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Efficiently Charging Your RV Battery With A Generator : A Step-by-Step Guide

To ensure that your RV van has functioning electronic appliances throughout your camping trip or road trip, you must charge the RV battery from time to time.

The 12 Volt deep cycle batteries can easily power up almost everything inside that mobile home- including a mini refrigerator, the lights or cooking appliances.

Please note that most RV models come with two batteries- one chassis battery connected to the engine and powers up the headlights and fans. The other one is the house battery that powers up the other appliances.

While on the road, you may need to recharge the battery from time to time. Finding a reliable recharging station or shore electricity source may not always be possible. With the generator, you can always recharge it, no matter where you are.

You just need to ensure the generator comes with a 12-volt outlet and is compatible with a regular 12V car battery. So, let’s know more details about charging an RV battery with a generator on the go!

Steps to Charge RV Battery Using Generator

Please note that you must complete the whole procedure manually while charging the battery with a generator. Since the generator does not have a three-stage battery charger, the recharge process can continue even after the battery is completely charged. Hence, always make sure to disconnect the battery from the generator after the charging is complete.

  • To charge the battery through the generator, you will need-
  • A portable generator
  • A 10amp trickle charger or 10amp triple stage charger or your battery
  • A brush, two cotton clothes to clean the battery

Step 1- Condition of The Battery Should Be Good

The first thing you need to do is to check the battery condition. Most of the time, batteries get damaged due to corrosion and dirt. So, before you start charging, clean the battery well.

Check if the battery has any unusual debris or deposits, especially those in white, yellow or green color. If these are present, make sure to clean the battery first.

Here is how you can clean the battery with regular home ingredients easily-

  • First, make a paste by mixing two to three tablespoons of baking soda and a few tablespoons of water.
  • After that, take an old toothbrush and apply the baking soda paste.
  • Now, rub the brush gently on the places where you see dirt or debris.
  • Now, take a soft and damp cloth and rub off that dirt.
  • Finally, clean the whole battery with a dry cloth to ensure it is completely dry.
  • For non-enclosed batteries or deep cycle batteries, you need to check the electrolyte levels. If the electrolyte or water level is below the required level, add some water.

Step 2- The Condition of Your Generator Should be Good

 The next thing you need to check is the generator’s condition. For this, check the fuel level of the generator you are using. Make sure to fill the generator with gas or oil from time to time.

Now, first, start the generator. Before you start charging, let it warm up for at least ten minutes.

Step 3- Ensure There is No Load on Your Generator

Now, the generator should be used once at a time for one purpose. Hence, if you are using it to charge any appliance or battery, disconnect that first.

You should use the generator to charge one battery at a time. So, unplug all the other connections first.

Step 4(a)- Connect the Battery to Your Battery Charger

Now, take the charging clips and connect the positive charger clip or the red clip to the battery’s positive terminal. After that, take the black or negative clip to the battery’s negative terminal.

Step 4(b)- Connect Your Battery to One 12v Generator Outlet

If you use a 12 Volt DC generator, you do not need a battery charger. You can directly plug the battery into the generator and start the charging procedure. But you will have to check the battery and generator from time to time to know about the charging level.

Step 5- Connect Your Battery Charger to The Generator

Now, it is time to connect the battery charger to the generator. Always turn off the battery charger and check if the light indicates the “ON” mode.

Always monitor the battery charger from time to time to check the charging status. Turn off the battery charger and safely remove all the plugs and cables if the charging is complete.

Safety Steps You Should Consider While Charging RV Batteries

  • Always read the instruction manual first for the battery charger and the generator to know all the controls and receptors.
  • If you are getting a battery charger, get a good quality three-stage charger from a reputed brand.
  • Always use good quality charging cables. If the cables are damaged or torn, immediately replace them.
  • Always place the portable generator outside of the RV.
  • Make sure to place the generator at least three feet away from windows, vents, or even doors.
  • While charging, place the generator in a firm and level place. Make sure that the ground is not muddy or wet. On top of that, try to use a canopy or a tarp above the generator.
  • Never touch the plugs, the generator, or the battery with wet hands.
  • Always know the emergency controls to stop the generator fast.

Can I Use a Generator to Charge RV On-Board 12 Volt Battery?

Well, generators are not designed to charge the onboard RV 12V batteries. So, it is better to use a smart battery charger that you can use. Using the charger will protect the battery and the generator.

Because even if you use the generator directly, the charging can be very slow and may even cause the generator to get damaged if it is providing power to the other appliances uninstalled in the RV.


You can easily charge the RV battery with a generator using the proper method and a good quality battery charging machine. Always use the safety precautions properly and take care of the battery and the generator to prevent any mishap.

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