Does RV Generator Charge Chassis Battery? (Charging Guide)

Logically, most people would assume that the generator could recharge the chassis battery. After all, the generator is a power source and it does re-charge the house batteries. But generators can be limited in their duties.

The good news is that you can buy a battery isolator or a charge solenoid to do this task. The bad news is that this system is the exception and not the rule. Most RV chassis batteries are charged via the alternator just like a car or truck battery is charged.

To learn more about this topic, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can handle your chassis battery power failures with ease

Does RV Generator Charge Chassis Battery?


The simple answer is no, it does not. The generator is designed to charge house batteries and keep the power running for certain features in your RV. The house system and the chassis electrical system are two different entities and they are not interchangeable or compatible at this time.

By compatible, we mean that you cannot use your generator to recharge your chassis battery. One reason this is so is that the older RVs do not have the built-in circuity to accommodate this rather seemingly logical move.

The way you have to charge the chassis battery in these older models is to run your engine for a little while or go on a nice drive. Or you can use a battery charger if you do not want to use your fuel supply.

If you are thinking that you can use shore power to charge your chassis battery, the explanation is the same. It won’t work due to the design of the electrical circuit.

This answer works in reverse as well. You cannot charge your house batteries by starting your RV’s engine. Special adjustments have to be made to do that option as well.

Does RV Shore Power Charge Chassis Battery?

No, it will not. As we just explained, the shore power electrical design will not accommodate transferring any power to your chassis or RV battery. It is designed to recharge your house batteries and provide power so you do not have to use your generator.

There is no sense in trying to do this and it is best to stick with tried and true methods, like starting your engine, taking a drive, or hooking up a battery charger. Those are the safe options you have to work with.

Recharging the chassis battery is not hard to do and it would be expensive to buy the parts needed to have the generator or shore power do the work for you. Also, hooking up the battery charger only takes a minute so you can get that done and still spend time watching the big game on your television.

There is no sense in altering your engine to avoid doing those three simple options. Save the money as well. The only other option you have would be upgrading to a newer RV that already has those parts installed.

How To Keep RV Chassis Battery Charged


The first and most obvious option would be to turn off any electrical devices in your RVs driving area when the motor is turned off. Power can still be drawn by those electrical devices as they are not dependent on the engine running to get their power.

Their power comes from the battery and those features will drain the battery fairly quickly if you run them without the engine on. Then, if you do have a bit of a power drain on the battery, simply starting the engine and letting it idle will do the work for you.

You would have to run the engine for a minimum of 20 minutes to get any significant recharging done. Sometimes, you may have to run it longer but that depends on how much power the battery lost.

A third method would be to take your RV on a short but not too short of a drive. As long as the engine is running, you will be recharging your battery. How far you go is up to you but make sure it is far enough so that the battery gets back to full charge.

The last method to use would be a battery charger. These come in different types, designs, and power levels. You should buy the right one for your RV’s battery.

RV batteries are not all the same and you would need a specific battery charger for a specific type of battery. If you are not sure which charger goes to which battery type, talk to the experts before making your purchase.

They will be glad to help you out and make sure you get the right model of the charger. You can shop around to make sure you get the right price.

What is Draining My RV Chassis Battery?

There are a number of sources that could cause this problem. The most obvious would be a bad connection somewhere. That bad connection could drain your battery or stop it from recharging. If the connection is loose, then all you need to do is tighten it up.

A bad alternator will also keep the battery from charging up as you drive. There are other parts that when they go bad can take the power away from your battery.

Or if you have a short, that will easily drain the power from your battery. In some cases, the terminals touching the bottom of your hood will cause a short. Some owners have had to put rubber in between the positive terminal and the hood to make sure this does not happen.

Then a crossed wire, broken wire, or a wire that has frayed or touched the wrong part will help drain the battery. This is not a simple problem to track down the source.

The reason for saying that is because once the battery is drained of power, it is hard to check the lights, and other electrical devices to see if they are the cause. The power is gone and until you recharge the battery some components cannot be tested.

