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Finding 12V Circuit Breaks

♦ Finding 12V Circuit Breaks – What’s the fastest way to find a break in an open circuit 12-volt system?

You can pretty much take for granted that if electrical circuits in dry environments fail it’s because they are open or suffering from a short circuit in the load or path.

Before you do anything else, check the fuses and bear in mind another possibility – voltage drop that can starve the load of operating voltage. When you’re troubleshooting 12 volts make sure all relevant switches are on. Get your DMM to DC volts and measure the voltage across the load with the red probe on the positive connection of the load and the black probe on the negative connection.

If you read 12 volts across the load, then the problem is inside the load. To confirm this, disconnect the load wires then check panel fuses and check to see if there are any load switches relating to the panel and ensure they’re on. Set the DMM to ohms and then measure the resistance of the load. You’re looking for an infinite resistance and if you find one you’ve confirmed the problem is the load. You can recheck the reading by reversing the probes.

Bear in mind that should the voltage be 0 at the load then no power is reaching the panel and you have a circuit problem. To check for this, set your DMM to DC volts and check across components, including bus bars and switches looking for breaks in the signal path. You’ll find this easier if you employ a jumper wire that allows you to check whole segments of the circuit at a time.

A circuit diagram is invaluable and if one is not provided you should draw one, even if it does nothing more than illustrate a process of elimination as you search for the fault.

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