Does An RV Generator Charge House Batteries?

When living in an RV, the only way to store power is through house batteries. But, does an RV generator charge house batteries? Yes, an RV generator that is running or shore power can be used to charge your RV house battery. There are many things you should consider before deciding on which method to use, but it will depend on your specific needs.

What Are RV House Batteries?

RVs have two different batteries installed that are for two different jobs, these batteries are the chassis battery and the house battery. The chassis battery is also called the starting battery and is used to power your RVs engine, it’s similar to car batteries.

An RV house battery is used to power your appliances in your RV, it will power everything from your TV to your lights. Your RV house battery when properly maintained will out live your starter battery and can last up to 15 years.

House batteries will vary depending on the size of your RV, typically you will have a 12 volt or a 6 volt battery installed. They are also usually deep cycle batteries as they provide a steady amount of power over a prolonged period to keep your appliances going.

Obviously as with all batteries the more appliances you use and the longer you use the battery it will eventually drain, so you will have to charge it at some point.

Does An RV Generator Charge House Batteries?

You will need to charge your RV house battery sooner or later, and there are two main methods of charging it, shore power or generator power. 

The best way to charge your house battery is with shore power but you can use a generator, but it will be very slow. Although generators can charge your house batteries, it’s not what they are intended for and ideally you want a smart charger to help speed up the process and help maintain your house battery.

This smart charger is expensive but not only will it speed up the charging process but it will help to keep your RV house battery in top condition.

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It’s important that your RV house battery doesn’t get below 20% charge as this will be damaging to the battery. Make sure that you keep an eye on the charge and the electrolyte level, to maintain the battery.

How Do You Charge RV House Batteries With A Generator?

Charging your house batteries with a generator is similar to charging them with shore power or by other methods.

If you want to charge your house battery with a generator then follow these simple steps:

  1. Your RV should be parked on level ground, with the parking brake on and engine off.
  2. Make sure that the generator you are using is on full charge or plugged into shore power, so it doesn’t run out of juice whilst charging your battery.
  3. Locate your house battery and make sure that your battery terminals are clean, if there is sulfonation (fuzzy or corrosion on terminals) on the terminals use a toothbrush with baking soda and water to clean them. 
  4. Check the electrolyte levels are good. If the electrolyte levels are low then use distilled water to top it up. 
  5. If your generator is wired into your RV and operating appliances then ensure that everything is turned off in the RV so the power can go directly to the house battery.
  6. Connect the converter (or battery charger) to the house battery.
  7. Connect the converter (or battery charger) to the generator and turn the generator on.
  8. Leave it to charge, this can take upto 5 hours. Your converter or charger should have an indicator light on to show when your battery is fully charged. Try not to under or overcharge the battery as this will reduce its lifespan.

You will use the same method as above to charge your house battery from any power source, whether it be generator, shore power or solar panels.

Other Ways To Charge House Batteries

The best way to charge your RV house battery is with shore power, it’s the quickest and easiest method. However there are other ways to charge your RV house battery like with a generator, solar panels or wind power.

I have discussed how to charge your house battery with an RV generator above so lets have a look at using other power sources.

Shore Power

If you are at an RV park with hookups or at home then shore power is the best way to charge your house battery, use the method described above but the power source will be the hookup.

If you have enough time, set the charger to trickle charge as this will help to preserve the battery.

Solar Panels

You can charge your house battery using solar power, make sure that your solar panels are facing south to get the most sun possible. Unfortunately the wattage delivered by solar panels is low, so this method is more about reducing the battery drain than charging the battery. 

Wind Generator

Like solar panels you can use the power of the wind to ‘charge’ your house battery. Wind power will vary more than solar as the faster the wind moves the turbine the more power you will have. This can mean that the power can be sporadic to the battery which can do more harm than good.

Does An RV Generator Charge House Batteries? – Final Thoughts

You can absolutely use a generator to charge your RV house battery, it’s a simple process and won’t harm your battery if done correctly. Shore power is a battery option if you have it available, but if not a generator will work fine.

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