Can I Charge My RV Battery While It Is Connected? (Trickle)

Batteries do not always last as long as you want them to. Eventually, you will have to recharge them so they can do their work. Charging batteries is a simple chore but is it okay to recharge the battery while you are still plugged into shore power?

This operation should not be a problem but most recent RVs and trailers, 2010 on up, should already have a very good charger installed. This means that your RV batteries should be recharged without any effort on your part.

To learn more about this task, just continue to read our article. It explores the topic to make sure you have the best information possible. With that information, you should know what to do with your batteries when you are in the same situation.

Does My Travel Trailer Battery Charge When Plugged In?


The simple answer is yes, it does. As long as you have a good electrical system in your trailer, your battery or batteries should recharge with ease. Some experienced trailer owners have stated that the inverter or the converter will help you do this task without your aid.

Those devices need to be good to use them. If they are not good and failing in some way, then they may not be up to the task. But if you are plugged into shore power, you do not have to worry.

Your battery will be recharged and you should not have to worry about having back up power or not. This is the way RV makers have designed their electrical systems. They do want to make sure you have access to power at all times.

This information should work for most older models of trailers and RVs as well. But if you are not sure, contact your dealer or mechanic and see what they say. Not all older RVs have great electrical systems installed or they are simply getting old and worn out.

Do some tests to make sure your battery will be charged when you are plugged into shore power.

Can I Charge My RV Battery While It is Connected?

The way the system is set up, your more recent RVs should have an inverter or built-in charger to handle recharging duties. How they function should be listed in your owner’s manual. If not there then talk to your dealer.

With that said, we cannot speak for all models of RVs, trailers, or campers whether young or old. The electrical system you have inside your trailer, etc., is up to the whim of the manufacturer.

Generally speaking, this is not going to be a problem. If your trailer has a built-in charger, then it will fully charge the battery when plugged in and then do a trickle charge to keep the battery topped off.

This system makes sure you always have some form of power when your camping situation calls for it. Check the system your trailer has installed and see if it will handle this duty without any problem.

Keep in mind that chargers and inverters, etc., do get old and they can fail due to power issues that arise from time to time. If your battery is not charging when plugged in, then do some tests with a multimeter or volt meter to identify the problem.

Also, check to make sure your built-in devices are not failing on you. Check everything electrical that is tied to your battery to make sure there are no shorts or other causes to this problem.

Do You Have To Disconnect The Battery To Trickle Charge?


No, while you can do this, it is not a necessary step. The built-in charger should handle this task automatically once your battery is full of power. Keep in mind that overcharging your battery can ruin it permanently so you have to be careful.

What trickle charging does is monitor the battery. When it sees that it contains full power, the trickle charger option will turn off. Then when it detects that the battery has lost some power, it will turn on again and recharge the battery till it gets to full power once again.

This is a cycle that will continue until you disconnect the battery from the charger. Most people use a trickle charger when they are storing their RV for the winter. It is a good practice to get into doing this as this will protect your battery from losing all of its power.

When the battery loses all of its power, then it can be irreparably damaged. This is not something you want to face come RV season. In this situation though, RV owners disconnect their battery and put it into the proper location where it will not be damaged by weather changes.

Keeping your battery connected to power should not interfere with the trickle charge procedure.

Can You Trickle-Charge The RV Battery While It is Connected?

There are some built-in RV converters or chargers that do this work. So the answer will be yes, you can. It is just the way the system is designed and both the converter and charger will stop charging once they sense the battery is full of power.

Now the question that needs to be answered is What type of charger will you use? If your RV has a built-in system but it is not very good, you can go to an external charger to get the work done.

The drawback here is that not all battery chargers are the same. You have to get a good one to make sure your battery does not get damaged during the charging or trickle-charging process.

The good news is that once you get a good battery charger, you can leave it connected to your battery for an indefinite amount of time. The charger will only charge the battery when it detects that the battery has lost power.

With a trickle charger, the battery is only receiving a small amount of power so overcharging should not be a problem. What all of this means is that you have to do your battery charger homework.

It is tempting to buy cheap but those models may harm your battery and not recharge the battery effectively enough. Make sure to buy the best charger that will handle this task and still fit your budget.

