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Power Sources for RV’s

rv electrical diagram



honda generator


When bush/free camping or off-power camping the power for internal lighting of your RV and for running electrical appliances can come from a battery supply bank in the RV or a generator (See separate article on Generators)



Duracell Batteries


Deep-cycle batteries are preferred for your RV as they provide sustained power over long periods of time and are designed for repeat charge and discharge.  The battery system should have all the same type of batteries, either wet cell, absorbed glass matt (AGM) or gel. RV parallel battery set ups can comprise of multiple batteries in either parallel or series configuration to increase the available capacity to match the required power usage. Battery life may be reduced if you deplete the batteries more than 50% (refer to the manufacturer’s charging curves for the type and brand of battery you have or plan to purchase).

Batteries are best maintained in a fully charged state for maximum life.  A ‘trickle’ or ‘float’ charger is designed to do this without over charging the batteries by charging the batteries at a similar rate as they are self discharging.  For RV battery banks a more sophisticated set-up is required.

(See separate article on Charging Batteries)



Voltage drop from the batteries to compressor refrigerators has been a hot topic on some RV forums.  At that time Collyn Rivers* remarked that often 12V refrigerators were less than adequately cabled with the cable/wiring used being undersized.  The confusion seems to come as a result of the Americans using AWG (American Wire Gauge) – where the higher the AWG number the thinner the conductor.  Outside the USA, most appliance manufacturers use ISO ratings. 

electrical cable Some RV manufacturers use a 4mm autocable but this has < 2 conductor area and a 6mm auto cable has about 4.5 sq mm conductor area.  Appliance makers specify sq mm cabling unless stated otherwise.  For a maximum cable distance of two metres from the battery to the refrigerator the cable needs to be at least 6.00 sq mm and 10 sq mm for three metres but this will depend on the fridge current draw.

More information on the types of batteries can be found here

Batteries should be installed as set out in the Australian Standards (AS 3011) so only battery circuits are permitted to be installed in the battery compartment with electrical equipment like chargers and switches located elsewhere.

To ensure you have adequate power for your destination make sure your RV batteries are fully charged before you leave home or a powered camp site.  (See separate article on Charging Batteries)



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