RV camping has been a thing for a while now, and for good reason. Camping in one of these luxurious vehicles can be more convenient than staying in a tent, especially in harsh weather.
However, the lifetime of RV batteries can be a huge concern for some campers. You definitely wouldn’t want your batteries to die in the middle of a camping trip with your family.
Therefore, you might be wondering, ‘how long do RV batteries last?’
The direct answer to this question is that most RV batteries will last up to 6 or more years if you keep them in good shape. Yet, some people tend to replace their batteries after only a couple of years.
Wondering what factors are at play here? We’d be glad to answer all your related questions in this guide. Let’s dive in!
Why Batteries Are Crucial to Your RV
Every vehicle out there can’t function properly without its batteries. If they go bad, your car’s engine would soon lose its power, which is the last thing you want while you’re on the road.
RVs are no exception. In fact, batteries are crucial to recreational vehicles in more ways than other types of vehicles.
For instance, you’ll need these batteries to remain in perfect shape to power up all the electrical appliances inside your trailer. From your TV to the microwave, to the refrigerator where you store your food for the trip, electricity is essential for your comfort.
RVs utilize lead-acid batteries, which include many battery cells that connect in series. Each of these cells produces some power, and the sum of all their power combined equals the battery’s overall voltage.
But what causes a battery to lose its power?
Factors That Affect RV Battery Life
Although battery life can vary from one RV type to another, there are common factors that impact its longevity. Let’s explore them a bit more in-depth.
How Long the RV Has Remained in Storage
A lot of people might not be aware that recreational vehicles might sit for a long while awaiting their purchase. Most of the time, these RVs aren’t stored properly, leading to their batteries having suboptimal lifetimes.
This usually occurs when people buy used vehicles.
Of course, there’s always a way to solve this problem. If you’re determined to purchase a used vehicle, you can ask the dealer or the salesperson to replace the old batteries with new ones. This way, you can start fresh.
Temperature and Weather
The drastic change in weather can have adverse effects on battery life. Moving the RV from one sweltering place to a much colder area can lead to moisture and heat issues.
Also, leaving your camping trailer for a long while in too hot or too cold weather may cause problems that could shorten the battery’s life.
Last but not least, how you use the electricity inside your RV can highly affect its performance in the long term. If you run all the electrical appliances at once, you can drain your batteries more quickly until they lose their power.
Limiting your use of electronic devices to conserve electricity should prevent that from happening.
Now that you’re aware of the main factors that lead to power drainage in an RV battery, it’s time to take proper precautions against this occurrence.
Luckily, we should be able to help!
Tips to Help You Extend the Life of Your RV Battery
Fortunately, there are many ways that you can keep an RV battery in perfect condition to last you years. In this section, we’ll list some key tips that you can follow.
Charge Your Battery Correctly
Making sure that you correctly recharge your batteries should prevent sulfation. Usually, sulfation is responsible for a dead lead-acid battery.
You should recharge your batteries when they reach 40% of power, and never let your battery drain all of its power before you recharge it.
Also, remember not to overcharge the battery.
The best way to monitor the battery’s voltage is by using a voltmeter or multimeter. Here’s how to measure voltage in a few quick steps:
- Set the voltmeter on DC voltage
- Connect the red lead to the positive terminal of the battery
- Attach the black lead to the negative terminal
- Read the battery voltage
Be Careful of Parasitic Loads
Parasitic loads can cause battery discharge over time. If you don’t know what a parasitic load is, it’s any power drawn from your batteries even when they’re not in full function.
For instance, clocks, stereos, and LP gas leak protectors can slowly drain your batteries without your realization.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, you can simply disconnect your RV batteries. By ensuring that the switch is turned to the ‘off’ position, you don’t need to concern yourself with parasitic loads.
Monitor Your RV Batteries in Hot Temperatures
If it’s too hot outside while your batteries are in use, it may do you good to check the water levels in the battery cells more often. This will let you know if the water has dried up, which might cause overheating.
Remember to always use distilled water in your battery cells. Filling the cells with tap water can develop calcium sulfation, which can harm your batteries.
Always Water the Batteries After Charging
If you ever need to fill your battery cells with water, remember to do this only when the battery is charged to extend its life. However, the only case where it’s okay to add water before recharging is when the plates are exposed.
In this scenario, you’ll have to add enough water until those plates are covered, then charge the battery. When the battery is fully charged, you’ll need to fill each cell to the bottom of the vent.
How to Know If My RV Batteries Are Bad
There are a few signs that could let you know if your battery is slowly deteriorating. All you have to do is a periodic inspection of your RV batteries. Look for the following symptoms:
- Excessive leaking
- Broken or loose terminals
- Rupture of the plastic
- Bulges in the battery case
You should also take a voltage reading of your battery now and then to see how it’s faring.
For instance, if the reading is 0 volts, you’ll know that the battery has short-circuited. On the other hand, if a 12-volt battery can’t reach a higher voltage than 10.5 v while being charged, it’s another story. In this case, you can expect one of the battery cells to be dead.
You can even know if the battery is a victim of sulfation. Here, you’ll notice that the charger indicates that the battery is fully charged. However, the voltage reading could be 12.4 v or less.
In general, there’s always a surefire sign that something might be wrong with your battery – you’ll notice that it loses charge more quickly than before.
How long do RV batteries last?
If you take proper care of them, you can expect their lifespan to extend for more than six years. After reading our article, you’ll come to think that keeping your batteries in optimal condition isn’t impossible at all.
All you need to do is recharge them correctly, store them away from extreme temperatures, and look for any signs of trouble.