FULL GUIDE To Charge RV/Camper Battery

how to charge a RV and camper battery

There are many ways to charge your RV camper battery. Nothing is more frustrating getting to the camp site and realizing you have a dead battery.

I will show you a few safe ways to charge your RV battery and maybe new systems you can implement

How to charge RV battery from tow vehicle

1. Switch on the headlights of the towing vehicle. And Start the Vehicle you are jump starting from.

2. Connect the red jumper cable to the positive terminal of the RVs dead battery. Then connect it to one side of your car’s battery. If you are unsure if you have a positive or negative terminal on your battery, look for “POS” or “P” on one side.

3. Now, connect the black jumper cable to a clean metal surface in your RV that is not coated with paint. These are usually steel areas such as the metal studs but can be other things like brake rotors if they are exposed and not rusted. Connect the second end of this cable to the other side of your car’s battery.

4. Last, connect the remaining red jumper cable from your car to a clean metal area on the dead battery and leave it there! This will provide a direct line for electrons to come into your vehicle as you are trying to start it.

5. Leave The vehicle that you are charging from to idle with the jumpers connected for at least 10 minutes.

6. The RV battery should read 13.2V after this time if not you will need a new battery

how to charge a RV and camper battery

Charging a Camper Battery Through The Converter

I’m going to show you how to charge your camper battery through the converter and avoid those pesky jumper cables. This trick is also useful when you’re charging a battery at home with shore power and don’t want to run the generator.

Converters are typically sized based on the starting watts required to turn over an engine of specific size. In other words, what it takes to start your boat.

Starting wattage varies depending on the year, make and model of the engine. Subtracting the starting wattage from the maximum watts available will give you a rough estimate on how many amps your converter will put out.

So, for example, if my boat’s converter is rated at 1500 watts and I have a 100 amp hour battery to charge:

1500 – 100 = 1400 / 10 = 140 amps

Those are the maximum number of amps it is capable of putting out. You may not get to that level exactly, but you should be within close proximity.

So, let’s say I’m at home using shore power and want to charge up my battery without running my generator or starting the engine. Because I know how many amps I can put out legally, I want to turn the converter on and let it run until the battery reaches 100%.

This will only happen if your engine is fully warmed up before turning on the generator or your batteries could get damaged. And even though this method may take longer than running a load of dishes in the microwave, just think how much money you’re saving on fuel!

Disclaimer: This is how my camper’s converter works. Yours may not work the same way, so make sure you understand your own system before applying these methods to it and potentially damaging something.

Charging camper battery with Solar

It’s possible to use a solar panel as an alternative power source. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. They generate electricity from sunlight which can then be connected directly to the camper battery with a pair of crocodile clips. This avoids using fuel and eliminates the need to maintain the battery.

To keep things simple, this system uses a pair of 6-volt solar panels connected in series which will provide 12 volts when placed under full sunlight.

A charge controller is added to prevent overcharging and damage to the battery. This device has an LED indicator light that turns red when charging, green when fully charged and off when no charging is taking place. An alternative to this device would be one that switches the battery charger on and off automatically.

A 12 volt lead acid battery has a nominal operating voltage of around 12.8 volts but will never exceed 13.2 volts It doesn’t have a total charge capacity of 100 percent, so there’s usually around 10 percent of unused capacity.

This means that charging the battery to 100 percent will leave it with a reduced capacity and shorten its life. The best approach is to use an equalizing charge controller which uses pulses at twice the rate of normal charging, so a 10 amp charge controller would deliver a 20 amp pulse once a month (if the battery is in constant use) or weekly if it’s only used for short periods.

This would ensure a full charge but prevent overcharging.

These devices are available in various sizes, depending on the number of batteries they need to charge or how much power needs to be converted into electricity.

They’re normally rated at 15 or 20 amps and, if more power is required, it can be taken from the number of series connected panels. For instance, two 6-volt solar panels rated at 15 amps make a 12 volt system that will put out 30 amps when charged by full sunlight.

This system will charge most types of camper battery, including wet cell, AGM and gel cell. The charge will be relatively slow but these devices are more efficient than charging with solar panels, so they’re worth considering if the camper battery is discharged

They can maintain a battery when there’s no sunshine available for several days.

