RV Fridge Tripping the GFCI? Try this!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you whatsoever.

The best laid plans for a camping holiday on a hot summer day in your RV can be messed up if your RV fridge cannot reliably preserve and keep both the food and the drinks chilled.

An RV fridge that keeps tripping the GFCI cannot be relied upon.

Unfortunately, pinpointing the reason why the GFCI keeps popping is not always straightforward, can take time to fix which can be particularly frustrating more so when you have a trip to go to.

So, this post sheds light on likely reasons why the RV fridge may be tripping the GFCI breaker, and what you may be able to do to fix this.

Additionally, it also addresses the question of whether the fridge needs one.

Quick answer: If the RV fridge is tripping the GFCI breaker, as a first step, you can inspect the power cord for any signs of damage to the insulation.

Check the GFCI breaker. You can use a GFCI tester or plug the RV fridge into another GFCI outlet to check if the breaker still strips.

Read on for more reasons why the breaker may be tripping.

Why your RV fridge may be tripping the GFCI? (+ Fixes)

If the GFCI is tripping then check the following:

#1. Inspect the RV plug and power cord for damage. Are there any signs of damage to the cable insulation – perhaps a cut or even burn marks?

A cut or break in the power cord from the plug to the fridge can cause the breaker to trip.

Fix: Replace the damaged cable with a new one of the same gauge and current rating.

#2. Check the GFCI outlet or breaker. A bad GFCI breaker can also trip on its own without any fault whatsoever.

Here are several ways you can check if you are dealing with a bad GFCI breaker.

#a. Connect the fridge to another GFCI outlet and check if it also trips when plugged into that outlet.

If it does, then you’re probably dealing with a fault in the RV fridge otherwise it points to a potentially faulty GFCI breaker.

#b. Alternatively, you can connect another appliance such as a space heater to the GFCI breaker and check if the breaker still trips.

If it does, then you’re probably dealing with a faulty GFCI breaker otherwise you may have a case of a fault in the fridge.

#c. You can also use a GFCI tester to check if the GFCI outlet has any wiring faults such as open ground, open neutral, or reversed connections.

If the tests point to a faulty GFCI then replace it.

#3. The RV fridge may have a “leaky” heating element.

Frost-free fridges use the heater elements to keep away the condensation.

Note: The heater element can pass the resistance test when measured with a resistance meter (i.e. the meter reads about 65 ohms (consult the service manual for your fridge) yet still trip the breaker.

The reason why this can happen is because there is moisture buildup in the heater element that creates a pathway for small currents to flow to the ground connection and trip the GFCI.

You can test this by measuring the resistance between each leg of the heater element and the ground.

It should read an open circuit (i.e. there should be no connection).

Do you get a resistance reading? Then you should consider replacing the heater element(s). Consult a qualified technician to confirm this.

If the fridge uses LP as well you can switch to LP.

How to Stop an RV fridge from tripping the GFCI

Unless faulty, a tripping GFCI breaker points to a leakage of potentially harmful current to the ground.

The proper way to stop it is to fix the cause (faulty) instead of bypassing the GFCI outlet and using a non-GFCI outlet.

Common causes of the GFCI breaker tripping include damaged cabling, faulty GFCI breaker, or faulty heater elements in the case of frost-free refrigerators.

Why your RV fridge may Keep tripping the GFCI breaker?

If the RV fridge is tripping the breaker, check for damaged cabling, faulty GFCI breaker, or faulty heater elements.

If you have the skills refer to the service manual otherwise consult a qualified technician for support.

Related questions

Does a fridge need a GFCI? | Why a fridge needs one?

While an RV fridge can work well when plugged in an non-GFCI outlet, for your own safety defer to the local code requirements or consult a qualified electrician.

For example, according to the NEC code 2017 guidelines, a GFCI outlet should be used for outlets in kitchen serving countertop appliances and those within 6 ft from the top inside bowl of a sink.

If using a GFCI outlet, preferably use a dedicated outlet to avoid a situation where another appliance can trip the GFCI and stop the fridge from working.

You may also be interested in: Should you keep your fridge plugged in when going on vacation?

A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker detects small current flows to the ground and immediately breaks the circuit.

This is a safety measure against electric shocks that you may be exposed to should you touch the body of the fridge or RV.

Note: The chassis of the RV fridge may be connected to the RV body.

Final Word

If the RV fridge is tripping the GFCI breaker, its probably because of a damaged power cord (with broken or shorting insulation), a faulty GFCI breaker or faulty RV fridge with a leaky heater element.

You may be able to do this yourself if yu have the skills or you can consult a qualified electrician to support.

Leave a Comment