Although battery power isn’t flawless, you may be surprised by an RV battery’s durability.
There are techniques to make sure your battery lasts longer than your trip, even if a large motorhome and all of its electrical devices need a 12V RV battery.
Here are some facts you should know about common RV battery fallacies and how to save as much power as you can, especially while dry camping.
Table of Contents
- How Long Does An RV Battery Last?
- Various RV Battery Types
- RV Batteries: Why They’re Important
- 3 Myths Regarding the Battery Life of an RV
- Typical Factors Affecting Battery Life
- Tips for Extending the Life of RV Batteries
- Is My Camper Pluggable Without A Battery?
- Does the Battery in My Travel Trailer Charge While I’m Driving?
- Related Videos from Youtube
How Long Does An RV Battery Last?
Deep-cycle batteries with proper care should last 6 years or more. Sadly, some RV owners change the batteries on their vehicles every year or two. It is simple to increase battery life; all it needs is some simple upkeep.
Various RV Battery Types
#1. Lithium Ion Batteries
Lead-acid batteries are often used by RV makers.
When taken care of properly, they are quite dependable and relatively cheap compared to other sorts.
However, you should be aware of the 2 distinct applications for lead acid batteries in an RV.
The first sort of battery is used to start your vehicle, and the second kind powers your 12-volt system while you are not connected to shore power.
These devices function considerably differently and call for various batteries.
#2. Battery Types “Chassis”
The “chassis” kind of battery is the one that you generally see under a drivable RV’s hood or utilized as a vehicle battery.
They are designed to store energy and release it briefly (when starting the engine.) Additionally, these batteries are not intended to discharge extremely far or often.
They will unfortunately often be installed into the RV’s 12 volt electrical system since they are the least priced variety.
This is OK if you just need to use batteries for a few hours at a time.
#3. Deep Cycle Batteries
A different kind of battery is required for the 12 volt power system to function properly.
These batteries are designed to provide electricity in smaller quantities for a longer duration.
They undergo a significant discharge (down to around 50%), after which they are recharged.
This loop keeps repeating itself.
The cycle of charging and discharging might occur every day if you are boondocking.
Because of the deep discharge, this kind of battery is known as a “deep cycle battery.”
You must be aware of the amount of power you will need over an average day in order to choose the right battery solution for your equipment.
That requirement can be converted into necessary amp hours with a little arithmetic.
“Amp Hours (AH)” is the unit used to describe deep cycle batteries.
The entire amount of power you will get while drawing a certain quantity of amps is measured in amp hours.
For instance, if your setup routinely draws 5 amps from a 100AH battery, you may anticipate getting 20 hours out of it.
You should have 10 hours of power before recharging as you can only safely drain 50% of the battery at a time.
Depending on the power requirements of the coach, several batteries may be hooked together in “parallel” to offer more amp hours, and they will operate for a long time.
One modification that RVers often do is switching from 12v to 6v batteries.
Golf cart batteries are 6 volt deep cycle batteries.
These batteries are intended to have a long life and more amp hours than 12v batteries, thus it is anticipated that they would undergo many, numerous discharge cycles.
They are ideal for usage inside of an RV.
Simply “series” wire 6v batteries in pairs when utilizing them.
By connecting in pairs, the voltage is doubled, thereby producing 12 volt batteries with more amp hours.
Another form of maintenance-free lead-acid battery that can be drained to 80% is the AGM battery.
They cost a little bit more than lead-acid batteries that are “wet”.
Lithium Ion batteries are more lightweight and may be fully depleted.
They now have double the useful power of comparable lead acid batteries as a result.
This particular battery is rather pricey.
RV Batteries: Why They’re Important
Every car needs batteries because they keep you moving forward.
Your engine would stop working without a battery, leaving you stuck waiting for a tow truck.
However, because an RV needs electricity to operate its amenities, batteries are much more important.
Lead-acid batteries are used in recreational vehicles.
Several battery cells connected in series make up a lead-acid battery.
The sum of the power that each cell supplies and the voltage that the battery as a whole can provide.
These batteries don’t generate energy; your alternator does that.
Instead, they store energy.
The question is, though, how much energy can it hold, and how long can RV batteries last?
3 Myths Regarding the Battery Life of an RV
Understanding battery life may be difficult, particularly with the variety of motorhome battery options available.
It could take some trial and error before you figure out the best way to manage your batteries, depending on the kind of RV you have and the size of the battery.
In that regard, below are a few widespread misconceptions concerning battery life that can mislead you.
#1. The Battery Must Be Totally Discharged Before Recharging
It’s a common fallacy that you must fully empty your battery before placing it on a charger in order to prolong its life.
This is untrue in the case of RV batteries.
However, it is true that you shouldn’t recharge your battery as soon as it falls below 80%.
The rule of thumb is to recharge the battery when it has 40 percent remaining life.
A 12V battery will display 12 volts when it is 40% charged.
12.73 volts are produced when a 12V battery is fully charged.
Allowing the battery to go below 12 volts might harm the device, costing you more money than required in new batteries.
#2. Storing a battery instead of letting it charge is preferable
Maintaining battery life requires a precise balance, and both undercharging and overcharging may lead to problems.
However, it’s not a good idea to keep the battery on the charger after it has fully charged.
Corrosion may result from overcharging, which causes the battery’s water to evaporate.
As soon as a battery is fully charged, remove it from the charger and store it safely.
