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How To Charge An RV Battery From A Tow Vehicle

RV batteries are heavy, large, and relatively new. If you own an RV and you need to move it, you may not have the tools to do so without the help of a tow vehicle.

Most tow vehicles don’t have the capability to fully charge an RV battery.

How To Charge An RV Battery From A Tow Vehicle

The process for charging an RV battery from a tow vehicle is to connect the appropriate terminals on a 12-volt battery charger to the battery’s positive and negative terminals, then insert the remaining junk in between.

To charge an RV or boat battery from a tow truck, you need to use two different car batteries that are designed for only this purpose.

The correct accessories can be found in any auto parts store and these work best with some basic soldering skills.

Why charge your battery from a tow vehicle? 

If you have just using moved an RV or boat trailer to another location then this may not be the way.

When you want to move a large rig to your new property and it needs charging there are specific fluids/systems that require hooking up as well as being able to allow voltage to the system. 

You can use any power source to charge your RV battery while you are on-site, but it is up to you if this best demonstrates total charging time and whether or not a warranty (if there might be one) will cover damage caused improperly setting out of state. 

  1. The correct size tow-vehicle specific charger must be used; something small only for 12-volt batteries and very large in order that all electrical components get the amount of power they will need to be expanded. 
  1. Approximately 10 amps or close to the total current required on a battery is what you want (unless it becomes available automatically through the pre-installed systems in your van/truck). 

The recharge time for 12-volt batteries has drastically changed over the past 20 plus years and doesn’t require much more than this now anyway, especially when compared with complex marine maintenance that probably needs doing first before anything else.

  1. Shielding/Grounding is key to prevent high-pressure be a possibility, as often components in the charge circuit are not made with enough regard to keeping things from exploding and this can cause serious damage; more than likely you will have looked at using an isolated marine power source (the expensive ones) instead. 

I believe that if you do this for your truck, then it should always stay there and only connect through the cigarette lighter.

Never use a regular gas or generator as this will cause an extended delay when you get ready to drive, no matter how much time it takes just to turn the system on and fire up the engine. 

  1. If you have any alternate lighting methods installed in your RV (as many older RVs do), be sure they are turned OFF while charging large batteries!
  1. Determine if micro-splices can support all of the needed load that will be coming through. Doorbells, chain-gates, and anything else which could impede energy flow can add considerable stress on all components during cranking and initial charging, as well as overall efficiency due to heavy loads required splitting/dividing power between them.
  2. Once you have already done your research and settled upon a style of charger that can accommodate 12-volt batteries and the number needed, then go ahead buy one from the store.
  1. Take the charger home, hook it up and test any raw output voltages (just a few) at both very low charge levels with appropriately permitted chemistry only combined later, as well as performing some simple tests upon all of your electrical components to check for compliance/reliability prior to getting serious about charging 12 volts! Be sure that this is all done on new batteries also!
  1. Before moving vehicles or pulling heavy loads from your vehicle, be sure that you have the correct battery products properly wired to any alternator or inverter.
  1. Make certain you are familiar with all charging system voltages prior to getting situated on a long trip as this can cause confusion/concern regarding proper operation and optimal performance if any unforeseen safety concerns pop up! 

See also: How Long Will RV Battery Last?

Can You Recharge An RV Battery Using Jumper Cables?

Yes, it will depend on a few factors.

There is always a component involved in any recharge process. In the case of jump starter cables, we need to make sure that the battery terminals are connected properly. If they are not making good contact with each other, it could negatively affect your ability to perform an effective recharge process.

There also have been some highly publicized cases of jump starter cables being defective and launching electrical surges into the internal electronics of the vehicle they are attached to.

In this type of case, it is possible that at some point in time you will incur such an electrical event due to improper wiring and/or defective cables.

Using jumper cables can work well for recharging golf carts because there are no motor assists connected and most people serve as a good source for power directly from their cars when more powerful systems like battery banks or alternators are not available.

Tips For Preserving Battery Life in RV

Rechargeable battery life in an RV is mostly determined by how the batteries are used. In order to prolong battery usage, follow these simple tips:

Search your WiFi connection before turning on a computer or device that might use too much power. Make sure the hose releasing water from your boat pulls it out of the electrical outlet, not through a nearby window. 

Also be sure to turn off any devices you are not using, like a refrigerator or TV If a battery is not charged to its full capacity, it will die earlier than normal.

Do what you need to do today in order for the batteries to be fully recovered by tomorrow.

Pick different locations where you store your RV batteries

Our lithium-ion lifespan has increased dramatically since their introduction over 10 years ago and now averages well beyond 3 months of typical use if stored at 40:1 (40 degrees F). Standard maintenance charging practices like charging your battery to a full 80% almost always remove power from the cells and extends their lifespan considerably.

Overcharge Short Charge Times: (research shows that batteries even lithium-ion ones with have their maximum energy capacity degraded by high temperatures and other factors)  do not charge faster, they do not last long, but what does happen is shortened lifespan.

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