An RV battery can stop working for a variety of reasons, but there are also some simple steps you can take to make sure it doesn't happen.
Batteries have an average lifespan of 3-5 years, depending on the type of cell and how often it is used. The most important thing for prolonging the life span of your charger is proper maintenance.
It should be fully charged at least once every month or two months depending on use. You should never leave your charger plugged in when not in use because doing so will cause corrosion and eventually lead to its destruction.
So, here are some brief descriptions of how you can charge an RV battery for prolonging the life span!
How to Charge Deep Cycle RV Battery : Easy Steps
A battery is typically used as a backup power source or even as the primary power source in some cases. Although, like any device, an RV battery may lose power or need to be recharged.
Here are some steps by steps for charging your RV battery:
Step 01: Manufacturer Instructions
Read the unit label to make sure you are using a true deep cycling battery.
Step 02: Check the Charger
Make sure the charger is in good condition and working before plugging it into the battery.
Step 03: Manual Charger
If you are using a manual charger, make sure to switch it off after charging and unplug it from the outlet.
When using an automatic unit charger, make sure to turn them off after use to ensure the battery goes into shore power-saving mode.
Step 04: Solar Panel
If you are using solar power panels, take it off once charging is complete because the solar panel energy may not be enough for both your RV and its batteries.
Step 05: Secure the Charger
Properly secure the charger to prevent any accidents. Plug the unit charger into a surge protector and plug both of them into an outlet.
Step 06: Automatic Charger
If using an automatic battery bank charger, you should leave it plugged into the unit until it goes into shore power saving mode to ensure that all of the charges are via solar power energy.
The best way to ensure your unit is in the best condition possible and maintain it for a long time is to take good care of it.
Methods of Charging Your Batteries
Having a knowledge of how to charge it will allow you to take full advantage of all the benefits associated with it. Therefore, this type of cell can be charged in two ways:
By using Solar Panels
If you are charging your battery with solar panels, make sure to put it in direct sunlight for at least 8 hours. Solar panels are great for charging batteries without any types of difficulties.
By Plugging the Charger into an Outlet
Plugging the battery bank charger into an outlet will take 5-6 hours of constant charging time.
So it’s time to choose which type of charging you want to use for charging your batteries.
Solar Power Panel vs Outlet Charger- Which is Better?
In terms of factors such as the process and the output, a battery bank charger plugged straight into a shore power outlet is a much better option than an RV solar power panel.
If your battery charger is not outlet compatible, you can find converters to make it work. The best type of converter will be the one that automatically shuts down when the charge is complete.
Powering RV batteries with solar shore power causes unnecessary electricity bills and concerns. Properly maintain your battery by using the proper way of how to charge an RV battery system!
If you are able to ensure that your RV battery is charged safely, you can extend the life of the unit. Battery life spans can vary depending on the type of cell.
Different Types of RV Batteries
There are three main types of batteries used in RVs:
These are the traditional types of batteries that work well for boats and are not a good option for RVs. Not recommended for RV's because the main types of loads that are used in RV's are very light.
Used by cars and trucks these batteries do not have a good lifespan for RV use. They are designed for starting engines not charging or discharging.
Used by golf carts, off-grid solar shore power systems, and RVs these batteries are designed to be used in a cyclical manner. They are not very good for cars and trucks because of this.
Life-Span of a Battery, Based on Battery Category
Battery lifespan can be vary based on the different types of battery categories:
- The Marine battery is not a good option for RVs because it has a shorter lifespan. This type of battery is mainly seen in boats so you can use it there but not in an RV.
- The Automotive battery is more commonly used by cars and trucks but not so much with RVs so it also has a shorter lifespan.
- The Battery is the only type that works well with RVs because they have a longer life span plus they're designed to be cycled often. These types of house Batteries may have different ratings on their unit life which can affect how long they last.
