An RV requires a source of power to run. Furthermore, more often the RV has other electronic devices such as a refrigerator and water heater among others that would also require a source of power. It is also worth nothing that some power sources can not allow you to put on all your electrical appliances
So, can I run my RV without a battery? Yes. It is very possible to run the RV without a battery. If the RV is permanently located in a site, you can just plug it in to a power source. Also, you can run it using a converter and it will work well although not all models.
Keep in mind the fact that you are not using a battery means that you do not have any power backup for your appliances. Also, some models would not run without a battery because the design has been made in a manner that the battery completes the circuit even if you have a converter.
Further guidelines on RV battery and use include
|1 RV battery number, durability and effect of towing vehicle|
-Do I need two batteries in my RV?
-How long can a camper run on battery?
-Does tow vehicle charge RV batteries?
2 RV slide out and batteries
-Will my slide out work without battery?
-Do RV slide outs work on battery?
-Can you move an RV with slides out?
3 Disconnect switch and RV battery
-Should I disconnect my RV battery when plugged in?
-How does battery disconnect switch work in RV?
|4 Power converter and battery|
-What does power converter do in a camper?
-Does my RV converter charge my battery?
-How do I test my camper converter?
-How do you install a power converter in an RV?
-How much does an RV converter cost?
-What is the difference between an inverter and a converter?
|5 Marine battery|
-Is there a difference between deep cycle and marine battery?
-How long does it take to charge 12 volt marine battery?
6 Maintaining your RV battery
-Why does my camper battery keep dying?
-How do I keep my RV battery over winter?
-How can I heat my RV without electricity?
7 Wiring a trailer to charge off the tow vehicle (video)
1 RV battery number, durability and effect of towing vehicle
Do I Need 2 Batteries in My RV?
Not really. You can work with just one battery. Although it depends with the voltage and current you need. Besides, if you have more electrical equipment in the RV then you need more power and thus you may require at least two batteries to meet your needs.
Generally, an RV can work with a single deep cycle battery. The battery can belong to the 24-group deep cycle where a 12-volt battery is used.
The battery has the capabilities of supplying about 70-85 AH. You can be able to run basic equipment in the RV.
So, why does my RV have two batteries?
To increase power or voltage although it depends with the connection. For example, to add more power you can connect two 12-volt of the 24 group deep cycle batteries in parallel.
With this connection you can be able to get an output of about 140-170AH. The power can last longer in case you use basic electronics, and can power more additional electronics.
Also, with sufficient space, you can do a series connection of two 6-volt golf cart batteries. The resultant voltage would be 12 volts and would give out a power of about 180-220 AH.
The higher the number of batteries you connect the higher the power you can get. So, understand your power needs to be able to make a sound decision on how many batteries you need.
So, how many batteries should I have in my RV?
Most RV come with one 12-volt 24 group deep cycle battery. However, you can have two 6-volt battery connected in series to get a 12-volt with more power.
Note that as your power needs increase, you need more batteries and more physical space is needed to store the batteries. Besides, how long it takes to charge RV batteries will vary.
How Long Can a Camper Run on Battery?
It depends with your battery’s charge. A battery that is fully charged and in good condition ought to last longer than an uncharged battery.
Besides, the number of electronic equipment you use that depend on the RV battery will also affect the how long the camper battery would last.
However, an RV battery should last between 2-3 days with an assumption that you are using basic RV electronics such as refrigerator, lighting, heater, and water pump.
Furthermore, if your RV has more housed batteries or the one that offers more power then it should be able to take you about 1 week and more depending with the total capacity.
In addition, being able to embrace energy conservation strategies can go along way to increase the duration of your battery’s charge.
Ways of Conserving Energy
To conserve energy you can
- Use energy saving devices and equipment such as using energy saver lighting system
- Devices that you do not use can be switched on. Example is the water pump which you can switch on demand
- Insulate your RV such that after heating the RV you can switch off the heater and the RV remains warm
- Get extra battery to act as a backup.
