Last updated on November 5th, 2023
RV Battery Disconnect Switch: What Is It And What Does It Do
The RV Battery Disconnect Switch is a crucial component in the electrical system of a recreational vehicle (RV). This switch is designed to disconnect the battery from the RV’s electrical system, thus preventing potential power drain when the RV is not in use.
By using this switch, RV owners can ensure that their vehicle’s battery remains charged for an extended period, thereby prolonging the battery life. Besides aiding in power conservation, the RV Battery Disconnect Switch also plays a pivotal role in ensuring safety by mitigating risks of electrical fires or shorts.
When you decide to go camping in your RV after a month, it turns out the battery of your RV is dead. Has it ever happened to you? No matter if the battery is new or old, it will still die if RV is no longer in use.
Some batteries have a disconnect switch, which often goes unnoticed by RVers. That little switch plays an important role in saving your battery life. In essence, this switch is a simple yet effective tool for maintaining the efficiency and safety of your RV’s electrical system.
If you don’t know what it is and how to use it, read this guide to know more.
What is an RV Battery Disconnect Switch?
An RV battery disconnect switch, as the name states, disconnects the power supply between the battery and appliances so that the energy doesn’t get wasted when the devices are not in use.
The RV battery not only supplies power to the engine, but also to several appliances, including refrigerators, lights, and many more. Thus, a large amount of energy is consumed when everything is plugged.
The flipping of the disconnect switch will preserve the energy of your battery, so it doesn’t drain out. Though the power drainage doesn’t stop completely, it takes longer than before.
Why Do You Need the Switch?
Many times you leave the appliances plugged for a long time, thinking they are consuming no energy. Every appliance consumes energy when it is connected to a power source, even if it is not in use.
The same is the case with an RV battery. It supplies energy to the engine and appliances even if the engine is not running. The appliances slowly drain the power from the battery.
The battery disconnect switch not only saves energy, but you can also turn off the switch during maintenance as a safety measure. It decreases the risk of fire or any other mishap as there will be barely any energy.
Should my RV battery disconnect be on or off?
The question “Should my RV battery disconnect be on or off?” is a common one among RV users. The RV Battery Disconnect Switch is a crucial component in the maintenance of your vehicle’s battery life.
This switch serves to prevent your batteries from discharging when the RV is not in use, particularly during storage periods. In order to enhance the longevity of your battery and ensure its optimal performance, it is highly recommended to turn the Disconnect Switch “off” when the RV is stored. Turning off the Disconnect Switch helps to preserve the battery life, thus saving you from potential battery replacement costs.
How to Install the Disconnect Switch?
Even if you don’t know much, you can easily install the disconnect switch within minutes. Many people think it is an unnecessary purchase, but you will see the results in the long run.
Before you start the installation process, take out the battery after disconnecting it from the engine. You need to attach the switch with the cover of the battery, mark the four points where you want to make holes and drill at those points.
- Attach the switch inside the cover as it is preferable to keep the switch on the right side of the cover.
- Now place the battery at its position and attach the positive part of the switch to the positive part of the battery.
- You need to connect the negative part of the battery to a fuse in order to avoid any electric shock.
Your disconnect switch is now ready to use!
Which Disconnect Switch Should I Buy?
Many people do not pay much attention and buy any available disconnect switch. If you do not pay close attention to which switch you are buying, you will have to see serious consequences.
First up, find out the power output of your battery using the owner’s manual. Your battery disconnect switch should match the power of your battery. Otherwise, your switch will blow up, or there will be a short circuit.
Variety of Switches
The variety of disconnect switches in the market may overwhelm you, but you should buy the one that has all the necessary features. Most of the switches come with a key, which you can turn on or off whenever you want.
Some switches allow you to shift to another battery bank without disconnecting the power supply to your appliances. Such kind of multi-purpose switches save energy, which could have been wasted during the changing of batteries.
The high amps switches allow you to couple them with other switches to disconnect and secure the electrical system. Even some switches disengage the battery automatically when the battery is not in use for a longer time.
Also, many switches provide protection against theft, so you don’t have to worry about your battery getting stolen. You will find some waterproof switches in the market as well. It is not necessary to buy a waterproof switch, but in case you buy one, it will save your battery from getting water inside.