Should I Keep My RV Battery On a Trickle Charger?


You can and this is 100% safe to do for you and your RV or trailer. There is a drawback though and we will get to that shortly. You can leave the trickle charger connected to your battery for as long as you want.

Now to the drawback. While leaving your batteries plugged into a charger is a good idea. It gives you some rest from worrying about if the battery is charged or not. But, this operation consumes the electrolytes inside the battery.

When this happens, your battery will not perform as it should. It is a trade-off when you opt for this type of recharging system.

How To Extend Your Battery’s Life

To keep your battery lasting longer and not consume too many electrolytes, you need to do the following battery protection steps.

1. Keep the battery cool- RV and other types of batteries hate hot temperatures. Try to keep the battery area cool and avoid parking in direct sunlight. The heat will shorten the battery’s life span significantly.

Don’t forget to add distilled water when the electrolytes get too low.

2. Watch parasitic conditions- this is where your appliances and other electrical devices use minimal power to stay functioning even when they are turned off. Parasitic conditions will drain your battery quickly and without you realizing it.

If you do not need the battery for a while, it is a good idea to disconnect it so these control panels, etc., do not completely drain your battery. This is one situation that supports leaving the battery connected to a trickle charger.

3. Disconnect the negative wire- If you cannot avoid the parasitic drain of your battery’s power take the negative or ground wire off. This will protect your battery and electrolytes.

4. Use a surge protector- This device protects not just your battery but also your whole electrical system

Is It OK To Leave a Battery On Trickle Charge?


Yes, it is and this is often recommended due to the 12-volt power demand your RV has all the time. There are devices, sometimes called smart devices, that need a continuous source of power to work.

They are found in control panels, thermostats, and other places. All of these devices run off 12-volt DC power and can be a drain on your battery. If you do not hook your RV’s battery up to a trickle charger, your battery may go below the 50% power cut-off and be ruined.

It is a wise move to keep the battery connected to a trickle charger so you do not have to face this problem. The problem with many of those appliances that have upgraded electronics is that they all need power and they all will use it without you knowing about it.

To avoid a bad situation, you should keep the trickle charger or the regular charger with trickle charging capabilities connected to your battery at all times. You do not want to face a dead battery and have to spend a lot of money replacing it.

How Long Dhould You Leave a Trickle Charger On a Dead Battery?

There are two definitions of a dead battery. The first is that the battery has not gone below the 50% benchmark most battery experts mention. When the battery is above 50% but not above, for example, 60%, it is a dead battery.

However, this situation means you can put the charger on the battery and recharge it. Now if you are using the regular battery charger option, then it will take between 5 to 7 hours to fully recharge the battery, approximately. Your situation may demand a longer or shorter recharge time.

If the battery has fallen below that 50%, and some experts say 45%, power level then you can leave the battery charger connected forever and you won’t recharge the battery.

Some experts say even 30% is the too late benchmark. SO know your battery and how low you can go without recharging it. Just remember that the lower the remaining power, the longer it will take to recharge.

How do I Keep My RV Battery Charged When Not in Use?


The best way to do this is to make sure it remains connected to your built-in converter or charger. These devices should have a trickle charge function that will kick in once the battery is back to full power.

The good ones will have a monitoring system that tells the trickle charge function when to charge and when to stop. That monitoring system will or should protect your battery.

When you are storing your battery after the most recent RV season, you need to disconnect the battery, put it in a safe, cool, dry spot, and then hook up a battery charger with trickle charging capabilities.

Use a charger that is top-notch and has a good trickle charging system. You may have to pay more for it but it is worth it in the long run. The trickle charge system will keep your battery in top shape and prevent damage.

Some Final Words

It is okay to recharge your battery when you are connected to shore power. The electrical system installed recently by RV makers should be equipped with all the tools to make sure your battery stays powered and does not get damaged.

For those people without a good converter, etc., then you can hook up an external charger to do the same thing. The key is to make sure the battery charger and its trickle charging system are two of the best available.

Going with inferior chargers, etc., will only cause you problems and cost you a lot more money.

Leave a Comment: