fridge not working on electric? Let’s discuss each possible reason below, along with some helpful solutions.
- 5 Reasons Why Your RV Refrigerator Not Working on Electric
- How Do RV Fridges Work?
- Should I Replace My RV Fridge?
- Tips To Prevent RV Fridge Problems
- Frequently Asked Questions
5 Reasons Why Your RV Refrigerator Not Working on Electric
1. Blown Fuses
An RV fridge not cooling on electric can also mean blown fuses, especially if you have a two-way refrigerator. Most of the time, this happens because you’re using too much power simultaneously, so the fuse trips to prevent electrical and fire hazards.
You’ll know the fuse has blown when the metal wire has gone dark or looks burnt. For more accuracy, use a test light, which doesn’t turn on when the fuse is broken.
- How To Fix
How do I fix a blown fuse? It’s easy.
Simply replace the blown fuse with a new one, which should have the same voltage and amperage rating as the old one.
Before you install the new fuse, unplug the fridge. Next, pull out the bad fuse with pliers and plug in the new one.
Watch how to replace a bad fuse in this video.
2. Tripped Circuit Breaker
A Dometic refrigerator not cooling on electric can be due to a tripped circuit breaker when there’s an overload in your circuit from using too many appliances at once.
When the circuit breaker keeps tripping every time you turn the fridge on, the reason could be a short circuit.
- How To Fix
Unplug the refrigerator. Next, examine the circuit breaker panel. If you see the breakers in the OFF position, flip it back to the ON position to reset it. Then, change the fridge’s setting back to electricity if it’s switched to propane.
Refer to the product’s manual when changing the settings. For example, the Dometic RV refrigerator reset button is already provided. Simply hold that button for ten seconds four times and plug the fridge back.
If your fridge still trips the breaker, try to plug another appliance into the electrical outlet. If the second appliance works, then the short circuit is in your RV fridge. Call an electrician to check the wires and the compressor.
If the second appliance doesn’t work, then the problem lies with the outlet or the breaker itself. In this case, it’s best to replace the breaker itself.
3. Shorted Heating Element
An RV refrigerator not cooling could also mean the heating element is busted. It’s a common problem among RV users because we’re always on the move. On bumpy roads, the heating element can get in contact with the metal part of the refrigerator.
To check whether the heating element is the problem, use a multimeter. This tool will help measure the resistance. If the Ohms reading is too low, like under 0.5, then the heating element is likely the culprit.
- How To Fix It
Try to find where the heating element is located—it’s usually at the back of the freezer or the bottom of the fridge. When you see that the heating element is touching a metal part, try to move it away.
If the Ohm reading is still low, then you need to replace it. Ask a professional to do it for you. If it’s under warranty, contact your dealer.
4. Incompatible Power Source
A Norcold RV fridge not working on electric could be due to an improper power source. Keep in mind that a Norcold fridge unit only works with DC power that’s stored in your house batteries. This means the fridge won’t be compatible with AC or shore power.
- How To Fix It
This is an easy fix. For a DC fridge to work, you need to use an AC converter. Make sure that this converter matches the electrical ratings of your fridge unit.
5. Unlevel Camper
Why won’t my RV refrigerator turn on? Look at your fridge to see whether it’s standing on level ground. The fridge not working on electric or gas can be due to an unlevel camper.
Tilting the fridge at an angle, even for a short time, can put your cooling system at risk of damage. The front can be a little higher than the front, but the sides should be level.
- How To Fix
Level the fridge properly. Some fridge units come with height-adjustable rollers to make leveling easier. The front should be lifted at most 13 mm in height.
To ensure that the legs stay put while driving, consider adding some snap rings.
When parking the camper, make sure that you stay on level ground. If it’s impossible, use wheel blocks to level your camper perfectly.
How Do RV Fridges Work?
RV fridges work to cool your food and beverages using gasses and chemical reactions.
They come in three types, which may differ in performance.
1. Compressor-Driven Refrigerators
This type of RV fridge offers the most efficient performance. The fridge cools down fast using compression and evaporation.
