Anyone who has a travel trailer, whether they use it religiously or only go on a trip here and there, might wonder — is it absolutely necessary to have a battery? If so, what are some of the reasons? After all, if you don’t know the absolute importance of having a battery in your travel trailer, it can be easy to skip the few hundred dollars.
What are the essential reasons why travel trailers have batteries? There are four essential reasons why your travel trailer should have a battery:
- It is necessary for legal operation, as the battery is what powers the tail, brake, and marker lights, electric wheel brakes, and all dash accessories.
- Electrical appliances, like refrigerators, rely on the battery to operate.
- It will provide power should your shore power go out.
- It keeps you and your loved ones safe as detectors for all emergencies, such as propane leaks and fires, operate from the battery.
Knowing why your battery is essential in your travel trailer is necessary for ultimate success. We will be discussing in further detail why batteries in a travel trailer are essential and how to properly take care of one to get the most out of the battery. We will also be sharing some top picks when it comes to travel trailer batteries and so much more.
Table of Contents
What is a Travel Trailer Battery?
Power comes from two places on your travel trailer — the 120-volt alternating current (AC) power, also known as shore power, and the 12-volt DC house battery system. Both are essential for your travel trailer, but they both have specific roles. For instance, the 120-volt alternating current will power major things such as the air conditioning, but the battery is essential for a variety of applications such as the refrigerator, brake lights, and safety detectors.
What Type of Batteries Are Used in Travel Trailers?
There are a lot of batteries on the market, but they all have their own specific purpose — especially when it comes to the world of travel trailers. It’s important to note, though, that travel trailers are only able to operate utilizing a deep-cycle battery. These are the same type of batteries found in other pieces of equipment, such as boats.
While all types of deep-cycle batteries (lead-acid batteries) are notably reliable, there are a few different options to choose from. The good news is they will all be able to provide you and your travel trailer with continuous energy for a more extended period of time than other types of batteries.
Let us take a closer look at the types of deep-cycle batteries on the market:
- Flooded Batteries. This type of deep-cycle battery is clearly cheaper; however, while you might be saving a buck, you are also setting yourself up for more maintenance. You will need to continuously monitor the fluid levels of the battery and refill when necessary. They are known for corroding quickly and can only be discharged up to 50%.
- Sealed Batteries. Sealed batteries are the better option if you are willing to pay some extra money. They do not require as much maintenance and can handle a discharge of up to 80%. Keep in mind, though, that AGM batteries can be overcharged and damaged. Refrain from using Gel sealed batteries as they can be damaged very easily.
Lithium batteries are also becoming popular in the travel trailer industry. They offer a handy alternative to the typical deep-cycle batteries, although they are far more expensive, with some lithium battery options costing thousands. They do, however, come with a slew of benefits, such as being lighter and more compact, having a longer lifespan, and requiring little to no maintenance.
Why does a travel trailer need a battery?
A battery is an essential part of your travel trailer for a variety of reasons. Even then, some people might say that it is okay to go without one. And while it is possible to use your travel trailer without a battery, it is truly a risk you do not want to take. Here’s why:
A Battery Powers All Aspects of Legal Operation
Just like any other type of vehicle, your travel trailer must follow some basic laws. Think about it — if you went for a joyride in your convertible and both of your brake lights were out, you would be setting yourself for a visit from the red and blue lights — otherwise known as the cop car. The same is true for your travel trailer, too.
The powering source behind legal operations in your travel trailer comes from the battery. The battery will provide power for a variety of essential items, such as your tail and brake lights, marker lights, any type of electric wheel brakes, and dash accessories. Without these essential items lit up and ready to go on your travel trailer, you will be driving illegally.
Electrical Appliances Rely on the Battery for Operation
What might be one of the most important things your battery does for your travel trailer is to provide power to all your essential electrical appliances. Think of things such as your refrigerator, furnace, HVAC, overhead vent fan, and even your water pump.