Does Tow Vehicle Charge RV Battery?
Majority of towing vehicles or trucks do charge a trailer battery. However, the tower charging would not sufficiently fully charge the RV battery making it partially charged.
Besides, since the truck charging system is self-regulating it becomes impossible for it to sense that the extra load still needs power.
In order to enhance charging of the trailer, you may need some technical skills to replace the 12-gauge charging wire with a 6- or 8-gauge charging wire.
Lighter wires are more flexible and enhance sufficient charging of the external battery of the trailer.
Also, getting a Sterling battery-to-battery charger to help in charging the battery directly using another battery can sort you out.
In this case you need an extra battery back up in the RV just in case you need to boost your trailer battery charge when you are in a place you cannot plug in.
2 RV slide out and batteries
Will My Slide Out Work Without Battery?
Sometimes your battery may go dead and you wonder whether or not your slide out will still work. Yes, it can still work. There are several ways in which a slide out can operate without your RV having a battery:
Other than automation of the slide out, some models have been designed to be able to operate on a manual basis. For instance, the Arctic Fox slides can be operated manually via the outside compartment door.
Plug in your RV to shore power:
A plug in RV will allow continuous supply of power and you will be able to power and operate all your 12V appliances including the slide out.
Power back up:
Example you can use a generator to provide the needed power to move the slide.
Please not that you must operate your slide out withing the recommendations of your manufacturer. It is because some slides outs have been labelled “do not operate without a battery”.
A low voltage source could cause overheating and destroy your slide. Be sure to check out the manufacturer safety precautions.
Do RV slides work on battery?
Yes. To operate, the slides work on battery. Thus, you ought to ensure your battery is charged for you to enjoy using the slides automatically.
However, some slides can be operated manually and is not a must you use the battery although a few brand have this manual feature as an advantage.
So, how does a camper slide out work?
It depends with the type of slide out you have. You can confirm in your manual. However, it is not difficult and most are straightforward. There are three types of slide outs whose operation vary:
Hydraulic slide out:
Most slides operate by the use of a hydraulic pump system. The pump is the one that uses the 12-volt energy from the battery to operate. If they fail to operate check your battery and ensure it is charged.
Still, no progress continue troubleshooting. Check the hydraulic pump fluid level, if low fill it. Inspect for any leaks. Get a technician to help you out.
Electric slide out:
Other slide uses electricity and are motorized. However, the motor of the electric slides is powered by 12-volt battery. In case it fails to work and the RV battery is charged, find the electrical compartment of the RV electrical compartment.
Inspect if there is any loose or disconnected wires and fix. Check the fuses and if any is blown out they need a replacement. If all is well then, your motor could be the problem.
Get a technician to help. Also, check your manual to see how you can manually close your slides.
Tip out slide out:
It uses a hinge often located at the bottom an can manually “tip out” whenever you want to use it. Often oil the hinge to ease movement when sliding out.
Slide Out Not Working
Also, sometimes you may wonder why is my slide out not working? For hydraulic slide out if it fails to operate check your battery and ensure it is charged.
Still, if no progress check the hydraulic pump fluid level, if low fill it. Inspect for any leaks. Get a technician to help you out if it still fails.
For an electric slide out in case it fails to work ensure the RV battery is charged to ensure it is not due to lack of power. If no progress find the electrical compartment of the RV electrical compartment.
Inspect if there is any loose or disconnected wires and fix. Check the fuses and if any is blown out, they need a replacement. If all is well then, your motor could be the problem. Get a technician to help.
Tip out slide out require frequent oiling to ease movement. For all slides, check your manual to see how you can manually close your slides in worst case scenario. Also, ensure no object obstruct movement.
Can You Move an RV with the Slides Out?
No. It is not recommended even though you can but the risks can cost you a lot. Just ensure all your slides have been closed before moving your trailer. If the slides have failed to close for one reason of the other, troubleshoot.
If you drive while the slides are out you risk damaging the slides. You may encounter an object such as hanging tree branches that can greatly cause damages on the slides.
