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Old 07-26-2019, 12:51 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Colorado
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Default Power outlets only work with shore power

Hi all, I am very new to the RV life, having picked up my first class B (or RV of any type for that matter) recently.
I bought a 98 Roadtrek 170 that has some issues I was aware of beforehand and am beginning to work through them so expect to see me on here often throwing up various SOS's.

Anyway, the first issue I'm trying to resolve is that the power outlets only work when shore power is connected. I've checked the trip switches on all the GFCI outlets. All electricity works fine when plugged in but dead when running off of the aux battery.

Same goes for the two front lights (over captains chairs) although the rest of the lights work fine off of the aux battery

I'm suspecting a fuse/breaker on the 12v circuit that feeds the outlets and those two front lights but I'm just working off of the general Roadtrek manual and don't have any detail on how all is wired.

Any suggestions before I dig in would be greatly appreciated


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Old 07-26-2019, 02:00 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Texas
Posts: 30

110VAC outlets are typically powered only when connected to shore power, or when the generator is running. It could be that some outlets are connected to a power inverter that creates 11VAC out of the 12VDC from the battery, but that is usually not the case.
So, very likely that this is expected behavior.

It would be strange that they had connected some lights to work on 110VAC only. I would imagine that those lights are maybe connected to the engine battery, and not the house battery. Possibly you would need to have the 'interior' lights switch set to be on also when the doors are closed? (In mine the lights over the captain seats turn on/off when the doors are opened/closed). To be able to have them on when the doors are closed I need to turn the dashboard light level switch all the way so that the interior lights are enabled. (Mine is built on the 1997 Dodge B3500 chassis, yours probably also?)

Good luck,

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Old 07-26-2019, 02:16 PM   #3
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Location: Minnesota
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Are we talking about 110v power outlets or 12v outlets? GFCI outlets are only for the 110v but it appears the 12v are your concern?

If the power outlets are the 12v cigarette type in the dash, they are likely to be run off the chassis battery so check with the engine running or key on. The front lights might be considered map lights and be on the same circuit so check the same.

Any 12v outlets or lights that are connected to the coach battery should also work on 110v as the battery connections don't change when on shore power. All that happens is the battery charger comes on.
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Old 07-26-2019, 02:20 PM   #4
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Makes sense. Like I said, completely new to all this so thanks very much for the replies
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Old 07-26-2019, 02:44 PM   #5
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I'm on a 1996 Dodge 3500 chassis (1997 Pleasureway) and here are the instructions I have in the manual for the lights above the driver/passenger (it calls them "map lights.")

[Quote from PW owner's manual]

"OPTION 1: With headlight knob turned to center, lights will turn on when you open the doors and off when you shut them.

OPTION 2: With the headlight knob turned all the way left, the lights can be turned on with the switches on the map lights with the doors closed. Do not leave headlight knob in this position unless you are driving or it will slowly drain and kill the chassis battery.

OPTION 3: With the headlight knob turned all the way right, the lights will not come on when you open doors. Note: This is the position that this should be left in when not driving."
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Old 07-26-2019, 02:50 PM   #6
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Got it, thanks
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:19 PM   #7
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Location: Hawaii
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If you are referring to power to your 110vac outlets the first question is: Does your rig have an inverter installed to convert the battery's 12v to 110vac to power the 110vac outlets? If not, then that means they are indeed probably only powered when you are plugged in to shore power. You should get an experienced electrician to take a look at your setup to see what you've got...
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Old 08-03-2019, 01:25 AM   #8
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Location: Delaware & New Mexico
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Basically, the 110 volt outlets in your RV only work when:
1 - You are plugged in to a 110 volt power source (shore power)
2 - Your generator is running, which produces 110 volt power

The above is true in all older RV's, unless you have retro-fitted newer style batteries, inverters and other hi-tech electronics.

Since about 2010 some newer RV's have the new hi-tech batteries & electronics factory installed that will run 110 outlets via this battery bank OR with an under-hood generator running off the engine. But you will not find any of this technology factory installed in older RV's, as this technology did not exist at the time they were built.

I have an "old school" 1998 Coachmen, so I also have to be plugged in to shore power or use my generator for 110 volt.



Now: 1998 Coachmen Starflyte FRB 21' Class B+
Formerly: 1996 Coachmen M19-RD GMC 19' Class B
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