A reliable fridge is a must when going out in your RV so much so that should it be faulty – for example, if it keeps popping fuses then you may have to delay your trip.
The good news is that some of the underlying faults causing the fuses to blow may be fixed easily and quickly enough for you to go on your trip in time.
Read on to learn what may be causing the fuses to blow, what tests you can do, and also how you may be able to get the fridge working consistently again hopefully in time for you to go on that vacation in time!
Quick answer. If the fridge is popping fuses and not cooling then there is likely a short on the circuit board or heater element.
Read on to learn why the likely failure points and how you may be able to test and fix them.
Why Does the RV fridge keep blowing fuses? (And Suggested Fixes)
Depending on the type and model of the RV fridge, you may have 2 or more fuses (always consult the service manual), possibly:
- a 5 or 8 amp, 120 VAC fuse to protect the wiring to the heater elements, and
- a 3 or 5 amp 12V fuse to protect the control panel and propane valve 12V circuits.
The ratings for your RV fridge may be different so always consult the fridge’s service manual.
Both these fuses can be found on the control board, at the back of the fridge
#1. Short or failure of the heater element(s) or wiring. The heater element fuse will blow if there is a short or failure in the heater elements (low resistance) or short between the heater element lead and the ground connection.
When this happens, the fridge will stop cooling.
Inspect the wires connecting the circuit board to the heating elements for any burn marks. Is the insulation intact?
A break in the insulation can result in a short between adjacent wire(s) or with the ground connection or chassis popping the fuse.
To test for a failure in the heater elements, consult the service manual for the recommended ohm meter value (usually about 50 ohms) of the heater elements.
Next, use an ohm meter to measure the heater element resistance by connecting the meter leads to the heater element connections.
Compare the service manual value with the ohm meter reading.
A significantly lower reading (resistance) will result in a higher than usual current draw that pops the fuse.
Also, measure the resistance between the heating element leads and the ground or chassis.
The reading should be an open circuit or infinity. A non-infinity reading is a sign that the heating element is shorting to the ground.
Fix: If the wires are damaged, replace them with new wires of the same type and rating. If the heater elements resistance values are significantly lower, the RV fridge probably has a bad element.
Consult an RV fridge technician to confirm and if so, replace the element(s).
#2. A short or failure in the 12V wiring. If there is a short in the 12V wiring then the 12V fuse will blow.
The short may be caused by a failing component, an unintended short by metal tools or loose wiring as you conduct maintenance on the circuit board, or a faulty relay.
The circuit board relay does the actual switching of 120V AC to the heating element.
The 12V fuse protects the wiring to the control panel and propane valve 12V circuits.
Are the control panel controls on the fridge working? If not, then the fuse may have popped. Inspect the back of the circuit board where the relay is soldered for burn marks. This can be a sign of a bad relay.
You may also be interested in this post: Should you transport a fridge or freezer on its back or side?
Your RV fridge is blowing fuses? Switch to LP
If the RV fridge is popping fuses because of faulty heating elements, you may be able to get it to work by switching to LP.
Beware, when using LP, the fridge takes longer to cool. So it is advisable to run it several hours before you start to use it.
Additionally, the fridge should be operated when in a level position else you risk damage to its cooling system.
An RV fridge has fuses to protect wiring connecting to the heater elements, the control panel, and the 12V propane valve.
If the fuses are blowing then there is likely a short in the heater elements or their wiring, the 12V control panel, and propane circuit wiring.
You can consult a qualified RV technician or if you have the skills, you can inspect the circuits with the help of a service manual and an ohm meter to confirm and fix what may be causing the fuses to blow.