Why Does my RV Air Conditioner Keep Tripping the Breaker?

Are you wondering, Why does my RV air conditioner keep tripping the breaker? This common issue can be quite frustrating for RV owners. When your RV’s air conditioner repeatedly causes the circuit breaker to trip, it’s a sign of an electrical problem that needs attention. In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons behind this troublesome situation and offer solutions to help you keep your cool while on the road.

It’s a conundrum that can turn a relaxing trip into a bothersome experience. But fear not, as we’re here to delve into the causes and remedies for this recurrent issue. Understanding the source of the problem is the first step in ensuring your RV’s air conditioner works efficiently and doesn’t disrupt your travels.

To shed some light on the matter, an RV air conditioner tripping the breaker typically occurs due to an overload in the electrical system or a fault in the air conditioner itself. This means the electrical circuit supplying power to your air conditioner can’t handle the load, resulting in a safety mechanism the breaker shutting off to prevent damage or a potential fire. 

Understanding the Basics

Before we dive into the reasons for your RV air conditioner tripping the breaker, let’s briefly cover some fundamental concepts that will help you better comprehend the issue.

How an RV Air Conditioner Works

How an RV Air Conditioner Works

An RV air conditioner functions similarly to a home air conditioner. It uses a compressor and a fan to remove heat from the inside of the RV and release it outside. The compressor pressurises a refrigerant, which then evaporates and condenses, absorbing and releasing heat in the process. The cooled air is then blown into the RV’s interior. The entire process is powered by electricity, and this is where issues can arise.

Circuit Breakers in Your RV

Circuit breakers are safety devices installed in your RV’s electrical system to protect against electrical overloads. When the current flowing through a circuit exceeds a certain limit, the breaker “trips,” cutting off the electrical supply to that circuit. This is a crucial safety feature, as it helps prevent electrical fires and damage to your RV’s electrical system.

Common Reasons for RV Air Conditioner Tripping the Breaker

Common ReasonsSolutions
Electrical OverloadAvoid using high-wattage appliances simultaneously.
Weak or Faulty Circuit BreakerReplace the weak or faulty breaker.
Low Voltage SupplyCheck voltage supply and use a stabilizer if necessary.
Dirty or Clogged FiltersRegularly clean or replace air filters.
Refrigerant IssuesConsult an HVAC technician for inspection and refilling.

Now that we have a basic understanding of how an RV air conditioner works and the role of circuit breakers, let’s explore some common reasons why your RV air conditioner might keep tripping the breaker, such as RV AC dripping water inside.

Electrical Overload

An electrical overload occurs when the current drawn by the air conditioner is higher than the circuit’s capacity. This can happen if you’re using multiple high-wattage appliances simultaneously or if the air conditioner itself is faulty.

Solution: To prevent an electrical overload, avoid using other high-wattage appliances when running the air conditioner. If the problem persists, have a professional inspect and potentially repair your air conditioner.

Weak or Faulty Circuit Breaker

Sometimes, the issue may not be with the air conditioner itself but with the circuit breaker. Circuit breakers can weaken over time or become faulty due to wear and tear. A weak breaker may trip more easily, even when the current draw is within the normal range.

Solution: If you suspect a weak or faulty circuit breaker, it’s advisable to replace it with a new one. Consult your RV’s owner’s manual or a professional electrician for guidance.

Low Voltage Supply

RVs often rely on external power sources, such as shore power or generators. If the voltage supply is low, the air conditioner may struggle to operate efficiently, potentially causing it to trip the breaker.

Solution: Check the voltage supply from your power source. If it’s consistently low, consider using a more reliable power source or a voltage regulator to stabilize the voltage.

Dirty or Clogged Filters

Clogged or dirty air filters can restrict the airflow through the air conditioner, making it work harder to cool the RV. This increased workload can lead to higher power consumption, potentially tripping the breaker.

Solution: Regularly clean or replace your air conditioner’s filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This will not only prevent breaker tripping but also improve the overall efficiency of your air conditioner.

Refrigerant Issues

Refrigerant is essential for the cooling process in your air conditioner. Low refrigerant levels can cause the unit to work harder and consume more power, which may result in a breaker trip.

Solution: If you suspect a refrigerant issue, consult a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and address the problem.

