Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the RV Handbook and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses plugging in your RV at home.
I keep my camper plugged into a 20-amp outlet when it is in the driveway. Before I leave on a camping trip, I attach a charger to be sure the camper battery is as charged as possible. Should I unplug the shore power while using the charger? —John
This is a common practice with RV owners during storage and when getting ready for an RV trip. Something I stress in my seminars and RV Repair Club live events is to have a qualified electrician install a dedicated line with circuit breaker for your rig.
Typically owners bring their rigs to the driveway and plug into an outlet either outside or inside and think nothing of it. What they don’t see is that most garage outlets are “ganged” or wired to other outlets. All of them are on a 10- to 15-amp circuit breaker. That means there could be a refrigerator, air compressor, or other appliances that are also drawing from that circuit and can overload it. Since you indicated it’s a 20-amp outlet, I hope it is dedicated to just that plug.
To better answer your question, I would like to know what kind of converter/charger your rig has. If it’s a conventional converter, it will sense the battery condition and put a 13.6-volt charge to the batteries until they reach 12.6 volts and then go to a maintenance charge of 13.2 volts. This will keep your batteries charged but not conditioned. That’s because sulfur coats the plates during discharge and needs to have a bulk or conditioning charge of approximately 14.4 volts to break up the sulfation.
What type of aftermarket charger are you using?
Another question is what type of aftermarket charger are you connecting just before using the camper? If it’s a traditional portable charger, then it’s doing nothing more than your standard on board converter and I would not even use it. If it does have a multistage charger, then I would shut off the main switch at the distribution center and just use that.
A product that I have been using for storage and getting ready to leave is BatteryMINDer®. It throws high impact waves into the system to break up sulfation, which means less gassing and water needed. You can find them here: www.batteryminders.com.
Two other things to throw out there is make sure you are not running the roof AC units and refrigerator on that 20-amp circuit. Know your amp draw, as each roof AC can draw up to 14 amps and the refrigerator 8 amps or more. Second, which has nothing to do with the amp draw and charging but is an issue with refrigerators. Make sure the unit is level in the driveway before cooling the absorption refrigerator down. If it’s out of level, it can ruin the cooling unit – which is an article for another day.
Read more from Dave here.
Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.
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