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Wanting To Travel, Americans Turn To RVs, But Battery Issues Can Put A Drain On The Experience

Tired of being cooped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are increasingly turning to RVs to satisfy their wanderlust. And unlike in previous years, when the RV “season” predominantly occurred between Memorial Day and Labor Day, remote learning and work from home opportunities mean Americans now can travel year round. 

Red offroad truck camper crossing a stream of water

The popularity of RVing has been on the rise for several years, but the 2020 pandemic accelerated the trend. Dealerships across the country have seen an influx of first-time buyers, and coupled with limited supplies and backorders some dealerships have struggled to keep up with demand.

RV Travel Is on The Rise

“RVs offer a way for people to travel and see the country while socially distancing, yet the increase in year-round use means the demand on RV batteries has risen. Keeping those batteries charged has never been more important,” said said Bobbie DuMelle, Executive Vice President for CTEK North America.

CTEK is a global leader in the care and maintenance of vehicle batteries, and CTEK’s smarter chargers make battery charging easy, reliable and safe.

RV Starter and Service Batteries Serve Different Functions

RVs typically have two main types of batteries - starter and service.  

A starter battery (sometimes called a chassis battery) is used to start an RV’s engine. The high-power density of a starter battery means it’s able to release large amounts of power quickly. 

In contrast, an RV’s service batteries (also known as deep-cycle or house batteries) provide a steady amount of current over a long period of time to power everything from kitchen appliances and televisions to lights and smoke detectors.

Sulfation is the most common cause of battery failure for both starter and service batteries. Sulfation occurs when a battery is deprived of a full charge causing sulfate materials to crystalize on the discharged portions of the battery plates. 

Temperature extremes also shorten battery life. If you’re camping in snowy mountains or dry deserts, your RV battery is under stress.

CTEK chargers have a unique, patented eight-step approach to battery care, which includes breaking up sulfation and charging the battery. “Connect and Forget” simplicity means a charger can remain connected to the battery and the float/pulse maintenance stage will provide optimal battery care during periods of inactivity without damaging the battery. 

An RV is especially susceptible to battery failure when it sits in storage. Just because an RV is in storage doesn’t mean there isn’t wattage being consumed. Known as a “parasitic load” items like radios and refrigerators can consume tiny milliamps over time, which drains the battery.


“RV owners want to relax, travel and escape the stresses of everyday life, but a dead battery can quickly drain the fun out of an RV adventure,” said DuMelle. “Regularly charging with a CTEK charger can extend the battery’s lifespan up to 3 times. 

CTEK's Onboard Charging System Perfect for RV Batteries

CTEK’s onboard charging system, featuring the D250SE and SMARTPASS 120S, are designed to give RV owners the power and reliability they need, when they need it. CTEK’s D250SE is a fully automatic, five-step charger, and the SMARTPASS 120S is a 120 amp fully automatic power management solution. 

Together the D250SE and SMARTPASS 120S delivers a 140A charge that prioritizes power from the alternator to charge the service battery. The SMARTPASS 120S automatically separates between the starter and service batteries and distributes power between them without the need for traditional diodes or voltage-sensitive relays.  

For more information about CTEK support or to purchase chargers or accessories, visit