There is nothing like dreaming about going on a long trip. Perhaps you have decided that you are going to purchase or rent an RV and travel across the country. There are many things that you need to know before you take off on an RV expedition. First, you want to know what type of license you will need to drive an RV. You also want to make sure that you understand the state laws for RVs. Finally, you will want to research how best to take care of the RV while you are traveling.
The RV battery system is a very important component of the internal setup. This is what is going to power everything inside of the motorhome. From the HVAC system to your refrigerator, and overhead vents and lights, the battery is responsible for running all of these things.
You should know that the RV battery is made up of two systems. These are the 12 volt DC system and the 120 volt AC system. If you are driving an RV you will also have a regular car battery that is going to start up the engine, just like the battery in your regular car.
The 120-volt system of the motorhome is the most powerful battery and is what runs the major appliances such as the air conditioner and refrigerator. You have to be hooked up to shore power to run this battery. The 12-volt system is what is used when you run a generator or while you are driving. This battery will power fans, lights, and the water system and can be used when the RV is not hooked up or without the generator, until it dies.
So roughly how long will a camper/RV battery last you? There are a few types of RV batteries, but most are a lead/acid type. The batteries are a deep cycle battery, which means that it is designed to sustain power over long periods of time. Generally speaking, an RV battery should last anywhere from two to seven years, depending on the makeup and brand of the battery.
How Long Do RV Batteries Last?
When you own an RV, maintenance is important. This is why you should consider what type of battery you are going to install in your vehicle. The total lifespan of a battery for an RV will depend on many things.
If you choose a high quality, powerful battery and you take care of it, keep an eye on your power usage and your power demands, you will likely get at least six years of use from the battery and possibly more.
If you choose a lower quality battery and you do not treat it very well and do not pay attention to power needs, there is a chance that it is only going to last for two or possibly three years. A lot of how long an RV battery will last will depend on how well you maintain it. If you do not let it die and do not overcharge it, you should be able to get several good years out of your RV battery.
Deep Cycle Batteries
Deep cycle batteries are lead-acid batteries and are like the ones that are found in golf carts and on boats. It is similar to your car battery and uses the same type of chemistry to create power and retain it.
However, a deep cycle battery will produce steady amounts of current over longer periods of time where a car battery creates currents over short amounts of time because they will charge while you are driving.
Deep cycle batteries are available in several subtypes such as flooded wet cell, absorbed glass mat, and gel types. Each has different needs.
An alternative to the traditional battery is the lithium battery. Many campers who decide to rig their RV to use solar power will also upgrade to a lithium battery.
Lithium batteries cost more but offer many benefits over the other types of batteries that are available. These batteries are smaller, lighter, and do not require tedious maintenance as some of the other types of batteries do.
A lithium battery will provide a longer life cycle, typically about 5000 cycles compared to the 400 average number of cycles that lead-acid batteries typically get. This being said, the cost of a lithium battery is often about three times as much, which is one of the reasons many people do not choose to install a lithium battery in their RV.
How Do You Know If Your Battery Needs Replacement?
There are several signs that you should be aware of that will let you know when it is close to time to replace your battery.
The first thing that you should watch for is if there is no fluid or a low amount of fluid inside of it. The levels of the fluids are a good indicator of when you might need to replace your battery. When the fluid drops below the amount required, you can refill it, but if the fluid levels are completely dried up, your battery needs to be replaced.
If you see swelling in your battery, it is a sign that the cells have been damaged. When this occurs you will need to make sure that you have the battery replaced as soon as possible.
If you notice any fluid leaking from the battery it means that there is some type of damage either in the casing or the cells. This is a sign that you need to replace the battery.
Finally, if you notice any corrosion or rust on the terminals of the battery it can cause issues with the power output of the battery. It is a good idea to try to clean this off and if it is not something that can be cleaned you should replace the battery.
This Battle Born 12-Volt Lithium-Ion battery that makes a good RV battery.
It’s the efficient RV battery choice of today, it’s lightweight and compact and is the best choice for full-time boondockers.
5 Tips To Help Extend The Life of Your RV Battery
The battery is an important part of your RV and because of this, it is important to make sure that you are caring for it properly.
Here are 5 tips for extending the life of your RV battery.
One of the leading causes of a dead lead-acid battery is sulfation. Recharging a battery that has been discharged right away can help extend the life of the battery. When batteries enter a low charge state crystal will start to form on the plates. If it stays in this condition for a long time without being charged, the battery will be ruined. Sulfation begins when the charge state is below 80 percent. Recharging the battery in a timely fashion will help to prevent sulfation from occurring.
A 12-volt battery should never be discharged to below 12 volts. A fully charged 12-volt battery will read 12.7 volts. When the reading is at 12 volts it is at a fifty percent charge state. Use a digital voltmeter to measure voltage. Measuring will give you an idea of the depth of discharge of the battery so you will know when you should be recharging it.
Parasitic loads discharge batteries with time. Not all of the loads are gas leak detectors such as the clocks, antenna, appliance circuit boards, and stereos, it is important to make sure that you are switching the battery off with the disconnect switch when you are not using it so that these things do not drain the battery.
Overcharging and hot temperatures can kill a battery. When it is really hot outside and when you have a really high usage of the battery, make sure that you are checking the water levels of the battery frequently. Check the electrolyte levels and add in distilled water as needed can help to save your lead acid battery.
It is important to make sure that you are charging your batteries in stages. Bulk charging should be done to return the battery to a 90 percent charge in the first two hours. Absorption charges should then be used for the last ten percent as this will prevent loss of water and battery gassing. Afloat charge should then be used in order to maintain the full charge. Many RV converter charges are 3 stage charges and will ensure that the battery is properly charged
Most Common Causes For RV Battery Failure
When it comes to why a battery in an RV will fail, there are two main reasons. It is likely either from undercharging or from overcharging.
Undercharging is caused by batteries being discharged repeatedly and then not fully recharged. If the battery does not get fully recharged the sulfate material will attach to the discharged areas of the plates and then start to harden. The sulfate will then not be able to be converted into active plate materials, and the battery will eventually fail.
The other reason that batteries in RVs often fail is because of overcharging. Overcharging occurs when you do not properly charge the battery in stages. When a battery is overcharged there is severe loss of water and corrosion of the plates.
What Are Your Thoughts?
If you’ve been full-time RV’ing, we’d love to hear your experience with RV batteries and how you were able to extend their lifetime. Leave us a comment below so other RV’ers can learn from your experience too.
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