Also, it is easy to get into an accident with an incoming vehicle if you share the road. Maintain safety by simply closing your slides.
3 Disconnect switch and RV battery
Should I Disconnect My RV Battery When Plugged In?
No. Leave your battery connected so that it also gets charged. The shore power will not only charge your battery but also power other electrical devices in your RV allowing you to go on with your normal activities.
So, do RV batteries charge when plugged into shore power? Yes. Trailer batteries charge when plugged in.
Disconnecting the RV battery, then you plug in implies that the batteries would not be charging at all. Unless you are sure your battery if fully charged with is rare, then just leave it and have it charged it will sort you out when you are not plugged in.
Although you can disconnect your battery when you store your camper often for a longer period say more than a week to reduce the rate of discharge.
Even if your RV is powered off, a connected battery will normally undergo self-discharging and other parasitic loads such as a TV antenna booster could be draining your battery that in turn increases the rate of discharge.
How Does Battery Disconnect Switch Work on RV?
The disconnect switch or a cutoff switch act as a link that connect your RV to the batteries. As a result, the switch protects the RV equipment whenever it is not being used by cutting off the power from the battery once turned on.
Also, if you do not intend to use your RV you can simply make use of the switch instead of removing the battery from the RV.
Turning on the disconnect switch prevents your battery from excess draining due to parasitic loads such as the clocks, smoke detectors, and any other devices connected to power consumed very small milliamps that end up draining your battery.
Thus, the switch can enhance the durability of the battery by preventing excess draining. It also protects against electrical fires when turned on. It is generally a safety switch that you ought to make use of whenever possible.
Most batteries do not come with a disconnect switch and you may need to purchase and install.
Some of commonly used cutoffs include:
- Amper battery disconnect switch: it is heavy duty and easy to install
- Cllena rotary battery disconnect isolator power kill cutoff switch 300A: its is small, easy to install and inexpensive
- Shut off marine battery switch/waterwich DC 8-60v battery disconnect switch cut: good quality and affordable
Assuming you have already bough a cutoff.
Now, how do you install an RV battery cutoff switch?
It is very simple. You simply get a wire connect it on the negative cable running to your RV and then to the switch.
Then get another cable connect from the switch to the battery such that the switch links the RV to the battery and vice versa.
Although some switches may require some modification on the battery for it to be installed.
Never the less, a new switch would be accompanied by a manual that you can use as a reference point when you are connecting the switch.
4 Power converter and battery
What Does a Power Converter Do in a Camper?
It is important to not that most if not all of your RV electrical appliances have been designed to be powered with a 12-volt system.
Any other voltage could hinder and even halt effective operations of the appliances. However, not all power source you plug in your RV is in DC and you may need to convert the power.
Thus, a converter converts an AC power source to DC power making it compatible to power your RV appliances.
With a converter, you can plug in your RV in your home power system which is in AC and still have the recommended voltage for use.
Also, the converter can be thought of a battery charger. However, since converters have fixed voltage even when your battery is full it will still be charged.
Thus, high risk of overcharging which can in turn cause heating of the electrolyte. A drying electrolyte can make your battery dead.
Be sure to checking your electrolyte level and top up to the recommended level to prevent the electrolyte from drying.
Does my RV converter charge my battery?
Yes. An RV converter can charge your battery if it was designed to also provide the charging functionality. Check your manual to confirm based on your model since not all converter can charge the RV housed battery.
Assuming the converter can charge your battery, then your battery should be charged although not efficiently. The converter cannot be able to provide a full charge over a short period.
Often, it can top up at least 40 amps. You may require several hours to have more charge in your battery if the converter is being the charger. Never the less, it is better than none in the instance you have no charger.
How to Trouble Shoot
Sometimes the convert may fail to charge your batteries and you need to try and troubleshoot your system by following these steps.
Go an unplug your RV from power source
Find the RV electrical compartment and locate your converter. Hoping everything is visible ensure all wires are continuous and none is loose or disconnected. Have the wires replaced if any shows signs of damage.
