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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Check Your Batteries During Storage!! Or Else!

    Anytime I am forced to store my RV for any length of time (Like Winter!) I make sure to visit it from time to time both inside and outside to make sure there are no "surprises" waiting for me when the RV season begins in the North East. If you are lucky enough to have a storage location with electrical hookups and you leave your batteries connected, you should be aware there are a few "gotchas!" that may arise. Mainly, cooking your batteries. But there could be other electrical gremlins to deal with. It pays to check BEFORE they jump out and yell, "GOTCHA!"


Cooked Battery!
When batteries charge, they do something called "out gassing" the liquid inside, which is mainly a weak sulfuric acid and water mix,  heats up and boils when it's charging. Particularly when it's almost completely charged. If they boil for too long, some of the water is released from the battery as vapor. Now you have a cell or cells that are low on water/acid mix and that's very bad. Worse if they boil completely dry. Last year I almost had a complete battery meltdown and fire. Only by shear luck did I catch the melting battery before it was too late.

See The Catastrophe Fuse? Get One!
Now I have new (expensive) Lead Acid batteries. I didn't want to buy new ones last year, I've been putting that off until I can try out the new LiFePO3 (Lithium Phosphate) ones. But they hadn't (haven't) come down enough in price to make that a viable choice. I am still looking at them, waiting for the cost to become a bit more reasonable. I am sure that will happen, eventually. In the meantime, I intend on enjoying my RV! At least the new batteries store a bit more than the old ones. I have a few more amp/hours to play with. (130a/hr vs. 105a/hr.)


All of this checking is especially important if you store your RV plugged into shore power. if it's an older rig, at least make sure you have replaced the old (and potentially battery killing!) single-stage converter/charger with one of the new modern ones that have at least 3-stage charging. It's MUCH more gentle on the batteries and shouldn't boil them to death unless it fails. Another good reason to check them even if you have one! Some of the better ones now include temperature compensation. This adjusts the charging to take the temperature of the batteries into consideration. Gentler still!


So when you check the RV periodically, make sure you check each battery and each cell to make sure you have enough liquid inside. Yes, I know it's cold or a pain in the.... you know what. But do it. You could save yourself lots of aggravation and $$$$. Take care of your batteries!!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com