Does My Travel Trailer Battery Charge When Plugged In?

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I often get asked, “Does an RV Battery Charge When Plugged into Shore Power?” in our Facebook Fanpage. Answer is Yes! Your RV’s house battery will indeed charge while it is hooked into shore power, which is a happy discovery.

When an external power source is attached and supplying electricity to your RV, your RV batteries will begin to charge.

Your RV batteries will charge in addition to when you have shore power when your generator is running, the vehicle motor is operating, or when you have solar panels on.

However, there is a ton more to discover about RV batteries, such as:

  • The Function of Your Battery
  • Which RV battery is the best?
  • How to Properly Protect Your RV When Connected to Shore Power
  • Battery maintenance for RVs
  • Cost of Brand-New RV Batteries
  • Putting in a New RV Battery

plus a lot more…

For more information about shore power and RV batteries, keep reading!

How Do Deep Cycle RV Batteries Work?

The phrase “Deep Cycle” describes the depths of discharge that a 12-Volt battery can withstand.

In essence, this implies that deep cycle batteries may operate for a longer period of time before requiring a recharge.

They are thus the best option for a house battery for an RV that must serve the interior electrical requirements of the RV’s living area.

Deep cycle batteries are most often seen in RVs, but they may also be found in golf carts, boats, and marine vehicles as well as in off-grid renewable energy systems.

Forklifts also use very large, linked deep cycle batteries.

Suggestion reading: How to Installing Lithium Batteries In RV?

How Do House Batteries Work?

Numerous RV batteries are referred to as “House Batteries” since they exclusively provide electricity to the inside of the RV and are connected directly to the vehicle’s motor.

A RV features a separate 12-volt battery that powers the headlights, taillights, and indicators as well as starting the vehicle.

On DC voltages, which are typically between 10.5 and 15 volts, the majority of electrical equipment and appliances in RVs run well and accurately.

Household batteries are designed to provide consistent power for a long time.

They go on functioning normally until at least 80% of their capacity has been reached.

Performance can then suffer as the battery’s ability to store charge declines.

A deep cycle 12-volt home battery may last up to 10 years with appropriate care.

However, this does need ten years of careful maintenance, suitable charging, regular disconnection when not in use, and frequent charging using a three-stage battery charger.

What Is A Deep Cycle RV Battery?

What Is A Three-Stage Battery Charger?

A relatively recent and gaining in popularity method of charging 12-Volt batteries are devices that are often referred to as “Smart Chargers.”

They function just like a typical battery charger when initially attached.

When initially connected, the battery is bulk-charged up to around 90%.

The RV battery is then gradually charged until it is almost completely charged.

At that moment, the three-stage charger will only provide more charge if necessary.

However, this is a more shrewd method of recharging your RV’s batteries for periods when you could be gone.

Imagine you are at camp and you want to visit a nearby destination for the whole day.

The battery of your RV may then be connected to a smart charger so that it can continue to charge while you are gone.

Smart chargers are not a long-term battery management solution, however, if you plan to store your RV for the winter or leave it in your driveway for a month.

What Is A Three-Stage Battery Charger?

What Is Sulfation in RV Batteries?

Lead-acid batteries that have been depleted of a full charge for an extended length of time go through a process called sulfation.

Maintaining your lead acid RV batteries at 80% of capacity or higher at all times can assist prevent sulfation.

This implies that a voltmeter or multimeter configured to measure voltage will always display 10.5 Volts for the battery.

What Is The Best Boondocking Method For Recharging RV Batteries?

Solar panels and home wind generators probably won’t be able to maintain your RV’s house batteries at 80% of charge or greater if you want to camp off the grid for many days at a time.

The best course of action in this circumstance is to buy a portable generator with enough power to run a 40-Amp multi-stage recharge.

The house batteries in your RV may then be fully recharged by running it for a few hours each day.

hours every day.

Examining the Batteries in Your RV When Not in Use

You must monitor the batteries in your RV while it is not in use.

Make sure you regularly check the electrolyte and charge levels in the battery cells.

You should still inspect them every two to four weeks even if the RV is parked in your driveway throughout the summer.

You will still need to monitor them while they are in storage to make sure they are keeping the right amounts of electrolyte and charge.

