Published Date: July 4, 2022
Last Updated on June 22, 2023 by Camper Front
Batteries are known for being inconsistent and generally unreliable. While battery power is certainly not perfect, the longevity of an RV battery may catch you off guard. There are ways that you can extend the battery life of your RV batteries despite them having to power a huge motorhome with only 12V batteries.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at just how long your RV’s battery can last, as well as some ways you can make that power go further. Read on for more information.
Table of Contents
The Importance of a Good RV Battery
It’s no secret that batteries are essential for any vehicle since they’re the things that keep you on the road. Without one, your engine would have no power, leaving you stranded and waiting a couple of hours for the towing company to arrive. They become even more important in RVs since you need battery power to run the engine and all of the amenities inside.
You’ll find that lead-acid batteries power most recreational vehicles. These batteries contain several cells connected in series, each contributing some power. The sum of this power equates to the total voltage of the battery.
The interesting thing about these batteries is that they store power rather than produce it. Let’s look at how much energy they can store and how long their battery life is.
Factors that Influence Battery Life
While you can expect at least a few years of high performance from your battery, several factors can influence the lifespan of a battery.
The first concerns how long the RV sits without being used. Pre-owned RVs often have poorer battery life since they have been sitting for extended periods and are not stored properly. Be sure to ask your seller to replace the batteries before you purchase. That way, you’ll be able to ensure you’re getting the best deep-cycle battery life possible.
Changes in temperature, as well as extreme temperatures, can influence the lifespan of a battery as well. A battery that stays in an RV’s battery bank for a road trip through several climates can have issues with moisture and heat. What’s more, a motorhome that has been parked in extremely cold or hot temperatures can experience problems.
Finally, perhaps most importantly, is how you use power in your RV. Are you using several appliances that require lots of power to charge? Or are you conserving as much electricity as possible and using solar panels to power your appliances instead?
Extending Battery Life
All RV manufacturers understand that you need plenty of consistent amp hours from your motorhome’s battery. While RV batteries generally contain more charge than any other type of battery, there are certain habits you may have developed that can cause them to lose power more quickly.
Sure, your insurance may cover a battery cell when you’re on the road, but you might have to face a long wait and some surprisingly high costs. Rather than risking the life of your batteries, try to preserve your battery life with these tips.
Rule out parasitic loads
Sometimes, the pests infecting your camper are not the kinds you need bug spray for. Parasitic drain is caused by appliances that drain your battery’s bulk charge when the RV is not on. Check to see if your RV has one battery that powers the engine and the amenities.
Letting devices run when your engine is off can soak up your battery’s amp hours and leave you with no absorption charge to power your motorhome, leaving you stranded. This doesn’t apply to major appliances like refrigerators or water pumps, but to items like chargers, lights, and other smaller electronics that may cause a parasitic drain.
You mustn’t be overcharging or undercharging your battery. Letting your battery be drained of all its power watts can be highly damaging, so it helps to keep a digital voltmeter on hand to monitor your battery output.
Put batteries to charge when they get to about 40% of their maximum power and check the power level regularly. If the charge drops below this, don’t fret and charge your battery up to full again. If you aren’t diligent, you may end up waiting for a tow vehicle to come to rescue you from your camping trip.
Pay attention to humidity and heat
Hot temperatures can affect your battery life and power usage and cause the water in the battery cells to dry up. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to make sure that your battery’s water levels are topped off so that you avoid overheating and keep the battery performing optimally. Routine maintenance is the key here!
Remember that you should only be using distilled water, and remember not to overdo it. Distilled water is good for battery cells, but you otherwise don’t want to leave your battery in damp conditions or out in the rain.
Battery Life and Dry Camping
Class A RVs generally have the same kind of appliances that you would have in your house. To power appliances like refrigerators, AC units, water heaters, and TVs, you will need large amounts of power. Many Class A motorhomes have several batteries just for these interior amenities.
On the other hand, travel trailers may only use one battery to ensure the fridge stays cold and the lights stay on. When you are dry camping and not using any electrical hookups, you must use your battery power effectively. Here’s how you can do that:
- Try wiring additional lithium-ion batteries for more energy. Having the lights on can use more power than you might think, so getting an auxiliary battery can be a worthy investment.
- If your motorhome is powered by just one battery, start the engine and run it now and then when you are dry camping. This ‘recharges’ the battery in the same way that any other vehicle does and is a great step to taking proper care of the battery.
- Consider propane power as well. Using propane for cooking, heat, and even using a propane refrigerator can help you enjoy your dry camping trip better while using less power. Propane is readily available at most camping stops and gas stations.
- Using a solar panel to charge your batteries is another way to make those hours of battery power last as long as possible. With a good solar setup and a clear view of the sun, you’ll never run out of power.
You Don’t Need a New Battery Every Season
When you’re a full-time RV-er, you will use quite a bit of battery power. But, even if you’re doing this full-time, you should not need a new battery every season or year. With the proper maintenance and good care, your battery can last you a good six years.
Of course, unexpected things happen, but you should only be expecting to replace your battery every couple of years at most. If you find that your batteries are consistently running out of power within a few months or once a year, you may want to take a closer look at the electrical system in your motorhome to see if there’s another issue that’s causing this drain.
As you can see, RV batteries are not something you need to worry about too much. They are an important component in the functional running of your RV, but even the lowest quality of batteries should see you through a few years at the least.
We highly recommend purchasing the best quality battery your budget allows for so you can extend the life of your RV battery usage and allow yourself peace of mind that there is less likely that something unexpected will happen along the way. We hope that your RV experience will be a fun one, free of battery-related concerns.