RV Air Conditioner Compressor Not Coming On: Diagnosis and Fix

It is hot out. You are driving down the highway in your RV with the RV air conditioner running full blast, and you notice that it isn’t cooling as it should be. Oh no! Your compressor has gone out on you again. This is not good news at all.

Luckily, you can diagnose why the RV air conditioner compressor not coming on without much hassle. We’ve also suggested some ways to fix it before disaster strikes.

The RV Air Conditioner Compressor Not Coming On: Causes and Troubleshooting

There are many different reasons why the RV AC compressor not turning on. Most often, it is due to the battery being disconnected or discharged. But it could also be a faulty thermostat or circuit board.

Let’s talk about the causes of the camper AC compressor problems and how to troubleshoot them, so you can get back to enjoying the great outdoors.

Before diagnosing the following components, you must check a few things to troubleshoot the issue. See if you have power in your unit.

Without adequate electric power, the compressor will be unable to turn on and operate. If the battery is working fine, check all your electrical connections and wiring. You may need to replace one or more faulty wiring harnesses or connectors if everything else looks fine.

If doing all these things don’t solve the issue of the RV air conditioner compressor not coming on, move on to inspecting these parts:

Look for a tripped circuit breaker

When the camper AC compressor not kicking on, you want to ensure that the circuit breaker has not tripped. This is a quick and easy solution, saving you time and money. If your circuit breaker has tripped, then reset it and try again. If the breaker is working fine, it’s time to take a closer look at other parts.

You should also look for burnt-out fuses. If you have blown fuses in your electrical box, you need to change them for adequate power to reach the compressor.

rv ac checking
Give a thorough checking when the compressor is not working. (Photo: RemodelYourRV)

Blown or overloaded capacitors

A capacitor is a device that stores an electric charge. It is typically found in electronic circuits. Its primary function is to store energy to be used all at once or over an extended period.

An RV air conditioning capacitor stores the electricity needed to power the compressor motor of your RV’s AC unit. When the AC starts, the capacitors are charged up and ready to go. They are then used to kickstart the compressor motor.

The circuit needs to remain complete for the air conditioner to work correctly. Suppose there is a break in this circuit. Then, it will prevent electricity from completing its way to the compressor motor, thus preventing it from turning on which makes the camper AC not workingย properly.

A bad capacitor does not function or cannot hold a charge. In that case, you will face the problem of the RV AC compressor not turning on.

Examine AC’s mechanical components

When the RV air conditioner compressor not coming on, you need to examine some mechanical parts of the AC unit. Damaged or clogged condenser fan motor, condenser fan blades, or condenser coils can prevent adequate airflow into the evaporator coil, thus preventing the compressor from turning on.

Finally, inspect your evaporator coil and make sure it’s working. Otherwise, it won’t cool properly and won’t blow cold air into your RV.

Pay special attention to the fan motor

The fan motor is the most possible culprit when the RV AC compressor starts then stops. When the fan motor overheats, it stops spinning, causing the compressor to stop working. The overheating could be triggered by a bad capacitor or low voltage.

Dry or overly tight motor bearings could be another possible reason. You can quickly check whether the bearings are causing the problem. Turn the AC off and rotate the fan by hand to measure the tightness. The blades spinning without any obstruction means that the bearings are working fine.

For capacitor problems, change the bad ones. And solve the low-voltage issue by thoroughly checking the power source and battery. Bad wiring can also cause this trouble sometimes.

Look into the start relay

Whether it’s loose wiring or a malfunctioning part, failure of the start relay will prevent the supply of enough power to the compressor. The relay’s job is to engage the compressor, but a malfunctioning one cannot do this.

The signs of burnout will be evident if something inside the relay burns out. Look for burn marks, debris buildups on the joints, or smudges to ensure that the problem is with the relay.

If you determine that a start relay needs replacing, locate your model number and part number for your air conditioner and purchase a compatible one. It’s a relatively cheap fix for Dometic RV air conditioner compressor not coming on or other models.

camper ac compressor not kicking on
Checking the RV AC compressor. (Photo: Urban Adventure)

Broken or jammed valves

The valves close to allow Freon gas into the evaporator coil and open when it needs more refrigerant. When the valves are broken or stuck open, refrigerants enter the compressor inlet as a liquid instead of a gas. This messes up with the compressor’s mechanism.

If you can hear a hissing noise, then that means there may be something wrong with one or both of your valves. They either need to be replaced or repaired.

Check the air conditioner’s filter

If your RV air filter is dirty, the compressor may work too hard to push out cold air. This will cause it to overheat and shut off automatically.

Clean or replace the filter regularly with a high-quality cleaning agent. A clean filter will not only help you to save money on your electrical bills, but it will also keep the compressor cool.

If the air filter is too dirty for simple cleaning, then replace it with one that matches the size of your unit. These filters can be purchased at any hardware store and are relatively inexpensive.


There could be many reasons why the RV air conditioner compressor not coming on. Follow the guide for quick diagnosis and troubleshooting. Have a happy camping trip!

Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson is a seasoned RV traveler and professional mountain biker with a great sense of humor. After earning a Master's degree in Automotive Engineering from Columbia University, Scott spent years working as an RV technician at Camping World and Outdoorsy. Today, he enjoys exploring the US in his fifth wheel and truck with his wife. With over 15 years of RV living and road tripping experience, Scott now shares his knowledge and expertise as a travel blogger, helping others make the most of their RV adventures.

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