Wiring Problems

Faulty or damaged wiring can disrupt the flow of electricity to your RV air conditioner. This can lead to electrical imbalances and potentially trip the breaker.

Solution: Inspect the wiring and connections leading to your air conditioner. If you find any damage or loose connections, consult an electrician to repair or replace them.

Ambient Temperature

Extreme temperatures can affect the efficiency of your RV air conditioner. In hot weather, the air conditioner may have to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature, increasing its power consumption and the likelihood of tripping the breaker.

Solution: During extreme weather conditions, consider using additional insulation or shading for your RV to reduce the workload on the air conditioner. You can also opt for more energy-efficient appliances to decrease power consumption.

Startup Surge

When your RV air conditioner initially starts, it may experience a power surge, which can momentarily exceed the circuit’s capacity. Although most breakers can handle this surge, if your breaker is weak or your electrical system is outdated, it might trip.

Solution: If this is a recurring issue, consider upgrading your circuit breaker to one that can handle the startup surge without tripping.

Inadequate Generator Capacity

If you’re running your air conditioner on a generator, it’s essential to ensure that the generator has the capacity to support the air conditioner’s power requirements. Inadequate generator capacity can lead to breaker trips.

Solution: Use a generator with sufficient capacity for your RV’s electrical needs. Consult the generator’s manual or manufacturer’s recommendations for guidance.

Troubleshooting Steps

When your RV air conditioner keeps tripping the breaker, it’s essential to follow a systematic approach to identify and resolve the problem. Here’s a step-by-step troubleshooting guide:

Check the Circuit Breaker

Start by verifying that the circuit breaker is the source of the problem. Reset the breaker and attempt to turn on the air conditioner. If it trips immediately, proceed with the following steps.

Verify Electrical Load

Make sure that no other high-wattage appliances are running simultaneously with the air conditioner. This includes devices like microwaves, hairdryers, or space heaters. If the breaker still trips with no other devices running, proceed to the next step.

Clean or Replace Air Filters

Inspect and clean or replace the air filters in your RV air conditioner. Dirty or clogged filters can strain the system, leading to higher power consumption and breaker trips.

Check for Wiring Issues

Examine the wiring and connections leading to the air conditioner for any visible damage or loose connections. Address any wiring problems with the help of a professional electrician.

Monitor Voltage Supply

Ensure that the voltage supply from your power source, whether it’s shore power or a generator, is stable and within the recommended range. Use a voltage regulator if necessary to maintain a consistent supply.

Test in Moderate Weather

If you experience breaker trips during extreme temperatures, consider testing your air conditioner in milder weather conditions. This will help you determine if the issue is related to ambient temperature.

Inspect Refrigerant Levels

Consult an HVAC technician to inspect and refill the refrigerant if necessary. Low refrigerant levels can cause the air conditioner to overwork, leading to breaker trips.

Upgrade the Circuit Breaker

If your breaker consistently trips during the air conditioner’s startup surge, consider upgrading to a breaker with higher capacity.

Assess Generator Capacity

If you’re using a generator, ensure that it has the capacity to support your air conditioner’s power requirements. Consult the generator’s specifications to confirm.


Why does my RV air conditioner trip the breaker during startup?

 The startup surge may exceed the breaker’s capacity; consider upgrading the breaker.

Can dirty air filters cause the breaker to trip?

Yes, clogged filters strain the system, leading to increased power consumption and breaker trips.

How do I address low voltage supply issues in my RV?

Check your power source and use a voltage stabilizer to maintain a consistent supply.

What can I do if my air conditioner breaker trips in extreme temperatures?

Use additional insulation or shading to reduce the air conditioner’s workload during extreme weather.

Can inadequate generator capacity be the cause of breaker trips?

Yes, ensure your generator has the capacity to support your air conditioner’s power requirements.


Dealing with a tripping breaker in your RV air conditioner can be frustrating, but with a systematic approach to troubleshooting, you can identify and resolve the underlying issues. 

Whether it’s an electrical overload, weak circuit breaker, low voltage supply, dirty filters, or other common problems, understanding the causes and implementing the appropriate solutions will help keep your RV cool and comfortable during your travels. Regular maintenance and keeping an eye on your electrical system are essential for a hassle-free RV experience.

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