The onboard battery has become an essential component of RV travel, powering everything from cooking appliances and camping gadgets to your entertainment for the evenings. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of how well your battery is running and give it proper maintenance between uses.
There are various tools that are essential for testing an RV battery for optimal performance, and each offers a different kind of insight into your battery’s status. In this lesson, we focus in on the charge of your battery, and walk you through a demonstration on testing your RV battery to see how much power it can offer and how long it’ll last.
Tips and tools for testing an RV battery
If you’ve owned and operated an RV for a while, chances are you’ve had to either test or change your onboard battery. Like anything electronic, your battery’s performance level drops over its lifespan, and you should know when to have it inspected, upgraded and replaced. To help you figure out whether your battery is still in good shape, Dave Solberg demonstrates step by step the process for testing your RV battery to find its maximum charge.
Dave shows you how to use a multimeter, battery load tester and hydrometer to measure important aspects of your battery, and then explains how you can determine whether your battery is okay to use or needs replacing based on what you find when testing the RV battery. You’ll learn how to check each of the battery’s cells to get a proper reading on its performance level.
When testing your RV battery, make sure you follow Dave’s advice to decide the appropriate course of action. If your battery’s charge levels are good but not great, it may be time to consider investing in a new unit that won’t give you any trouble. Use these expert tips for testing an RV battery, and we guarantee you’ll get the most out of your electronics!
My new-used RV had two lithium house batteries. How would you evaluate the condition of those batteries?
Hi James. They make special machines to test the internal plates and then they make another tester to test the load condition. You can’t really test with just a multi-meter, you can only test the voltage with that. Some auto parts stores have the equipment to test the batteries for free but if they don’t you would have to buy this equipment to test the batteries. You can get cheap load testers at Walmart and other stores as well. These just place a heavy load to make sure the voltage doesn’t drop too low. Lithium batteries are the best on the market so there is a good chance they are still in good condition.
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If not covered in a more in-depth segment the the battery hydrometer will spot a shorted cell sometimes even before other test equipment. Test the electrolyte level in all cells and if 1 cell drops below the average level of the other cells there’s your short. Characteristics of a single shorted cell is a battery to low on charge to start a motor then when jumped immediately starts.
When do replace a ‘dead’ battery or attempt to charge it? If charge is the answer how? Drive or put a quick charge on it?
We would love to answer this expert question for you but I would need the year, make, and model of your RV. Once we receive the information, we can pass it along to the experts.
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2017 Georgetown 30x
Here is what our expert had to say:
You only want to replace a battery when it can’t accept a charge anymore or it is too weak to operate anything. It is best to charge it with at least a 10 amp charger, this goes for both the chassis and house batteries. This will ensure then can take a charge and then you can test to make sure they are keeping a charge while traveling or not. When traveling the alternator will be charging both of these batteries. If they die after traveling then there is an issue with the alternator or a connection to the batteries. If they sit too long without a charge they can go dead too. It is best to get a 10amp or greater charge to charge the batteries. Many systems these days will tell you the condition of the batteries as well. I will share a link to a charger I personally use and recommend.
Sincerely, Dan RV Repair Club Technical Expert
Let us know if any other questions come up!
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Use safety glasses when popping the caps off the battery !!!!
HAVE SIX 2018 6VOLT BATTERIES, ONE IS BAD. HOW MANY SHOULD I REPLACE? ALSO SHOULD THEY ALL HAVE THE SAME AMP HOUR RATING?
If they were 12v batteries replacing one would be fine but since they are 6v in series you might want to replace both in series. If the battery that is connected in series to that one is old it may not have the same amp hours as a new one, replacing them both is a good idea. When batteries are connected in series they should always have the same amp hours. If there is one battery that is lower, it will drain first and when it gets empty you will have a large voltage drop and cause things to run on higher amps or stop working sooner. When they are charged, they larger batteries won’t get fully charged since it could read full once the smaller battery is charged since they receive a charge at the same time. Having different amp hours is bad for the batteries and will shorten the life of both of them.
I hope this helps!
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WHERE are your safety glasses and gloves?????????????
AMAZED you would show people to do this around ACID with NO safety equipment.
VERY UNSAFE AND DANGEROUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Have one chassis battery and two coach batteries (wet). Unit will likely sit under a carport all winter this year. Looking for recommendations regarding battery maintenance over a long period of zero to minimum use. Thank you for your help.
Hi, Mike. We would be happy to assist you; we just need some more information. What is the make/model/year of your RV?
Hi, Mike. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your battery question. If you are storing the unit without electricity, the house batteries will naturally drain below sufficient charge and start to sulfate as quickly as 2-3 weeks. It’s recommended that you remove them and properly charge them in a garage or other area that has electricity. Properly charging means using a multi-stage charger at least once per month, however a better alternative is to use a Battery Minder which sends a high impact wave to break up the sulfation and condition the battery. This also reduces “gasing” and loss of fluid. If you do have electricity at the storage facility, it’s best to also do the multi-stage charge rather than just keeping it plugged in and the onboard converter dumping a charge. Again, the Battery Minder is a better option here as well. You can find one at Northern Tool locations or on-line.