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Can RV Batteries Keep You Powered Overnight?

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As it becomes increasingly difficult and expensive to get a campground reservation, many RVers opt to boondock or dry camp. However, if you haven’t made any upgrades to your power system, there’s a good chance your RV battery will go dead overnight. Depending on the type of battery, this could cause permanent damage to your battery. So can RV batteries keep your RV powered overnight? Let’s look and see!

keep your rv powered overnight
Photo credit: Opting Out of Normal

Why Is My RV Battery Draining Overnight?

If you are off the grid, most of us don’t run our generator all night, or if using solar, are not getting a charge at night. Without an outside power source, it’s up to the RV batteries to provide all the power at night. If you run lights, your furnace, fridge, or water pump, your batteries provide the power. As you use more devices, you will run down your batteries.

You should, however, be able to use your batteries through the night without them dying. If you are experiencing less than a night of use from your batteries, then you probably have damaged batteries. Lead acid batteries are significantly damaged anytime they are drained more than 50%. Most RVers drain them way deeper than this, and that is why they have such short lifespans. This is one of the major reasons many RVers choose to upgrade to lithium, as they are not damaged from deep discharges.

Even if you keep the lights off and use as little power as possible, parasitic loads will drain down your RV battery. Parasitic loads are the electrical draws from appliances that continuously suck power from your RV battery when you’re not connected to a power source. Items like carbon monoxide detectors and other electronics with lights or display screens can be parasitic loads.

Minimize parasitic loads in your RV to avoid your RV battery draining overnight. If not, you’ll wake up to discover that you’ve used more of your battery than you intended. You could even wake up to a dead battery if you have too many parasitic loads.

How Do I Stop My RV Battery From Draining? 

The only way to prevent your RV battery from going dead overnight is to minimize the power you and your RV are using. Avoid unnecessarily leaving lights on, and use propane to run any appliances you can. 

In addition, make sure you properly maintain your battery. If you have lead-acid batteries, make sure you maintain the electrolyte levels. Failure to do so can cause irreversible damage to the batteries.

Getting the most from your RV batteries also requires you to avoid discharging them too deeply. Lead-acid batteries typically can’t go below 50% of their capacity. Discharging this type of battery below 50% will decrease the battery’s life. The more this occurs, the smaller the battery’s total capacity and the faster it drains. If you’ve noticed how quickly your cell phone battery dies after a year or two, you understand how a battery’s capacity reduces as it ages.

Most RVers end up damaging their batteries this way through no real fault of their own. Lead-acid battery manufacturers do little to educate their users on proper maintenance. And most RVs don’t come with an accurate battery monitor to keep an eye on the state of charge. Additionally, lead-acid batteries are dumb; they do not have internal systems that prevent damage automatically. This makes it very easy to wind up with a dead RV battery overnight.

rv relies on battery overnight

How Long Should an RV Battery Hold a Charge?

How long an RV battery can hold a charge depends on how much power you use. Most RVs come with a 100 Ah lead-acid battery. These batteries are typically enough to power the bare essentials (lights and water pump) in an RV for approximately 24 hours. However, discharging a lead-acid battery below 50% capacity will cause permanent damage to the battery and drastically reduce how long it can hold a charge.

An RV’s battery will also provide small amounts of power to propane appliances like refrigerators and furnaces. As a result, the more these appliances run, the more power they’ll require. If you’re camping in cold weather, your furnace will use a generous amount of power. As a result, you’ll notice your battery doesn’t last nearly as long. If you find your RV battery draining more and more overnight, it may be time to replace and/or upgrade your battery system.

Many who upgrade their system design them to provide power for a minimum of 24 hours, but many opt to upgrade them to run an RV for 48 or more hours. Keep in mind, however, that many times when you increase your battery capacity, you will also increase your usage just because you know you have more capacity.

Does a Lithium Battery Last Longer Than a Regular Battery?

If you’ve run into this problem and need to replace your RV lead-acid batteries, you may want to look at a better alternative: lithium-ion RV batteries.

Deep-cycle lithium batteries last five to 10 times as long as comparable lead-acid batteries and still perform well at that age. This is because lithium batteries have much deeper discharge depths than lead-acid batteries. While lead-acid batteries will experience irreversible damage when discharged below 50%, lithium batteries can be continually discharged to nearly 100% with no long-term effects.

If that’s not reason enough to upgrade to a lithium battery bank, lithium batteries can easily reach 3,000 to 5,000 discharge cycles. Compare this to a typical lead-acid battery only being able to withstand a maximum of several hundred cycles. Not only do you get more battery out of each use, but they can last for years longer than a standard lead-acid battery.

Deep Cycle Lithium Ion Battery Benefits

How Long Do Lithium Batteries Last in an RV? 

Lithium batteries provide twice as much power as standard lead-acid batteries in an RV. Upgrading to lithium batteries allows you to worry less about causing permanent damage to your battery bank by discharging it too deeply during those quick overnight stops. You’ll still have to manage your power usage, but a lithium battery can typically provide enough power for 24 hours for the 12-volt electrical system on an RV. Plus, Battle Born Batteries come with a smart internal BMS that will turn off the batteries before they ever come close to damaging themselves.