They might not have the capacity to fully recharge a large battery in one day of sunniest weather, but they can be used to get the battery up to 80 percent charge and then it can be charged in the sunniest weather conditions.

They’re particularly good for use during long winter nights when there’s no sunshine available.

how to charge a RV and camper battery

How To Charge a RV Battery With Inverter?

You should know that charging an RV battery with the inverter is quite a task. You have to be precise in doing it, because there are some mistakes that can affect your battery life or even cause damages on other parts of your vehicle. So, how can you charge an RV battery with an inverter?

There are some important things do know about before charging your RV battery with the inverter as mentioned above, such as the terminal voltage of your battery.

The first step is knowing it and monitor it during the whole process. The terminal voltage is important because it indicates its current state. It can also tell you whether your battery is fully charged or not, which means determining the time to stop charging the RV battery for safety reasons.

Step 1: Hook Up Your Battery Charger

The next thing you should do is hook up your inverter and your battery charger. Check the connection to make sure it is secured well and it has no loose parts so you don’t worry about causing any fire if sparks occur.

If your inverter has a status meter, check on it to make sure everything is working fine before connecting the cable from your RV battery to charge.

Step 2: Turn On Your RV’s Generator

After you hook up the inverter and battery charger, turn on your RV generator. It is important to run the generator during charging because if it gets disconnected suddenly, there will be an unexpected spark that can damage other parts of your car or even cause a fire.

More importantly, when you are charging your RV battery with an RV generator, you will not be able to get the power needed from your inverter. So, if there is no power or other electrical needs of your car while charging your battery, you need to follow this safe practice.

Step 3: Start Your Generator and Turn on Your Inverter

Set the voltage and current. You should also set the time needed to charge your battery and start the process. Now, you can start your generator and turn on your inverter.

Wait for a few moments before checking if it is working or not to make sure there is no issue with connections. If everything is okay with your RV battery charger, now you must check the status of your battery.

Step 4: Check the Status of Your RV Battery

Wait for a few moments before checking the state of your battery. You have to wait for about 10 minutes so you can ensure that your charger or system has already reached its full potential to give an accurate reading on the current status of your car battery. You should check it on several times to know the process and how fast your battery is charging.

Step 5: Stop Charging When It Becomes Full

Finally, you have to pay attention to your RV battery charger or generator while charging the RV battery with an inverter because if too much current is used, it can cause damages on the motor or other parts of your vehicle.

In this case, you have to disconnect it by turning off your generator and inverter. Now, wait for about 30 minutes before turning them back on again to check if the battery is fully charged.

Otherwise, keep charging until you notice that it is already full and stop right away because if you keep charging it, there’s a possibility that it can cause damages on your battery.

Step 6: Disconnect Everything After Charging is Completed

When the process is finished and no longer needed, you must disconnect everything starting with your inverter then move to your RV battery charger.

Check every connection and make sure there are no sparks or fire hazards. Once you make sure everything is okay, turn off your generator and close the panel door to secure it so no one can easily access it.

Step 7: Check the Terminal Voltage

Again, check your battery’s terminal voltage after charging to make sure that what you set as a target value is already achieved. The terminal voltage should be close to it if everything is okay.

Step 8: Storage

After charging your RV battery with an inverter, you have to store it in a warm area to make sure that its life will not be shortened by the cold environment or temperature of the room where you are keeping it.

You can also store it inside your car if you are not going to use it soon. You should check on it from time to time to make sure that everything is okay with the battery until you leave for another trip.

Can I Overcharge My RV Battery?

Yes ,Overcharging can have adverse effects on the battery that will reduce its life expectancy. It’s also important to make sure that the charging device you’re using is sufficient to handle the amperage required for your battery.

Batteries will gradually lose their capacity as they age, so it’s best not to wait until your battery becomes weak before you consider a replacement. Lastly, be sure you’re not overcharging your battery. Overcharging can have adverse effects on the battery that will reduce its life expectancy.

Can discharging a battery too far ruin the battery?

Yes ,It is possible for the battery to be ruined if it is discharged too far. When a battery is discharged too far, it can boil or even combust.

