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Monday, May 14, 2012

Tips For Mastering 12 Volt Repairs

For boondockers like you and I, the best thing about the RV lifestyle is enjoying all the creature comforts of home without the need for shore power.  We can do it all with the 12 volts supplied by our batteries,  powering lights, TV, heater fan, radio, water pump and the electronics that keep our refrigerator and water heater operating. In fact, a boondocker could lose their entire 120 volt system in their RV and get along just fine. On the other hand, lose your 12 volt system and you are surrendering your idyllic place in the boonies in place of a distant RV repair shop. However, if you have some basic tools and knowledge of the 12 volt system you can relax and stay put. 12 volts is one of the most important systems in your RV and from my experience the most likely to need repair. Fortunately, it is also the most field repairable in terms of parts, diagnostics, tools and repair time.

Various Crimp Connectors

For parts you will need a selection of 12 volt fuses compatible to your RV, some crimp connectors of various sizes and styles and a short length of 14 gauge wire or two. Sorry you MacGyver types, foil gum wrappers won’t cut it in this lesson!

Inexpensive Volt Ohm Meter
For tools I recommend a minimum of lineman pliers, electrical tape and a 12 volt test light. If you want the “full monty” you can add an inexpensive volt ohm meter and a pair of wire crimps / strippers. Either way, you will spend less than $25 on your 12 volt tool kit.

For diagnostics and repair you will need some knowledge and assurance. Let me just say, 12 volt repair is easier than you think and you need not be fearful. Many of the problems you are likely to encounter will be easy to solve, such as open circuits in the form of blown fuses or loose connections. Concerning safety, 12 volts will not deliver a shock and is unlikely to cause harm to your body as shore power can.

Educate Yourself
To gain head knowledge, I recommend the following: camp with a seasoned RV owner, attend a seminar or two by leading experts like "The RV Doctor" Gary Bunzer, view one of the many related videos on You Tube (sample) or read one of the many books on the subject.  Your RV's Lifeblood - 12 Volt Electricity is one of several suggested titles available at and other book sellers.

1 comment:

  1. just as a suggestion, I would skip the practice of using 'crimp-connectors', and ideally, solder the connections, instead ... I've used the crimps for many years, and I think I have had to go back and solder every last one of them ... crimp connectors seem OK, but, they just don't hold a good connection after time ...