By Russ and Tiña De Maris
When your RV is “in storage,” and not in harness on the open road, don’t neglect the battery. A depleted battery not kept at full charge is one that can more easily freeze. If it does, you can expect the expansion to crack the case and ruin the battery. A simple maintenance charger that “floats” at full charge isn’t costly and will save big money.
Power consumption while your rig is in storage can create problems, too. Yes, you shut everything off, but there are loads that you may not have thought of. LP gas and carbon monoxide detectors that are hard-wired to the 12-volt system never shut off. One way to deal with this is to either disconnect the battery leads when not using the rig, or by pulling the fuse that sends power to these detectors. If you choose the latter route, put a BIG sign up in the rig, reminding yourself to plug the fuse back in before heading out on the road. And when you pull that fuse, shut off the LP supply valve for a little more peace of mind.
While you don’t need to be compulsive about it, keeping your batteries clean will keep them happier. That little bit of dirt across the top of the battery case can actually conduct electricity in the presence of moisture. A slight, but real, discharge of juice can occur. And keep those terminals clean — a little crud, corruption or corrosion will impede the flow of those healthy electrons and can lead to problems.
Fill ‘er up! ALWAYS keep the top plates of “flooded” batteries covered with electrolyte. This means refilling to the “split ring” or about a half-inch above the separators. ONLY USE distilled water, NEVER tap water. Minerals in tap water can cause real issues for batteries. On the other hand, don’t overfill your cells.