Preparing Your RV Batteries for a Long Winter

Written by: Randy Anderson, Technical Sales & Training Manager

With summer behind us and fall just around the corner many will be thinking of cleaning out the RV and preparing it for winter hibernation. Batteries or battery packs, that power the inverter or our plug-in electronics and appliances, are an essential part to getting the most out of your summer adventures, unfortunately when the off-season comes around these batteries and battery packs are often overlooked and neglected. If you want your batteries in top shape for when you fire up the RV in the summer, you need to make sure they’re properly prepared and stored over the winter. This will also help prolong the life of the battery, maintaining their level of reliability throughout the season. 

The first step in preparing the battery for the off-season would be to inspect the terminals for corrosion. Any signs of residual acid or corrosion on the terminals or in the battery box should be neutralized with baking soda or battery cleaner spray and flushed with water.  The next step will be to check the fluid levels and charge the battery to 100% state of charge. It is important that the electrolyte is covering the plates in all cells. If electrolyte levels are allowed to drop below the top of the plates, irreparable damage is done to that section of the plate and capacity lost.  The levels should be approximately ½” over the tops of the plates, if lower, add enough distiller or purified water to cover the plates then connect the battery to a charger and charge to 100% state of charge. Once the battery is fully charged, check the electrolyte levels again to ensure they are in the proper operating range. If more water must be added, be sure to charge the battery for 2-3 more hours to ensure the electrolyte is well mixed up.

Many people like to bring their battery into the garage or basement over the winter in order to give it a maintenance-charge in the off season, this is never a bad idea.  There are many fully automatic chargers on the market today that will do a great job of keeping the battery at a perfect state of health. One of my favorites with a proven track record is the Xtreme Charge XC100-P, these chargers were originally designed for the US Military and are designed to keep the battery at an optimum state of health using a high frequency pulse that keeps the lead plates free of sulfation. There are several models and options available from Xtreme Charge, one of the more popular accessories in the 4 station Quadlink that will allow 4 batteries to be simultaneously charged using one charger, this is great if you have multiple batteries in your RV or other seasonal batteries that you need to keep fresh.

Whatever your equipment, a little extra maintenance and care will normally add years of reliable service and enjoyment and save you $$ in the long run.