Simple Steps To Ensure You’re Never Without Power In Your RV
Backup battery power in your RV provides a great advantage when visiting campsites or locations where hookups aren’t available. However when the maintenance of these deep-cycle batteries is neglected, it can dramatically shorten their overall performance and service life.
While it’s sometimes difficult to always remember to water and check your RV’s batteries, following a strict and regular battery maintenance program can dramatically increase their performance and longevity.
A regular maintenance program for deep-cycle batteries isn’t extremely difficult. Here are several simple procedures to follow that will make them last longer and save you money in the long run.
1) Safety Is Most Important
Be sure to wear gloves, eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Remove any electrical loads, even a battery charger, when servicing batteries.
2) Check The Batteries
Open the battery compartment and check to make sure the vent caps on top of the batteries are properly seated. The vent caps contain spark arrestors to help prevent ignition of gasses in and around the batteries. Always keep them in place except during watering.
3) Clean Terminals
Use a solution of baking soda and water to neutralize any corrosion on battery terminals. Use a wire brush with a wooden or plastic handle to prevent accidental arcing. Rinse the area with water and dry with a clean cloth.
4) Check Connections
Battery terminal connections can come loose, so check to make sure they’re tight. The recommended terminal torque is 100 inch-pounds or just 15 to 18 pounds on the end of a six-inch wrench. Use insulated tools or wrap them with electrical tape to prevent accidental arcing. Add a bit of silicone spray on the terminals to resist corrosion.
5) Check Electrolyte Levels
Check the electrolyte levels of the batteries every two to four weeks depending on use. Some electrolyte is lost after each charge cycle, so it’s important to make sure the electrolyte is at the proper level—about a quarter inch below the bottom of the fill well.
6) Add Water
If electrolyte levels are low, add water, but follow these procedures:
a) Always charge the battery before watering but make sure the electrolyte covers the plates before charging. b) Use caution when removing the vent caps to prevent acid splatter. c) Use only distilled or deionized water. d) Use a watering gun or pitcher to fill each cell to prevent over-watering (never use a water hose). e) Water all cells evenly and replace the battery vent caps assuring each one is properly installed and seated.
7) Perform An Equalization Charge
Every thirty days, you should perform an equalization charge, especially if your RV has been in storage. An equalization charge is an extended charge that is done after the normal charge has completed. It causes additional gassing in the electrolyte (bubbling) which is essential for mixing the electrolyte to prevent electrolyte stratification. Stratification is a build-up of stronger acid at the bottom of the battery that can reduce battery life. Make sure to check the battery manufacturer’s recommendations for proper charging to make sure the correct charger is being used. If your charger is equipped with an automatic equalizing mode, make sure the charger is connected and powered up long enough to complete a full equalization charge. If your charger is not equipped with an automatic equalization mode, assure the charger has completed a full charge and then restart the charger by disconnecting AC power and reconnecting. The charger should restart and extend the charge time by one to three hours.
According to Fred Wehmeyer, senior vice president of engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing, these maintenance procedures can dramatically increase the life of your RV’s batteries and save you the cost of having to replace them more frequently. In the long run, you’ll enjoy your trips and not have to worry about the power going out when you need it most.
For more information on U.S. Battery’s line of RV and Marine products, visit www.usbattery.com.