I have a new motorhome and this will be its first winter. What is the best way to handle RV batteries during the winter? Should I leave the batteries in and keep the coach plugged in or should I take them out and store them for the winter? How about the engine battery? Some people take them out, some people leave them in. Which is best? If I take them out should they be charged once in a while? —Gary
It is always recommended to completely remove all the batteries during a really harsh winter. Fully charge them before storing them in a clean, dry location in a warmer shed or garage. A fully charged battery will freeze only if the temperature dips to 55 or 60 degrees below zero, while a discharged battery may freeze at or near 20 degrees above zero. But it’s still best to remove them from the RV and avoid freezing temperatures when possible.
There is probably no need to apply a charge during the actual storage period, but fully charge them just prior to reinstalling them in the spring.
It is only advisable to leave the RV plugged in during the storage period if the coach is equipped with a computer-controlled, three-phase battery charger – one that monitors and adjusts the charging voltage and current accordingly. Otherwise, there is a great risk of overcharging the batteries and/or boiling out the electrolyte.
Read more from Gary Bunzer at the RVdoctor.com. See Gary’s videos about RV repair and maintenance.
I have a good BatteryMinder charger, but I’ve still both boiled and frozen batteries.
Now I remove the batteries to my more temperate shop for the winter, no exceptions. Ruining $500 battery banks is too pricey to be lazy about. I no longer leave the smart charger running either, but DO top-off charge the batteries every few months while snow flies due to apparent self-discharge.
I’ve also learned, no matter how dry I think it is, to bring in regulators with gauges…keep freezing and replacing those, too.
I am in Warren’s boat with running the generator once a month. In between those times I turn off my 12 volt system completely. I am not strong enough or able to remove and replace my batteries each year.
I read your comment on removing the batteries from your unit in the winter, which is what I did with my travel trailer. Now that we have a motorhome, the owners manual says we should run the generator for at least 30 min under load every 30 days. What are your thoughts on these conflicting recommendations. We keep our unit outside in a storage facility in central New York. Thank you.
Batteries are HEAVY! The first winter we removed them from our RV, we dropped one when reinstalling in the spring. So much for that battery. Now we have solar panels which keep the coach and engine batteries charged all winter. (We have a separate panel and controller for each battery.) No dead batteries since then, and we don’t have to fight with heavy batteries twice each year.