Last Updated on November 14, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine
When you’re trying to figure out how to charge an RV battery, you aren’t stuck with just one option. Continue reading to learn more about charging your RV battery in a way that works for you.
You can charge your RV battery using:
- Shore power with a converter
- A portable generator
- Solar power
- Your vehicle’s engine
When we were full time RVing, I remember when our RV’s battery died on us and we couldn’t get the slideout on the RV open. Our vehicle had broken down and was towed away and we only had our car that wouldn’t charge the vehicle. It was not a fun time for us. If you want to look at our misery, just check out the video below.
I recommend having as many tools in your chest as you can so that you are always prepared when something like this happens.
How to Charge Your RV Battery with Shore Power & a Converter
Unless your RV is super old, it almost 100% has a converter. If your battery isn’t charging when you plug into shore power, you should check to make sure you have one but, I am pretty sure you’ll find there is one in your RV.
Your converter in your RV will turn the AC from the shore power into DC which will allow your battery to recharge.
If you don’t see your converter, that is probably because they are ugly and don’t need to be seen. They are probably underneath your RV in a storage compartment. Out of sight and out of mind.
You may also find that your converter is pulling double duty and is an inverter as well. An inverter changes DC power to AC power.
Why would you want a converter and an inverter in your RV? Well, because you need the DC power to charge your RV’s battery but you need the AC power so you can use the stuff you plug in your RV.
How to Charge an RV Battery with a Generator
Charging an RV battery with a generator is pretty easy. All you need is a generator that allows you to plug in your RV so it can get that DC power we talked about above.
When you go to choose a generator to charge your RV battery, you need to make sure it has an outlet that will allow you to plug in your RV. If it doesn’t, you’ll need an adapter that will connect your RV power cord to the generator so you can get that charge.
I would also recommend getting a generator that is also an inverter. They are a bit more expensive than generators that aren’t inverters but it’s worth the extra money.
When we were camping we went with this generator and it never steered us wrong. It also is on the quieter side of things so our neighbors were grateful—and so were we.
This generator saved us from burning due to lack of air conditioning or not being able to cook quite a few times. Works great.
- Nice run time
- Great brand name
- Lightweight enough for the watts
- Parallel capable
- Not totally budget-friendly
How to Charge an RV Battery with Solar Power
One of our RVs had a place where you could plug in some small solar panels but we didn’t boondock very much so we never ended up getting one. However, some of my friends went all out and had solar on their roofs and the whole shabang!
A compromise might be to get a solar-powered generator but I’ll continue going so you know how to charge your RV battery using solar without a solar generator. One of my friends owns this Jackery below and swears by it.
- Explorer 500
- Lithium battery pack with 110V/500W AC outlet
- Long lasting
- Plenty of capacity
- Supports pass-through charging
- Not as powerful as some people would like
Keep in mind that some RVs now come “solar ready” meaning you can install your own solar but other RVs even have the solar panels pre-installed on the roof already. These are usually quite a bit more expensive but it might be worth it if you really want to power your RV’s battery with solar.
I have always liked the thought of free energy but you do have to pay a bit of a price upfront to get the solar going on your rig.
Unless you have a lot of experience and knowledge of electricity, I wouldn’t recommend that you do this by yourself if you need to install it. There are people that will come out and fix things up for you and I would recommend that you let them do it for you.
There are different types of configurations so it’s not super cut and dry. Ask about PWM and MPPT and which one would be the best controller option for you but PWM is usually the least expensive.
How to Charge an RV Battery with Your Vehicle’s Engine
Depending on the type of RV you have, there is going to be a different answer.
If you’re in a class A, C, or possibly even a class B RV then your battery is likely integrated with your RV so it charges automatically when you’re driving.
When it comes to travel trailers and fifth wheels, the wiring connection is what will charge your RV’s battery with the vehicle’s engine. This happens through the connect for the auxiliary power. As long as it is wired right, it will provide 12-volt power from your tow vehicle’s alternator and will send power to the RV’s battery so it can bank some of it.
This means when you’re traveling, you’ll also charge your RV battery.
If you want more function, you could even check to see if you can install a separate alternator that is meant specifically for this circuit.
How to Charge an RV Battery Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about how to charge an RV battery.
What is the fastest way to charge RV batteries?
The fastest way to charge RV batteries is to connect it to shore power or to a generator.
How long does it take to charge an RV battery?
Recharging an RV battery may take ten hours or it may take even longer depending on how low the battery charge is.
How long will my RV battery last without being plugged in?
Most RV batteries will last for two to three days without being plugged in but this could vary based on the age and use of the RV battery.
Wrapping Up RV Battery Charging
Now you know how to charge an RV battery and get the best results. Keeping your RV battery charged will make life as an RVer much easier so make sure you pick your favorite way and keep that RV battery juiced up.
Before heading off, make sure to check out some of these other great RV articles to help you on your journey.