Size of Switches
If you are not aware, let me tell you an RV battery disconnect switch comes in multiple sizes. You can’t plug in any size on your battery as it depends on the basis of the amps a switch can handle.
The most basic switch you will find in the market starts from 20 amps. You can use the 20-amp switch if there are not many appliances in the RV.
The more machines you place in your RV, you will need a higher amp disconnect switch. If three to four appliances are running on the battery, a switch of 70-80 amps will be enough.
How do RV Batteries work?
A disconnect switch is a component of the battery, but the central part of an RV is the battery. It is essential to learn about batteries a bit. Every RV has two systems: a 120-volt AC system and a 20-volt DC system.
The AC system is more powerful and only runs on shore power or a generator. All high-energy appliances such as air-conditioners run on this battery.
On the other hand, the DC system power appliances consume less energy. This battery is mostly used and recharged. You need to check the output power of this battery in order to install a disconnect switch.
Many RVs require more power due to additional appliances; therefore, you can join two or more batteries together. It is called an RV battery bank, you can either arrange it in a series or in parallel.
The voltages increase in the series while the amps increase in the parallel arrangement. You can decide the arrangement whether you need more voltages or amps. For every battery, you need to buy a separate disconnect switch.
Is It Wise to Use the Switch During Traveling?
The disconnect switch is usually used when you are not camping or during the winter season. Most people park their RVs at the owner’s property during winter, as it is not a good season for camping.
Now, if you are thinking there is no need to use a switch during traveling, I would suggest you use it. If your RV is parked in a place while traveling where the power is plugged in, a disconnect switch comes in handy at this point.
You can charge your battery from the powerhouse and cut off the battery power so that your RV runs on the main supply which is coming from the campground. This way, you can save energy when there is power available.
How Long Should a Disconnect Switch Be On?
Most RVers turn on the disconnect switch and leave it for months, assuming the energy level will remain the same. Even with the disconnect switch, the energy still declines, but it takes longer than usual.
Despite using a disconnect switch, when you don’t check the battery for months or for a whole season, there are chances you will find it dead. So instead of leaving your RV, it is better to keep checking your battery after a few weeks.
If there is a decline in power, you should charge it as well. The advantage of recharging the battery is it will increase the efficiency of your battery. You shouldn’t let the power of your battery decline below 45%.
Also, if you are not planning to use an RV for a long time, consider taking out the battery from the motorhome. Keep checking the voltage from time and time and recharge the battery as soon as it drops below 80%.
Should I Turn Off the Switch While Driving?
When you turn the disconnect switch towards the ‘batteries off’ position, nothing happens inside the battery. The charges inside the battery stop moving, and as a result, there is no motion.
Now when you are driving, you may want to use any of the appliances in the RV. If the switch is turned off, the battery will not supply power to the appliances, and they will not work.
The disconnect switch should be turned off only when your motorhome is not in use. It may create difficulty for you if you keep the battery off during driving. Thus, you should not turn off the switch while driving.
If you own a recreational vehicle, having a battery disconnect switch is no less than a blessing. It can save your battery from draining out when not in use, especially in the winter season. Taking good care of the battery will prolong its life, thus saving you money.
The RV Battery Disconnect Switch is a crucial component in the electrical system of a recreational vehicle (RV). As the name suggests, it is a switch that allows you to disconnect the battery from the RV’s electrical system. This is an essential feature that serves a dual purpose: safety and battery longevity.
From a safety perspective, the RV Battery Disconnect Switch provides an easy and convenient way to cut off electrical power in case of an emergency. This could be critical in preventing electrical fires or other potential hazards that can occur due to faults in the electrical system.
When it comes to battery life, the disconnect switch plays a pivotal role as well. Even when your RV is not in use, there are often parasitic loads that continue to draw power from the battery, gradually draining it. By using the disconnect switch, you can isolate the battery and prevent these energy leaks, thus extending the battery life significantly.
Understanding what the RV Battery Disconnect Switch is and what it does can enhance your RV experience by ensuring safety and prolonging your battery life. It is indeed a small component that plays a major role in the overall functioning and maintenance of your RV.
A disconnect switch will make your life peaceful during storage, as the power of your battery is not finishing. Whenever you want to go camping, just take out your motorhome without the fear of the flat battery. Everything will work smoothly like the RV was used yesterday.