Your RV battery can be an important tool in keeping everything in your RV running, including the engine. Having a well charged RV battery involves giving it a little bit of maintenance, knowing how long it needs to charged, and knowing your RV well enough to meet both your needs and the battery’s.
So the question of whether or not the RV battery charges while driving is pretty important, because otherwise you would need to find a different way.
Your RV battery does charge while running in most cases. Charging an RV battery while driving is not the best or most efficient way to do it, but it certainly works.
How does an RV battery charge while driving?
Yes, most RV batteries drive while charging as a standard. The battery actually receives electrical input from the alternator while driving, though the actual charge amounts to a trickle. The battery may also be charging or running some appliances while driving depending on what you want running – so could literally be receiving a trickle charge while being used.
Keep im mind that a trickle charge is meant to maintain a fully charged battery. If the battery isn’t able to hold a complete charge has a different problem that needs maintaining or replacing.
How long will it take?
A trickle charge can take hours if not more than a day to completely recharge a battery. In most cases, you won’t experience a completely dead battery and be able to start the vehicle. If the battery is dead, you’ll more likely need to replace the battery or charge it with shore power or a generator.
The alternator within the vehicle is also designed and capable of charging the battery over a period of time. For a better estimate, consult your battery or RV manual, as it does depend on the part itself.
What if it isn’t working?
If your battery is not charging while driving or otherwise, you might have a problem with your alternator or the battery itself. Especially on a longer drive with nothing else running, the battery should have a better charge than before you left.
You can check all of this with the battery power gauge on your RV. A mechanic can take a look at your alternator to ensure it’s not dying – though having issues starting your RV might be your first hint.
A battery that holds and maintains a charge after being charged by an external source like jumpers, a generator, or shore power are also signs that your alternator can’t charge properly.
You should also check the terminals and connections in your battery to see if anything is loose or corroded. You won’t likely find an actually disconnected wire because the symptoms would be worse than a battery not charging.
Do I have to do anything to charge the battery while driving?
The best thing you can do is keep your eye on the gauge if you have concerns about the battery charging. Otherwise, your vehicle is designed to automatically charge the battery while driving, so you don’t have to do anything but start the RV and drive somewhere.
What about while being towed?
Some RV owners tow their vehicle behind a truck. Using the 7 pin connector, the truck is capable of charging the RV battery while on the move. This is a similar situation to having your RV alternator charge the battery while driving. Your truck or large SUV also is designed to offer a trickle charge, so the charge will be slower and is more for a fully charged battery to maintain charge.
Any other concerns?
The biggest two concerns are a battery being capable of holding a charge or an alternator that doesn’t work well enough to charge the battery while driving. Either problem is going to be significant enough to likely stop your RV from starting, so it’s a bit of a separate problem from the question of whether or not the battery charges while driving.
Thankfully, that’s an easier question to answer: Yes, it should charge while driving.
Most RVs are equipped to natively and naturally charge your battery while driving. Driving while being towed is also an option with a 7 pin connector and a properly equipped truck. Problems related to charging with driving are really symptoms of other larger problems related to the state of your battery or alternator.
With this information, you can relax and know that your vehicle is designed to take care of the battery itself, aside from occasional cleanings and checks to ensure it’s properly holding a charge. You can take your trip and charge your battery at the same time, while expecting a good, fully battery when you arrive.