Does an RV’s Battery Charge When The Camper is Plugged In?


Yes, the battery of an RV does charge when plugged in. Keeping your batteries healthy and lasting is another topic we should talk about. When you are heading out into the middle of nowhere, you want to make sure that you actually get there. *This also applies to batteries in a towable trailer too. 

RV batteries are lead-acid batteries and have many cells connected in series. So, if you have a battery of 6 cells, which is usually the case, you have a 12 volt DC battery. This provides it with enough power to run a few RV systems and certain systems inside throughout your RV. These would be the systems which need 12 volts DC.

The thing with RV batteries is that they do not recharge themselves automatically like some others. When the battery discharges or power is lost, you will have to recharge it yourself. And you also have to keep monitoring its levels to know when the charge falls too low.

  • Charging of RV batteries can be done using standard AC outlets which are available in campgrounds or maybe your home. These outlets usually come with 120-volt AC output.
  • So, to convert this AC current in DC which the battery requires, you need a power converter.
  • Most of the recent models of RV’s do come with these converters in-built these days.
  • However, if are traveling around in an old one, make sure you have one with you.

The charging process is fairly simple. If you keep it plugged in, it would keep charging. The problem is if the charge is too low, it might take a long time. This can be quite frustrating for owners if you need charge quickly. Keep monitoring the charge levels so you do not let it get too low.

If you do not want to use a standard charger, there are other options available today. Go for solar power and using stand-alone battery chargers. Solar power can be a great option but is a bit tricky to manage. You only get a limited amount of time per day depending on the area to charge. And then you have to know exactly how much power your RV needs. The better option might be to use a battery charger which can be found in most automotive stores.

Does RV battery in trailer charge when driving or moving?

Everyone who has ever owned an RV knows about its battery and the pain and frustration it causes to charge its batteries. So it would’ve popped into everyone’s head, “Can I charge my battery while driving as well”. Wouldn’t that be quite convenient? Well, turns out there are quite a few ways you can employ to charge your batteries while on the move.

The things you would need for this are –

  1. Voltage Controlled Relay(VCR)
  2. Anderson Plugs
  3. Good quality cables with high amperage

Step 1 –

Start with the VCR which disconnects the batteries automatically. It also parallels the start and auxiliary batteries. The batteries and the truck get comparable to the levels which are pre-set and the relay is closed. If the truck is switched on, the relay opens. But in case it is switched off, the batteries get disconnected. The voltage will be set to the pre-set levels.

Step 2 –

The first thing to do is to minimize the voltage drop. Use cables with high amperage which are also of good quality to do this. Anderson plugs can be used. This is because Anderson Plugs can carry high amperage with low voltage levels.

These plugs also provide a great connection. The cable should be easily detachable. 50 amps of automatic reset circuit breakers on any side of the plugs on positive lines provide circuit protection. This can also eliminate fire hazards. To insulate from any short-circuiting, a few rubber slips on the breaks can help.

This is how you can charge the RV batteries while moving/traveling.

How to Tell if Your Converter is NOT Charging the Battery?

Under normal scenarios, if your RV battery is plugged in, then it should be charging. And depending on the charge that has depleted from the battery, this can take a long time. But there are cases when there might be a problem with your power source, converter or battery and your RV battery actually does not charge.

So how can you know when it is not charging?

  1. Check your AC power source with other products to check if is delivering power. This is the first and easiest step and should be eliminated first.
  2. The second test is to check your converter. First, identify the 120 volt AC power of your RV. The first check can be using a voltage meter. This can be used to check if power is sent to the converter. Next, it can be plugged into a running generator and the readings can be taken. Note that if the voltage reading is more than 120volts, it can potentially damage your appliances inside the RV.
  3. The third is to check the battery. RV’s usually have a monitor which shows its battery levels. This is normally present on the dashboard of the vehicle. If the battery is not charging, the battery levels will not increase and will continue to go down over time. Look at the battery with all its wires and fuses to check if there’s any noticeable breakage or corrosion in them.

What is Good RV Battery Maintenance?

