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Should An RV Be Plugged In All The Time?

Winter is here, and camping season is over. There aren’t any plans to take your RV out on the road in a snowstorm, so now what? Leave it on, or turn it off. That is the question.

So should an RV be plugged in all the time? The fact of the matter is that there are pros and cons to plugging in your RV all the time. Leaving your RV plugged in will prevent any cold damage. However, leaving it running is expensive and will shorten the overall lifespan.

There are risks and rewards for both options, so it will ultimately depend on which option poses the least risk to your RV.

Why To Leave Your RV On

Wintering your RV, and just what to do with it, is a big choice. Leaving it plugged in is going to cost you a chunk of change, but there are some serious benefits to leaving it plugged in.

RV Climate Control

The main benefit is that, if your RV is plugged in, then you can leave the heat on all winter. This will keep your RV pipes from freezing. Just like with houses, frozen RV pipes can be a disaster, and fixing broken RV pipes can burst a hole in your wallet.

Let’s say you don’t live in a place that freezes over for the winter. It won’t hurt your RV to keep the air conditioning running. That way, your RV is ready to go if you opt for some off-season camping.

It’s also worth pointing out that wintertime is a huge holiday season, especially in the US. If you have family visiting, the house can get a little cramped. But if your RV is left running, it will be comfortable and probably spacious enough for a few holiday guests.

Battery Charge

As long as your RV is plugged in and running, your battery will stay charged. You’ll be able to cruise around and enjoy all the luxuries of RV camping without worrying about depleting your battery immediately.

Why To Turn Your RV Off

There are plenty of good reasons to keep an RV running all winter long, specifically if you’re living in a cold climate. However, that doesn’t mean leaving the RV running isn’t without its drawbacks.

Energy Costs

The fact of the matter is that it is going to cost a lot to keep your RV running all winter long. But it isn’t just the electric bill that’s going to go up.

You’ll probably also be looking at higher heat and gas bills. The propane tank will also need to be filled more often, which will add to the expenses.

RV Lifespan

Remember that your RV is just like any vehicle, in that the more you use it, the more wear and tear you put on it. That includes simply leaving it on while it’s plugged into a power source.

While there won’t be any wear and tear on the vehicular parts, there will be constant use of the heat, air conditioning, batteries, and plumbing. The more these parts get used, the more maintenance they will need in the long term. Even the fridge will continue to run, which means it will need to be cleaned out and defrosted come spring.

Battery Health

RV batteries operate on the same principle as any other battery: using the device while it’s plugged in will shorten the overall capacity of the battery.

Sure, the battery will be “fully charged.” But batteries are not meant to be kept charging constantly, and running your RV while charging the battery all season can damage the battery.

Newer RVs with a smart charger will trickle charge the RV’s batteries which will save you a lot of headache, but you can cause serious damage by constantly charging batteries in an older RV.

If you decide to unplug your RV, take your batteries and move them somewhere warm. Cold climates can do damage to batteries over time, so avoid that if possible.

Do RV Batteries Charge When Plugged Into Shore Power?

When you are at a campsite you most likely have access to shore power, and when you plug into shore power it will charge your RV batteries. When you are plugged into shore power all your fans, lamps, your water pump, and everything else will operate on 12 volts DC. That is as long as the DC electricity is still provided by your converter instead of your batteries while they are charging. If you do not have a converter that works properly then you will not be able to run your appliances while your batteries charge.

How Much Electricity Does An RV Use While It’s Plugged In?

This is a very broad question, but the average RV will use 20kWh per day. This is about 608 kWh every month. In the United States, this is going to come out to an average of $64 every month just for electricity to keep that RV plugged in and running.

In Summary

Keeping your RV plugged in all winter can save you the potential headache and huge cost of repairing burst pipes. This also ensure you have a cozy place for visiting family to stay over the holidays.

However, it is expensive, and can cause some serious wear and tear on your camper. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to you to weigh the pros and cons and decide which option is best for you and your vehicle.

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