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After a Lightning Storm, Always Check Your House Batteries. We Didn’t and Wasted Our Time.

My husband stood outside shouting for me to press the start button on our generator again.

Nothing. No clicking sound. No rumble. Nothing.

The night before, a massive electrical storm brewed over South Dakota. Rain created rivers out of the gravel roads and thunder crashed every few seconds.

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The sound of pouring rain on the roof deafened our ears.

thunderstorms across south dakota
Thunderstorms rolling across South Dakota

Three months ago we moved into our RV. A week later, our airstream neighbor was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm.

I’d imagine our 1994 motorhome couldn’t handle a lightning strike. And being fried doesn’t sound that appealing to me.

So ever since our neighbor had the lightning strike, we vacate our RV before large storms roll in.

Waiting Out the Storm

We hid out in a laundromat waiting for the storm to calm down while watching a large red splotch move across the radar on the TV.

It was us along with a few bikers in town for the Sturgis Rally talking about the intensity of the storm. When the storm began to calm down, we walked across the road back into our RV.

coffee pot in motorhomepng
Plugged in, but no power

Luckily there was no damage to the outside. But on the inside nothing worked.

  • the microwave blinked 00:00
  • the coffeepot was no longer on at all, although it was still plugged into our surge protector
  • the fridge ran off of propane even though we were plugged in
  • our rearview camera wouldn’t turn on
  • and our generator wouldn’t even try to turn over.

Plus, I was certain our interior lights used to be a little brighter…

Something was clearly wrong.

The Investigation Begins

We reset the breaker on the electrical box where we were plugged in. But that didn’t solve anything.

Our fridge wouldn’t switch back over to electric and our coffeepot wouldn’t work at all – a big problem brewing for the next morning.

The blinking microwave told me we lost power at some point, but we couldn’t pinpoint the problem.

no power for the refrigerator
Our powerless fridge

After failing to get the generator to start by the next afternoon, my husband’s uncle – the electrician – finally called us back to share his wisdom.

Now, you probably know more about RVs, but I’m still pretty new at this.

At this point, you’re probably shaking your head at me for being so senseless.

I heard my uncle say over the speakerphone,

Go into your bathroom and press that red RESET button on the power outlet.

My husband clicked the button and watched our coffeepot blink 12:00 and our fridge instantly switch back to electric.

Yep. It was that easy.

Now, I’m not exactly sure how electricity works, but I should’ve known that the reset button could restart power to our RV.

But we still had two problems:

  1. our rearview camera
  2. and our generator

Neither worked at all. They simply had no power.

More Research

That brings me to this weekend, a couple weeks after the lightning storm.

We took a quick travel break to spend Labor Day weekend in Dallas visiting family. My husband, father, and father-in-law spent all three days working on the RV.

Three days of taking the generator apart, replacing the solenoid, putting the old solenoid back in, and repeat. They re-wired the camera and double-checked every connection point.

Nothing. No matter what work they did, they just couldn’t get the generator or camera up and running.

So, we waved the white flag and gave up. We sent Franklin, our 20-year-old class C, to the mechanic for repairs.

Finally Some Professional Help

You’re probably shaking your head again. Before I tell you that the only thing wrong with our RV was a dead battery, let me preface this so you know that I’m not the stupidest RV owner there is.

We knew our house battery was struggling to recharge.

When we took our RV in for an oil change, we asked the mechanic to check the voltage and test to see if we needed a new battery.

He came back with the news that the clamp around the negative charge for our battery came loose and needed replacing.

After replacing that piece, the battery could recharge and we’d be fine. It was a 30-minute, $4.00 fix – who wouldn’t love if all RV problems were fixed this easily?!

In our minds our battery was fine, so when all of these electrical problems surfaced we never thought to check our house batteries’ voltage. A mechanic had already done that for us – less than a week before this lightning storm happened.

But it turns out all of our problems with our generator and back up camera came from one dead house battery. That was it.

The mechanic said that lightning seemed to have melted one part of the battery. I don’t speak mechanic, but I understand the word melted.

Days and hours of labor, frustration, and sweat wasted.

So please, learn from our mistake and check your house batteries first.

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