Does RV Generator Charge Chassis Battery? [Explained]

You just noticed that both your house and chassis batteries are dead. Or maybe you felt like your batteries were too weak to start. 

You tried to charge them for a few hours and start your camper. But something is wrong, and the batteries and the RV are not starting. 

Many questions are spinning inside your head. And you just asked yourself, does an RV generator charge the chassis battery? Is there something wrong with the process? Am I doing something wrong?

You could be right or wrong. You will find out if you read this for the rest. We will provide the information you need to get an overall idea about your query.

Besides, we will discuss the possible problems you might face. But first, let’s start with some basics.

Power System of an RV: Basics

Power System of an RV Basics
Source: todayissomeday

We already know all the power or electric systems in the RV. As we know, there are primarily three types of electric systems that run the RV. But, in our case, we already need to discuss only two of them.

Small appliances, such as lights, fans, etc., require just a tiny amount of power. And for these, the power comes from 12-V DC power. 

On the other hand, AC, refrigerator, and big appliances in the RV require a bit more power than anything else. 

For these, the power comes mainly from three options. Those are Generator, inverter, and shore power. And all these are in 120-V AC. 

Now, another vital component in the entire process is the converter. The converter’s primary task is to convert the energy from the 120-V AC or the 12-V DC and supply it to the appliances.

When your camper is connected to the shore or the generator, the converter converts the power and stores it in your trailer’s batteries.

Another way to store power in your RV batteries is through the alternators. There are primarily two types of chargers in this category.  Those are echo and Bi-directional Relay Delay.

When driving your camper, your batteries can also get power through alternators. Bi-directional Relay Delay charges the house battery when you’re on the road.

On the other hand, echo is for charging the house battery, but instead of using the other batteries on the system, it uses the chassis battery.

Another way to power these two batteries is to use a solar panel. Sonal panels can automatically charge your batteries all day long when you’re on the road and even when you’re resting.

But now, we need to get an overall idea about the batteries in the camper. Let’s dive in!

Chassis Battery in an RV: Basics

Chassis Battery in an RV Basics
Image Source: thecampingadvisor

The batteries vary from brand to brand and model to model, depending on your camper. But there are primarily two types of batteries in an RV. Those are the house battery and chassis battery.

Most of your big appliances get power from the house batteries. In comparison, the small appliances run on the chassis battery.

Another difference between these two batteries is that you can’t charge and store power your house batteries while driving your camper. On the other hand, chassis batteries store charge when you’re going. 

Chassis batteries don’t get charged, or most of the RV doesn’t have the functionality to charge the battery on generators. But house batteries get the power generators and shore power system.

We will get to know more about these in the later section. But it’s time we get to the main question.

Does RV Generator Charge Chassis Battery?

Does RV Generator Charge Chassis Battery

Depending on your RV model or the manufacturer, some RV generators charge the chassis battery, and some don’t. Most old RVs haven’t installed that system, but new models like Winnebago have the preinstalled system. The chassis battery doesn’t get the power from the shore power either. 

In contrast, the house battery can be charged by generators, shore power, and solar systems.

You can quickly know if your chassis battery can be charged with the RV generator or not within a few minutes. What do you need? You will need a multimeter. That’s it!

Now, the question might arise: How will you find out? What’s the process?

Here’s how-

  1. The first step is to disconnect the camper from the shore power.
  2. You need to be patient and wait for a few minutes. Fifteen minutes is ideal or recommended.
  3. Then you need to test the house and chassis battery with the multimeter.
  4. While testing the batteries, you also need to write down the readings.
  5. Now, connect the camper to the shore power.
  6. This time, turn on the generator of the RV.
  7. You need to test the voltage readings while the generator is still running.

After the test and the voltage reading, you will find your answer. If your batteries are charged, you will see these numbers; 12.6 – 12.7-V, even when the batteries are not authorized or connected to a power supply system, such as a shore or generator.

But the moment you connect the batteries to a power source, the reading will change from 13.6V to 14V.

If the voltage reading showed that the charge was not going toward the battery while the generator was still running, your RV generator doesn’t charge the chassis battery.

But there are a few other things to know. As we already know, shore power charges the battery. And, as per the owner manual, the shore power and generator function are the same.

Although not all RV models have the automatic transfer switch installed, you can charge the batteries using this switch. But here is the problem: generators will do the same if the shore power isn’t setting the batteries. 

Sometimes the problem lies in the isolation solenoid. There might be some issues, such as clunking, which might cause the batteries not to charge even though you have the transfer switch installed.

There could be many problems behind this as well. We will get to know them one by one in detail. Let’s follow along to the next section.

RV Chassis Battery Draining: Troubleshooting Guide

Battery draining is a common problem. The owners have to deal with these kinds of issues regularly. But every situation has its solution.

But first, check whether you have a battery monitor or not. You should get one if you don’t have a monitor for your chassis battery.

From time to time, check the batteries to see if they are draining too fast. Never let them fall below fifty percent.

But, there are some differences in that functionality. Lead acid batteries can have a short life span, while lithium batteries don’t have that problem.

A bad connection somewhere in the power supply system is a common problem. A loose connection in the wiring or something to do with the appliances could cause the issue. The optimal solution is to tighten the connection wherever needed.

The main component that charges the chassis battery, the alternator, could be a reason. It could get broken or faulty, which might cause the problem. If possible, reset the entire system or get a new part.

The wire is always a pain while dealing with any electrical problem. It could get broken or loose, and the solution is simple. You need to get the part fixed.

If you can’t find the problem, you must get a professional.

RV Chassis Battery Not Charging: Troubleshooting Guide

RV Chassis Battery Not Charging Troubleshooting Guide

There could be a few reasons your batteries, including the house and chassis, are not charging. 

Sometimes the cause lies in the converter or the charger. If you have a faulty or lousy converter, the battery might not be charging. If that’s the case, you might need to replace the defective unit.

Sometimes it’s simply because you turned on the battery disconnect switches. You can just turn it off, and the problem will be gone.

The reverse polarity fuses can cause problems. You will find it in the power distribution panel. If it gets tripped off or gets broken or faulty, it could cause problems.

The charger circuit breaker could also be behind the problem. That switch must be on as well as the store switch.

And the last problem could be the batteries themselves. Sometimes they just get old or overused. In these types of situations, all you need to do is to replace the entire battery system and keep them maintained the next time properly.

A Few Things You Need To Remember While Dealing With Chassis Batteries In RV

There are a few things that you can do that might help you avoid many problems, precisely this type of problem, in the future.

Here are a few things;

  • Don’t let your camper idle for more than a couple of weeks.
  • Take out your RV for a run and go on around twenty-five miles. That kind of exercise roundabout is essential for the camper and your camper’s batteries.
  • The bearings and lubricant pumping will be regular if you take your trailer on the road for the exercise.
  • Having a pig-tail lead connected to your chassis battery goes a long way. When you’re on the road and need to charge the batteries quickly, you can just plug them into an external power source.
  • When plugged into a power source, you can always install a customized system to charge your chassis battery. That way, you don’t have to worry about your chassis battery being charged even when the camper is not running.

Maintaining this might help improve the battery life and the overall power system of the camper and the batteries. And, last, of all, you need a battery maintenance plan.

Last Words

That was all from us about the query, “does RV generator charge chassis battery?”. We provided all the necessary information you need, along with some troubleshooting guides and a few extra tips.

We hope this article helped you find your answer and the solution you were looking for. Let us know if you have any more questions regarding chassis battery problems.

Besides, let us know if you know more about the battery problems. We are here to listen to your situation and provide a solution.

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