Checking your RV Battery and how to tell if you have an RV battery problem?
It was a dark and stormy night. Really, it was. It was the coldest night of the year so far in Texas. The clouds were gone and the Canadian air mass was swallowing our warm weather like a great blue whale vacuuming up plankton. The dark had set upon our “4 man tin can” and our lights stood out in the dark like a beacon that few could see. The businesses were shuttered for the evening. If there was a soul out this evening, it would be a tough long night if we needed any help.
We had no idea what was to happen next…
But something DID happen.
Our interior lights dimmed. Then brightened again. Then dimmed. As our lights were flickering we heard an angry buzzing sound from where our converter is located. This cycle of dimming and buzzing kept going and going until we turned off the converter.
This DID happen to me, and it could happen to you.
We are SO guilty. We never checked our battery. But you DO need to check your battery and its NOT HARD to do at all.
I know, you don’t check your car battery either. Why do you need to check your RV battery anyway?
The main reason is that the batteries are different. Car batteries delivery TONS of power in an instant to start the car. RV batteries deliver TONS of power over long periods of time. This difference means that the BEST battery for the job is a different kind of battery – typically one that is NOT completely sealed. The type of battery is called a “RV/Marine Deep Cycle Battery” .
These unsealed batteries have a reservoir inside containing acid and water. These batteries require that water to be replenished. If you replenish the water then the RV battery can last a very long time. I don’t think you have to replenish the acid very often, if at all, for some reason. I imagine if you have to worry about the acid being replaced you probably should think about a new battery anyway. Replenishing the water is as simple as putting water in each of the 6 little cells/holes in the battery making sure NOT to overfill and get acid everywhere.
You might find a BIG argument in the vids and on the internet in general whether or not you should use distilled versus TAP water. I personally don’t think it matters BUT you can get a whole gallon of distilled water for about $1.00. Based on that, you could use distilled and not really put yourself out. Anyway, I’ll let you be the judge on that one. I will say that as a young boy on the farm we put regular old water into our farm batteries and they lasted years and years.
Then you only have to check the voltage levels on the battery to make sure that the battery is being charged and holding charge.
When the battery is being charged and working well you should get a charge of greater than 13volts. The next test is to discharge the battery for awhile and make sure that the battery voltage doesn’t drop too much in a short amount of time.
If your battery is failing and you don’t get it replaced, then you’ll eventually be replacing the converter. Our local RV repair person says that the converter is most subject to fail without a battery when you’re running the furnace.
So anyway, just check your batteries every now and then, maybe perhaps once per month tops and you’ll be just fine.
What can you do on a single charged 12 Volt Battery in your RV?
I thought it would be neat to talk about what we did so you can get an idea of what is possible on LP gas and a 12 volt battery. We did NOT have a generator.
List of things you can do without hooking up your RV to electric/water
- We took three HOT showers
- We had lighting- and not even LED lighting!
- We cooked.
- We washed dishes.
- We had water pressure.
- We had running water for the toilets.
- We had a fully functional refrigerator
- Extend the RV slide-out
- Retract the RV slide-out
If I modify the RV a little, we could actually do the following really easily :
- Have a car charger for charging cell phones.
- Have a car charger for charging computers.
- Have a solar panel to charge the battery a little
It is worth noting that our battery was a bit old too. Maybe a better battery and we could have really went wild.