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How Long Does an RV Battery Last? – All You Need to Know

Written by Philip Lopez / Fact checked by Paul Lemaire

how long does an rv battery last

Dry camping in the wilds is very healing, but being in a remote area means being away from regular power sources. This is where a camper battery comes into play, as it can help power your small appliances like lights and other basic amenities. Now, you might wonder “how long does an RV battery last?”

An RV battery may last for up to four days, depending on your power consumption and other factors. When properly maintained, the battery can last up to six years.

Let’s learn about RV batteries below.

First, Let’s Understand the Battery Types

Typically, you can do boondocking for several days, but it may depend on what type of batteries you have. Your trip can be significantly cut short if you use batteries that are inefficient and don’t hold much charge. Here are the different types of batteries you may choose.

1. Lead-Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries come in three distinct types – gel cell, absorbed glass mat, and flooded wet cell.

Many RVs use flooded wet cell batteries because they’re relatively affordable. However, they’re more prone to sulfation and require periodic water replacement.

Absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries tend to charge faster than flooded batteries, but they’re more expensive.

Gel cell offers slightly better performance than AGM but costs the most.

Any one of these types can be classified as either deep cycle or starting. Deep cycle batteries have thicker plates than starting ones, making them ideal for a steady draw. They can be discharged and recharged repeatedly, unlike starting batteries.

2. Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium RV batteries are a good upgrade. Compared to the traditional lead acid battery, lithium batteries offer more efficient power. They’re also more lightweight, last longer, and charge more rapidly.

However, their upfront price can be the main drawback. These batteries tend to be very expensive.

How Long Will Battery Last Dry Camping

deep-cycle-battery-life

The estimated dry camping battery power depends on your battery amp hour rating or C rating.

Amp hours (Ah) determine how much energy can be stored or discharged in a battery. The higher the amp hours, the larger the storage capacity. Deep-cycle batteries use the standard 20 hours.

For instance, a battery with a 60 amp-hour rating at 20 hours means it can generate 3 amps for 20 hours.

The C rating measures the constant current rate at which a battery can safely discharge. A higher value means more energy. For example, a C100 rate means your battery should run for 100 hours on one charge.

Factors That Impact RV Battery Life

Several factors may affect battery life. This includes power consumption, temperature, and storage.

1. Power Consumption

The battery life may not last longer than you expected if you run multiple appliances.

Motorhomes, especially those under Class A, share the same kind of appliances, such as a fridge, AC unit, and TV. Some of these motorhomes even run multiple batteries if they want to support more interior amenities. If you use only the basic amenities, like a refrigerator and lights, then a single battery is enough.

An RV with an inverter may also consume more power than you expect. For a 1000-watt inverter, expect a 12-volt 100Ah battery to work for 34 minutes with a 50% depth of discharge.

2. Temperature

The temperature changes may also impact the life of the battery. When it’s hot outside, the battery life may be cut shorter than expected. About 50% is cut off from the battery life when the temperature rises by 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the other hand, a fully charged RV battery freezes when the temperature drops to 92 degrees below zero. When the battery is charged at around 20%, it freezes at 19 degrees Fahrenheit.

Battery shelf life tends to increase when stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place.

3. Storage

How long the RV sits in your garage or in the shop without charging can affect battery life. Incorrectly stored batteries may cause suboptimal performance. Make sure that you use a fresh set when heading out for a long RV trip in the woods.

How to Tell If RV Battery Is Bad?

camper-battery

When your RV battery no longer holds a charge, that’s a clear sign that it’s starting to go bad. Here are several methods to check your batteries.

1. Physical Inspection

Check for any physical damage, like broken terminals or ruptured plastic casing. Sometimes, the case may show some bulges. There’s also signs of discoloration and leaks.

2. Voltage Test

AGM and gel batteries are sealed, so the only way to assess them is to measure the voltage using a voltmeter or multimeter. If the voltage can’t reach more than 10.5 volts or is 12.4V or less, the battery is likely bad.

When it registers a zero reading, it’s likely that the battery has short-circuited.

3. Load Test

Another way is to load test your RV battery. You can either ask a professional to do this or do this yourself at home with a digital voltmeter. To ensure that the result is accurate, charge the battery fully and leave it sitting for 12 hours to dissipate any residual charge.

Now, connect the battery’s terminals to the voltmeter. Start the engine and watch the voltage readings. The voltage range should be between 9.6 volts and 10.5 volts.

For deep cycle batteries, there’s a problem if the voltage begins to drop in less than 30 seconds.

Here’s how to test the condition of your RV battery.

Proper RV Battery Maintenance

Typically, a deep cycle battery life can last up to six years or even more. The key here is proper care and maintenance.

  • Recharge the discharged battery immediately, preferably when it hits 50%. Leaving the battery discharged for too long will cause sulfation, where small crystals form on the plates.
  • Check the RV battery voltage with a digital voltmeter. Make sure that it doesn’t drop below 12 volts, or the unit will be damaged.
  • Make sure to turn off the battery disconnect switch when you’re not utilizing the RV. Some devices, like clocks, may consume batteries over time.
  • Use multistage chargers, as they can charge batteries to their utmost capacity without overcharging.
  • It’s not a good idea to leave the battery on the charger after it has reached full capacity. Overcharging can dry out the battery, so make sure to store it properly. Disconnect the wires, check the connectors, maintain water levels, and keep the charge above 75%.

Conclusion

So, how long does an RV battery last? It depends on a lot of factors, such as temperature and power consumption, which we have discussed above.

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