Many RV owners will, up until this point, totally remove their batteries when they put the RV away for the winter.

After that, the batteries spend the winter securely within, protected from the weather and a parasitic load’s potential hazards.

You should still check the battery levels at least once a month even when they are stored in this condition.

How Can I Tell If the Battery in My RV Is Charging?

As soon as you link your RV into an external power source, such as shore power or a generator, your battery will begin charging.

By measuring the battery’s voltage while it is being charged, which should be over 13 volts, you can verify this.

A home battery should register 12.6 volts after it is completely charged after being unplugged from the charger for 24 hours.

How long should I let my RV’s battery charge when plugged in?

Your battery will last longer if you charge it often and let it finish charging while plugged in.

It’s best to keep the battery in your RV or travel trailer over 80% charged (12.4 volts) at all times.

Furthermore, you shouldn’t have to worry about overcharging your battery if you have a contemporary camper with a smart charger that employs a three- or four-stage charging procedure.

More importantly, you don’t want your battery to lose more than 20% of its charge since doing so might harm the battery, shorten its lifespan, and make it almost hard to charge it back up to 100%.

Normally, we advise charging your battery when it is at least 50% full.

You can determine the battery charge level in your RV with a battery tester, multimeter, or voltmeter.

Can RV Batteries Be Charged By A 12-Volt Battery?

When connected, a typical 12-volt battery charge keeps pumping a constant stream of power into the battery.

You must immediately cut off the charger once it achieves 100% of its maximum charge or a voltmeter reading of 12 volts or higher.

This will stop the buildup of excess heat that might possibly harm a lead-acid battery’s internal components or a 12-volt gel battery’s ability to hold a charge.

Can I Use A Standard 3-Prong Outlet To Plug In My RV Battery?

The typical method of directly charging an RV battery is not done in this manner.

In order to achieve this, your RV would need to be configured such that it can connect to a conventional 3-prong home socket.

You would also have a restricted range of operations when using a typical domestic electrical outlet.

The most advantageous choice is to connect your RV to a three stage battery charger and allow the charger to fully charge the house battery of the RV before utilizing it.

Can Solar Panels Maintain The Charge Of An RV House Battery?

Solar technology is still developing quickly.

To the extent that modern photovoltaic cells used in solar panels marketed at the retail level today are far more efficient at generating power than they were a few years ago.

Naturally, this has led to an increase in their popularity among RVers who want to camp off-grid without using the shore power at a campground.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that solar power can only produce 3 to 5 amps and performs best when the photovoltaic panels are pointing straight toward the sun.

So, odds are you won’t obtain enough amps to completely replace the electricity you are consuming inside the RV unless you have set up camp in a wide-open region with clear skies like a bluebird.

Although tiny consumer-grade wind turbines and solar panels may also assist maintain your RV batteries over 80% for longer.

Does My RV Still Need a Battery If It’s Plugged In?

If your RV or motorhome is connected to an external power source, such as shore power, you do not need a house battery.

However, if there is a shore power outage, you won’t be able to use your 12-volt electrical equipment.

Related Also: How To Charge RV Battery While Driving?

When connecting an RV battery, do I need a converter?

The RV power converter is often used in RVs to power inside appliances like lights, vent fans, refrigerators, thermostats, and similar items.

However, you will only want an RV power converter if you intend to use a generator to directly charge your home batteries or if you want to directly charge your RV batteries after you have connected it into a campground or RV park’s shore power.

When plugged in, should I disconnect the battery from my RV?

When your RV battery is attached into an external power source and you unplug it, the battery is no longer connected to the charging circuit and won’t charge.

In other words, keep your battery connected if you want it to charge while it’s plugged in.

When my RV is being stored for a week or longer, I prefer to keep things simple and simply utilize the battery disconnect switch.

Does an RV’s plug-in charging system charge the battery?

When an RV is hooked into shore power, the battery will start to charge.

In other words, when connected to an external power source that powers your RV, your home batteries will start to charge.

This includes shore electricity, being wired into a generator, driving your car, or having solar panels connected.

Do You Know…

A power converter, which transforms alternating current (AC power) into direct current (DC power) so that your battery can charge properly, is used to replenish the deep-cycle battery when you connect your boat to shore power.