These types of batteries can be categorized by battery ratings and sizes. Higher ratings mean a longer battery life span. Let's talk about battery ratings and sizes:
RV Batteries Ratings and Sizes
The battery ratings can be different for different types of batteries. For instance, batteries may have a different battery rating than automotive house batteries.
Different sizes also affect the lifespan of a battery. Here are some guidelines on how to check the size and the rating of your RV's battery:
The first thing you should do is to check out your RV's battery rating. You can find this on a sticker or on the back of the unit.
If you cannot find it in both places, find it somewhere else on your RV because not knowing your battery's rating will cause you to charge RV batteries incorrectly.
Which could lead to serious problems with the health of your RV as well as its battery. Some battery ratings are:
- Cold Cranking Amps (CCA).
- Cranking Amps (CA).
- Reserve Capacity (RC).
- Amp-Hours (AH).
The second thing you should do with your RV batteries is to check their size which will tell you the capacity of the cell in amp-hours (AH). You can find this information by looking on a sticker or on the back of your RV's unit.
You should then determine what your total energy needs are per day which you can find out by looking at your RV's technical manual. Your house battery should be able to supply up to 20% of your total energy needs per day.
If it cannot meet those needs, you need to increase its size or add more batteries. Here are some general guidelines as to how many AH your batteries should have:
- Inverter up to 800 watts of power - 1-2 AH rating of the battery
- An inverter that can produce up to 2100 watts of power - 3-7 AH rating of the battery
- An inverter that can produce up to 3200 watts of power - 9-12 AH rating of the battery
It is also important to know what the battery's inside material is, such as whether it is made of lead-acid or lithium. There are many differences between lead-acid and lithium.
Lead Acid vs. Lithium Battery- Which is Better?
Lead-acid batteries are filled with a sulfuric acid and water solution which reacts with the plates to create an electric current.
On the other hand, Lithium-ion batteries use lithium-cobalt oxide chemistry.
These two types of batteries have a few different attributes that make them unique.
For instance, lead-acid batteries operate in a wider temperature range, while lithium cell life is shorter but they provide more shore power to start with. Lastly, lithium batteries are less prone to leakage than lead-acid batteries.
It is possible that your unit will become sulfated if you do not take care of it.
What is Battery Sulfation and How to Prevent it?
Battery sulfation occurs when a cell loses its ability to hold a charge or batteries and the anode and cathode areas respectively start to dissolve. The sulfuric acid will slowly dissolve the lead and it causes this process. This process will not be visible from the outside because there is no color or odor from this reaction.
The only way that you can tell if your unit is getting sulfated is by using a hydrometer that measures specific gravity levels. If the hydrometer reading is low, then there's a good chance that your battery has been going through an "internal discharge."
You should regularly check your cell for this problem because it could lead to other issues such as corroding connections, poor performance, and a reduced life cycle.
To prevent sulfation, you should maintain your unit regularly which could include adding distilled water when necessary and charging it completely after each use.
You can also buy special additives that will help remove the sulfuric acid in your cell to prolong its life cycle so please consider doing so because it will save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
You can care about your battery by maintaining your charger. If you do not maintain your charger, it will cause damage to the battery and reduce its life cycle.
Here are some things to keep in mind as far as maintaining your RV battery chargers:
- Keep the charger as close as possible to your battery.
- Keep the connection points clean and tightened at all times.
- If you can, plug your charger into a GFCI outlet or attach it directly to the battery using jumper cables so that no one will accidentally cut the wires off while cleaning under your RV's hood.
- Keep your charger turned off if you are not going to use it for a long period of time.
- Use the built-in ammeter on the charger to determine whether or not there is a drain on your battery when you disconnect your RV's battery from the power source.
- If there is, then you should remove all items that are connected to the battery except for your RV's lights and accessories.
- If you do not have a built-in ammeter, then you should check the voltage of your cell every two to three days and charge it if that number is under 12.4 volts.
