The Most Common Reasons That RV Batteries Die
In an ideal world, RV batteries store electrical energy. In the real world, RV batteries can die quickly for no discernable reason. RV camping is much more enjoyable when we can run RV electrical appliances, operate slide-outs, RV jacks, and other components that make RV camping enjoyable.
When the RV battery keeps dying, it can be a perplexing RV problem. Solving perplexing RV problems is probably the last thing you want to do on your RV vacation. This article is for everyone who has ever asked “why does my RV battery keep dying?”
You didn’t maintain your battery
If you’re like most RV owners, your RV has deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries (6- or 12-volt). These batteries have lead plates in them that need to be covered with electrolyte fluid in order to charge and store electricity. Flooded lead-acid batteries require the addition of distilled water from time to time to ensure their lead plates stay covered in liquid.
If your battery keeps dying, check the fluid level by popping off the covers on top of your battery. If you can see the top of the plates, you’ll need to fill them with distilled water.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.
The RV battery was overcharged
Overcharging an RV battery is a pretty rare occurence, but technically it could still happen. Batteries that are overcharged will boil off their electrolyte fluid, so the lead plates in the battery won’t be able to charge or store electricity. If this has happened, you’ll need to refill your battery with distilled water and hope for the best.
The battery was over-drained
Flooded cell lead-acid batteries don’t like to be drained more than 50%. If you’ve drained your battery beyond 80%, there is a good chance your battery is now damaged and won’t hold a charge like it used to anymore. Don’t drain your deep-cycle battery beyond 50% of its fully charged state before recharging.
The battery was not charged for long enough
Deep-cycle RV batteries operate best when they are fully charged at around 14 volts. They take about 2 days to fully charge. The charge your RV battery gets from trickle charging from your vehicle while you drive to the campsite won’t be enough to get the stored electricity in your battery to the necessary level.
The battery levels on an inadequately charged battery can read that it has 12.8 volts stored. If the battery hasn’t had long enough to charge, the volt reading is just going to be a surface charge. A surface charge will cause electricity levels to deplete very quickly as soon there is a draw on the battery. To avoid this situation, charge your battery for 2 days before you leave for the campsite. Don’t forget to keep topping it up using a generator or solar power while you camp.
The RV battery is ready to be replaced
If your RV battery is more than 6 years old and you’ve maintained it and never discharged it past 80%, there is a good chance the battery is past its prime and ready to be replaced.
Deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries usually last around 6 years when they are properly maintained. Discharging your battery past 80% will damage it and severely shorten its lifespan.
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and much more.
Lynne lives, travels, and works full-time in a Forest-River R-Pod 180 with her 2-pointers, Jolene and Annabelle. Lynne has been an enthusiastic RVer for over 35 years. And then one day in 2019, she began full-time RVing as a lifestyle experiment. She quickly fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full-time RV living. Lynne is a professional writer and has been a professional dog trainer since 1995. You can read about her travel adventures on her R-Pod Adventure blog, R-podyssey at: http://www.rpodaventure.com