In addition to providing more power, the lifespan of a lithium battery is years longer. We offer a 10-year warranty on our batteries. A typical lead-acid battery will likely only come with a year or two warranty.

Are Lithium-Ion Batteries Better for RVs?

If you spend most of your time in campgrounds or RV parks, you might not think upgrading to a lithium-ion battery in your RV may not be worth it. However, if you find yourself worrying about your RV battery draining overnight, wanting to park overnight at Wal-marts, or even just wanting to stop replacing your lead-acid batteries every season, lithium-ion batteries are your answer. Especially if you want to maximize your ability to use your RV outside of campgrounds and RV parks, lithium-ion batteries are the way to go.

Our lithium-ion batteries are much safer as well, as they will not catch fire if they are shorted out and do not produce any toxic fumes like lead-acid batteries. In addition, the materials of constructed in our batteries are nontoxic and much safer for human health.

rv lithium batteries will not drain as much over night
Wondering if lithium batteries will work in your Class A RV? Yes, they will!

Lithium-ion batteries provide twice as much power and last years longer than lead-acid and are half the weight. If you’re creating a battery bank with hundreds of amp hours, this could mean saving hundreds of pounds. A typical 100 Ah lead-acid battery weighs 60 to 70 pounds, but a lithium battery weighs approximately 30 pounds. The larger the battery bank, the larger the weight savings.

If powering your RV overnight is important to you, say for powering a C-pap machine or other critical devices, you will definitely experience better performance and much less worry. You can sleep well knowing you won’t wake up to a dead RV battery.

Lithium-ion batteries work in all types of RVs, from campervans to travel trailers!

Can I Replace My RV Battery With a Lithium Battery?

Yes, you can replace your RV battery with a lithium battery. Our batteries utilize the same connections and generally are the same size as lead-acid batteries. 

However, with lithium, you can be much more creative with where you install them. Because they don’t have harmful battery acid, they do not require venting. This allows you to skip the small battery compartment and install them in a place where you can add all the battery power you want. Boondocking enthusiasts may install upwards of 800-1200 amp-hours of lithium batteries with solar systems to camp off-grid just as they would be hooked up to power.

But if you’re just worried about your RV battery going dead overnight, just one or two of our Battle Born Batteries can be an easy drop-in replacement with minor modifications to your existing setup.

Do I Need a Special Charger for Lithium Batteries? 

Most lead-acid battery chargers will get the job done if they don’t have automatic equalization. However, upgrading to a lithium-specific charger has its benefits. Lithium batteries can accept a tremendous amount of power compared to lead-acid batteries. In addition, a lithium-specific charger allows you to set specific charging parameters and provide more backup safety options to protect your lithium batteries.

Learn more about the Basics of Charging Lithium-Ion Batteries.

Are Lithium Batteries Worth It in an RV?

Lithium batteries deliver the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to power solutions for an RV. Are they the cheapest option available? No. However, because they provide a much deeper depth of discharge and thousands of more discharge cycles, they’re worth the premium price tag. 

If you’re not planning to use your RV outside campgrounds or without connecting to a power pedestal, lithium batteries may not be worth it. However, lithium batteries are worth it in your RV if you’re tired of camping in crowded campgrounds and want to enjoy boondocking or dry camping to the fullest.

Want To Learn More About Electrical Systems and Lithium Batteries?

We know that building or upgrading an electrical system can be overwhelming, so we’re here to help. Our Reno, Nevada-based sales and customer service team is standing by at (855) 292-2831 to take your questions!

Also, join us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to learn more about how lithium battery systems can power your lifestyle, see how others have built their systems, and gain the confidence to get out there and stay out there.

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2 thoughts on “Can RV Batteries Keep You Powered Overnight?

  1. I recently upgraded my 2021 Airstream Caravel travel trailer with 2, 12v 100 amp battleborn LiPO batteries. My trailer is equipped with a Li-compatible converter. In addition, I upgraded the Victron mpps solar charger monitor/controller with a victron VE direct Bluetooth dongle. Do I need to change any settings for the battleborn batteries, or does the victron device do that automatically? It looks like it is set to AGM; the other choices are “gel” deep discharge type 1 and gel deep discharge type 2. Is one of these describing the battleborn batteries?

    1. Hi Tom. We recommend these charging parameters for our batteries:
      Our charging parameters consist of the following:

      Bulk/absorb = 14.2 – 14.6 V
      Float = 13.6 V or lower
      No equalization (or set it to 14.4 V)
      No temperature compensation
      Absorption time is 20 minutes per battery (if it’s an option)
      12 V

      Bulk/absorb 14.2 – 14.6 Volts (we usually recommend 14.4) float 13.6 Volts or lower

      No equalization (or set it to 14.4 V), no temperature compensation and absorption time is 20-30 minutes per battery (if it’s an option).

      24 V

      Bulk/absorb 28.4 – 29.2 V (we usually recommend 28.8 V) float 27.2 V or lower

      No equalization (or set it to 28.8 V), no temperature compensation and absorption time is 20 minutes per battery (if it’s an option).

      If you need assistance with charging parameters or settings for a certain device, give us a call at (855) 292-2831 (M-F 8:00am-4:30pm (PST)) or email us at [email protected].

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