How to Recharge Batteries on a Travel Trailer

by Eric Cedric
The travel trailer's battery provides power when the trailer is not connected to outside juice.

The travel trailer's battery provides power when the trailer is not connected to outside juice.

A travel trailer's deep cycle battery--also called a DC battery--powers the camper when the camper is not connected to outside electric sources. Because of the high power demands of the camper's devices, these batteries drain quickly. Many travel trailers have battery power meters indicating low or no power when the batteries need to be recharged. Use the tow vehicle or external charging devices to recharge your travel trailer's batteries.

Tow Vehicle Charging

Park the travel trailer and disconnect any electric connections. Flip the main power circuit to "Off."

Open the RV battery housing panel if located on the outside of the rig. If the battery is housed inside the trailer, detach the battery cables from the battery and remove. Set the battery next to the hood of the tow vehicle and open the tow vehicle's hood.

Connect the black jumper cable to the tow vehicle's black battery terminal. Connect the black cable first---it acts as the ground wire for the battery connection. Connect the red cable to the DC battery and then to the tow vehicle's red battery terminal. Turn the tow vehicle on and let it run for at least an hour while the battery charges.

Turn the vehicle off and disconnect the red cable from the battery and vehicle and then disconnect the black cable from the battery and vehicle.

Put the DC battery back into the battery housing and reconnect the trailer's cables to the battery. Turn the main circuit back on and read the battery charge meter in the travel trailer to check the charge volume.

External Chargers

Disconnect the DC travel trailer battery and remove from the housing. Set it next to the battery charger. If using a solar powered charger, unroll the solar panel and place in the direct sun. If using an electric powered charger plug the charger in but check that the power switch is set "Off."

Connect the charger cables to the DC battery. Connect the black cable to the DC battery's black terminal and the red cable to the DC battery's red terminal.

Turn the charger's setting to the 12V setting; travel trailer DC batteries are typically 12V. Check the battery for the voltage to make sure you set the charger to the proper voltage.

Monitor the charger as it shows battery charge. When the meter reads fully charged turn the charger off and disconnect the cables. Place the travel trailer's DC battery back in the housing and connect the cables as they were before. Turn the main circuit back on and test the connection and battery charge.

Items you will need

  • DC battery charger
  • Electric connection
  • Jumper cables
  • Solar battery charger (optional)

About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

Photo Credits

  • lake mead national recreation area 14 image by Jim Parkin from Fotolia.com