Does an RV Battery Charge When Plugged In

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This is a very important question whose answer many new RV owners want to know. This is because an RV battery is very important in every RV. Without an RV battery, most recreational vehicles would not function. This is because an RV battery is what powers RVs the same way mains electricity powers most homes across the country. 

In this article, I am going to answer the question: Does an RV battery charge when plugged in? I am also going to share with you everything you need to know about RV batteries.

Let’s begin.

Does an RV Battery Charge When Plugged In?

The short answer to this question is yes. Yes, an RV battery charges when plugged in. In other words, every time you plug an electric hookup to your RV, its battery will be charged. However, because this is trickle charging since the battery will quickly be charged, your battery’s electrolytes will get consumed. Therefore, you need to investigate the condition of your battery after plugging in an electrical hookup for a long time. 

The right way to charge your RV battery is to use a 3-stage RV battery charger. This will allow better charging and is less likely to harm your battery.

Understanding RV Batteries

RV batteries are deep cycle lead units that can store electrical power and can supply the same power to gadgets and devices at a stable rate to ensure they function normally. So your RV’s LED lighting, microwave, refrigerator, hot shower, radiator, AC, and other features cannot function with your RV’s battery or batteries supply power.

Since RV batteries do not produce their own power, they must be charged. If RV batteries are not charged or if they remain uncharged for so long, they stop working. Most RV manufacturers recommend charging RV batteries the moment they are 50 to 55% drained. According to experts, if RV batteries are consistently charged before they drain too much, they can last for up to ten years. 

As mentioned above, RV batteries are deep cycle units. They are different from other batteries in the sense that other batteries supply only energy bursts, while they deliver stable energy for an extended period of time. The batteries that produce power in energy bursts are ideal for machines or gadgets that require a burst of energy to kick-off, while deep-cycle batteries provide stable power that is ideal for powering RV kitchen appliances and other features.

How to Maintain RV Batteries

Improper or poor charging of RV batteries destroys them and reduces their lifespan, while proper charging of RV batteries prolongs their lifespan. Below are some of the things you should do to maintain your RV batteries. 

  1. Disconnect Ground Wire When Plugged In. When plugged in, RV batteries continue charging even if they are fully charged. This usually exhausts the number of electrolytes in the batteries. To prevent this, experts advise disconnecting the ground wire when camping and plugged in to stop the drainage of RV batteries. 
  2. Keep Your RV Batteries Fully Charged. RV batteries perform optimally when they are fully charged or when they have a good charge. If they frequently function with only 40 percent or less of their capacity charged, they do not perform optimally and their lifespan can reduce. So to make sure your RV batteries continue powering your RV for a long time, you should charge them frequently.
  3. Maintain The Charge At 45% or More. As mentioned above, RV batteries function optimally when they have a lot of charge. If you frequently drain your RV batteries, to below 45%, you will reduce their lifespan. If you frequently drain your RV batteries to below 20 percent, you will be actively reducing their lifespan and, in fact, it could get to a point where they cannot charge to 100% again. So always maintain the charge of your RV batteries at above 45%. If your RV’s battery does not come with a battery level indicator, you should check its voltage to find out its charge status.
  4. Switch Off Your RV Batteries If You Are Long-Term Camping. If you are going to camp somewhere for an extended period of time, you should switch off your RV batteries to stop parasitic draining by components such as gas leak detectors, fire detectors, stereos, electric awnings, and so on. Switching off your RV batteries will prevent their drainage and will keep them healthy.
  5. Monitor the Electrolyte Levels in Your Batteries. Probably the most important thing to do to maintain your RV batteries apart from maintaining their charge at above 45% is to monitor their electrolyte levels at least once a month. If the levels are low, you should refill your batteries with distilled water. Doing this will keep them healthy and prevent their damage. 
  6. Make Sure They Don’t Get Too Hot. Hot temperatures destroy batteries. They reduce their lifespan and can kill them. Therefore, if you go camping in a hot destination or during hot months, you should act to prevent your RV batteries from getting too hot and you should refill them with distilled water in case their electrolyte levels go low. 
  7. Prevent Overcharging. Overcharging can significantly damage your RV batteries. It can also kill your RV batteries. Therefore, to maintain your batteries and prevent them from dying, you should not overcharge them. If your RV battery or batteries do not have an indicator, you should get one. A battery monitoring device will tell you when your battery is full to stop charging it.
  8. Switch Off Your Batteries When Not Using Them. RV batteries usually come with a disconnecting switch that you can use to switch them off when not using them. This is perfect because there are electronics, stereos, gas lead detectors, and clocks that drain RV batteries slowly even if they are not necessarily on. Therefore, by switching off the batteries of your camper, you can prevent their usage and ensure they last longer.
  9. Cut Discharge Level. One of the best ways to protect your RV batteries to cut their discharge level. By doing this you will ensure your battery or batteries do not go below a certain level and affect the power going to your appliances.
  10. Prevent Sulfation. Using an RV battery maintainer and conditioner, you should prevent sulfation and make sure your RV battery or batteries continue working optimally for your camper.

Everything You Need To Know About RV Batteries

Can I Overcharge My RV Battery?

Yes, you can. You can overcharge your battery and this is bad for its health. This is why it is important to only charge your batteries when you have the right equipment and monitoring devices.

Can I Charge My RV Battery Using Multiple Sources At The Same Time?

Yes, you can. You can charge your battery using a solar power system while at the same time charging it using a mains power electrical hookup. You just need to make sure that your solar power system is connected by a professional and that it has a charge controller to protect your battery.

Can I Discharge My RV Battery Too Much?

Yes, you can. And when you do this frequently, you will reduce the lifespan of your RV battery. You are not supposed to drain your RV battery below 45% if it is a deep cycle battery or below 20% if it is a lithium battery. So to avoid harming your RV battery or batteries, you should never discharge it too much.

What Is An RV Battery Bank? 

An RV battery bank is a series of two or more RV batteries connected together. Connecting batteries increases the amps and is perfect for situations where you require more power e.g. when your camper has big appliances such as a refrigerator.

What Is An RV Battery Monitor?

It is a device for measuring the energy flowing into your battery and out of it. It is a very important device if you intend to charge your battery using any direct methods e.g. wind power, solar power, or your truck’s alternator because it helps you to track everything and it prevents overcharging.

How Much Is An RV Battery?

A quality deep cycle RV battery will cost several hundred dollars while a lithium battery will cost thousands of dollars. 

Do RV Batteries Charge When Plugged In? Yes, they do. RV batteries charge when plugged in but this is not very healthy for them. They do not need to charge when plugged in. This is why it is recommended that they should be switched off when campers are plugged in.

What Consumes RV Battery Power During Charging? Many things can consume RV battery power during charging. They include gas leak detectors, stereos, clocks, and lights. It is important to prevent these things from consuming or draining your RV battery’s power to ensure it charges quickly and lasts longer.

What Is The Most Common Type of RV Battery? There are two very common types of batteries – deep cycle batteries and lithium batteries. Deep cycle batteries are the cheapest, while lithium batteries are more expensive and less common. A well-maintained deep cycle RV battery can last for more than 10 years. 

How to Charge an RV Battery? The easiest way to charge an RV battery in connect the RV to an electrical hookup. You can also charge an RV battery by charging it with a generator, with a battery charger, with a wind power system, and with a solar power system.  


Now you know everything you need to know about an RV battery. Charge your battery the right way when dry camping and take good care of it. If you do these two things, your RV battery will serve you faithfully for a very long time.