How To Charge A Caravan Battery Properly

Your caravan batteries or leisure batteries are primarily used to power your appliances in your caravan. But when your power runs out, how do you charge your caravan battery properly?

In this article, I will give you a 3 step guide to charging your caravan batteries. However, before we proceed to the guide you first need to understand the different power sources and types of chargers.

We’ll take a look at this first.

Different Power Sources For Charging

Solar panels

Solar panels are a sustainable way to charge a caravan battery. Because they provide an inconsistent power supply, they need to be connected to a controller which supplies the correct voltages to the battery and switches off when the battery is fully charged.

However, the viability of solar panels depends on a lot of variables including the weather and your location.

Solar panels


Generators are a great backup source of energy whenever you’re off the grid. Basically, generators are engines that convert fuel into electricity.


Mains power

When you hook up your caravan to mains power, it charges the battery banks in your caravan.

This is the quickest and most common way of fully charging your batteries.

Car starter battery

Your car battery is able to provide some charge to the battery as long as the wirings are wired correctly. However, if your car is turned off, you may drain your car’s starter battery which leads to another set of problems.

With that in mind, few caravan owners rely on this power source alone.

Car starter battery

Types of Chargers

Now that we’ve discussed the different power sources, we’re going to discuss the different types of chargers you should use.

Most manufacturers recommend that you only use a smart charger to prevent damaging your batteries.

AC to DC chargers

AC to DC chargers allow you to connect from the mains power to the batteries. If your usual power source is the grid, then the AC to DC charger is the charger that you will use.

Aside from the hooking up to the mains power, you can also use the AC to DC charger to charge your batteries faster and more efficiently from a generator. Instead of connecting to the DC port of the generator, connect to the AC port (assuming it’s an inverter generator) using an AC to DC charger.

A good smart AC to DC charger like the Enerdrive 40A battery charger not only charges your batteries quicker but also charges it safer. It prevents the battery from damage brought on by overcharging or undercharging.

AC to DC Battery Charger

DC to DC chargers

A DC to DC charger is used primarily for charging your batteries from your vehicle’s alternator or a solar panel.

One of the most popular examples of DC to DC chargers is the Enerdrive DC2DC Battery Charger.

Also, keep in mind that your chargers have to match your battery systems. That means a 12V charger must be used for a 12V battery system and a 24V for a 24V. Most chargers like the ones mentioned above can be set to meet those standards.

DC To DC Battery Charger

How To Charge A Caravan Battery

Step 1: Choose a power source

Most caravan owners have multiple sources of power.

Some caravan owners have a generator in case they need to charge their batteries in places without a power supply.

Solar panels are also becoming more and more popular because of the dropping prices.

However, battery manufacturers don’t always recommend using solar panels because there are so many variables in play that could lead to damage of the batteries if you don’t have the right equipment and setup.

Step 2: Connect the right charger

We’ve talked about the different types of chargers earlier and you should know by now which one you need.

Simply connect the right charger to the power source, then connect it to the batteries.

Remember, the live wire (red) goes into the positive (+) and the negative (black) wire goes into the negative (-).

If your battery is in a battery box, connect to the right terminals on the outside of the box.

Step 3: Turn on the power source

Now that you have a power source connected to your batteries using the correct charger, simply turn on the power source and your batteries should start charging.

You may wish to use a battery monitor to keep track of the charge level in your batteries. This will let you know how long it will take to top them up, and prevent overcharging.

Turn on the power source

Final Thoughts

In most cases, you only have to set this up once and everything should be plug and play from there on.

It’s always good to have an AC to DC charger on standby so that you can charge your caravan batteries from mains power when you get the chance.

Remember to monitor your caravan battery while it is in storage - you really don't want it going dead flat!

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Note that while every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this page, there may sometimes be errors. Check all specifications with the manufacturer before purchasing any product.


While Louis does most of his trips near his home in south-east Queensland, he has been camping as far afield as South America and Africa. He loves researching, testing and experimenting with camping gear whenever possible.

  • So I’m home, ready to go off grid , and the battery is flat. From a normal 240v 10 amp plug at home, into a 15 amp caravan socket? How? My 15 amp cord/plug won’t fit in the home socket.

  • If I’may not going to be using my caravan for months on end, is it OK to just leave my van plugged into 240v at home?

  • Hi Louis, when van is connected to 240v does the battery switch need to be ‘on’ for the battery to charge? We have a 2007 Jayco Destiny. Thx, Kim.

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