The quickest method to charge RV batteries is probably by connecting to shore power, particularly when utilizing a high amperage multi-stage battery charger (second would be using an onboard or external generator).

The home batteries will be charged when plugged into an external power source, however the chassis battery may or may not be charged.

What’s the distinction?

RV House Batteries: These power your 12v DC accessories like your water pump, cabin lighting, fans, certain TVs, control panels, etc.

and are normally lead-acid, deep cycle batteries (although lithium batteries are another choice).

If you have an inverter, they can even power your outlets and 120v appliances.

RV Chassis Battery: The chassis battery of an RV is comparable to a car’s battery.

Your dashboard, windshield wipers, and headlights are all powered by it.

Depending on the type of your RV, your chassis battery may or may not charge when connected to shore power or any other external power source.

If it doesn’t, you may either use an external battery charger or start the engine to let the alternator charge it.

Do You Know…

Additionally, the 120V AC electrical system used in RVs powers the more powerful equipment.

The microwave, air conditioner, and 120V residential electrical outlets are all powered by this system.

This system’s power source options include shore power, a generator, or an inverter.

Using a device like a Bird relay or Echo Charge, you can also connect your home battery and chassis battery together so they both remain charged.

Despite being plugged in, why isn’t my RV’s battery charging?

There are a number of typical causes for your RV batteries not charging when plugged in, including:

faulty or worn-out battery connectors

a failing or dead battery

malfunctioning of the converter (cooling fan, thermal sensor, circuit board component, etc.)

a faulty fuse or circuit breaker

a problem with the connection to your shore electricity

A basic voltmeter may be used to test many of these problems, and with a little know-how, they can be resolved.

Visit our detailed article titled Camper Battery Not Charging When Plugged In? for more information.

Try This! for further details.

Of course, you should take your car to a licensed RV repair if you don’t feel comfortable tinkering with your battery charging system.

Check out the other articles in our RV battery series, such as these ones:

How to Charge an RV Battery While Driving: Discover how to charge the battery of your camper while it is being towed by a truck or other vehicle.

Additionally, learn how to dramatically speed up charging!

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to use a generator to charge your RV batteries.

Additionally, we go through crucial safety measures you won’t want to miss!

Learn how to quickly connect solar panels to your coach batteries to power your appliances and charge your batteries.

How RV Batteries Operate?

Large 12-volt batteries, which are basically what an RV battery is, are quite similar to the battery found under the hood of a vehicle or truck.

Nevertheless, few RVs link these batteries to an engine.

Your motorhome has a 12-volt battery of its own in the engine compartment of the RV.

In order to increase the amount of electricity they can produce, some bigger RVs incorporate several linked, sizable 12-volt batteries.

You must consistently keep your RV’s 12-Volt batteries at 45% of charge or higher to preserve and extend their lifespan.

You must recharge your RV batteries as quickly as possible if one or more of them lose more than 45% of their charge.

When a battery’s charge falls below 20% of its maximum, interior battery parts may begin to deteriorate.

Due to this, it could be difficult or even impossible to fully recharge the battery.

The charge level of the RV battery may be determined with a basic battery tester, voltmeter, or multimeter.

Even some more recent RVs have built-in battery indicators.

Examining the voltage it emits will enable you to quickly determine the charge level or condition.

You must cut the ground wire while your RV is not in use to stop progressive draining.

If the batteries are left connected, a trickle “Parasitic” charge will gradually leak out of them, bringing them below the danger zone of 45%.

Clocks, TV antenna boosters, LP gas lead detectors, stereos, and appliance circuit boards are just a few of the items that might drain a minor amount of energy from your RV’s batteries over time.

If you have a terrible habit of failing to check the batteries in your RV on a regular basis, you can find yourself with flat, damaged batteries and an expensive replacement bill on top of that!

Compare Lead-Acid, Sealed Lead-Acid vs AGM Batteries

RV battery with Flooded Lead-Acid

Each of the six internal cells in flooded lead-acid batteries has a capacity of 2.1 volts.

Your camper will get 12.6 volts of output power from a 12-volt battery.