Also check the fuses and replace any blown out fuses. Remember, replace the fuse with a matching amp rating. Otherwise, a higher amp rated fuse can trigger overheating and even fire can occur.
Once all damages have been fixed, test to see if batteries can now be charged.
Still no charging? Lets assess the breakers. First, ensure the RV is unplugged from the 120-volts. In the breaker panel, you will see several breakers. Please do not touch any if you do not know how they operate.
Consult your manual and identify the one for the converter. If it is off, put it on. If uncertain get a technician to do this, keep in mind we are handling electricity and you need to be safe.
Having all breakers on, check auto type fuses. Inspect each individually by removing. If either if blown out get a replacement. Fix all fuses in place. Plug your RV and see if batteries are charging.
If no charging is taking place, unplug your RV from 120 volts. Locate your batteries. Inspect wires and fix any loose or broken connection.
Check overall appearance of battery. Inspect terminals for any corrosion, clean it. Ensure all cables to the battery are well fixed.
How Do I Test My Camper Converter?
A converter my appear as a simple device but its quite complex and testing it needs a little bit of patience. Let’s understand what is a converter and why do you need a converter for RV.
A converter can be described as a charger for your RV battery when connected to a shore power.
The converter gets its power from the 120-volt AC from the show power then it converts it to 12-volt DC which is suitable to recharge your RV battery.
To test your converter follow the following sequence:
Get a voltmeter. Test across the 120 volt AC terminals to find out if power reaches the charger. Plug RV to power source. Now check your voltmeter readings it should read about 12o volts.
If no significant readings, power off the RV. Go to the electrical compartment. Check the breaker and fuse of the converter ensure they are ok. Please if you are not sure do not change anything in that compartment. Get a technician. Power the RV and test the voltage again.
Get a voltmeter. Test the voltage across the coach battery. It should be about 14 volts DC. If you still see no significant readings then the converter charger is the problem.
Find extra outputs in your converter to the charger or to a 12-volt system. To do this, have the RV powered. Get the voltmeter. Test the vehicle’s 12-volt system at the socket or light fitting.
Readings should be about 12 volts. If no significant reading then converter is the problem.
Test the solenoid that passes charging voltage to the battery. Once the RV is powered your will hear a click sound when power comes on. If nothing then, power off the RV.
Remove converter charger case and spray the solenoid with an electrical contact cleaner. Return the casing. Plug RV and test again.
Test transformer. You should get about 120 volts AC at the input. At the output DC terminals, you should get about 14 volts. If you notice you get the 120 volts AC but not the 14 volts DC then the transformer is the problem.
How Do You Install a Power Converter in an RV?
You have a converter whether it is new or a replacement and need to install in your RV. The question is, how do I replace my RV converter? Follow the following steps.
Unplug or disconnect your RV from power. Switch power off. Please, do not rely on your switches and breakers you never know if leaks occur or some are faulty. Simply, completely unplug the RV.
Get a wrench. Disconnect the RV battery
Fix converter where it can easily dissipate heat generated when operating. If it comes with a fan, fix in a manner the fan won’t be obstructed. Ensure converter is well secured within its brackets.
Consult your manual to be sure of how to wire the converter. You should have a hot wire to connect to shore power and a negative wire to link to the coach battery.
Restore negative connection to RV battery
Plug RV cord to shore power. Test converter input and output voltage. Input should be about 120-volt AC and output should be about 14-volt DC.
How Much Does an RV Converter Cost?
