RVing

How Often Should I Replace My RV Batteries?

RV battery

Your RV uses batteries to provide power to its various systems and features when you’re not connected to shore power. Batteries are an extremely important part of your RV and they will be a key concern for any RVer.

RV batteries are something you’ll have to pay attention to and replace from time to time, but how often do you actually need to replace them? Let’s take a closer look.

How Long Do RV Batteries Last?

DC Volts indicator battery monitor in Australian camper van indicating full charge
Image from Getty

RV batteries come in a few different types, but most are lead-acid type batteries. The batteries for your RV are different than batteries for your tow vehicle or for the vehicle portion of your motorhome.

RV batteries are what’s known as deep-cycle batteries. These are designed to provide sustained power over a long period of time. They provide cosistent power all the way down to 80 percent discharge. They’re also commonly prescribed to be recharged once they get below 45 percent of their capacity.

As for the battery life of a deep cycle RV battery, it all depends on the brand and make up of the battery (some are designed to last longer than others), the conditions in which you use your RV, and how well maintained you keep your batteries.

Generally, you’ll find that they last anywhere from two to seven years. That’s a pretty wide range, but with so many different factors impacting battery life and performance it’s really hard to narrow it down more than that.

Battery Maintenance Prolongs Battery Life

RV battery

If you want to make your batteries last a long time, then you need to make sure you are maintaining them properly. This starts with ensuring they’re charged properly and at the proper times. The smart way to go with most RV batteries is to recharge them once they reach 45 to 50 percent discharge.

You don’t want to always recharge the battery as soon as you can. If the battery is at 90 percent capacity, charging it 10 percent or leaving it on the charger for long periods of time at full charge can shorten the battery life.

The same can be said if you go the other way. If you let the battery fully discharge or discharge all the way down to 20 percen capacity you could hurt the battery’s life overall.

It’s also important to keep the electrolyte levels in flooded-cell batteries at the right levels. If you buy a gel or absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries, you’ll notice these are sealed batteries. Some people like these better because they’re maintenance-free when it comes to electrolyte levels.

Maintenance when it comes to any lead-acid battery also includes the connections. You need to ensure that the battery connections aren’t corroded or extremely dirty. Keep the battery clean and in a dry place and you should have few issues.

Lastly, think about the temperatures. Extremely high heat can negatively impact the capacity of your batteries. The same can be said of extremely cold weather. You’ll also likely see a drop in battery capacity during cold weather. If possible, house your batteries in an area that is temperature conrolled. This will help keep the operating well and should positively impact their life long term.

You should get yourself a voltmeter or a multimeter to check the voltage of the battery from time to time. Your battery should measure over 12-volts. If it doesn’t it needs recharged or possibly replaced.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

lithium-ion RV battery

You’ve likely heard about lithium-ion batteries before. Those are the types of batteries found in things like laptops, electric cars, and various other new technology. They’re an alternative for your conventional lead-acid batteries in your RV, too.

I’m not going to get into the make-up of lithium-ion batteries. To be honest it goes over my head. What I will say, is that they’re smaller, lighter weight, can be discharged further with no serious issues, last longer, and virtually maintenance free. Lithium-ion batteries are also much more expensive.

They can last much, much longer than their lead-acid counterparts, and should have no problem lasting at least twice or even three times as long as a lead-acid battery. If you have the money to put down on a battery, and want something that you can essentially set and forget, then a lithium-ion battery may be the way to go.

Lithium-ion batteries can be a great way to get the most out of your solar panel setup if you decide to install one of those. With solar and lithium-ion batteries, your rig will become a boondocking king.


Do you need a new battery for your RV? Check out the ones in stock at Gander RV & Outdoors!

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5 comments

  1. Avatar

    You didn’t discuss “leaving the RV plugged into AC power all year around”. I was told (and experienced it) that if your RV isn’t plugged in – electronics within the RV will drain the battery. Yet, in your article you state that you shouldn’t “leave it on a charger all the time”. What is the difference between leaving the RV plugged into AC, vs, leaving a charger on all the time? To go even further – my RV came with a “Shut off switch” for the battery. Yet, some things still work even when the switch is off – very confusing! These articles are very informative – keep them coming.

    1. Wade Thiel

      Larry, there’s shore power and then there’s charging your battery. You don’t want to leave your battery on the charger all the time, because it will negatively impact your battery life. However, you could use a trickle charger to keep it at the right levels while your RV isn’t in use.

    2. Avatar

      Larry the problem with leaving your camper plugged sore power all the time is it evaporate the acids in the battery. This has happened to me. Now that being said i just added more acid to the battery. Not water you can add distilled water. But not TAP WATER this is certain death for the battery.

  2. Avatar

    Thank You, for the information on batteries!
    I am a single woman with a 23’ AIRSTREAM… I love my AS! Easy to pull & set – up etc.
    It is time for me to purchase a new battery system. Currently, I have the lead-acid … but interested in longer lasting you mentioned. Thx, T.

  3. Avatar

    How can I use my mobile hotspot to connect to my Winnabego RV 2014?

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