RV Electrical System FAQ
What kind of batteries do I have?
Towable RVs typically only have one set of batteries, commonly referred to as house batteries. There are two main kinds of house batteries: flooded lead-acid batteries and Absorbed Glass Mat (AMG) batteries. Flooded batteries are filled with water which must be replenished over time for batteries to continue to hold a charge. AMG batteries don’t need to be serviced as often as they do not contain water.
Motorhomes typically have two types of batteries: chassis batteries and house batteries. Chassis batteries are used to start the engine and run the chassis components like exterior lights, turn signals, etc. The house batteries in a motorhome are the same as those found in towable RVs.
Which house batteries are better?
Both flooded and AMG batteries have their pros and cons. The main difference is the amount of maintenance they require, how forgiving they are when you don’t maintain them and their price. To learn more about batteries, you can refer to our RV Battery Maintenance Guide.
How do I charge my batteries?
Two main power sources charge your batteries: your RV’s generator and shore power. The converter or inverter on your RV will use the power from your generator to recharge your house batteries while it is running. While hooked up to shore power, you can proportion a certain amount of the incoming power from your hookup to recharge your house batteries.
Does my motorhome’s engine recharge my house batteries?
No, your motorhome’s engine uses an alternator to charge the chassis battery and run other chassis systems like headlights and turn signals.
Does my generator need to be serviced?
Yes, your generator requires routine maintenance like most other RV components.
My generator is on, but my RV isn’t getting power. What should I do?
RV generators usually have a breaker directly on them or on a panel inside the RV. Make sure the breaker switch is in the “on” position. If you still do not have power, then you may need to troubleshoot the system further.
How do I service my generator?
Your RV’s owner’s manual should have instructions for how to service the specific generator in your RV. Typical maintenance includes replacing the generator oil & oil filter, replacing the generator air & fuel filters and inspecting the generator exhaust. If you’re not comfortable servicing your own generator, you can schedule an appointment here at Lazydays to have it checked.
Can I let my generator sit over the winter?
Just like a motorhome’s engine, you don’t want to let your generator sit for too long unused. It should be enough to run the generator for 10-15 minutes every few weeks to keep the system in proper working order.
What is the difference between an inverter and a converter?
All RVs have a power converter. This is the device that allows you to charge your batteries using your generator or shore power by converting that power into 12-volt direct current (DC) power.
A power inverter allows your battery power to be converted into 120-volt alternating current (AC) power, which is used to run larger appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, and televisions.
How do I use my AC powered appliances without an inverter?
The only time you’ll be able to run AC powered appliances without an inverter is while also running your generator or while hooked up to shore power.
How do I control my inverter?
Most RVs with inverters will allow you to control the proportion of power from a generator or shore power that is used to recharge your house batteries. This is usually done from a control panel on the inside of your RV.
Does solar produce AC or DC power?
Solar panels typically produce DC power (unless they have an inverter built into them). This means that you’ll be able to charge your batteries and run smaller appliances, but if you want to run larger appliances like air conditioning, you’ll need to also have an inverter installed in your RV to convert the solar power to AC power.
What is the best use for solar power while RVing?
Solar power produces small amounts of power consistently throughout the day. However, even the most robust solar panel systems likely won’t be as powerful as a shore power hookup at a campground.
Solar panels are particularly useful for boondocking, where you don’t have shore power hookups and aren’t using a generator. They are also great for tending batteries if you can store your RV somewhere the panels can get sunlight.
Which RV components can I run off solar power?
It is difficult to run your RV’s accessories purely off solar power. Typically, solar power is used to recharge and tend batteries, making it easier to boondock. Some appliances can be run solely off solar power but depending on the size and number of panels you have, you’ll only be generating a small amount of power during many parts of the day.
It is more likely that you’ll use solar panels to charge your batteries throughout the day while boondocking and then run appliance off the batteries.
What is shore power?
Shore power is electricity that your RV receives from an external hookup. When you’re at a campground or storing your RV at home and hook it up to the power there, you’re using shore power!
Is shore power the same everywhere?
No. There are two predominant kinds of shore power: 30 amp and 50 amp hookups. Older, more remote campgrounds (like state parks) will often only have 30 amp hookups. Sometimes it’s even less than that. Newer campgrounds and RV resorts will often have 50 amp hookups.
Can I hook up my RV to any shore power?
Not always. RVs come with two kinds of shore power hookups. One can handle up to 30 amps and one can handle up to 50 amps. Make sure you know what kind you have and which amperage shore power you’re hooking up to before plugging in.