Is It Bad to Leave Your RV Plugged In All The Time?

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Just like your laptop or cellphone, do you always leave your RV plugged in all the time? Read on the post to know whether it is a good idea or bad to leave your RV plugged in all the time?

I’ve seen a massive number of RV owners asking whether to leave your RV plugged in all the time is a good idea.

Unfortunately, to answer this question is not that simple, and to find the best answer regarding whether to leave your RV plugged in all the time, we have to go back to the RV power basics. RV power is not as simple as it seems, especially for those just getting started with RVing.

While I’m writing this post, my only intention is to give you the best possible answer regarding is it ok to leave your RV plugged in all the time?

Is it Bad to Leave Your RV Plugged In all the time_

Whether you have your own RV or considering to rent one out, this post will let you know the steps that will help you keep your RV at its peak condition, run it smoothly, and extend its life span.

So, let’s get started!

Is it bad to leave RV plugged in all the time?

In a nutshell, Yes and No. It totally depends on the generation type of the battery. Note that you shouldn’t worry about leaving your RV plugged in all the time when it is in use.

However, it doesn’t mean that you can leave your RV plugged in all the time when you are living in it for a longer period or when it is not in use at all. But, if your RV has a battery tender or a modern RV converter, you can leave your RV plugged in all the time since the contemporary RV converter will make sure to deliver a smart charging option and to keep optimal voltage.

Lead-acid batteries’s amount of power that they lose over time depends on when, where, and the temperature at which they are stored. You shouldn’t be worried about these batteries if you overcharge/undercharge them.

RV Battery System

Besides other essential components of your RV, one of the most critical components in your RV is the battery system, which is crucial to the whole of your RV’s internal setup. RV battery system is intended to power the appliances that require electricity inside your rig. It includes your RV AC unit, overhead fan, refrigerator, microwave, etc.

You should know that your RV battery system consists of two systems,

  • 120V AC system
  • 12V DC system.

If you have a motorhome, which is not a towable vehicle, it has its own battery used to start the engine.

The 120V is a powerful battery system that is used to run appliances that need more power, such as AC units and refrigerators. So, to keep running your RV appliances, you have to hook it up to a shower power (when at a campground) run the generator to charge the battery.

While on the other hand, the 12V system starts charging itself when your RV is hooked up. The smaller RV battery system power appliances that need less power, such as interior lights, overhead fan, etc. It can be used when the rig is not hooked up until the battery runs out.

Short Term RV Battery Usage

So, can you leave your RV plugged in for short-term battery usage?

Well, when you are on the road or want to use your RV battery for the short-term, there is no problem if you leave your RV plugged in all the time. Moreover, if you have rented an RV from a well-known RV rental company, such as Cruise America, you don’t have to worry about overcharging if you want to leave your RV plugged in all the time.

Reputable and well-known RV rental companies have RVs equipped with smart, modern inverters that are intended to slow down the charging rate of the batteries when they are topped off.

However, the scenario is entirely different if you have an older RV with a smart battery converter. In that case, I recommend you to not leave your rig plugged in all the time.

So, is it ok to leave your RV plugged in all the time?

In a nutshell, the answer is yes. However, it isn’t as innocent as it seems.

What Factors Play a Key Role to Affect RV Battery Life?

Here are some key factors that are critical and heavily affect RV battery life;

1. Overcharging

Overcharging

If you leave your RV plugged in all the time, even when the battery is fully charged, it will milk the cell’s electrolyte levels. As a result, this will compromise the RV battery life unless you have a battery tender or a modern RV converter with a smart charger.

Moreover, if you have overcharged a lead-acid battery and its electrolyte cells drop below than average, you can fix it using the distilled water. However, the battery life will still be compromised. Leaving your RV hooked up all the time is common when it still doesn’t have a battery tender.

You should be careful when soring your RV, especially in winters.

2. Undercharging

Like overcharging, undercharging your RV battery can also shorten the battery’s life span because of the chemical process (Sulfation)—this chemical pileup when an RV battery remains undercharged for a longer period.

This process blocks the chemical conversion that is necessary for RV batteries to stay functional. As a result, the batteries lose the ability to store the charge.

However, the Sulfation process can be eliminated if you charge the battery promptly after they are undercharged. When storing your RV, it would be best to make sure the battery is charged between 75% to 90%. In this regard, a battery tender or battery tester is a useful tool to have.

3. Temperature Changes

Another common factor that plays a vital role in affecting battery performance when the RV is stored is temperature. Both too cold or too hot temperatures can affect battery performance when it is held for a more extended period of time. As a result, the battery will lose its voltage capacity that will lead to a shorten its lifespan.

The best way to keep your RV batteries protected is you should remove the batteries when storing the RV and keep charging them occasionally. Do not freeze the batteries because you heard someone saying freezing the batteries can extend their lives.

What is the Best RV Battery Type?