Good battery maintenance requires a good knowledge of how batteries in an RV work. The working of everything in an RV depends on the 12volt system and for it to function properly. The devices in the rig of the RV cannot function without the batteries. The house batteries can operate over long periods of time because they are deep cycle ones and can store a lot of power. If properly maintained, these batteries which mentioned earlier are deep cycle ones, can last for about ten years.

If the RV battery is in storage, it is always best to prevent battery drainage by disconnecting the ground wire. Another thing which is helpful is not to let the charge go below fifty percent. There should be a recharge done as soon as it goes below fifty percent. If you want your battery to last longer, it’s best to follow this rule. If the charge of the battery is let to go below twenty percent, it might not work to its full potential again and may end up being damaged.

If the battery drops below a certain voltage, it can lead to sulfation. Sulfation is the accumulation of lead sulfate crystals inside the lithium-ion batteries.

  • Sulfation can lead to an increase in the charging time of your battery and can also lead to its untimely demise.
  • This comes in two categories, reversible and permanent. If caught early enough, some sulfation can be reversed by delivering a controlled overcharge.
  • If the sulfation is permanent, however, your RV battery is permanently damaged.
  • Sulfation occurs because of a low charge in the battery over long and extended periods of time.

Have at least more than twenty percent of charge at all times as a bare minimum. Even then, the battery might be damaged and not perform to its full potential. For best results and get the longest life span, recharging after 50 percent discharge is recommended.

More Tips to Help You Have Extend the Life of your RV’s Battery

Some other methods which can be used to maintain the battery of your RV are –

  1. Even when the RV is not in use, keep charging the battery. The rig still draws out power even when you’re not actively using the vehicle. It’s best to remove the batteries when not in use and store them in a dry and cool place to recharge. Or you can even put the vehicle into shore power for around 8 hours. Best to keep repeating this at least once a week.
  2. It’s good to know how much power each feature of the rig uses. If this is known, you can calculate how long certain features might run depending on how much power you have left and how much you’re using.
  3. Always keep note of the voltage of the battery. It’s always good to keep it at around 12.4 volts. If the voltage levels fall below, 10.5 volts, the chances of sulfation increases substantially.
  4. Another good method is to keep checking the water levels of your battery at regular intervals. Before you charge your battery, check the water levels once. If you find the levels low, which actually means lower than the plates, you can fill it. Remember to fill it only up to the point where the water just about covers the plates. Remember to only use distilled water to do this as mineral water can damage the battery.
  5. When the battery is in storage, systems can draw power from it and drain it. To prevent such draining of power, it’s best to tap the battery disconnect switch.
  6. Try to avoid overcharging your RV batteries. Hot temperatures can also lead to batteries lasting shorter than they should.

How to Revive or Restore a Dead RV Battery?

RV batteries can die of a number of reasons, most of which are mentioned in the earlier sections. A dead battery loses its capacity to hold the charge. It may even lose its capacity to take charge.

Depending on how bad the condition of the battery is and its capacity, it can take a few days or even weeks to revive them.

For a battery which is of 12 volts, a good battery charger (6amps to 10amps rating) and BLS are required. A BLS is a Battery Life Saver. If your battery is unable to receive the charge, it might be preferable to use an old battery charger and not a new one.

The main act of this procedure is to continuously charge and discharge the battery. BLS should be attached during this process. With each charge and discharge cycle, the sulfate crystals slowly dissolve. For discharging your battery, you can either add some load or let the BLS discharge it for you.

  1. The first step is to connect both the charger and the BLS to the RV battery. Keep in mind the polarity.
  2. The second step is to start charging the battery up to at least 12 volts or even more. The BLS should be attached in this step.
  3. By removing the battery charger, keep the BLS connected to the battery for a significant period of time. Keep in mind that the voltage during this stage should not fall below10.5 volts.
  4. Keep repeating the above steps when the voltage of the battery is between 12.2V to 12.5V

Keep repeating this cycle until the battery comes back to life and becomes operational again. This process usually takes a long time, so keep repeating this process over a few days until you see results.