The RV battery is crucial for proper RV operation. It provides power to everything electrical in your RV, including lights, fans, HVAC systems, and outlets to charge your phones with!
Panic can ensue when a battery doesn’t charge, and you usually don’t want to tap into your car battery if you’re using a tow RV. Most people don’t know how many aspects go into charging the RV battery or where to look for the problem.
There are a few reasons why your RV battery isn’t charging, but the answer depends on the situation. The battery could be connected incorrectly, or it may have lost the ability to hold a charge. Troubleshooting with this guide will help you determine what is preventing your RV battery from charging and how to fix the problem.
Issues can stem from any area of the battery charging process, from the converter to the shore power, and even the wiring connecting the devices. Learning about each of these devices and how to troubleshoot problems in these areas can save you some service charges and even eliminate any need for repair service.
If more issues occur after the troubleshooting, or the troubleshooting doesn’t seem to apply to your situation, contact a professional.
Working with large batteries can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even the most DIY-savvy person should consult a professional before attempting to fix a battery, and no one should ever open up a converter by themselves.
Most RVs need 12 volts of DC (direct current) to properly power the RV. RV batteries are charged from 2 places, the charge line, and the converter. The charge line delivers the 12 volts from the vehicle’s alternator to the battery while the vehicle’s engine is running. The converter, which is usually connected to a generator or shore power, delivers the 12 volts to the battery while the engine is not running. The charging issues can stem from any of these areas or processes.
Charge Line Or Converter Issue?
One simple way to troubleshoot the charge line is to watch the 12-volt lights in the RV while the vehicle engine turns on. If the lights brighten slightly at the ignition, the charge line is intact. This means that the battery receives more volts from the vehicle engine than the converter, which can indicate an issue with the converter, generator, or shore power source.
Troubleshooting the converter is similar. Watch the 12-volt lights in the RV while you connect to the shore power source or generator. If the lights brighten, the converter is sending more volts to the battery than the charge lines, indicating a problem with the charge lines.
Is The RV Battery Hooked Up To The Converter Correctly?
First, check the connecting wires to see if any are burned, frayed, or broken. Any of these damages to the cables can prevent the battery from charging. You must always make sure that your power converter is equipped to charge the house batteries in your RV. If the two are not compatible, nothing will fix your problem other than switching out the power converter or batteries. Check your power converter’s user manual to determine what type of batteries it is meant to charge.
Is The Battery Terminal Corroded?
Battery corrosion can be dangerous if not handled properly. You should NEVER handle leaking battery acid without protective gloves. If battery acid comes in contact with your skin for an extended amount of time, you should visit a doctor to ensure your skin is not damaged. With the proper safety measures, a corroded battery terminal can be an easy fix.
Steps to clean out a corroded battery terminal:
- Concoct a mixture of water and baking soda.
- Disconnect everything from the corroded battery terminal.
- Scrub the mixture into the corroded battery terminal with a toothbrush.
- Wipe the mixture off with a clean paper towel until the battery terminal is dry.
- Reconnect everything back to the battery terminal and try to use the battery again.
Has A Fuse Blown?
If you find a blown fuse, this could be the reason why your battery isn’t charging. When replacing a blown fuse, be sure to buy the same fuse that was there before. Using a different fuse with a higher amp can damage the entire breaker.
Is The Power Converter Faulty?
If you have exhausted the troubleshooting tips and the battery still won’t charge, the converter is most likely the issue. It is recommended that you ask a technician for help repairing the converter. It is a complex system that only experts and trained professionals should handle.
Testing The Battery
A volt Ohm meter that can set to DC voltage can be an essential tool in diagnosing an RV battery charging issue. This device allows you to see the exact voltage numbers to determine if the battery is receiving enough power. The optimal voltage reading should be between 13.5 and 14 volts.
Basic Troubleshooting Problems And Solutions
Problem: The converter won’t charge even when it is connected to shore power.
Solution: Check the battery for corrosion or check that the battery can still hold a charge with an Ohm meter.
Problem: The converter fan won’t turn on or is overheating.
Solution: If the converter fan is connected correctly, you will need to replace the fan with the same model and brand that you currently have.
Problem: The converter fan is on, but it is overheating.
Solution: This is most likely an issue with the temperature sensor. The sensor will need to be replaced with the same model and brand that you currently have.
Problem: The fuses and circuit breaker look fine, but there is still no power.
Solution: You may want to test all of the fuses separately to ensure none of them are bad or that the breaker hasn’t