What Is an RV Battery Disconnect Switch and Do You Need One?

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Close up of a red RV battery disconnect switch on a blank panel.

You may not realize it, but an RV battery disconnect switch plays an integral part in your RV’s electrical system. This piece of under-appreciated RVing equipment is essential for not only the safety of your RV but functionality as well. If you’re not familiar with what it is or does, we’re here to help. Let’s get started!

What Is an RV Battery Disconnect Switch?

As its name implies, an RV battery disconnect switch is a switch that disconnects your RV battery. By turning this switch off, you’ll turn off the electrical power to your RV’s 12V system.

You can usually find the battery disconnect switch near the battery. However, if your RV has a lot of storage, you might find the switch in an under-storage or pass-through storage compartment. You should know where your battery disconnect switch is to turn off the power quickly.

Why Do You Need a Battery Disconnect Switch?

A battery disconnect cuts the power from your RV’s batteries and the rest of the RV. Flipping the switch off can help prevent fires or theft when your RV sits in storage or isn’t in use. You should also turn the battery disconnect switch to off when doing any maintenance on your RV. 

Another benefit of turning the battery disconnect off is that it prevents draining your batteries. Even when your RV isn’t in use, some items will draw power from your battery bank. Whether it’s a carbon monoxide detector or the LED screen on your entertainment system, they can all work together to drain your battery completely. You don’t want to hitch up and discover you have a dead battery.

Keep in Mind: Knowing how to charge your RV battery is an important part of understanding the electrical system. 

The Benefits of an RV Battery Disconnect Switch

An RV battery disconnect switch allows you to do maintenance without the risk of electrocuting yourself. By unplugging your RV from shore power and turning the switch to off, you prevent shocks.

Close up of an electric battery for an RV.

You won’t be able to operate your lights or any electronics, but you can safely complete maintenance without the risk of electrocution. Using the battery disconnect switch limits the potential for a fire, theft, or draining the battery. 

Are There Any Disadvantages?

When it comes to the disadvantages of a battery disconnect, there are very few. RVers sometimes forget they’ve turned the battery disconnect off and attempt to use an appliance. This can be frustrating, but it’s an easy fix.

When Should You Use Your RV Battery Disconnect Switch?

You should use the RV battery disconnect switch anytime you need to disconnect the RV’s power completely. This could be to complete maintenance or to store your RV after a trip.

Some RVers also use their battery disconnect switch when they arrive at a campsite. If the battery is completely charged and you’re plugged into shore power, you won’t need your batteries. By turning off the switch, you prevent any chance of abuse or risk to your RV batteries. 

Looking in through the windows of a fifth wheel at night with the interior lights providing a warm glow throughout.

Can You Install a Battery Disconnect Switch If Your RV Doesn’t Have One?

If your RV is newer, there’s a good chance it has an RV battery disconnect switch. However, if your RV is older, there’s an equally good chance that it doesn’t have a switch.

Luckily, installing a switch is fairly simple and inexpensive. If you don’t feel confident or comfortable installing a switch yourself, you can easily and relatively cheaply hire a professional to do the work for you.

Pro Tip: If you’re in the market for a disconnect switch, check out our list of the best RV power controls.

Blue Sea Systems e-Series On/Off Battery Switch
  • Single Circuit ON-OFF. Switches a single battery to a single load group
  • Ignition protected—safe for installation aboard gasoline powered boats

How and Where Do You Install a Battery Disconnect Switch?

To install a battery disconnect switch, you should first plan your mounting location. Make sure you have a sufficient amount of wire to complete the task. We suggest mounting it close to the battery or in a convenient storage compartment.

You can then simply connect the negative cable from the RV to one side of the disconnect switch. Take an additional negative cable and attach it to where the previous cable was attached to the battery. With all the cables connected, anytime the switch is turned off, it will disengage the power to the RV. It’s as easy as that!

Again, if you’re not comfortable completing this project, it’s relatively inexpensive to hire a professional to install it for you. You don’t want to risk damaging your RV or electrocuting yourself to save a few bucks.

Is an RV Battery Disconnect Switch Worth It?

Having an RV battery disconnect switch is worth it. They’re relatively inexpensive to install or replace but provide a tremendous benefit while RVing. It’s definitely an investment we think every RVer should consider if their RV lacks a disconnect switch. Have you ever had to install or replace a battery disconnect switch?

Last update on 2021-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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