The two most common causes for RV battery collapse are undercharging and overcharging.
Undercharging is a consequence of batteries being discharged rather than fully recharged between cycles. If a battery is not recharged the sulfate material that attaches to the discharged parts of these plates starts to harden into crystals. Over time this sulfate cannot be converted back into active plate material and the battery is ruined. This also occurs when a battery stays discharged for an elongated time period, like during memory. Sulfation is the number one cause of battery failure. The second leading cause of battery failure is overcharging. Overcharging batteries results in severe water reduction and plate corrosion. With that said let’s look at how to properly store your RV batteries.
Before we speak about keeping the batteries we need to discuss battery safety. And the hydrogen gas which batteries create when they’re charging is very volatile. When you work around batteries you want to wear goggles and gloves, remove all jewelry and do not smoke or use any open flames.
Caution: If you inadvertently get battery acid on your skin, flush it with a great deal of water and if it gets in the eyes flush with low pressure water for 15 minutes and call a physician.
When you place the RV in long term storage it’s a fantastic idea to remove the batteries and put them in storage also. This is rather simple to do. The first thing we would like to do is visually inspect the batteries for any obvious damage. Any fluid on or around the battery might be an indication that electrolyte is leaking out of the battery. A leaking or damaged battery ought to be replaced promptly. Whenever you remove Vapcell battery always make sure you remove the negative cable or terminal first, and then the positive cable.
Battery Tip: When you remove a battery switch off the ignition switch, all electric switches, along with any battery disconnect buttons before you disconnect the battery cables. Whenever you remove any battery cables label them first so you remember how they return on the battery. After you reinstall the battery do it in the reverse sequence. Install the positive cable first and then the negative cable.
Wash the batteries with a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and water if needed, i.e. utilize one pound of baking soda to one gallon of water. You can now check the electrolyte level in each cell and add distilled water if necessary. The minimum level required is at the top of these plates. If it’s below the plates add enough distilled water to cover the plates until you charge the battery.
Examine the battery state of charge with a voltmeter or hydrometer and control any batteries that are at or below 80%. An 80% charge is roughly 12.5 volts for a 12 volt battery and 6.25 volts for a 6 volt battery. Lead sulfation begins when a battery state of charge drops below 80 percent. After charging the batteries assess and fill every cell to 1/8 inch below the fill well with distilled water. Overfilling cells will cause battery acid to float.
Caution: Batteries must just be billed in a well ventilated place and maintain any sparks and open flames away from a battery being charged. Check the electrolyte levels before and charging batteries.
Store the batteries in a cool dry place but not where they could freeze. Batteries in storage will probably loose a percentage of current through internal leakage. It is not unusual for a battery to release up to 10% a month when it is being stored. Cold temperatures slow this natural discharge process down and warmer temperatures speed up the process. Examine the
Stored battery state of charge each month and charge batteries that are at or under an 80% state of charge.
Completely charge the batteries prior to re-installing them next spring. For optimal performance you are able to equalize the batteries as soon as they are fully charged. An equalizing charge is an increase in charging voltage somewhat like a majority charge to convert almost any crystallized lead sulfate into its original parts.