When To Replace An RV Battery: Knowing The Signs
As an RV owner, one of the things that you need to know for regular RV maintenance is when to replace an RV battery. If you regularly take out your RV for long vacations, you should always keep an eye on your RV battery to avoid frustrating incidents where your battery dies out on you. Unfortunately, many RV owners tend to overlook the health of their RV battery until they encounter a problem that can quickly become expensive and can cut a vacation short!
In this article, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about RV batteries, the warning signs to look out for, and how you’ll know when to replace your RV battery.
Types of RV Batteries
First, let's take a look at the different types of RV batteries. There are two types of RV batteries: flooded lead acid batteries and valve-regulated lead acid batteries.
- Flooded Lead Acid Batteries - Flooded lead acid (FLA) batteries are the more common and cheaper type of RV battery. FLA batteries contain a solution of water and acid where the lead is submerged. Each time you use an FLA battery, a small amount of the acid-water solution is used. Thus, you must refill them with water regularly. Higher-end FLA batteries have removable caps that allow you to perform maintenance and keep the battery working for longer periods. Entry-level FLA batteries are non-serviceable and have a shorter lifespan.
- Valve Regulated Lead Acid Batteries - Valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries have gel suspension that contains the electrolyte solution inside the battery. VRLA batteries are leakproof and require less maintenance, but they recharge more slowly compared to FLA batteries. What's more, overcharging VRLA batteries can lead to permanent damage to the battery.
It is important to note that RV batteries don't generate electricity, but rather store electricity. This means that you need to have the right size, power output, and a number of batteries to keep enough electricity in your RV powered while on the road.
The RV Battery Bank and Why It’s Important
The RV battery bank is two or more RV batteries that are used together to produce more voltage. If you have a large rig or many electric-powered appliances and gadgets inside your RV, you will need to use an RV battery bank to generate enough power for your whole rig.
RV Battery Voltage Specifications
Generally, RVs have a 120V electrical system that powers both the RV's engine as well as the various appliances and gadgets inside the RV. For smaller RVs, a single 12V battery can fulfill all the rig's electrical requirements. However, if you have multiple electrical appliances and gadgets being powered at the same time, you can opt for a battery bank to help reduce the strain on your RV's batteries.
The Life Span of an RV Battery
The life span of your RV battery will depend on how often you use your RV battery and how much power you use on a regular basis. In general, an RV battery will last around 4-5 years, but this life span can be shortened if you have multiple high-powered appliances inside your RV. However, one of the factors that significantly affect the life span of an RV battery is how much you discharge the battery and how often you recharge it back to full capacity. An RV battery that is discharged to 50% and recharged back to 100% regularly will last longer compared to a battery that is discharged to 80% and allowed to remain discharged for a long period before being recharged back to 100%.
Your typical RV trip destinations will matter when it comes to your battery life. If you go camping to locations where you can hook up your batteries to the power grid, you only need to focus on maintaining your battery's deep-cycle charging. However, if you regularly go to locations that are off the power grid, you will need batteries that have high amperage capacities to prevent quick discharging and dead batteries.
Causes of RV Battery Failure
While there are many causes of RV battery failure, the most common reason is undercharging or overcharging the battery because these conditions can cause permanent damage to your battery cells. Undercharging or overcharging your batteries can cause the water in the cells to decompose, thus leading to your batteries dying out more quickly.
Another common cause of battery failure is self-discharging during long storage periods. A battery in storage can discharge up to 10% each month, and over time, the battery can discharge completely if it goes unused for long periods of time. If the battery becomes 100% discharged, the cells can become permanently damaged, and the battery will no longer be usable.
Signs that It's Time to Replace Your RV Battery
Signs that It's Time to Replace Your RV Battery
- Low to no fluid inside – the fluid levels inside your RV battery are a good indicator of when an RV battery should be replaced. If the fluid levels are below the required amount, you can refill the fluid. However, if the fluid levels have entirely dried up, you need to replace the battery.
- Swollen battery – if the battery casing is swollen or distorted, this is a sure sign that the cells are damaged, and the battery needs to be replaced.
- Leaking – any fluid leaking from your RV battery means that your battery has been damaged (either the cells or the casing) and needs replacement.
- Corrosion – if there is any rust or corrosion on the battery terminals, this can cause problems with the battery’s power output.
If you take care of your RV battery, you will be able to enjoy using it without any problems in your RV for years. However, RV batteries need to be replaced on a regular basis and knowing when to replace an RV battery will help you avoid problems with your RV in the future. Always have a maintenance check for your batteries if you use them regularly or if they have been in storage for a long period of time. Once you encounter any signs of battery damage or aging, don’t hesitate to replace your RV battery immediately!