If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to depend on a hookup and prefers to unplug and go where the wind takes you, you may have wondered at some point about how to charge RV battery with generator.
You need a charged battery to operate all electrical components in your RV. So, when shore power is not available, a generator will be the only power source to keep everything running. If you have the habit of boondocking often, you should know the methods of charging deep cycle batteries with generator or the battery pack your RV has.
Charging RV Battery with Generator: Is It Possible?
Yes, you can use an RV generator to charge an RV battery.
Let’s rewind. Your generator has a motor that uses either gasoline, diesel, propane (LPG), or natural gas (CNG) as fuel to generate electricity. That electrical power recharges your RV battery system while traveling in remote areas where power grids aren’t available.
An RV battery charger is usually part of the onboard electrical equipment that charges your batteries when plugged into an external power source, such as a 120V AC power outlet in your garage or 240V AC power at campground sites with hookups.
If both methods are available, it’s always better to use shore power/shoreline charging because it typically consumes less energy from your batteries during the charging process and allows you to run most of the appliances in your RV without running the generator.
Read more: Best RV Batteries for Boondocking
How to Charge RV Battery With Generator in 6 Steps
Well, you’ve been on the open road for a while now, and your RV batteries finally kicked the bucket.
Time to set up the generator, get that baby juiced back up, and hit the road again. Here’s how to charge RV battery with generator:
Step 1: Set up the generator in the right place
First things first, find a good spot to put your generator. It has to be on a level surface and in a comparatively open place so you don’t breathe in its fumes. Also, make sure it’s at least a few feet away from your RV (and other RVs), so it doesn’t damage or pollute anyone’s air.
You’ll also want to ensure good airflow around your generator when it’s running to prevent overheating. It shouldn’t be near any other fuel source.
Step 2: Start the generator
Now you’re ready to start up that bad boy. Start the generator by pressing down on the lever that activates it. Wait a minute or two, allowing the generator to warm up.
Step 3: Wait until the generator’s voltage stabilizes
You have to wait for a little bit until its voltage stabilizes at around 120V (or whatever voltage your generator runs at). There are gauges on most generators that you can use to make sure this happens.
Step 4: Connect the battery charger
Attach the charger to the RV battery terminals. Be careful about connecting the right clips to the right terminals—don’t put the positive clamp on the negative terminal, for instance.
Not sure which is which? The battery terminals should have (+) and (-) signs, indicating positive and negative leads. Connect the charger’s red alligator clip to the positive terminal and the black clip to the negative one.
Step 5: Connect the charger to the generator
The next step of how to charge RV battery with generator is plugging your charger into the generator’s power outlet. Then, you need to switch it on. This step is pretty self-explanatory—just read the instructions that come with your generator and follow them.
See if the battery charger is running by checking its indicator light. You may need to adjust your settings or check its user manual if it doesn’t. Also, you have to figure out what the charger’s status will be when the battery is charged.
Step 6: Switch off the charger
When the RV battery is fully charged, you need to switch off the charger and disconnect it from the generator. Some chargers automatically turn off, but the best practice is to unplug the connection after the charging is done.
The cable disconnection should be the opposite of how you have attached them in Step 4. Detach the black (-) clamp first and then the red (+) clamp.
This is how to charge RV battery with generator. Your battery is now fully charged, and you are good to go.
How to Make a Generator to Charge 12V Battery
It could be a little tricky to recharge a 12V battery with an RV generator. Even if the generator has a 12V outlet, it cannot recharge a 12V battery directly. Even if it does, the charging rate will be slower than usual.
What you can do is use a 240V battery charger. Plug it into the generator’s AC output and connect its positive and negative clamps to the battery’s positive and negative terminals. In this way, the charging process will be much faster.
When it comes to charging deep cycle batteries with generator, you can do it with a battery charger and a portable generator. There will be no need for a charger or extra connections if you have a permanent generator in the RV because these units have direct connections to the power system.
Before charging the deep cycle battery, remember to top it off with distilled water for better performance.
The Reasons for the Generator Not to Charge the RV Battery
There are several reasons why a generator fails to charge the RV battery. If you’ve tried everything to troubleshoot the problem and can’t get them talking to each other, here are the most likely causes:
- Check to see if there are any wires loose or broken. If so, try reconnecting them. If not, disconnect and reconnect the entire thing from the power supply and start again.
- The generator is too small for the job at hand. It may not be able to supply enough power to charge both your appliances and recharge your RV battery simultaneously.
- Make sure that your generator has enough fuel to run for as long as you need it to.