RV is the biggest asset for people who love to travel and explore the world. The best part is that you don’t have to stay in hotels or tents while camping as your RV provides the comfort of home and all the necessary electrical appliances required.
However, an RV battery is imperative to get these gadgets and appliances running. Moreover, keeping them charged and in good working condition is essential.
So, if you are wondering how to charge your RV battery, this article is for you. We have listed different methods of charging an RV battery to ensure you never face power cuts.
But before that, let’s talk about different kinds of RV batteries.
Types of RV Batteries:
Various types of batteries are used in RV, but the most common are deep cycles. However, with technological advancements, multiple deep-cycle batteries are available in different sizes. A few popular ones are-
- Lithium-ion batteries
- Flooded lead-acid (aka wet cell) batteries
- AGM (adsorbed gas mat) batteries
- Gel batteries
Each battery type has its pros and cons.
Lead Acid: These are the oldest form of battery used in RVs and provide the most reliable power. However, they require more maintenance than other batteries.
Gel battery: Gel batteries are low maintenance but also have slower charging.
AGM Battery: AGM stands for “Absorbent Glass Mat.” They are low maintenance, sealed, and spill-free. However, they have a shorter life expectancy.
Lithium-ion battery: Lithium-ion battery is new to the RV battery industry. They are also called LiFePO4 or Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries. They have a longer lifespan, are lightweight, efficient, and perform better than other batteries. However, they are expensive, and the most significant disadvantage is that they get damaged when discharged to 50% or more. Also, they cannot tolerate cold weather.
Whether lithium-ion or AGM, all of them must be recharged to replenish the power.
So, now let’s talk about how to charge the RV batteries.
How to Charge RV Batteries: 4 Different Ways
RV batteries can be charged by connecting them to a 120V electrical socket by an external generator, solar power, or tow vehicle alternator.
Let’s talk about each source one by one.
A power charger is the most popular way to charge RV batteries. It is done via its onboard power charger or power converter by connecting it to a 120V electrical socket at the campground. It is an automatic process and can be done by simply plugging the power wire into a 120V AC electrical socket via RV’s power charger. The power converter converts the AC power to DC power to get the batteries charged properly.
Also, an external smart battery charger can charge RV’s 12V batteries. However, it depends on the charger model, and it reduces the time required to charge the battery on shore power. Moreover, a high-amperage battery charger is one of thefastest ways to charge RV batteries.
You can use this method to trickle charge the lead-acid battery of your RV when it is in storage during winter. Trickle charge extends the service life of the battery and prevents sulfation. Here are the steps to trickle charge the RV battery during storage.
- Detach the battery from your camper.
- Charge the battery fully.
- Check the battery’s water level and fill it if required(depending on the type of battery).
- Keep the battery in a warm place, mostly indoors.
- Connect a battery maintainer to keep it charged even during storage.
The generator is another fastest way to charge the RV battery. These generators are also known as contractors’ grade as they are big and make noise. All you need to do is to attach the RV power cord to the generator’s power socket, and the battery will start charging. However, you will need an adaptor if your generator has a 220V outlet. Moreover, these generators run on fuel such as gasoline and propane.
A vehicle alternator is another way to charge RV batteries. Many RVs have an integrated battery bank that uses vehicle engines. This method can be implemented while driving using the vehicle alternator or tow vehicle by a seven-pin trailer plug. The batteries get automatically charged in a motorhome while the engine is running. However, it is a time-consuming process.
Solar power is the most convenient and accessible energy source, which can charge RV batteries and use electrical gadgets without any generator or shore power requirement.
RVs typically aren’t equipped with a solar charging setup, so you need to get an external form and the necessary supplies. To complete the solar system setup, you will need solar panels, wires, a solar charge controller, etc. Also, you need to learn about the installation process.
What is the Best Way to Charge RV Batteries?
There are multiple ways to charge RV batteries. However, the best method is what’s available and convenient at that moment. It will also depend on how fast you want to charge your batteries and many other factors. Ideally, using a shore power cord is the best method to charge batteries from home or campground. Moreover, the solar power method is best if you do not have access to electricity.
When no method works, you can use the vehicle alternator method to recharge your RV’s batteries.
Safety Measures While Charging RV Battery
It is crucial to consider safety measures while dealing with batteries to prevent damage.
Here are a few safety measures that you should always follow:
- Lead batteries often cause sulfation, so make sure to clean the buildup before putting it to charge.
- Always use a compatible battery charger for charging.
- While using a solar panel to charge the batteries, always use a charge controller.
- Detach your batteries before putting your RV for storage.
- Don’t charge a frozen battery, as freezing can cause crystallization or plating, thus reducing the battery’s lifespan.
- Never charge your RV battery at a temperature of more than 122°F (50°C).
The bottom line is that there are multiple ways to charge your RV’s battery, but how you choose will depend on many factors. Usually, people prefer to leverage multiple sources of charging. Regardless of the method you choose to charge your camper’s battery, ensure to have all the required equipment or charging tools to prevent damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Battery Be Charged From Multiple Sources Simultaneously?
Yes, it is possible to charge your RV’s batteries from multiple sources, and it won’t cause any damage to vehicles or batteries.
Can I Overcharge the RV Battery?
Yes, you can overcharge your RV’s battery, but it can be damaging and dangerous. Owning proper equipment before charging the batteries from any source is also necessary.
Will Discharge a Battery for Too Long Can Cause Harm to the Battery?
You should never discharge your RV battery for too long, as it can be damaging. For example, a regular car battery dies when it is kept discharged for too long. In addition, every battery has a specific period, after which, if they are kept discharged, it reduces their lifespan.