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How To Charge an RV Battery From a Vehicle

Just like most any item powered in part by a batter, your RV will likely need a good recharge once in a while. The RV uses the battery more vehicle than most vehicles, with the potential to run a fridge, oven, and many other items like electronics on occasion.

There are a few ways to charge your RV battery and many of them are quite similar to how you would charge a normal vehicle. Charging a battery does not need to be difficult by any means.

Charging an RV is basically the same as charging a traditional passenger vehicle. You’ll want jumper cables or the type of jumper cable that plugs into your 12V outlet. We will go over more detail on what and how below.

How to set it up charging an rv battery from a vehicle

  1. Park the vehicle you plan to charge from close to the motor home, preferably with the battery facing toward your RV’s battery. Parking the vehicles like they are across from each other in a parking lot is the best way.

There are a couple of ways to go from here. Let’s start with instructions if your vehicle doesn’t doesn’t an internal plug in separate wire

  1. Get your jumper cables ready! 
  2. Open the hood on the vehicle you are charging from
  3. Some RVs have a battery under the hood. You might have to check your manual. Either way, open the bay for your battery.
  4. You’ll need to remove the caps from the battery terminals if they have them. Just snap them to the side or up
  5. The battery should have a Black terminal and a Red terminal. These should also be a label on the battery with a “-” for black or a “+” for red.
  6. The jumper cables should have cords and clamps that are labeled with positive and negative as well.
  7. Start by connecting the black cables first. The black cable is ground, or neutral and should be connected first for safety’s sake. This is gone by opening the clamp from the handle. Place the jaws of the clamp around the terminal and let it squeeze shut.
  8. Consult your RV manual before connecting to the RV itself. You might have exposed battery terminals or a setup that doesn’t quite match. This can include an exterior outlet or post with the terminals presented.
  9. Connect the red cables in exactly the same way as connecting the black.
  10. Give it some time. They are literally transferring electricity. Especially if the RV is not currently running, only the cables are charging the vehicle.
  11. Your RV likely has a battery meter on the dashboard. Start the RV and see how high the meter is compared to previous efforts.

To disconnect, reverse this process. Take the red cables off first by squeezing the handle on the clamps and remove. Then remove the black ground cable. Place the jumper cables in a place where you can find them again.

Charging from your vehicle battery is possible, but not the best way to go. The process might be slower than you expect, especially when trying to charge a near dead battery. RV batteries are a bit different from regular car batteries in their ability to hold a charge and use it.

Charging from a truck

Some trucks and SUVs have connectors that are designed to be more easily accessible. Sometimes they are located near the engine, sometimes in the truck bed or in the rear bumper. This does vary. Consult your user manual to learn more.

In most cases, this is done by plugging a wire from the truck directly into an outlet on the RV. Your vehicle combination may vary, so consult both the manual for the RV and your charging vehicle. Your truck might have a plug for the specific purpose in addition to your trailer brake controller. This will be the easiest way and not require opening the hood either.

Charging from a truck is sometimes possible while towing your RV or camper. This is because the wires are often on the back of the vehicle and in a good position. This is by far the most convenient method available for charging the RV but requires a truck with the wiring for the purpose.

Charging from inside a car

You can use the AC port in your car. This looks like a cigarette lighter and is more so used to charge smaller items like phones or laptops while on the go. 

You will need special equipment for this, including an AC adapter that connects to jumper cables. These can be found in an all in one unit too. 

Plug the AC adapter into the AC port and clamp the other end like the instructions for jumper cables.

This method is about the same speed as charging from your battery, only some might find it easier to plug in and setup since only one side needs clamps. Less reaching will be involved.

Conclusion

The best way to recharge your RV battery from a vehicle depends on your vehicle’s equipment. The process could be as easy as plugging in a wire from the back of your truck or SUV. You might also need long jumper cables and some patience. 

Reading the above instructions in addition to any instructions for your vehicles and jumper cable is a great start. Stay safe and get it recharged!

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