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RV battery maintenance tips

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter January Outdoor Living Newsletter
Charging RV batteries
Proper charging and maintenance will extend the life of your batteries.

Have you been taking good care of your RV´s batteries? It is very important that you do. Your RV batteries are essential parts of your vehicle. They help keep your RV´s engine running smoothly and they power the lights, the appliances and other fixtures that make your life on the road comfortable. Taking good care of your RV batteries also makes sense financially - if you know how to maintain your RV´s batteries properly, they can last for many years, thus saving you some money on buying replacements.

So what is the proper way of maintaining your RV´s batteries? Here are a few tips to help you out.

  1. If you are going to put your RV in storage, make sure that your batteries are fully charged first. Also, appliances can leech power from your batteries even when they are turned off. To prevent this, turn off your batteries´ disconnect switch and remove all electrical connectors before you store your RV. Additionally, you should store your RV batteries in a cool place, preferably between 40 and 60F (4 to 16C), to minimize the discharge.
  2. If you are going to store your RV for more than two months, try to boost your batteries every two months to keep them from discharging completely.
  3. When you take your RV out of storage, charge your batteries fully before you use your RV. To get the best performance out of your batteries, charge them in stages: first, a bulk charge to return your batteries to 90%; second, an absorption charge to build up the remaining 10% and to prevent water loss; and lastly, a float charge to keep your batteries in full power.
  4. If the battery has removable vent caps, test the specific gravity of each cell with a hydrometer prior to storage to insure a full state of charge level. 1.270sg - 1.285sg is considered full charge on most lead acid batteries. While charging your batteries, keep the vent caps on your batteries nice and tight. This will prevent water loss from happening.
  5. While charging your batteries, keep the vent caps on your batteries nice and tight. This will prevent water loss from happening.
  6. While you are on the road, pay attention to your batteries´ state of charge. As soon as your batteries reach 80% or 12.4V discharge, recharge it. This will help prevent sulfation - a state that prohibits your batteries from getting fully charged.
  7. Always take note of the temperature before charging your batteries. Don´t charge your batteries when the temperature is around 120°F. They could overcharge at this temperature and you also risk fire or explosion. You should also avoid charging your batteries when it is extremely cold. The cold will slow down the charging and greatly reduce your batteries´ capacity.
  8. You need to check the water levels in your batteries at least once a month. If you use your RV often or if you are staying in a hot place, you will have to check these water levels more frequently. Make sure that you check every cell. It should be just touching the bottom of the refill hole. If your batteries´ plates are exposed, you should water your batteries before charging them. The plates should be covered by 1/2 of an inch of electrolyte. It is recommended to use distilled or mineral-free water for watering your batteries. Regular tap water has solids in it that can cause sulfation in your batteries.
  9. Aside from water levels, you need to check on the acid levels of your batteries as well. The electrolyte level should always be 1/4th of an inch below the fill well at the bottom of your batteries´ cell cover.
  10. When using a hydrometer, check each cell for variation between cells. 50 points difference indicates a weak or bad cell. Example: 1.265sg on highest cell and 1.215sg on lowest cell.
  11. Always exercise caution when handling your batteries. Remove all your jewelry and wear gloves and safety glasses. More importantly, don´t smoke or have open flames around your batteries.
  12. Keep your batteries clean. If you see any dirt or corrosion on them, clean them off using a wire brush and a 50/50 water and baking soda solution.

If you maintain your RV batteries properly, you´re guaranteed to enjoy a great deal of safety and comfort on the road. You are also guaranteed to see your RV batteries working at optimum levels for years and years to come. So make sure you take good care of your RV batteries all the time.

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