Prices vary. However, the following is a table of 15 commonly bought converters and their prices. Keep in mind these prices are to give you an approximate market price exclusive of shipping and the price can fluctuate.
|Converter Name||Price USD|
|Powermax 110 Volt to 12 Volt DC Power Supply Converter Charger for Rv Pm3-55 (55 Amp)||125|
|WFCO WF-8735-P Black 30 Amp Power Center||119|
|Powermax PM4 100A 110V AC to 12V DC 100 Amp Power Converter with Built-in 4 Stage Smart Battery Charger||165|
|WFCO WF8955PECB Black 55 Amps Power Center Converter Charger||169|
|PowerMax PM4-55-MBA Replacement Converter/Charger for AC/DC Power Distribution Panel with Exclusive Inverters R US 3 Year Warranty||156|
|Stag RV Trailer Camper Electrical Main Board Assembly 55A WF-8955-MBA||145|
|PowerMax PM3 Series Power Converter Charger for RV 110VAC to 12 Volt PM3-55||162|
|Progressive Dynamics 0318.4135 PD4135KV Inteli-Power 4100 Series Converter||140|
|Parallax Power Supply Parallax Power Components 8355 55A Dc Converter||435|
|PowerMax PM4 55A MBA 55 Amp RV AC to DC Converter||119|
|IOTA Engineering Converter and Charger, 55 – Amp||145|
|Parallax Power Components 8345 Converter/Charger||418|
|TRIPP LITE – RV1250ULHW PowerVerter 1250-Watt 12VDC RV Inverter/Charger||541|
|Parallax Power Supply (081-7155-000 Replacement Power Center Lower Section||172|
|Arterra WFCO WF-9865 WF-9800 Series Deck Mount Converter Charger-65 Amp||175|
What is the Difference between an Inverter and a Converter?
The two devices are antagonistic in their operation. While a converter changes an Alternating Current (AC) to a Direct Current (DC), the inverter does the opposite by changing DC to AC.
Be keep whenever you wish to purchase one and get the right device. For RV battery charging you need a converter to be able to charge your DC battery from the AC power of the shore via the converter.
5 Marine battery
Is There a Difference Between Deep Cycle and Marine Battery?
Despite both batteries storing electrical charge, they also have their differences. Lets discuss each of them.
It lies between a deep cycle and a starting battery. In brief, a marine battery can be viewed as a hybrid of a deep cycle battery and a starting battery. Few of marine batteries are pure deep cycle batteries.
The sponge plates of marine batteries are heavier and coarser in texture in comparison to a starting battery but much thinner than a deep cycle battery plate.
Marine batteries are good for starting and engine. However, its power is not sufficient to power a trolling motor and you may require a deep cycle battery.
Its lifespan ranges from 1 to 6 years depending with its maintenance. However, most batteries never reach a maximum lifespan and end up dead due to poor maintenance, and storage.
Deep cycle battery
The plates are thick. It is more robust since it can be discharged down to 80 percent often without easily getting damaged. The plates are lead plates and is good as a power back up. Some of the true deep cycle brand include Trojan, Deka, and Crown.
It can last from 4 to 8 years if well maintained. However, poor maintenance such as not topping the electrolyte with distilled water, overcharging, undercharging, and poor storage such as in extreme temperature can drastically reduce duration to a maximum of 2 years.
How Long Does It Take to Charge 12-Volt Marine Battery?
For a battery to be fully charged, you need to patience since it take several hours for the process to be complete. Often, it can take even up to 12-24 hours depending with the charge state level at the beginning of charging.
Keep in mind that a charging battery heats up. Ensure the temperature is not more than 125 Fahrenheit.
If you could use a slow charging method, it is best for charging deep cycle battery with minimal heating and efficient charging. For slow charging use 10 amps current charger.
A 20-amp charger cab be used but it is a fast charger. Overheating is likely to occur and the lifespan of the battery would be drastically reduced. Try get a charger within the recommended current range.
If you have 100aH battery, using a slow charger of 10A your battery will get full after 10 hours of continuous charging.
So, how do you know if your battery has been charged?
Simply use a voltmeter to measure the battery voltage across the battery terminal. The range should be between 11 volts to 13 volts but the closer the voltage is to 13 volts then it shows its full. Most batteries reach 12.6 volts capacity when full.
6 Maintaining your RV battery
Why Does My Camper Battery Keep Dying?
Most common cause of drying of your battery is overcharging. Yes. You can unintentionally overcharge your battery when you leave your RV plug in for long and even plug in throughout a season such as winter.
