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RV Batteries, Getting The Most Power Storage

Most RVs have an electrical system that simply plugs into a power source. When you’re at a more primitive site that has no power or water, your RV’s deep-cycle batteries had better be in top shape to power everything from your fridge, lights, stove and more. Many RV owners don’t always think about their batteries until they stop working, so it’s always important to make sure you have enough energy storage to power all your RV’s accessories. 

The way to ensure your RV has plenty of standby power is to ensure the batteries have enough capacity to handle the power load of all of your RV’s accessories. First, It’s important to know that RVs require a deep-cycle battery for this purpose. These batteries provide longer lasting power compared to regular car starter batteries that are designed to provide maximum power for short periods (to start the engine). Each deep-cycle battery is rated in amp-hours (AH), a measurement of the battery’s capacity. Most are indicated in the amount of current in amps that the battery can provide for 20-hours. 

For example, a deep-cycle battery with a 100 AH rating can deliver 5 amps for 20 hours, or 20 amps for 5 hours, before being discharged. Discharging deep-cycle batteries more than 50-percent will dramatically shorten their life. This is one reason why many experienced RV owners use batteries with the most AH rating they can get. When comparing batteries, make sure you compare them by the same 20-hour standard.

RV owners also switch to using multiple batteries to provide extra capacity. In many instances, this is done by using two smaller 12-volt deep-cycle batteries wired in parallel that will increase the AH capacity rating and leave the voltage at 12-volts. If you really want to dramatically increase your power storage, you can also switch to using two 6-volt batteries that need to be wired in series to produce 12-volts. This can more than double your AH capacity if you have the battery storage space to do so.

Keeping your batteries from being discharged below 50-percent is key to making them last longer, as can checking the water levels in the batteries. In some RVs, it’s difficult to access the batteries for monthly maintenance so some RV owners also install a single-point watering system that makes it easy to add water to each battery from one access point.

For more information on selecting the right RV batteries and maintenance tips on making them last longer, visit www.usbattery.com

Consistent Battery Maintenance Is Key To Longevity And Performance

There’s something to be said about due diligence, especially when it comes to your golf car’s batteries. While many individuals and golf courses are content with simply charging batteries overnight, and checking water levels whenever they get around to it, others conform to a strict maintenance schedule that ultimately prevents numerous conditions that can lead to poor performance and ultimately, battery failure.

Run It Till It Dies

The downtime while your batteries are charging is often inconvenient and some golf car owners run the car until it’s nearly out of power or dead altogether. Batteries that experience frequent deep discharges (discharges of more than 50-percent of a battery’s rated capacity) will have dramatically shorter life than batteries with lower depth of discharge (DOD). The use of ‘opportunity charging’ or charging at every opportunity instead of waiting to recharge until batteries are fully discharged will dramatically increase battery life. (This should not take the place of fully charging regularly.)  If you need longer runtime between charges, consider switching to batteries with higher amp-hour capacity.  This may require switching to a different type of battery with a lower voltage per monoblock but higher capacity.

For example, a golf car with a 48-volt battery pack can use four 12-volt batteries, six 8-volt batteries or eight 6-volt batteries (if space is available).  While all provide the same 48-volt pack voltage, the eight 6-volt batteries provide the highest capacity and runtime. According to Fred Wehmeyer, Senior VP of Engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing, a battery that is routinely discharged to 40% DOD will last about 2.2 times longer than a battery that is discharged to 80% DOD. The initial cost for eight 6-volt batteries is higher than four 12-volt batteries; but considering how much longer they will last, the return on investment is much greater.

Water Whenever

Failing to consistently check water levels and add water to your batteries can also result in low capacity and eventual battery failure if left unchecked. Watering flooded lead-acid batteries is one of the most basic and important maintenance procedures. During battery charging, gases evolved from the decomposition of water results in water loss. This lost water must be replaced by regular water addition.  The rate of water loss can be even higher at elevated temperature and water levels must be checked more frequently. If water is not replaced regularly, the tops of the battery plates in each cell can become exposed to air and damaged to the point that capacity is reduced and battery life is shortened.  Electrolyte levels should always be maintained above the top of the plates by adding water before charging and after charging to about 1/8-inch below the bottom of the vent wells.  Final watering should be done after charging to prevent electrolyte overflow.

If you really hate watering batteries, consider a Single Point Watering System and a battery watering monitor. These often come in kits that are pre-made for specific golf cars and/or battery packs. Monitors such as U.S. Battery’s Sense Smart Valve works with SPWS systems and indicates via a dash or battery mounted LED when the batteries need water.

Summer’s Over; Park It Till Next Year

Improper battery storage is, unfortunately,  a common practice with resorts and RV owners. Storing your golf car with the battery pack in a discharged condition for a long period of time can lead to sulfation (a condition that leads to the development of large lead sulfate crystals that reduce the battery’s available capacity). Over time, this sulfation can reduce both the full charge capacity and overall life of the battery.

The battery pack should always be fully charged before the vehicle is put into long-term storage. In winter months, this also prevents the batteries from freezing. Maintaining the batteries at full charge will keep your batteries in good condition until the next time you use them.

RV Batteries- Tips To Extending Battery Life

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.