With some basic care and maintenance, extending the life of the batteries in your RV is an easy task. RV expert Mark Polk tells you just what to do to get the most out of your lead acid batteries. Follow his tips below.
- Deep cycle lead batteries should last for six or more years with proper care and maintenance. Many RV owners replace their batteries every year, but this is not necessary as long as you properly maintain them!
An important note! Always keep safety in mind when working around lead acid batteries.
- Wear gloves and safety glasses
- Remove all jewelry
- Do not smoke or use open flames
10 Important Tips for RV Batteries
- The leading cause of dead lead acid batteries is extended sulfation (small crystals forming on the plates) which occurs when a battery’s charge drops below 80% or 12.4 volts
- Sulfation can be prevented by recharging RV batteries in a timely manner
- Never let a 12-volt battery discharge below 12-volts or a 6-volt battery fall below 6 volts. Why? Because:
- A fully charged 12-volt battery is actually 12.73 volts
- A fully charged 6-volt battery is actually 6.37 volts
- When a battery is at 12-volts it is at or below a 40% state of charge. This is why recharging on a regular basis is important.
- You can measure the voltage using a digital volt meter. Measuring the voltage gives you a quick picture of the battery’s depth of discharge and will let you know when it needs to be recharged. Set the meter on DC voltage, and place the red lead on the positive terminal and the black lead on the negative terminal.
- Reducing a battery’s depth of discharge will increase overall life. Remember, recharging the battery in a timely matter will prevent sulfation.
- Parasitic loads – or items that run when the RV is not in use – can cause batteries to slowly discharge over time. Some, but not all of these, are LP gas leak detectors, TV antenna power booster, clocks, stereos, and appliance circuit boards. If your RV is equipped with battery disconnect switches, make sure they are in the ‘Off’ position when you are not using the RV, or the RV is in storage.
- Hot temperatures and overcharging can also kill batteries so be sure to check water levels frequently, especially during the summer.
- When adding water, make sure to use mineral-free water – distilled is best. Regular tap water can cause calcium buildup; you don’t want that!
- Batteries should only be watered after charging a battery unless the plates are exposed prior to charging.
- If the plates are exposed, make sure you add enough water to cover the plates before charging the battery.
- The lead and plastics used to produce batteries can be recycled. Always do your part to help the environment and recycle your batteries whenever possible.
For more helpful info about how to maintain the life of your RV, visit www.rveducation101.com. It is a really helpful resource for all things RV related.