Could you imagine going on a trip in your travel trailer without a battery, knowing this? Without a battery, you would not be able to keep your groceries chilled — which means meals would suffer greatly. You also wouldn’t have the option of turning on your lights, leaving you to live in the darkness with no other option other than flashlights to light your path.
Provides Alternative Power
One reason why a travel trailer owner might not think they need a battery is that their travel trailer is parked most of the time. This means that they can rely on ‘shore power’ rather than needing the extra energy from a battery. And while this might work for a certain amount of time, a problem occurs when the shore power has an issue, and the power goes out. What then?
To put it simply, your travel trailer should be powered with a battery and power source combination. The battery should be a 12-volt system utilizing a deep-cycle or lithium battery, and the 120-volt power should come through an RV power cord — this is what is referred to as the shore power, as you’re essentially connecting your travel trailer on a ‘shore’ for power.
Shore power likely will come from a power outlet at the location you are staying at, although it can also be provided from a generator. Either way, if anything happens to the shore power, you can quickly find yourself out of luck.
One way to ensure that you do not end up with tarnished food in a hot refrigerator or being left without essential functions in your travel trailer, like brake lights or regular lights, is to have a battery. The battery will continue to work for some time in the chance that the shore power is out.
How is that? Well, it’s pretty simple — the 120-volt AC power (alternating current power), which is also known as the shore power, is what is used to charge up the 12-volt battery. So, in the chance of the main power source failing, the battery will be charged up and ready to handle the load until the shore power is returned.
Related reading: Does Your Travel Trailer Have an Inverter? Here’s How to Check
It Powers Safety Components
Whether you are in a travel trailer or a home, one thing is for sure — you want to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Could you imagine living in a home where there are no fire alarms? It could be a recipe for disaster — and the same is true for your travel trailer, too.
Many travel trailers are equipped with plenty of detectors to alert the occupants in an emergency. Such detectors include sudden propane leaks, an outbreak of a fire, and even traces of carbon monoxide — all of which can be incredibly dangerous if gone undetected.
Before you continue reading, here is an article I wrote about How to Prevent Travel Trailer Theft – 13 Steps that Work
Well, the battery is what provides power to these essential safety components. Therefore, if you want to make sure that there is no chance of carbon monoxide or propane leaks, then you will want to include a battery in your travel trailer. These types of emergencies are possible, although sometimes you will not notice them without a detector, making it even more important that the battery is powered up and ready to go.
Do You Have to Have a Battery For Your Travel Trailer?
Yes, it is clear that having a battery in your travel trailer is ideal and highly recommended. From the lighting to safety measures, the battery is the powering force behind it all. Keeping your family safe, healthy, and happy in the travel trailer is critical, and relying solely on shore power is not ideal.
But knowing why you should have a travel trailer battery is only half the battle. You should also know how to maintain the battery for peak performance as well as how to store it. This will increase the longevity of the battery, making it more reliable and expanding its lifespan.
How to Properly Maintain Your Battery
Battery maintenance is key to a healthy battery that stays charged and ready to take on anything. However, keep in mind that every battery is different, and some may require a few minor tweaks when it comes to maintenance. That is why it is so important to check the battery guide for proper care.
Also remember that new-and-improved lithium batteries require almost no maintenance, except for how much and how often to discharge them. So, if you do not want to have to worry about cleaning and maintaining your travel trailer battery, then you might want to consider shelling out more money for this type of battery.
Always check the guidelines for the best maintenance for your specific battery. However, here are some basic handy tips for ensuring your battery is running top-notch:
- Flooded Deep-Cycle Batteries Must Have their Water Replenished. Since this type of battery utilizes water to operate, it is vital that you are paying attention to the water level of the battery and replenishing with water when needed. You must remember to only use distilled water in an effort to reduce the risk of sulfation, which is the build-up of lead sulfate that often leads to the failure of your battery.