If the battery explodes, then the benefits of using a battery can become a disadvantage. The high temperature from an exploding battery could lead to other fires and explosions in the surrounding area.

Even if the discharge doesn’t result in an explosion, there are still risks such as corrosion on contact points that cause reduced performance and capacity levels in circuits.

How do I charge my RV battery while driving?

Since your RV battery is usually undercharged, you’ll need to make a few adjustments to your system when you’re on the road. The idea here is to charge the battery as you drive so that it can maintain a full charge by the time you arrive at your destination.

RV batteries are typically designed to be charged from an AC power source. On the road, there are two options: (1) plug into power or (2) use a generator. Which one you use will depend on the layout of your motorhome and where you’re parked.

1. Plug into power. 

If you can park near a pedestal or “stub” (i.e., 90-degree angle), then this is the least expensive way to charge your battery — assuming that you won’t be leaving for 24 hours or more and that your rig isn’t fully plugged in with other RVs. Most pedestals are 120 volts, so you’ll need a converter to get the correct voltage (i.e., 12-volt).

Your rig will also have to be directly plugged into an outlet and not through a surge protector or “booster” because these devices can block the charging signal.

2. Use a generator. 

Generators are a great alternative for charging your battery while driving. They’re affordable, easy to install, and you don’t have to be parked near a pedestal (although if you have a generator that uses propane or natural gas, you might need an adapter).

How often should I charge my RV battery? 

Most manufacturers recommend charging your battery every 2-3 days. Most RVs are equipped with a “battery minder” that will keep the battery charged as long as it’s plugged in or running on propane or natural gas.

How do I determine how much to charge my battery? 

To keep your battery properly maintained, you’ll need a battery voltage gauge. Most RV manufacturers have them as an accessory, and they’re fairly inexpensive.

It will usually tell you the voltage of your battery when it’s fully charged, and a safe threshold to avoid overcharging or damaging the battery. Some gauges even come with a light that tells you when the batteries are charging so you don’t need to be in the RV to monitor them.

How do I tell if my battery is charged? 

In addition to a voltage gauge, you should also have a load tester that can show how much current your system is using or drawing. If your RV has an inverter (i.e., converts DC power to AC), it might also have a built-in load tester that you can use.

This way, you know that your battery is fully charged when the meter shows no current draw or usage.

Can I make my own charging system?

If you have several batteries and want to “island park” (i.e., stay put without hooking up to an RV park), you might decide to make your own charging system.

You can do this by installing a solar panel or two and connecting them to your batteries (with an “umbilical cord” made of wire). This will allow the sun to charge your battery while you’re parked. Make sure that the solar panels are getting enough sunlight, though, otherwise you’ll have to find another charging method.

Can I hook my RV batteries to the grid?

You can actually connect your rig to an AC power source through a “cord” (i.e., jumper cables). This isn’t really practical unless you’re parked for an extended period and want to use the electricity from the grid, such as for refrigeration. Otherwise, it’s not a cost-effective way to charge your battery.

How do I install a generator in My RV?

Most generators are pretty basic and usually have three wires (i.e., red, black, and white). The first thing you’ll need to do is find an open slot in the RV’s fuse box and connect them according to their directions.

The red wire will be connected to the “+” or “hot” side of the main power line, while the black wire is usually grounded. The white or neutral wires are optional and will need to be installed by a professional if they don’t already exist in your rig.

Next, you need to find an open slot in one of your campgrounds’ pedestals and connect the other red, black, and white wires into those slots. This will allow you to plug your generator into the wall if you want to use a grid power source or run it on propane or natural gas. 

Can I hook my RV batteries up directly to solar panels?

Unfortunately, this is not a good idea because solar panels do not generate enough power for most RVs. They are designed to charge small electronic devices, so hooking them up to your batteries is very inefficient (and dangerous). If you want to use solar power in your RV, it’s best to use a grid connection and charge the battery that way.

Should I install a battery monitor in my RV?

These are optional, but inexpensive and a good precaution. It lets you know the voltage of your system (i.e., the charge). Some monitors even come with alarms that will tell you when to charge them. If you want to hook an additional gauge up, make sure it’s compatible with your monitor by reading their directions carefully.


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