Long-term battery storage done well has to include:
- Removing the battery’s connection to the wire
- Examining the connections for rust and cleaning and drying them
- Preserving fluid balance
- Every 90 days, checking the charge condition (keep it above 75 percent)
- Keeping the temperature steady (between 32 and 80 degrees)
#3. Each season requires a new battery.
It seems sense that you’ll need a lot of battery power if you RV full-time.
You shouldn’t need a new battery every season or even every year, even if you’re a full-timer.
Most batteries have a minimum lifespan of six years when maintained correctly.
Of course, things can happen, but the typical RVer should only anticipate replacing their motorhome battery (or batteries) once every few years at most.
Your batteries may run out of power in a few months or perhaps only a few years.
Whether so, it may be worthwhile to check your car’s electrical system to discover if a deeper issue exists.
Recommended reading: How to Replace & Upgrade Your RV Batteries?
Typical Factors Affecting Battery Life
Despite the fact that your battery should continue to work at a good level for at least a few years, there are several things that might shorten battery life.
When assessing battery life, take into account:
How much time the RV is stationary?
RVs that are for sale often have poor battery life because they have been improperly kept while they are being sold.
To be sure you’re receiving a brand-new pair, think about asking your dealer or the seller to replace the RV batteries in your used RV.
Temperatures and variations in temperature. A battery that is left in an RV on a road trip across several climates may have moisture or heat problems.
Similarly, an RV that is parked in extreme cold or heat might have issues.
Energy use. Do you often use several appliances that zap your RV’s battery and hasten its demise? Or are you minimizing drainage and saving electricity?
Tips for Extending the Life of RV Batteries
The makers of RVs are aware that drivers want reliable and abundant electricity in their RVs.
And it’s true that batteries for motorhomes often have larger power reserves than batteries for automobiles.
However, you can have certain behaviors that make your battery drain more quickly than usual.
While your RV insurance may cover battery replacement while you’re traveling, you could have to pay a lot of money and wait a while.
Here’s how to save energy and extend the life of RV batteries instead of putting your battery’s life in danger.
#1. Make certain to charge properly
As previously said, you shouldn’t charge your RV battery too much.
However, you shouldn’t overcharge it or allow it run entirely dry.
To keep track of battery output, always have a digital voltmeter on hand.
When batteries are 40% charged, put them on a charge.
#2. Examine the loads of parasites.
There are certain bugs inside your camper for which you don’t require insect spray.
Electronic equipment that use electricity even while the RV is off are known as parasitic loads.
Does your RV have a single battery to power both the interior comforts and the engine? When it’s time to go home, a dead battery may be the consequence of letting electronics operate while the engine is off.
In order to make sure that every gadget is turned off when you want it to be, you may use surge protector power strips.
As an alternative, you may power the electrical devices in your RV using backup batteries.
If your secondary battery fails, you won’t be left stranded if you use a battery that isn’t part of the engine.
#3. Keep an eye on the temperature and humidity
Although hot weather might shorten your battery’s life, it can also cause the water in the battery’s cells to dry out.
To maintain your battery functioning efficiently and prevent overheating, top out the water levels (using only distilled water).
Naturally, avoid using too much water, and make sure the battery compartment is dry.
While distilled water is beneficial for battery cells, you shouldn’t keep your battery out in the rain or in other wet environments.
#4. Battery Life and Dry Camping
For instance, Class A motorhomes often contain the same appliances that campers have at home.
You’ll need a lot of battery juice to run a luxury motorhome‘s AC unit, refrigerator, electric hot water heater, and TV/stereo system.
For the sake of the interior amenities alone, your Class A may contain many batteries.
On the other hand, a travel trailer could just have one battery to power the fridge and lights.
Using your battery properly is essential while dry camping without power connections.
Here are some pointers for dry camping or boondocking while maintaining battery life:
- During your dry camping excursion, run the engine sometimes if your RV just has one battery. This functions like any other vehicle would to “recharge” the battery.
- Connect extra batteries for the interior conveniences. It may take more energy than you think to keep the lights on. Think about using an additional battery for essentials.
- If you have a good view of the sun and a solar system, you’ll never run out of electricity for charging batteries.
- Opt for propane power. You may enjoy an off-grid journey with less worry about electricity by using propane for heat, hot water heaters, cooking, and even your refrigerator. Most campsites and gas stations sell propane, which keeps well for an extended period of time. Additionally, it may be transported and used to heat a camper or cook outside.
To make sure that your RV batteries survive a long time and don’t leave you without power, pay attention to the advice and conduct some simple battery care.
Is My Camper Pluggable Without A Battery?
Technically, as long as a converter/charger is installed, you may plug in your camper without a battery.
While plugged in, the converter will power your 12 volt system.
The battery must be placed even if there is just a charger present.
To that end, if you remove the battery from your vehicle while it is connected in, check to see that the connections are properly insulated.
Even if the battery disconnect is turned off, there may still be power flowing through.
Does the Battery in My Travel Trailer Charge While I’m Driving?
The majority of 7-pin connections do feature a “hot” lead that connects to your trailer battery and charges it slowly as you travel.
You could get a strong enough charge to fully charge the battery over the course of a lengthy day of driving.
Since the power delivery will be determined by the requirements of the vehicle’s battery, this approach is not very reliable.
There isn’t much left over for the trailer since the car will be using the alternator and batteries for electricity.
This makes charging your home batteries unreliable due to long-distance losses and the short wire generally present in the 7-pin connection.
This approach may be improved by adding a solar array, a second alternator, bigger wire to the 7-pin connection, and more batteries.