Dealing with a dead battery is no fun, and it can be doubly frustrating in an RV. That's because RVs have two different battery systems powering different components, giving you twice the chances for a battery to go dead.
- RV engine battery: The chassis battery, or starting battery, is designed for using large currents for short periods of time.
- RV house battery: The house batteries are designed to provide a steady amount of power over an extended period of time.
No, the two types of batteries are not interchangeable. And yes, both can be a real nuisance when they're not working as expected.
Dealing with a Dead RV Battery
Many different factors can result in a dead battery, and figuring out the cause can help you prevent it from happening again.
Slow and Sneaky Drain
One of the most common causes of a dead battery is a slow and sneaky drain of the battery's charge. A number of culprits may be at fault for a drained battery and it can occur with both the chassis and house battery. Some chassis battery drains include:
- Headlights left on
- Exterior lights
- Engine left in auxiliary mode
- Front audio systems
- Forgetting to turn on the generator while parked
Some house battery drains include:
- Interior lights left on
- Clocks and/or stereos
- Small appliances
Any component that uses electricity has the power to drain your RV house battery, sometimes even when the component is turned off.
Low Charge for Too Long
Every time a lead battery is used, small crystals of sulfuric acid form on the battery's interior metal plates. When the battery is charged, the crystals break down and disappear. But when the battery is at a low charge for an extended period, the crystals become too large to break down – totally ruining the battery. It's always a good practice to ensure that your RV chassis battery charge doesn't drop below 50 percent.
Too High of a Charge
On the flipside, a battery that's overcharged can also end up dead. That's because RV batteries are 64 percent water, and the water gets boiled off when a battery is overcharged. This can result in overheating, and the destruction of, the other battery components. To monitor battery levels while in storage, it's recommended that you:
- check battery levels often - at least once a week
- use a battery monitoring device
- unhook and remove batteries from the RV and store them in a cool, dry place to recharge
- plug your RV into shore power for at least 8 hours a week when not in use
Old and Weary
Sometimes RV batteries just die because they are old and weary. This scenario is likely to happen when RV batteries go unchecked for too long or are ignored altogether. While properly maintained batteries do have defined lifespans, none are designed to last forever.
What to Do If Your RV Battery Dies
Although you can jumpstart your chassis battery using the battery from another vehicle the same way you jumpstart a car, it can be tricky. And if you aren't familiar with your RV's engine or how to jump a vehicle in general, it's probably best to grab your membership card and call the experts at Good Sam Roadside Assistance.
Good Sam has an extensive network of RV-specific mechanics and experts to help you out if your RV batteries die – even when you're stuck on the road miles and miles away from home. Compare the Good Sam RV Roadside Assistance plans now and don't miss out on the fun stuff because your RV won't start.
Disclaimer: Motor club benefits and services provided by Americas Road & Travel Club, Inc. for Members residing in Alaska, Alabama, Utah and Virginia; and by Affinity Road & Travel Club, LLC for Members residing in all other States. Note: All program benefits and services are subject to limitations set forth in the current Member Benefit Brochures and will be sent to you upon approval of your membership.