Pop Up Camper Electrical Outlets not working, but lights are… [check for this]

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Are the lights in your pop up camper working, but the electrical outlets are not? This is a problem that I recently read about in a Facebook group. Since you may not have access to that Facebook post, I’ll describe how he fixed the problem in this article.

Hopefully it will help you out too.

Lights in camper work but the electrical outlets don't - try this fix by resetting the GFCI outlet

Disclaimer: I am not an electrician. If these simple steps outlined in this article do not solve your problem then make sure to get a qualified electrician or RV technician to look at it. I can’t be held responsible for anything resulting from what I’ve relayed to you in this article. If in doubt, be safe and call an electrician.

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Pop Up Camper Lights are working, but the Electric Outlets are not

If you are experiencing a problem where you pop up campers electrical outlets aren’t working but your lights are, there are a couple things you need to do.

First you need to check the electrical breakers in your pop up camper, then check the breakers of the outlets you are plugged into (shore power breakers), and if this doesn’t fix your problem you need to find the GFCI outlet in your pop up camper and reset it.

Let’s look at these steps in more detail below.

First check the breakers in your pop up camper

The electrical converter in my 1997 Palomino Colt pop up camper. I'm pointing to the A/C breakers.
There are the A/C breakers in our ’97 Palomino Colt pop up camper

Have the breakers been tripped? If so, reset them by turning them off and then back on. The breakers in my 1997 Palomino Colt pop up camper are under the dinette table mounted to one of the bench seats.

Then check the breakers on the campsite’s outlets (or wherever you’re getting shore power)

Are the breakers on the campsite’s power outlet tripped?  Or, if you’re plugged in at home, has your house breaker been tripped?

If so, reset the breakers.

If any of the breakers were tripped then resetting them should help you get your electrical outlets working again.

Breakers were fine, what else could it be?

But if it wasn’t the breakers – if they were NOT tripped – then you need to find the GFCI outlet in your trailer because if it has tripped than the other outlets in your pop up camper may not work.

What is a GFCI outlet?

A “ground-fault circuit interrupter” outlet – commonly called a GFCI outlet will cause the electrical circuit to “trip” (shut down the flow of electricity) if it registers that the electrical current going out isn’t within about 5 milliamperes of the electrical current returning to the outlet. (Refence: Occupational Health and Safety Administration). This means the electricity is leaking out somewhere, and we don’t want that to be through your body! So the GFCI outlet trips in order to try and prevent electrocutions.

A commenter in the Facebook group mentioned that you may find your trailer has outlets that are in a line together meaning that once the GFCI outlet gets tripped and stops working, all the other outlets will stop working as well.

I put this to the test in our Palomino Colt and I found something strange.  When I pressed in the “Test” button on the GFCI outlet it stopped that outlet from working, and one additional outlet stopped working, but two other outlets worked fine.

(Seems a little odd to me, but perhaps there was some tinkering by a previous owner to cause this situation.)

What does the GFCI outlet look like?

A GFCI receptacle outlet has buttons on it like shown below. They are tricky to see on my Palomino Colt pop up because the outlets and the buttons are black, but they say “RESET” on one button and “TEST” on the other.

What does a GFCI outlet look like in my camper? Here is the GFCI outlet in our Palomino pop up camper. Note it has the two buttons, test and reset
The GFCI outlet in my Palomino Colt pop up camper (note the two buttons)

Finding the GFCI outlet in your camper

Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat because finding the GFCI outlet in your pop up camper can be tricky. I’ve read that various models have them in the strangest place like underneath the sink.

Some models may have the GFCI outlet under the dining table.

In our 1997 Palomino Colt the GFCI outlet is behind the dining bench. The electrical converter for our pop up camper is located under that bench seat so it makes sense that the GFCI is near it.

Location of the GFCI outlet in my Palomino Colt pop up camper
Location of the GFCI outlet in my Palomino Colt pop up camper

How to reset the GFCI outlet in your camper

A tripped GFCI outlet should cause its “Reset” button to pop and stick out a bit. (You can see this in action by pressing the “Test” button on a GFCI outlet, it should cause the reset button to stick out and make the outlet not function.)

To reset the GFCI outlet in your camper you press in the Reset button on the outlet and it should push in and stay in.

Now try your electrical outlets again. 

Are they working now?

What if the GFCI reset button on your camper’s outlet won’t work?

If you press in the Reset button and it won’t engage this could be a symptom of several problems.  This electrical company’s website says that if you don’t have power coming into the outlet then the GFCI won’t reset. (Reference)

So make sure you are still plugged in to shore power when trying to reset the GFCI outlet.

The same electrical company lists several other reasons why your GFCI outlet won’t reset. I suggest if you have that problem, you have a look at their website and follow their diagnostic suggestions.

If the GFCI in your camper keeps tripping…

If you continue to have problems with your pop up camper’s electrical system and the GFCI outlet keeps tripping then you should have it looked at by a qualified RV technician or electrician.

If in doubt, be safe and call an electrician.

I hope this helps you if you’re ever in this situation. And remember to be safe.

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