But make up a checklist of different possible sources and then go down the list until you find the right cause. It could be a bad part or it is as simple as someone leaving the lights on overnight.

Does RV Inverter Charge Chassis Battery?


No, and that is the clearest answer we could give. The job of an inverter is to change the power level. For example, the invertor will change AC power into DC power or vice versa.

Since it takes power from a battery, it cannot be used as a charger. Plus, the invertor is not designed to recharge batteries. The tool simply makes it possible for you to run features or appliances when the proper power source is not available.

Like charging your chassis battery with a generator, there are exceptions to the rule. You can buy an inverter that does dual duties. By that we mean there are invertors that are designed to act as an invertor as well as a battery charger.

The key is to make sure you read all the information on the box and in the instructions to make sure it will recharge your specific battery. Not all inverter/chargers will work for every battery.

RV Chassis Battery Not Charging

There are a few simple reasons why this situation takes place at crucial times when you are camping. The first reason is that if you are using a converter or inverter to charge your battery, it may not be working.

This is a standard possibility and you would need to test the converter or inverter to see if it is working. The second possibility would be that there is a blown fuse. Check your fuses that are related to charging your battery to make sure they did not receive too much power and broke.

A third possibility is that there is a broken wire somewhere in the system. This is not a hard job to fix but you have to track it down to find the problem before being able to fix it. That could take some time.

A fourth possibility is that the battery or batteries have worn out or gone below the dead line. If either situation is correct, then you have to replace the battery. Very few batteries can be recharged when they cross that minimum power threshold.

A final cause may be that you forgot to clean the battery terminals and corrosion is stopping the power transfer. Corrosion may not sound like much but in the wrong situation, it can be a big deal. That little item can stop a battery from getting the power it needs.

RV Chassis Battery Draining


The most common cause for this problem would be your connections. You may have added another part to your electrical system and this extra part and its connection is causing the battery to lose its power.

Or there are features built into your RV that may be causing the power to drain for one reason or another. We wish we could be more specific but the cause could be anywhere and you would have to track the cause down before fixing it.

A third possibility is that your batteries are going bad and cannot hold a charge. This is a common source and one you should check first. It is the fastest to check and you do not have to spend a lot of time checking your wires, etc.

If it is the batteries, you can always find a new one close by unless you are boondocking out in the wilderness.

How do You Charge RV Chassis Batteries?

The best and easiest method would be to hook up a battery charger. One would think that taking the RV for a drive or idling the engine is the best and easiest way. They may be easy but you will have no idea how much power is in your battery when you do those options.

Most battery chargers have LED or similar screens or they have needle gauges that let you know how much power is being sent to the battery. Those same screens also tell you how much power is inside the battery.

You can control the power supply as well. That makes sure you do not overcharge the battery and you can turn off the charger (or unhook) when that problem is near.

Most auto supply and electrical shops, etc., have a good supply of battery chargers you can look at. Or if money is limited, then go to your big box stores for some savings. But buy the right charger.

RV Chassis Battery Charger


Some RV brands have put battery charging systems in many of their RV models. This is not a very good option as RV makers are known for using the cheapest parts possible.

It is a good idea to avoid using these systems and buy your own charger. There are different types of chargers out there for RV owners to use but not all are made to recharge the chassis battery.

The best thing to do is to buy and use a traditional battery charger. Modern technology has upgraded these devices making them easier to use and easier to adapt to different charging situations.

There are single and multi-stage chargers that will work in all chassis battery situations. The key is to buy the one that works for your type of battery. Not all batteries can use the same charger so you have to be careful when you are shopping.

Some Final Words

Charging a chassis battery is a simple task. It can be done over lunch and the battery will be ready for your afternoon activities. However, you cannot use your generator or shore power unless you splurge and buy special equipment.

The best options to use would be the three talked about above when your chassis battery needs power. Those are the safest methods and do not take up a lot of your time.

Leave a Comment: