Life in an RV should not always be about challenges but about bringing the comfort of your home with you on the road. We are talking about having the facility of appliances and gadgets with you while you enjoy the great outdoors.
But before you can use fancy equipment on your motorhome, you need electricity. Luckily, you have the RV 12V batteries to help on your adventure.
How do you charge those batteries once they run out of juice? That’s another question you need to answer.
Luckily for you, we are here to answer this question and any others you might have concerning RV batteries.
So, without further ado, here are four safe and effective RV battery charging methods that you can use on your travels.
Shore Power Pedestal
Every camping ground or RV park has shore power pedestals where you can plug in your motorhome and enjoy the luxury of electrical appliances. Such outlets have 15 amp, 30 amp, and 50 amp plugs. You can use either one depending on the setup you have in your RV.
Once you are plugged in, your RV’s 12V batteries should charge automatically, given you have an AC/DC converter. If that is something you don’t have in your RV, you should learn to install a power converter.
Otherwise, you could use a battery charger and plug the 12V batteries directly into the charging station. But before you do that, buy a compatible charger for your RV’s battery type. The chargers for lithium, AGM, and lead-acid batteries are different. If you use the wrong one, the batteries won’t particularly explode, but they could get damaged. It is possible that you might not get any charging at all, and if the batteries miraculously take charge, they won’t fill up as fast as they would with a compatible charger.
So, it is better to keep the right charger for the right kind of battery, unless you want to waste time and money.
We would advise investing in a smart charger for fast, dense, and effective 12V battery charging.
The easiest and perhaps the most practical way to charge RV batteries is by using a camping generator. However, this is not the most environmentally friendly alternative, which is why you should use it only as a last resort.
Luckily, you won’t need any generators while you are parked at an RV park. But you should know how to use one in case of emergencies and when you are far away from a camping ground.
Most camping generators have a built-in 120V outlet which you can use to plug in the RV’s power cable. However, if you have a 220V outlet, a converter would become necessary. Once you have the 220V/120V converter sorted you can plug the RV directly into the generator.
Also, try to keep the camping generator well-maintained by inspecting its filters and fluids. You don’t want it to fail in case of an emergency.
Every vehicle has an alternator that converts mechanical energy into electric energy. It’s the kind of component that works silently in the background. Most people don’t even notice it exists until the alternator malfunctions and the battery dies.
You can use this same component on your RV to charge the batteries. The only catch is that you would have to start the engine and allow it to run for the entire length of time it would take to charge the batteries.
Keep in mind that this procedure could take hours. So, you cannot depend on it in case of emergencies. But using the RV’s alternator could be your only option when you don’t have shore power or a camping generator nearby.
If you want to go off-grid and truly enjoy life on the go, there is nothing better than using solar energy to power up your RV. You would need to plan beforehand and invest heavily in buying all the materials. But solar power would pay dividends in the long run. If you want to know the exact amount of solar energy you would need to completely power your RV.
For solar power, you would need solar panels, a charge controller, and a DC/AC inverter. You can buy and install this entire setup on the RV’s roof and connect the system to the main supply.
There you have it! Complete freedom to charge the batteries and to use the appliances on your RV.
Tips to Safely Charge RV Batteries
Almost everything concerned with batteries, like charging, storing, and using them can be dangerous. After all, the chemicals used to make batteries are harmful, and they can cause serious damage to you and your RV if handled improperly.
Therefore, it is your job to frequently inspect the batteries and care for their well-being while you are out traveling. If you have lithium batteries on your RV, you would have to do a bit less work as these are maintenance-free. But overcharging can still be a problem regardless of which kind of battery you have. So, keep an eye on that yourself or use a charge controller for that kind of work.
If you intend to store your RV for the winter, you should disconnect the battery terminals. In the case of lead-acid batteries, opt for a trickle charger to keep the battery alive during the off-season. When winter is over, and you are back and ready for an adventure, hook up the battery to the terminals again and juice them up for further use.
Moreover, never charge or mess with a battery exposed to extreme temperatures. So, try to stay away from freezing temperatures or scalding hot temperatures (122°F (50°C))
The four methods we outlined are the safest ways to charge the 12V batteries on your RV. But out of all of them, we would recommend choosing the solar energy option as it would future-proof your RV. You would not only be juicing up the batteries but doing the world a big favor by going green!
Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by travel. I inherited this passion from my parents. Since my college years and to this day, I have had a passion for traveling in a motorhome. I am here to share my experiences with you.