With Labor Day just around the corner, and most kids back in school, summer is winding down for many of us. While the warm weather isn’t gone yet, the cooler weather isn’t too far away. This makes maintaining your RV batteries especially important, particularly if you still plan to travel during the fall & winter months. Trying to jump your RV battery in a remote area during a non-traditional camping season is not the ideal kind of adventure.
RV batteries should not get below a 50% charge in order to maximize their performance and lifespan. Periodically checking the voltage using a voltmeter around once a month can help determine the amount of charge the battery has. Also, be aware of how much power you are using. Keep in mind that even when they are powered down, small appliances can still draw from your battery power when plugged in. Whatever type of charger is used, it needs to be at a higher voltage than your battery to do its job. When properly taken care of, a battery can last at least 5 years. If a battery’s lifespan is shortened, it can be due to a number of causes such as over or under-charging, sulfation, or dis-charging too low.
See our full selection of RV battery chargers and maintainers
RV battery chargers typically operate in 3 stages. The first stage does most of the charging, getting the battery to 80-90%. The second stage takes the battery to close to 100%, and the third stage uses a small amount of power to keep it maintained at 100%, without risking overcharging. Some types may have a fourth stage for flooded batteries, which takes the batteries to a higher voltage temporarily to get rid of sulfation.
Besides 3 stage chargers, other devices can be used to charge a battery, such as converter & inverter chargers, single stage chargers, solar panel systems, generators, and trickle chargers. When using solar panel systems, make note of the wattage. Depending on the wattage it can either be just enough to keep a battery maintained at full charge, or it may be able to power the RV all day. Trickle chargers, just like the name describes, uses a small amount of power to keep a battery up at 100%. Battery maintainers can be left connected to the battery without overcharging them. Converters & inverters have a consistent power source, while solar panel systems, using the sun, will have a variable power source. Single stage chargers keep the batteries at a set voltage, however they are less ideal than multi-stage chargers. Depending on the type, they can take longer to charge and do not bring the batteries to a higher voltage, which helps their performance.
BatteryMINDer has a number of products available for keeping your batteries maintained and charged. For example, the BatteryMINDer
2012-AGM is a charger/maintainer/desulfator for AGM sealed batteries. It will not over charge the battery and can maintain up to six 12V batteries at the same time. It also uses high frequency pulses to dissolve sulfation. BatteryMINDer SCC005 is a 12V solar controller with 5W panel that can work with all types of 12V batteries. It's able to maintain up to 2 batteries at once using solar power. For a 2 bank charging station, there's a product available from Battery Tender. It has two encased battery chargers that can charge and maintain AGM, sealed, and flooded batteries. The 2 charging stations operate independently of each other. We also have a comparison chart available for a full list of chargers and their features.