When the battery is overcharged, the electrolyte gets heated and the water content evaporates. That is why it is recommended to check your electrolyte level once in a while.
Fill it with distilled water up to the mark on the container. Do not overfill to prevent spills, remember we are dealing with a toxic acid and you must ensure safety when topping the water.
So, how do I keep my camper battery from dying?
Often check and add distilled water to the recommended electrolyte level. Then, do not overcharge. Leaving the RV plug in with batteries can overcharge them.
If you wish to live the RV plug in, once the batteries are fully charged remove them although you won’t have a power back up in case power goes off.
How Do I Keep My RV Battery Over Winter?
If you are not planning to use your RV during the winter, it is recommended to fully charge your battery. A fully charged battery is less likely to go dead in comparison to an uncharged battery.
A fully charged battery can freeze at temperatures below negative 55-60 degrees Celsius while an uncharged battery freezes from negative 20 degrees Celsius. A freezing can cause you battery to go dead.
So, should RV batteries be removed in winter?
Once the battery is fully charged, remove from RV to prevent from overcharging. Store in a dry location that is warm enough to prevent freezing.
If you are storing the battery for the whole winter, you can do a recharge in between but not a must if you had fully charged the batteries.
Remember, the batteries undergo self-discharging process and you will not find the charge as it was before storage and will be reduced.
Severe discharging triggers sulfation, where a coat of sulphate is formed along the plates. If the battery remains uncharged for long sulfation can cause your battery go dead and you will have to do a replacement the next time you intend to use it.
Furthermore, before embarking on a new trip after storage have it fully charged to top up the charge that was lost during storage. It is better to charge and be safe rather than start your travel and your battery runs out of charge.
Also, the durability of the battery is also increased when you store your battery well including ensuring it is fully charged.
Otherwise, the life of your battery can be cut short when it freezes yet it is an undesirable scenario that you have control over it. Simple, charge your battery and store it properly.
Besides, store your batteries where temperatures are not hot such as above 40 degrees or perhaps near a heating surface. Too much heat risks explosion.
Imagine an exploded battery that was full of acid, then you receive an acid rain, what a catastrophe! Acid burns is worse and can be fatal.
How Can I Heat My RV Without Electricity?
When its cold either at night, during a cold weather, or it’s a cold season, you may always want to keep your RV warm so you enjoy the comfort of your motorhome. However, keeping an RV warm using electricity can end up increasing your electrical bills.
Keeping You RV Warm
Here are some few tips you can embrace to keep your RV warm
Make yourself warm using blankets, warm clothing such as sweaters, and use sleeping bags.
Purchase portable heaters whether they use battery or electricity, the electric consumption is low and you shouldn’t worry about your electricity bill too much because it consumes much less power. Ensure you maintain safety such as not putting near gas.
Use wood stove if your RV has been designed to accommodate such a stove. Often, the smoke can be piped out through the window or could be mounted to the wall. However, RV must be insulated, otherwise you risk causing fire.
Install a heat pump that removes heat from inside the RV to where you need it. Although they do not work efficiently with extreme freezing temperatures such as those of winters but are best in keeping the camper warm during fall and spring.
Solar heating box can be installed. It uses panels that harvests sun’s energy and then heat up your RV.
Once your RV is heated, you need to have the heat remain in the RV as long as possible to keep it warm. Consider insulating the windows, and doors. Only open the door when needed and for the shortest time possible.
Other than electricity, you can use alternative power not only to heat up your RV but also run other devices in the RV. Some of these power sources include:
- House batteries
- Gas generators
- Solar panels
7 Wiring A Trailer To Charge Off the Tow Vehicle (Video)
Learn essential practical skill that you need to charge your battery from a towing vehicle by watching this video.
The video is to provide you with an idea that it is possible to tap power from a towing vehicle. However, if you have no electrical expertise in this area kindly consult a qualified electrician to help you and do not do it yourself. Remember a slight mistake for trial and error can cause massive electrical damages.