More specifically, the compressor pushes the refrigerant gas into the air, then condenses it into pressurized liquid and evaporates it at a freezing temperature. Finally, the compressor sucks the cold gas inside, keeping the fridge cool.
These models can run on both AC and DC power, making them compatible with both RV batteries and shore power.
2. Absorption Refrigerators
If you want a more versatile unit, absorption refrigerators are a good option. Three-way models can run on gas, AC, and DC power, while two-way models only run on gas and AC power.
Absorption refrigerators use strong ammonia to condense and evaporate until it mixes with hydrogen to create a cooling effect. While the inside of the refrigerator is cold, hot air escapes outside through the vents.
3. Residential Refrigerators
Large motorhomes now provide residential refrigerator units as luxury. Most of these models work with a compressor but are only compatible with AC power. If you want to use it off-grid, the fridge needs a generator or a DC converter to feed in your house batteries.
Should I Replace My RV Fridge?
There’s no need to replace your fridge if it’s still working. If it’s having issues, then you may start with some basic RV refrigerator troubleshooting before replacing it. You might not know that the problem can still be solved.
For example, if the fridge isn’t cooling. Give it time to do so, especially if you have left it inactive for many months. Ensure you park in the shade because the fridge cools slowly in hot weather.
I’d also troubleshoot my RV refrigerator with tools like a multimeter to check the wires and a test light for the fuses.
If the exterior gets too hot and doesn’t cool anymore, then you need to replace it. A fridge in camper not working is a hassle because it means a limited food supply.
Tips To Prevent RV Fridge Problems
A fridge not working in camper can be prevented with the following tips.
- Keep the fridge level in your camper.
- Check the vital parts, like the evaporator coils and heating element, regularly.
- Avoid putting hot beverages or food inside the fridge.
- Remove any ice buildup in the freezer.
- Let a fridge that’s been inactive for a while run empty for at least 12 hours.
- Make sure that the doors are securely sealed. Check for any damage and replace when necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a RV fridge last?
A well-maintained travel trailer refrigerator can last up to 10-15 years. Make sure that you put it on a level surface and avoid overloading the fridge. When you need repairs, consult your dealer or a trusted electrician to ensure the use of high-quality parts.
Why does my RV Fridge work on propane and not electric?
If your fridge doesn’t work on electric but works on gas, then the possible culprit is something related to AC power. A refrigerator in camper not working could also mean that the circuit breaker has tripped due to a short circuit or overload. Other possible reasons include a damaged circuit board, a blown fuse, or a bad heating element.
Does RV fridge need battery to run on electric?
If you use a residential fridge unit, then it doesn’t need a battery to run on electricity. The unit only requires 120 volts of power from the shore power.
A motorhome fridge not working can be devastating when taking a trip because it can spoil your food. Before you drive, make sure that you check the wires, fuses, and breakers. You want everything to be in good condition to avoid this problem.
Ask an electrician to deal with wires and other electrical parts. If your fridge unit is still under warranty, contact your dealer for a part replacement.
“Hi, I’m Francis’ husband—Calvin. Our story began with our shared passion for traveling. I have had a career journey for over 11 years at Ford Motor Company, where I took on the role of BMS SW Process Engineer.
Together with my wife, I have dedicated countless hours to exploring every nook and corner of the world. Ten years living in an RV may seem long, but time seems to fly by when I’m doing what I love with the person I love.
That’s why I am also a member of FMCA and have been a panelist on seminars at shows like FMCA’s 103rd International Convention & RV Expo in Gillette, WY, where I can showcase my adaptability and expertise.
Like my wife, I hope to help you see the beauty of traveling off the beaten path by sharing insights into this lifestyle. In addition to my corporate roles, I also launched our website – Outdoorbits, in 2015 and continue to contribute my knowledge and skills to the present day. And I’ll be completely honest with you—no hiding the truth or sugarcoating the possible challenges.
So, if you want to run away from the busy lifestyle to embrace nature, I’m your guy.”