Maintaining and Monitoring RV Batteries in an Airstream

Airstream travel trailers feature all the comforts and conveniences of home, from the kitchen to the TV screen. But how do all those features get power? One source is the batteries. But you have to use and maintain them properly in order to get the most out of them.

RV battery power and what it can do

Airstream travel trailers typically come with two 12V batteries to help power the appliances and devices inside and outside of the trailer. Battery power isn’t enough to operate the larger appliances such as the air conditioner all on its own, however.

What are the batteries for?

Battery power is perfect for using a power jack to hitch and unhitch your trailer, keeping your towing lights on while you’re in transit, and using the interior lights and other small appliances minimally while you’re parked.

Getting to know your RV batteries

Where are the batteries in an Airstream?

Two camper/RV batteries live in a silver box in the A-shaped portion of the trailer frame at the front, between the trailer and the jack. Open the box to access the batteries for regular checks, or to replace the batteries when needed. Otherwise, keep the box closed and secure so your batteries are protected from the elements.

What am I checking for?

If you don’t have solar power in your RV, you’re likely using Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries, which contain a glass mat separator that wicks electrolyte solution and distributes it between battery plates. AGM batteries are very low maintenance. Simply check for corrosion at your connection points every 30 days.

If you do have solar power, you’re likely using flooded or “wet cell” batteries, which contain an electrolyte solution that causes a chemical reaction and produces electric power. Flooded batteries typically last longer than AGM batteries, but also require a little more thorough inspection.

Every 30 days, you should check the charge, the voltage, the Amps, and the fluid inside the battery to make sure it’s still in proper working order. Be sure not to let the voltage get below 12.4 Volts on your solar batteries.

While it might seem like a hassle, performing regular battery checks saves you from being stranded in the middle of nowhere with no trailer power.

Boondocking: camping with battery power only

If going off the grid sounds like your kind of adventure, you’re not alone. It’s called boondocking and it gets more and more popular every day. Any time you’re camping in your Airstream and you’re not hooked up to electricity/water/sewer, you’re boondocking. All of your power will come from your LP gas/propane tanks and your RV batteries.

What can I use batteries for while boondocking?

To make your batteries last the longest possible amount of time between charges, you should limit the amount of power you use off the grid. Intermittently, you can use the trailer’s interior lighting, small plug-in devices such as toasters, and the radio/TV.

Our tips for making batteries last longer:

1. Keep your trailer plugged into your tow vehicle at all times during transit and while you’re getting set up at camp.

The power cord pulls power from your running engine and uses it to charge up the RV batteries. As long as your engine is on, the batteries will charge.

2. Charge any devices you can in your tow vehicle.

Driving time is the perfect time to charge up your phones and devices so you start off your camping adventure with a full charge. After that, use the outlets in your trailer for a power boost when you need it.

3. Use interior lights only when you need them.

If you’re out adventuring, you’re probably not sitting inside your Airstream all day. When you do settle in for the night, switch to nightlights, lanterns, or no lights at all when you’re ready for bed.

4. Bring a generator along with you.

If you love being way out in the wild but don’t love limiting your power usage, consider using a portable generator for extra flexibility.

Conserving your batteries when your RV is not in use

Airstream recommends leaving your RV batteries unplugged anytime your travel trailer isn’t in use, and especially over the winter season or any time you’re storing your RV for a long period of time.

When you go to use your batteries again, you’ll need to let it charge up first. This is an important part of the dewinterization process.

Your best source for RV battery knowledge and maintenance? Your Airstream dealer.

Your Airstream dealer can show you how to check, maintain, and use your RV batteries, as well as replace them when it’s time.

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