The best way to charge it would be using an automatic charger that is specifically designed to charge a battery. Moreover, you can use a smart charger to charge your cell.
A smart charger has a different program for every cell type and one of the programs is cleaning mode. So, when your charger is in that mode it can help you to take care of your battery.
It cleans its plates and terminals which reduces sulfation. It also prolongs the life span of your battery. When you choose a battery charger and connect it to your battery, make sure that the connections are kept clean and tight at all times.
A Few Safety Tips When Charging Your Battery
Some important factors for charging your battery safely and securely:
- Only use the charger included with your unit. Using another type of battery charger will damage your battery.
- Always connect the positive (+) cable first and then attach the negative (-) cable to the battery after charging is complete.
Never allow the positive and negative cables to touch each other or anything metal during charging or connected/disconnected. This may lead to sparks used, which could cause an explosion.
- For 12 volt batteries, don't charge at more than 20 amps. Don't use more than an 80 percent charge.
- Always disconnect the charger from the cell and make sure the cables are not touching anything metal before attempting to remove or replace your battery.
If you notice any sparks or smoke coming from the battery while working with it, immediately put it down and turn away from the unit.
- Charge your cell at a location where there are no combustible materials nearby.
- Make sure to check the electrolyte level of your batteries every 3-6 months, depending on how often you use them or how long they sit dormant. This can prevent loss of power before it's time to use the batteries again.
- Use a battery box to keep all metal items away from the terminals. These items might accidentally touch and cause damage to your batteries, cables and even create a spark that could lead to an explosion or fire.
- Keeping vents free and clear of debris will prevent overheating and maintain the correct oxygen levels within the cell. This will prevent overheating and failure.
- Make sure your battery is fully charged before putting it away to keep it in top condition. Read the manufacturer's instructions for the charger you are using to find out how long this will take.
- When removing a battery from storage, we recommend replacing it with a new one or recharging any other cells before using it again.
A list of the most common questions that people ask about their deep cycling rv batteries follows:
1. How Many AMPS does My Charger Need to be?
Most deep cycling RV batteries have a 12-volt rating. Your charger should be able to provide an output between 10 and 20 amps.
2. What are the Different Types of Chargers for Deep Cycle Batteries?
Batteries are high maintenance and require chargers with special features like a smart charger, a preset program for your battery's type, and backup charge modes if the shore power goes out.
3. How Often Should I Charge my Battery?
The level of charge depends on the type/size of the battery, number/kinds of loads being used, age of battery, temperature & condition. The common rule is to fully charge your battery at least once every 3 months.
4. What is the Main Difference Between a Deep Cycle Battery and a Car Battery?
The main difference between a car battery and a deep cycling battery is car batteries provide power to the engine and starting equipment.
On the other hand, deep cycling batteries are made with lead-acid cells that produce electricity from reactions between acid and lead plates.
5. Is it true that a Car Battery can't Charge a Deep Cycling Battery?
No, car batteries can't charge deep cycling batteries by themselves. This is because you were trying to charge a lead-acid battery with an engine starter battery which obviously does not have the power to do so.
6. How do I know if my RV Battery is Fully Charged?
When the battery voltage has reached 12.6 volts, the battery is fully charged. If the charger includes a meter, you can also monitor the charging process.
7. Will Solar Panels Charging ever Stop Working or go bad Eventually?
Solar panel charging would never go bad eventually, basically, it's (Solar panel Charging) free power, and batteries are made for this type of use anyways.
8. How many Hours for a Fully Charged Battery?
The typical charging time for a battery is 10-12 hours. However, there are some variables that may increase these estimates.
Charging a battery is easier than it might seem at first glance. You just need the right equipment, patience, and some time for the process to work its magic. The best way to understand this process is by understanding the different types of batteries and their respective functions.
A deep cycle battery is different from what most people think when they hear the term "battery". It's a good idea to charge the cell after each use. We hope this post has helped you find the answer to your question.