You will find a vast range of RV batteries in the market. However, the most used and best RV batteries types include;

1. Lithium Batteries

Battle Born LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery - 100Ah 12v with Built-in BMS - 3000-5000 Deep Cycle Rechargeable Battery - Perfect for RV/Camper, Marine, Overland/Van, and Off Grid Applications
  • BUILT-IN BMS: BMS stands for "Battery Management System" - the brain of our deep cycle lithium batteries. Our BMS protects your battery from most common causes of battery failure, such as temperature volatility or ground faults. The BMS regulates the amount of power taken out of the battery and acts as a shut-off system to protect the li-ion cells (and you) from unsafe operating conditions.
  • LITHIUM ION TECHNOLOGY: Unlike Lead Acid batteries, Battle Born's deep cycle lithium ion batteries have unlimited mounting capability, exceptional longevity, and are more cost effective. When factoring time and cost into your purchase, our lithium ion battery banks come out ahead every time. Plus, Li-Ion batteries can be safer than Lead Acid batteries, which have no protection against ground faults.
  • GREEN ENERGY BATTERIES: Made from 100% safe, nontoxic, renewable energy, Battle Born Batteries last for more cycles and can be charged and discharged repeatedly (and charge faster than any other battery). We make our renewable, sustainable green energy batteries because they’re simply better than anything else out there, including other green batteries.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT AND VERSATILE: At a sleek 31 lbs, our 100Ah 12v battery weighs in at only 1/3 the weight of lead acid batteries! With no acid in the battery, you're able to safely mount in any position. This makes li-ion batteries perfect for marine, RV, campers, golf cart, off-road and off-grid applications!
  • BUY WITH CONFIDENCE: Proudly designed and assembled in the Reno, Nevada - the epicenter of the lithium ion battery world. We test (and re-test... and re-test again) literally every battery we ship and all of our batteries come with an industry-leading 10 year warranty. We believe you should be as confident in your battery as we are.

In fact, Lithium Batteries are considered as an alternative to lead-acid batteries. These types of batteries can be found in almost all the modern RVs replacing the Goldilocks (lead-acid batteries). Travelers who upgrade their rig to solar power generation are also upgraded to Lithium batteries.

Although Lithium batteries are expensive, they have many benefits as well. They are compact, tighter in weight, and don’t require you to keep checking electrolyte levels over and over again. They are kind of set and forget batteries.

Moreover, these batteries are also intended to run for years that others. The cost of Lithium batteries is about 3x more than lead-acid batteries.

2. Deep Cycle Batteries

Weize 12V 100AH Deep Cycle AGM SLA VRLA Battery for Solar System RV Camping Trolling Motor, in Series 24V 36V 48V
  • Deep Cycle Battery 12V 100 Amp Hour Sealed Lead Acid Rechargeable ; Parcel: 1 x Battery (screws included, but no wire harness or mounting).
  • Dimensions: 12.09 x 6.65 x 9.17 inches (Replace UB121000, Renogy 100 AMP Hour). High Performance, Deep Cycle: Long Service Life and Deep Discharge Recover.
  • Used For Solar Panel Wind Off-Grid Applications, RV House Van Camping Trip, Travel Trailer, Mini Kota/Cobra/Sevylor Trolling Motor, Back-up Sump Pump, Electric Mobility Scooter Wheelchair.
  • Also For Electric Vehicles, Golf Carts, Hunting, Lawn and Garden Tools, Portable Tools, Toys and Hobby, UPS System, Industrial and Medical Equipment,Emergency Lighting, Leisure, Alarm Security and more.
  • TL12100 or LFP12100 You Will Receive, Send Randomly,They Are the Same Quality,But Different Production Batches, Pls Do Not Worry. Please Contact Us if Any Problem or Consuion!

Deep Cycle batteries are a type of their predecessor (lead-acid batteries). They are somewhat similar to batteries used in golf carts and boats, and function identical to a standard car battery to create and store the power. However, what sets them apart from car batteries is the steady amount of current that they produce.

These types of batteries are available in several sub-categories, such as Absorb Glass Mat or (AGM) batteries, flooded wet-cell batteries, gel-type batteries, etc.

Final Thoughts

That is all about the RV battery power system and whether it is ok to leave RV plugged in all the time. I’ve discussed the effects of overcharging/undercharging, RV battery usage, and the best RV batteries. I heartily believe that you will find this post useful, and it will help you to extend your RV battery life span.

FAQs

Does it help to extend the battery life span to remove it when storing RV?

Yes, temperature, overcharging, and undercharging are the main causes that affect the RV battery performance. It is a good practice to remove RV batteries when storing your RV for a more extended time period. Moreover, it would be great to charge the batteries occasionally.

What happens when you leave your RV plugged in all the time?

Leaving your RV plugged in all the time when not in use means the battery will compromise on its life span. It drains the wet-cells of the battery that affects battery performance.

About Ted Mosby

My Name is Ted Mosby from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a freelance Architect. I live in New Jersey, USA right now and I take my RV every alternate weekend. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.