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Tim Collard
Tim Collard, RVIA Certification
Category: RV
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Experience:  Master Certified RV Tech & Owner/operator of a Mobile RV Repair business.
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1993 Coleman pop up camper battery not working.

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I have a 1993 Coleman Fleetwood pop-up camper. I hooked up a 12V battery and can't seem to get the interior lights to work. The fuse test okay for continuity. Trying also to understand the "Electrical Center/Power Converter". Is the plug on it suppose to use the 12VDC and convert to 110VAC?

The electrical center is a power distribution box. It distributes power, both AC and DC. It has a converter, that converts AC to DC, which is a fancy name for a battery charger. When you are plugged in, it charges your battery and supplies DC power to run your lights, furnace and so on. Your trailer is designed to work on DC or battery power, because it's hard to plug into a tree when you’re out in the mountains.

On most pop-up trailers, they put a safety switch on them so that when the top is put down the lights can't work. We don't want the canvas to get burned or kill the batteries when the unit is in storage.
Usually they do this two ways, one is when the inside cook stove or sink is flipped over. It pushes a button and that allows the lights to come on.
The other one is on the outside rim of the top, about where the canvas is hooked to the top, they put in a little micro switch, that when compressed, it shut the lights off. You'll have to hunt for that one. just look around the entire rim, if it's there, you'll find it. There will be 2 wires to it.
I'll bet you have one of these and that's your problem.
Let me know if that helps

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I checked for the two possibilities and the only things I found were a static discharge wire for the stove and a black/white pair of wires leading up and into the roof cavity not to a switch. I believe these wires feed power to the lights. I took out the MAGNETEK Power Converter and the DCV side was only reading 6 to 9 Volts. It had three wires connected red/white/blue, the red was carrying the charge from the battery but I don't know why it was only reading 6 to 9 volts. To clarify what I have done... There is power harness to connect to the towing vehicle and another pair of separate wires. One of the two is connected to the frame and the other seems to lead back to the Power Converter. I hooked one up to the positive and one to the negative on my fully charged battery. Any other thoughts?

It sounds as though you wired it right at the battery.
The three wires on the converter should be Red / Battery.... White / ground.... Blue / accessories or to the fuse box with the fuses.
So, to confirm, you are plugged into an outside plug, say on your house, and all you have is 6 to 9 volts? You have checked the power cord from the house, you didn't blow a circuit breaker or a GFCI on the house, did you?
If not and the battery is not being charged, your converter is probably bad. Tell me the model number of the converter.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I do not have it plugged into anything other than the battery being hooked up. Is it not possible to run the lights off of the battery without it being plugged in. My goal was to use a solar panel to recharge battery.

I thought you were plugged in. Okay, so you said the battery is good, what is the voltage reading on the battery and at the converter, testing between the RED wire and the WHITE wire on the converter. Are they the same? If not test the voltage between the red wire and the frame of the trailer. Is there a difference? You have a break down in the wiring.
Let me know

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I'm getting 12.9V on battery, earlier today it was charged to about 14.5V. When checking both Red/White and Red/Body the both now only read 0.6 V


Is this what your converter looks like? Is the switch on the right on "Batt"?
Are the circuit breakers on the bottom left in all the way?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

It's close. Mine does not have indicator lights and has a 120V 10A outlet above the circuit breakers. The breakers look a bit different but overall looks very much alike.

6400A series / 6409 model. Also, I did try the switch in the batt position.

Okay, so in recap, we have good battery, and no power to the converter, the next step is for you to look for the broken wire(s) between the two.
If you can, plug the trailer into power. If the converter is working properly the lights should come on.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

So, I've hooked the RV up to AC and the lights are coming on. So, it seems the red wire probably has a break somewhere, right?

No, never rule out a bad ground. Too many people forget that the ground is as important as the hot wire. If the power has no place to go, nothing works.
I'm sure you got it figured out now.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

The switch that toggles between CONV/OFF/BATT. Do I need to have it in a certain position to charge battery or operate off of battery? Lights are on when it is in the off position. What's conv?

No problem, I've kind of enjoyed our conversation. It's great to talk to someone that's smart.
Yes , when you are plugged in you want to have it on converter. That way the converter takes over the needs of the trailer and charges the batteries at the same time.
When you are roughing it camping, you need that on Batt, so you will be using the battery power.
If you hook up solar you will want to be on battery.

