It’s important to pay some attention to your RV batteries. There are two kinds of batteries used to power your rig – the starter or chassis battery, which makes your motorhome actually run (like a car battery), and the house or deep cycle batteries, which run all the lights and appliances in your RV when you’re not using shore power. Your house batteries are extremely important when you’re dry camping and don’t actually have any shore power to use.
One of the most important accessories for your batteries is going to be your RV battery chargers. Your batteries won’t do you much good if they aren’t charged! Here you’ll learn all about RV battery charging, and you’ll get help deciding on the best method for you.
8 ways for charging RV batteries
There are eight basic RV battery charging systems out there. They are:
- Converter-chargers are one of the most basic charging systems that convert 12v of shore power into 12v of DC power. They’re rated in amps. About 55 amps of DC can power up your whole RV – lighting and appliances and possibly even do some charging also.
- Inverter-chargers are found in Class A motorhomes. They work the same as a converter-charger but have the capability of producing 120v AC from a 12v battery when you don’t have shore power.
- Single and Multi-stage chargers – single stage chargers are found in a lot of older motorhomes. They have a lot of amp flow at the beginning, but the rate decreases with the constant charging of the battery. Multi-stage chargers optimize charging based on the three stages of the charge – the bulk, absorption, and float stages. The bulk stage is from the low charge to about 80% capacity. When it reaches around that level, it switches to the absorption stage, which maintains a constant flow of voltage to the battery til it reaches maximum charge capacity. The float mode keeps the battery fully charged at 100%.
- Solar power chargers can be wired directly to the battery, but they take careful planning and have a lot of components. You’ll likely have to hire a professional to install the solar panels, and you should do plenty of research before opting for this type of charger.
- Wind power chargers simply require a propeller driving an alternator. You likely won’t get all the power you need this way, but if you camp in windy deserts or mountain valleys, it may be useful and provide a little of the power you need.
- Generators can be purchased from lots of places, and they produce enough energy to power an entire RV. They provide 120v of power and help the RV’s converter or inverter charger recharge the battery. Some portable generators have an output terminal that gives out DC current, which can be enough to power the battery directly, but maybe not enough to charge it completely. Just be sure to turn the generator off when the charge is complete!
- Trickle chargers keep the battery charged at 100%. They’re small and use a single stage unit, though they do have a float charge stage. The charger is set to hold a single 12v battery, but you may find models that can handle two or more. The Battery Minder and the Battery Tender are two great models of this kind.
- Echo chargers are not, strictly speaking, battery chargers. They’re more like a battery combiner that switches energy between batteries. The main charger is connected to the first battery, and the combiner “echoes” a portion of the charging amps to the second battery. The Xantrex Echo Charger is a good one to try, as well as the Magnum Smart Battery Combiner and the Ultra Trik-L-Start.
The type of charger you choose is going to depend on a number of things, such as how often you’re planning on using it, where you’re traveling, and how much room you have to store it. Hopefully, this gives you a good starting point to determine which RV battery charger is best for you!
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