How to Charge Your RV Battery

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If you are looking into living the RV life and traveling for weeks or months at a time, then you probably know you are going to need power to stay comfortable and entertained.

This is because many RV features such as lighting fixtures, furnace units, air conditioners, refrigerators, microwaves, TVs, entertainment systems, water heating systems, automated systems, and so on, need power to function. 

The good news is that most RVs have powerful batteries that hold enough power to make sure everything that needs electricity to function is functioning while guys are on the road. Nevertheless, considering the number of RV features that require power to function, it is obvious that RV batteries need to be charged frequently to continue providing power. 

In this article, I will explain to you how to charge RV batteries. With the information I will share with you, you will be able to make sure your RV’s battery or batteries have enough power to make sure everything in your camper is functioning properly.

Let’s begin.

5 Methods to Charge RV Your RV Battery

You can charge the battery of your RV by utilizing a converter to converter to convert AC power into Dc power. You can charge your RV battery using a battery charger. You can also charge the battery of your RV directly by utilizing your towing truck’s alternator. Solar power and wind power can also be used to charge an RV battery. 

  1. Charging Your RV Battery Utilizing a Converter

You can charge your RV battery using a converter in several ways. To charge your RV battery using a converter, you need to connect your camper to a source of power. It could be the electrical grid/ mains power/ shore power or power from an electrical generator. 

Most campgrounds across the United States have campsites with 50 or 30 Amp electrical hookups. And all campers have either 50 or 30 Amp sockets to allow the connection of a matching electrical hookup so that they can be powered by mains power.

If your camper is small in size, then it most probably has a 30 Amp socket/ power inlet, and it can only be connected to the local electrical grid using a 30 Amp electrical hookup. If your camper is big in size, then it most probably has a 50 Amp socket and can only be connected to the local electrical grid using a 50 Amp electrical hookup. 

In case you are in a location where you are in an off-grid location, you can still power your camper by connecting it to an electrical generator. 

So as mentioned above, to charge your RV battering utilizing a converter, you need to connect your RV to a source of power which is either the electrical grid or an electrical generator. When you connect your camper to the electrical grid, the power will simultaneously charge your RV battery and run your camper’s electrical features and amenities. 

It will do this by going through your camper’s converter, which will then supply power to your RV battery and to your camper’s breaker panel. Your RV battery will subsequently supply power to all your camper’s DC power items while your camper’s breaker panel will supply power to all your camper’s AC power items. Usually, the only DC power items in a camper are overhead lights. Therefore, your RV battery will largely be charging when you connect an electrical hookup to your camper. 

When powering your camper and charging your battery with a mains power electrical hookup, you should protect your RV from voltage spikes/ power fluctuations. You should do this using a surge guard in between the electrical hookup and your camper’s power intake. The surge guard will make sure your camper only gets the right voltage. There are many surge guards on the market, choose that which impresses you. 

Charging Your RV Battery Using a Generator 

As I mentioned a few moments ago, you can charge your RV battery using a converter by connecting an electrical hookup with your camper. If you are in a campsite where there is no electrical hookup, you can connect an electrical hookup from a generator with your camper to power your camper and charge its battery. 

There are many types of generators on the market. The most popular ones among American camper owners are gas, diesel and propane generators. Generators usually come with an electrical hookup that you can connect to your camper the same way you can connect an electrical grid hookup. When you connect a generator to your camper, it will simultaneously power up your camper’s AC items and charge your RV battery just like a mains power electrical hookup. 

  1. Charging Your RV Battery Using a Battery Charger

One of the easiest ways you can charge your RV battery at home is to use a 12-volt charger. The other way to charge your RV battery at home is to connect it with your home’s mains power using a home extension cord. 

There are many such 12-volt RV battery chargers available on Amazon. You just need to buy the right one plus cables and you should be able to easily charge your RV battery. 

If your camper is small, you do not have to remove its battery to take it inside for charging. You simply need to move it to your garage and charge it directly while it sits in its rightful place in your camper.

  1. Charging Your RV Battery Directly Using Your Truck’s Alternator

You can power up your RV battery directly without having to channel power through your camper’s converter. You can do this in three ways including using your truck’s alternator, using solar power and using wind power. 

Please note that neither of these RV battery charging methods can simultaneously power AC items like a mains power electrical hookup or a generator electrical hookup. But do not worry. Because as your battery is being charged by any of these three methods, it will at the same time supply power to your camper’s inverter which will then supply power to your camper’s AC power appliances.

While direct methods of charging an RV battery are nice alternative ways to charge an RV battery, they usually take longer to charge a battery. This is especially true when too many items are draining a battery while it is being charged. 

Using a towing truck’s alternator is one of the most common ways camper owners charge their RV batteries. You too can do it. It is easy to charge your RV battery using your tow truck’s alternator because your truck uses the same alternator to charge its battery. 

An alternator can charge a battery because it changes mechanical into electrical energy. If you are constantly on the move, it is a good idea to charge your RV battery using your tow truck’s alternator. If you like camping for extended periods, then it is not a very good idea. This is because you will need to idle your truck to charge your RV battery and this is not efficient or very healthy for your truck.

  1. Charging Your RV Battery Directly Using Solar Power

As mentioned above, solar power is one of the methods you can directly charge your RV battery. Solar power is an extremely popular way of charging RV batteries because it is sustainable. To charge your RV battery using solar power, you must buy a solar panel and connect it to a charge controller and connect the controller to your battery. The charge controller is simply designed to prevent your RV battery from charging.

Many modern campers are solar power prepped or ready. By saying this I mean they are either prepared for solar power or already have connected solar power systems. If your camper is prepared for solar power it means it has everything ready, you just need to buy solar panels and install them on its roof; no need to worry about connecting them to a charge controller or to your RV battery. If your camper is solar power ready, it means you just need the sun and your battery will automatically start charging.

There are two types of charge controllers popularly used in RV solar systems – the pulse width modulation charge controller and the maximum power point tracking charge controller. The latter is more efficient than the former but it is also more expensive.

  1. Charging Your RV Battery Directly Using Wind Power

You can also certainly charge your RV battery directly using wind power. This is, however, rare. Nevertheless, if you are a long term camper, buy and installing a small wind turbine is a good and eco-friendly way to charge your RV battery and keep your camper going. It is especially perfect if you are camping in a windy area. 

A wind power charging system in an RV will look just like a solar power charging system. Power will come from the turbine to a charge controller and then to your RV battery. 

Some guys consider using wind power while driving but this is not efficient and it is illegal in most places. It is not efficient because the wind turbine will try to trap wind and this will drag your camper and make it affect the gas mileage of your towing vehicle significantly. To avoid this, only set up a wind turbine when camping.

How to Charge RV Batteries FAQs

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. 

Conclusion

You now know how you can make sure your RV batteries never die. This means you now know the different ways to ensure your RV always has power to function normally, to entertain you, and to keep you comfortable in whichever destination you want to go camping. I hope this information inspires you to hit the road sooner rather than later to start your RV adventure.