Do RV Slides Work On Battery? (Read Before Installing!)

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Slide-outs offer an excellent way to expand the available space inside your recreational vehicle (RV). Those complex mechanisms work to move all of the weight inside your RV outwards, including the furniture and fittings inside. But do RV slides work on batteries to carry all that weight?

Yes, RV slides work using battery power because their mechanisms have a high amp draw that only works with a battery. The same is true whether you’re using a hydraulic or electric slide-out, as both rely on electric motors to function correctly. If you have a dead battery, slides offer a manual override for you to extend or retract the room by hand.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about RV slides and their battery power supply. Plus, we’ll even look at what you can do if that battery supply fails.

How Do RV Slides Function?

If you’re reading this article, it’s safe to assume that you already know what RV slides are. Still, let’s do a quick recap to get everyone on the same page:

Slideouts (or ‘slides’) on a recreational vehicle are mechanisms that extend the total floorspace of an RV while it’s parked. 

The name pretty much describes how it works: activate the mechanism, and it will slowly extend a cut-out portion of your RV. By doing that, you’ll have a much wider living space to enjoy in your RV.

Once you’re ready to leave, you can then use the same mechanism to retract that portion and make the vehicle safe to drive again.

There are plenty of different slide-out mechanisms available on the market. Still, all of them rely on some configuration of gears, motors, actuators, and other components to make the sliding-out action possible.

With all of those mechanical moving parts, it’s easy to see that the system needs power to function correctly. Now, that brings us to our next question:

Do RV Slides Work On Battery Power?

Yes, RV slides will work on battery power. However, the slide’s motors can only run on DC battery power and not anything else, unlike some other appliances you might have onboard an RV.

The reason for that is quite straightforward: RV slides must be able to function even when you’re parked somewhere with the engine off and no access to shore power.

That’s also why you’ll find that slide-out mechanisms are typically wired directly to the battery and not to the rest of the RV’s electrical system.

As a result, the slide can still function to extend and retract whenever you need it to, even if you’re parked somewhere without any other supply of electricity.

Of course, the next time you connect to shore power, the converter will then replenish all of the electric power in your batteries that the slides drew out earlier.

Why Won’t RV Slides Work With Other Types Of Power?

There is another reason why RV slides will only run on battery power: their mechanisms pull in a lot of electricity whenever they’re working to extend or retract the slides.

In other words, those mechanisms have a very high amp draw because they move a lot of weight whenever they extend or retract.

Where does all that weight come from? All of that is thanks to plenty of furniture and fittings inside the RV, even while the space expands. Plus, the weight of the structure itself also must move as well.

Batteries are the only source of power that can keep up with the high amp draw required. So, using shore power or relying only on the converter (without a battery) will not provide enough power to get things moving.

Do Slideouts Use A Lot Of Electrical Power?

Yes, as mentioned above, the slideouts on recreation vehicles (RVs) use a lot of electrical power over a short period. However, the more technical way to look at it is that they have a very high amp draw from working hard to move the weight of the structure and everything inside it.

So, even though your RV batteries are more than capable of keeping up with the energy demands of those slides, you must be sure to recharge them as soon as possible.

Remember: the slides aren’t the only thing drawing power from that battery. You’ll also need it to power other appliances onboard your vehicle. With so many things draining your battery, you run the risk of depleting it completely and wearing it out faster if the charge gets too low.

What About Hydraulic Slides? Do They Still Need A Battery?

Electric RV slides consist of electrical motors that do most of the heavy lifting. So, it’s no surprise that they require lots of electrical power to get the job done.

But what about hydraulic slides that use a different mechanism to extend and retract the same way? Yes, you still require a battery to power a hydraulic slide, and for the same reasons.

Hydraulic slides do indeed rely on a different mechanism. Unlike electric slides with motors, hydraulic ones use pumps and fluid to do the heavy lifting.

Still, electric motors drive those hydraulic pumps, requiring a lot of electrical power to function.

So, the bottom line is simple: even RV slides that use hydraulics still rely on electrical motors to function correctly. For that reason, they still require the use of batteries.

How Do You Get RV Slides To Work With A Dead Battery?

Throughout this guide, we’ve seen that RV slides not only work on batteries but rely heavily on them to function correctly. 

So, what happens if your RV is parked somewhere with its room extended, but your battery is dead? Does that mean you’re stuck there until you find a new battery?

Well, that usually isn’t the case. You see, RV slides typically come with a way to manually override the mechanism so you can extend or retract slides by hand.

As you can imagine, trying to do the same job as a motor but by hand will be quite challenging physically. So, you might need the help of more than one person to get it done.

Still, here’s what that process will look like:

  • Firstly, get the user manual for your slide system if you have it. Keeping it close will allow you to use it as a quick reference, if necessary.
  • Then, find the slide-out motor. You can find it underneath the slide-out room.
  • Next, unscrew the brake assembly from that motor. That will free the mechanism to move when you want to move it in the next step.
  • Afterwards, find the crank extension and attach it to the motor. Then, crank the motor to extend or retract the slide.
  • Lastly, reattach the brake assembly after completely extending or retracting the slide-out room.


So, to sum it all up, yes, RV slides work with batteries. Besides, slides can only work with batteries because they have a high amp draw that other power supplies can’t keep up with. That’s true whether the slide uses an electric motor or a hydraulic mechanism to extend and retract the slide-out room on your RV.

However, don’t worry if your onboard battery fails. In those situations, you can manually override the slide and crank it by hand to extend or retract it like you usually would with a battery.

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