This kind of battery is also called a “wet” battery.

advantages of lead-acid batteries

less costly

holds up to a high discharge

Not challenging to maintain

sold almost everywhere.

provides respectable power after a brief charge

A lead-acid battery’s main drawbacks are the danger for burns from acid leaks, overheating the cells, the need for ventilation, and the need that it be put upright in the RV.

Maintenance-free/Sealed Lead-Acid Batteries

Although they operate somewhat differently than sealed lead-acid or maintenance-free (MF) batteries, VRLA batteries (valve regulated lead-acid) provide the same number of long-term battery charge cycles that an RV requires.

The unit is sealed, so you don’t have to worry about corrosive sulfuric acid leaking from the cells, venting, or water level monitoring.

This is the most important distinction.

Because this sort of battery drains less while not in use (about 1-2%), you may store it for months without wearing the battery out.

RV experts like VRLA batteries and are prepared to pay extra for them since they also:

are in any manner movable

able to withstand severe temperatures

have no problems with terminal corrosion

give them a longer life

road vibrations more effectively

Either a gel cell or an absorbed glass mat makes up a VRLA battery (AGM).

Gel batteries keep the cells covered by suspending the electrolytes in a silica additive.

Gel batteries are most often used in applications requiring extremely deep-cycle battery charging, such an RV.

AGM batteries are technically “wet” batteries since the electrolytes are free-flowing, but the lead plates are sandwiched and protected by fiberglass mesh, which allows for a greater volume within each cell while still maximizing performance.

5 Guidelines for Improved RV Battery Performance

#1. Utilize the Correct Battery and Charger Setup

Not every RV battery can charge the system with the same converter.

Use an adequately sized and rated converter or inverter to handle the amount of power you’re aiming to produce and retain after determining which sort of battery is in your RV bank.

When one member of the team in your RV battery system fails, the whole system fails.

#2. When not in use, turn off the RV batteries

Using or adding a battery disconnect switch can prevent parasitic loads from draining RV batteries during storage, which is the greatest thing you can do.

Even if you may believe that all of your RV’s features are off, CO2 detectors or other electronics might dangerously deplete the battery’s charge.

#3. Keep RV Batteries from overheating.

Camper batteries are easily destroyed by high temperatures, and often, their position within an enclosed RV compartment exacerbates the issue.

If the compartment door is being battered by direct sunshine, check the battery temperature in your RV and attempt to extend the area’s shade.

#4. Keep an eye on your RV’s batteries.

Check your RV home battery bank’s fluid levels, terminals, and wiring often.

The cells within a flooded lead-acid battery might evaporate more quickly than you would expect when you camp in warm, dry climates.

Only use pure water to gently refill low cells and keep levels checked to ensure that the lead plates are adequately covered.

Battery charging may be hampered by corrosion at terminals and the ends of wire harnesses, which can obstruct normal electrical flow.

Maintain posts and wire ends in good condition, and replace any that seem broken.

Remember to check the ground wire that connects your battery to the chassis of your camper since this is another frequent location where problems may arise.

#5. Keep the RV battery from dying.

If you let the charge go below 45% of the maximum power, any battery will lose all of its usefulness.

If you drop below 20%, you may not be able to recharge the battery at all.

Why allow your battery’s charge go too low before you recharge it again, shortening its lifespan? While the battery may temporarily reboot, it will soon deteriorate and may fail to provide you with enough power to operate your RV when you need it most.

Get a battery level indicator if you often dry camp or boondock so you can quickly assess the charge state of your battery and prevent it from getting too low.


Operating and maintaining an RV battery is simply one more responsibility that comes with having one.

Knowing more about the subject can help you deal with any battery charging problems that could prevent you from going camping.

Yes, when you plug in your camper, the battery in your RV charges, but there’s more to the tale.

You can now install and maintain the greatest RV battery system for your camper by following the information in this article.

Good luck and safe travels!

Suggestion Videos from Youtube

Why Won’t My Battery Charge? | RV Troubleshooting – Camping World
How to Effectively Charge RV Batteries While Driving – Freedom in a Can
RV Tips – How to check your battery and charging system – ShawTVSSM
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Ryan is a RV product expert with nearly a decade of experience researching, developing, and testing RV products.

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