It was a dark and stormy night ...
... but it didn't have to be. Something had gone wrong in the Airstream, and the inhabitants didn't have a spare fuse. Or, perhaps they couldn't figure out where it was supposed to go!
You see, not all of the fuses in an Airstream are found in the fuse panel. There are others "hidden" in various places. If you're wondering why something electrical isn't working even though all the fuses in the main panel look good, this might answer the question.
The main fuse panel is the first place to look, especially if several electrical things go off at the same time, like multiple lights. This panel is typically located under the refrigerator or gaucho (in the dinette). But if all of those fuses are good and there's only one thing not working, you might need to find a "hidden" fuse.
Here are seven places you might find fuses specific to individual appliances–along with a video that walks you through most of them.
Fuse #1: Power hitch jack
The hitch jack up front is wired directly to the battery, so it has its own fuse in a plastic fuse holder. You'll find it along one of the wires that goes to the battery.
These are sometimes "slow-blow" fuses–a type of fuse that can handle a temporary surge current that exceeds the current rating of the fuse. The safety benefit of a slow-blow fuse is that it won't just blow when there is a temporary surge current that exceeds the fuse's current rating. It's got to receive a consistent and elevated current above its normal rating before it will.
So, check for an indication on your hitch jack fuse label that says "slow-blow." If you find it, in addition to replacing the power hitch jack fuse with the same amperage, you'll need to make sure that the fuse you buy is labeled "slow-blow" as well.
Fuse #2: Solar charge port
Airstream trailers made after 2015 have solar charge ports mounted to the right front A-frame (just behind the propane tanks). This port is used for portable solar panels, and it usually has a 20 or 30 amp fuse in a plastic holder like the one for the hitch jack.
Fuse #3: Refrigerator control board
Many refrigerators have on-board fuses, which you can see from the outside refrigerator access door. There have been so many models of Dometic and Norcold refrigerators installed in Airstreams that we can't say for sure which type or quantity of fuses your refrigerator may require. Check your Owner's Manual to find out. Or, look it up online, using the model number of your refrigerator. The model number is usually on a sticker inside the refrigerator compartment.
If you can't find your Owner's Manual, this blog includes a link to Airstream Owner's Manuals for every model and year dating back decades. Keep in mind that on older Airstreams the refrigerator may have been changed for a different model.
Fuse #4: Solar charge controller
If you have factory solar on a late model Airstream, there's a fuse somewhere near the solar charge controller. The electrical diagrams provided in your Owner's Manual may give you a clue where to find it.
Fuse #5: Solar control panel
Again, you'll only have this one if your Airstream has factory solar installed.
Fuse #6: Macerating toilet
Macerating toilets were only installed on a few years and models of Airstreams, so this isn't terribly common. But if the macerator stops working, the fuse is the first thing to check. It will be mounted on or very near the toilet.
Usually this fuse blows because someone has put something they shouldn't in the toilet, like a "flushable" wipe. If you aren't sure what you should and should not put down an Airstream toilet, this blog about toilet maintenance may be helpful.
Fuse #7: Fantastic Vents
All Fantastic Vents have old-school glass fuses in them, located up in the body of the fan in a black twist-off holder. Generally they're 5 amp fuses. It's always a good idea to have one of these on hand as a spare, and they're simple to replace.
Most of these fuses are mini blade fuses, like those used in cars, and they're really easy to get at hardware and auto parts stores. Take the old fuses with you to the store if you're not sure which type you need. Keep in mind they come in different amperage ratings (the number printed on the fuse) and you need to replace with the exact same rating and type of fuse.
If you have our Maintenance Essentials Kit, you already have all the fuses needed for the main panel, and perhaps several other places. Unusual fuses, like slow-blow types and weird sizes that might be needed for the refrigerator, can be found online.
We have a 2006 International 28’ CCD. The fuse for our propane detector located just below the fridge blew and we had difficulty finding the fuse. It uses a glass inline fuse located under the couch . Access was only by a thin person crawling inside the storage compartment under the couch. The fuse holder is up against the front wall of the trailer behind the battery box but inside the trailer. Hope this will help a follow Airstreamer.
This is a great article. When my inverter stopped working I learned about two more hidden fuses I wish I had known about. One fuse was located in the inverter itself(installed under the bed in my 2015 and the culprit ended being a “mega fuse” located under the inverter accessed through the front garage of the airstream. Learned about that one from the dealer who replaced it when I ran out of ideas.
There is so much other place that fuses are hidden.