- Clean the Battery. Corrosion can occur rather quickly in deep-cycle batteries, so it is important to clean and remove any build-up regularly. You can use a combination of one cup baking soda in a gallon of distilled water, or purchase a battery-specific cleaning product such as CRC 05023 Battery Cleaner with Acid Indicator. Use a toothbrush or another abrasive item for thorough cleaning.
- Never Let Your Battery Get Too Low. Sulfation can occur when the batteries get too low on charge too often. You should not let your battery go below 80% capacity.
- Recharge Your Battery Often. Keeping your battery charged up will extend its lifespan and keep it from falling.
How to Properly Store a Battery
Many people will opt to store their travel trailers away when it gets too hot or too cold. But if you leave a battery in these types of conditions, it can have a negative impact. In fact, if you do not use your battery for an extended period of time, it will go flat, rendering it useless.
The best way to ensure that your battery does not fail during winter or summer is to remove the battery from your travel trailer and take it into the safety of your home. During this time, monitor the battery monthly. If it falls below 80%, you will need to charge it immediately so that it doesn’t fail or lose some lifespan.
However, if you cannot disconnect your battery from the travel trailer, you will need to do the following to keep it safe:
- Disconnect some of the power sources. You do not need to use anything in your travel trailer when it is stored, so disconnect power sources such as the radio and refrigerator. These things can drain the battery over time just by being plugged in, even if the power is off.
- Monitor and charge the battery when necessary. Again, you should check the battery monthly to ensure that it does not fall below 80%. If it does, you will need to charge it.
- Turn off the converter. If you have a converter, you should turn it off and unplug it. Converters that are left plugged in can essentially boil your battery and kill them.
Related reading: Setting Up a Travel Trailer to Live In: 20 Essential Steps
What kind of battery do I need for a travel trailer?
Have you ever wondered what kind of battery you need for your travel trailer? well, you need to choose a 12 Volts 100Ah battery. Making the right choice when it comes to your travel trailer battery can be tough. We have narrowed it down to our top 2 picks, one deep-cycle one lithium option. Let’s take a closer look:
This one had to make our top 2 list based on the price tag and the reviews alone. This top-notch deep-cycle battery choice is less than $200 and has a whopping 500+ positive reviews on Amazon, making it a battery you can feel confident in purchasing. With 4 and a half out of 5 stars, this deep-cycle battery proves to be a stellar choice. Here are just a few reasons why:
- This SLA/AGM battery is essentially maintenance-free.
- Spill-proof for ultimate safety.
- Easily rechargeable.
- It can be mounted in just about any position and function properly.
- Shock and vibration resistant for reliable, quality operation.
Renogy Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery 12 Volt 100Ah for RV, Solar, Marine, and Off-grid Applications
Now, this lithium option is a bit pricier — but still less than $900 with 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Consumers love how reliable and dependable this lithium battery is, as well as the slew of other quality benefits this battery has to offer, including:
- Built to be exceptionally safe. It comes fully sealed, sturdy, and waterproof. Don’t worry about any type of unwanted leaks or corrosion in the future.
- Offers 2000+ cycles. This incredible lifespan is worth the money — it’s at least double the number of cycles that deep-cycle, lead-acid batteries have to offer.
- Built-in battery management system (BMS). This optimizes the overall performance of the battery while also protecting it from overcharging, over-discharging, over-current, over-temperature, and short-circuits.
- Extremely low self-discharge. This battery only self-discharges around 3% a month, which means it’s bound to last longer than other batteries on the market.
Having a battery in your travel trailer might not be considered necessary, but you can see for yourself why it’s highly recommended to have one. From extending power onto your brake lights, dashboard, refrigerator, and even smoke detectors, it is a must-have accessory every travel trailer should have. It even acts as an alternative power source, which is essential when shore power fails. Ultimately, having a travel trailer battery in your arsenal will improve your traveling and keep you safe, secure, and happy.
Do you have any advice about how to care and maintain your travel trailer batteries? Please share your comments below!
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