Tim Collard and other RV Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

HUGE help thank you! So, I now get 13V all the way to my light sockets in RV while power converter is turned to “batt” position, however, I still can’t get the lights to turn on. When I plug the RV into 120vac and turn the power converter to “conv” the lights turn on no problem. I can’t figure it out.

Well now it is working, I don’t know what I did but the lights are now working with the 12VDC by itself. Thank you!

Did you figure it out?
Loose connections in the converter can do that.
Good luck
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I think there's a ghost in my camper. I came home from work today and had one interior light working off of the 12V battery. I went to put a second lightbulb into the second interior light fixture and both lights stopped working. I took the second bulb back out and tried to turn the first one back on. Now neither light will turn on using battery power but will turn on and operate no problem with 120V - the really strange part is that when I have the converter set to "batt" I get the full voltage of the battery at both light sockets yet the bulbs will not turn on. Any ideas?

This is what I need explained a bit more:

"The really strange part is that when I have the converter set to "batt" I get the full voltage of the battery at both light sockets yet the bulbs will not turn on."

When you say you get full voltage at both sockets. How are you testing this, with a test light or a meter and what are you using for a ground, the light socket or the trailer body?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I'm testing with a meter and using only the socket. I'm taking the bulb out to take the reading. I'm assuming I should take a reading by using the body for a ground from the sounds of it.

Well, I'm working on that idea. That's a skull scratcher.
Ok Try this, with the bulb in its place, take a piece of wire and touch it on the base of the bulb (Ground) and touch the frame. What happens?
Also remind me, you have circuit breakers in this converter don’t you?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I have breakers for the 120V side but the DC has a fuse. I'll try the bulb test right now. So, nothing happened when I tried touching a wire from base of bulb in socket to body. However, new symptoms that make me feel like there is a neutral/ground that is messed up. I now can only register power at one of the lights and not at the other. I can trace voltage along a pair of (black/white) wires that go up into the roof structure and then it seems as if everything is buried in foam as it leads to the two lights. I’m not sure how the lights are hooked up because I only can see the one pair of wires go up but there are a separate black/white pair at each light. Seems as if there should be a split somewhere I can’t find or is buried. Any thoughts?

I would think the wires are wired in parallel.
Here's something a little radical... I would like you to deliberately blow the fuse. Take a piece of wire and go to the farthest light form the converter and short it out. I want to test the load capabilities of the circuit. If all is Ok the fuse will blow, if not, and all you get is a small spark, or nothing, we have a break down in the wiring somewhere. Make sure you have a replacement fuse
Sometimes a fuse (I guessing it's a glass type) will look OK but... are not. They can get hot and the solder breaks down inside the end caps. They will pass power through them but will break down under load.
Let me know
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Just to make sure, how am i shorting them out? Take bulb out and touch the positive and negative parts of socket together with wire? Now that I think about it, parallel makes sense.

if you can unhook a light and use the bare wires, that way if it arks it won't hurt the socket. I know this sounds a bit strange but it might be the only way we can test this.
Either way, use caution.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I took a light down and touched the wires and nothing happened. Also I got a new fuse and tried it and still no dice. Didn't even get a small spark, yet still registering voltage on meter

I suspected it would be that way. Did the original fuse have any signs of heat on it?
Was it a glass fuse?
Is the fuse holder the push in and twist type?

If so your problem might be in the fuse holder itself. Hook the lights back up, turn on the light and play with the fuse holder. Does the light come on or flicker?
If not you might have to open the converter and check the connections. The power is not getting to the lights in full strength.
You have your assignment
Let me know
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I've checked the push in only fuse(15A AGC holder and all connections inside the converter... jiggled, wiggled all the wires. Didn't get any flickering and fuse holder looks and feels normal.. I also tried bypassing the fuse and still got nothing.

We might have hit the end of the road without having hands on. Think about it logically, if we have power but we can't get it to pull any amps, something is breaking down under load. It might be in the converter, a bad soldier, broken wire that is just touching, a bad diode something like that.
A converter is a rectifier. ac to dc. read this and it might help you understand how a converter works. Work the problem. You'll find it.
Good luck.

Tim Collard and other RV Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** you know if I figure it out.

Not if, but when.