RV Not Getting Power from Generator: What’s the Actual Reason (With Fixes)?

RVs give us the ability to travel in comfort while enjoying all the conveniences of home. But when the onboard generator fails to send electricity to power the motorhome, it interrupts that comfort and your trip plans. There are several root causes of generators not powering RVs (Tripped generator or RV breakers, Loose connections, etc) along with some best practice preventative maintenance that can avoid these headaches. Equipping yourself with solutions to common generator problems and following expert recommendations will keep your travels smooth and powered up. So, without any further ado, get into the details straightforwardly!

RV Not Getting Power from Generator

What Causes RV Not to Get Power from Generator?

Having your RV generator fail to send electricity during a trip can certainly be inconvenient and disruptive. Before calling for roadside assistance, inspecting a few key trouble spots within the generator itself and the RV electrical system can isolate the root cause. 

RV Not to Get Power from Generator

There are a handful of typical culprits that lead to generators not sending electricity to run an RV –

Generator Breakers Tripped

Like your home’s electrical panel, RV generators have a breaker box that will trip and shut off power during an overload situation or short circuit. 

Fix: Start troubleshooting here by locating your specific generator manual to find out where the breaker panel is accessed. Methodically switch each individual breaker fully to OFF then back ON one by one. Pause a few seconds between cycling each switch. If successfully resetting the main breaker doesn’t restore generator power, move downstream to investigate the RV interior breakers.

RV Breakers Tripped

Every RV has a dedicated breaker box inside the living space that acts as the central nervous system protecting the electrical system from issues like shorts or spikes. This box is normally located in close proximity to the entrance door for easy access. 

Fix: Pop open the panel cover and scan for any switches suspiciously flipped downward to the OFF position; this clues you in on potential culprit circuits. Carefully switch each of these breakers fully OFF and then ON in sequence, being methodical and allowing a reasonable delay between. Doing so will isolate any underlying shorts.

Loose Wire Connections

The vibrations and movements involved in motoring down the highways can slowly loosen electrical wiring terminals and connections over months or years of RVing. 

Fix: Start inspecting where generator power jumps from the external generator into your RV, typically through a standard electrical plug. Ensure this large plug is fully inserted into the RV’s junction box or receptacle housing and that the screw-down retaining clamp is tightly locked on. Also, check where ground wires connect the generator frame to the RV chassis; clean any oxidation on terminals then re-tighten.

Faulty Transfer Switch

Most RVs have an automatic transfer switch responsible for switching electrical supply from shore power hookups to generator power without intervention. 

Fix: Use a digital multimeter to first check for voltage on the input side of the switch while the generator runs. Then test for voltage coming out of the output side downstream inside the RV breaker box bus bars. Any power missing in that downstream test points toward a faulty transfer mechanism needing replacement by a certified technician.

Generator Exciter Issues

The generator’s spinning mechanical power must be converted to usable AC output electricity through a series of coils and exciter components. 

Fix: Some Generac RV generator models, for example, use a voltage regulator device to control excitation by regulating voltage to the generator field windings appropriately. Visually inspect for any discolored spots or damaged wires in a failing voltage regulator. Testing the DC voltage on the regulator’s connector plug can also validate whether specification output is being supplied. Replacing a faulty voltage regulator will often resolve intermittent generator problems.

Generator Overheating

During spells of hot, humid weather it’s not uncommon for RV generators to intermittently trip their protective safeguards when running. This is because the air conditioners, refrigerator, microwave, and other appliances collectively overload and overheat the generator right when it’s fighting ambient heat. The generator may refuse to output electricity again until it cools down completely. 

Fix: Consider reprioritizing when you run high-draw appliances during peak temperature hours and ease up on simultaneous usage. Running just the AC or microwave individually will lighten the load.

Low Oil Shutoff Sensor

Nearly all RV generators have a low-oil sensor that automatically and abruptly shuts off the unit when lubricant levels get too low. This sensor essentially protects the engine but stops electricity production until you manually add back oil to specification. 

Fix: Intermittently check that oil levels are correct by referring to your owner’s manual for guidance. It’s smart to keep spare generator oil aboard for this exact scenario disrupting an otherwise nicely planned trip.

How to Avoid This Kind of Power Difficulty Problem? 

Routinely caring for your RV generator provides dividends by minimizing disruptions on trips down the road –

1: Change oil and air/fuel filters based on runtime hours per manual guidance rather than just once annually

2: When possible, stagger running the highest-draw appliances concurrently to lighten the electrical load

3: Use quality fuel stabilizers if the generator sits unused for extended periods

4: Exercise the generator regularly by running it under an appliance load

5: Schedule annual generator tune-ups by certified RV technicians before the trip season

6: Inspect wiring routing when slide-outs are deployed for any pinching hazards

Emerging Alternative: Solar Power Systems

An increasingly popular supplementary source of electricity for RVs is solar power. Advances in semi-flexible solar panel efficiency paired with high-capacity lithium batteries allow motorhome owners to scale renewable energy or solar power based on needs. Many find 200-400 watts of panels charge enough juice to avoid needing generator power during daylight hours, investing upfront in solar liberation from the noise, emissions, and service demands of a generator.

Relevant Questions with Answers

What are the symptoms of my RV generator not sending power?

Clues include appliances not turning on, electrical sockets going dead and lights failing to illuminate when you switch to generator mode. But first rule out battery reserve capacity hasn’t drained.

Why does my generator run but not provide power?

Causes can include popped circuit breakers on the generator itself or within the RV, loose wiring connections vibrating free, generator overheating issues, or problems with converter components that transform mechanical rotation into electrical energy.

How do I know if the transfer switch is bad?

Use a multimeter to validate if 120v power is present at the input while not on the output terminals—no voltage downstream points to transfer switch contacts corroded or stuck. Replacement should restore automatic shore or generator source switching.

My generator keeps shutting off, why?

Generators automatically shutting down abruptly mid-operation is commonly caused by low oil levels tripping built-in protective sensors, but overheating issues can also be suspect during hot weather spells.

How often should an RV generator be serviced?

Annually inspecting exhaust, fuel lines, sensor gauges, belts, and filtration systems ensures reliable operation. Change oil based more on operating hours rather than annually if minimal runtime. Well-maintained generators enjoy a lifespan ranging from 10-20 years.

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