Keeping your RV batteries maintained extends their lives, and assures you that the power you need will be available when you next need it. These pointers are easy to do and are highly effective ways to add years to your equipment.
Keeping the Battery Posts Clean
Corrosion that builds on the posts of batteries reduces the amount of amperage they can deliver. Over time, the corrosion builds as the battery is used. It acts as insulation between the posts and the battery cables. It’s easy to clean off with a stiff wire brush, baking soda and water. Remove the cables from the posts, scrap away as much of the white or blue corrosion, and pour water over the posts. Sprinkle the baking soda over the posts and let it work. Repeat the process with the cable ends if they show corrosion.
After a period of time, pour more water over the posts, using the wire brush to loosen any residual corrosion. Dry the posts and apply Vaseline or battery anti-corrosion spray to inhibit future corrosion. Reattach the cables, tightening carefully.
Flooded Cell Batteries
These batteries need occasional topping off with distilled water. If the water level falls too low, the battery will become permanently exhausted. Be sure that you use de-ionized or distilled water because dissolved solids in tap water interfere with their operation.
Remove the caps off the top of the battery and look inside. The water level should be an eighth to a quarter of an inch from the top. Monitor your batteries monthly to see how much water they use and set your schedule based on your observations.
Restoring a Discharged Battery
It is possible to restore a battery that’s been repeatedly charged and discharged, but it takes a battery charger that has an equalization mode. Your RV may or may not have this feature. It works by equalizing the charge, and uses a voltage range between 15.4 and 16.2. Before you start, be sure to disconnect the battery from the RV because the higher charge can burn out any low voltage devices you have plugged into the outlets the battery supplies. You should also check to see that it’s safe to use such a device with your particular battery. The Air Stream International Signature trailer has an electronic automatic battery disconnect switch, making this process simple.
Protecting Unused Batteries
Over time, not using the battery will discharge it. You can prevent this by using a battery maintainer charger. These devices supply a trickle charge, keeping them at a functioning capacity.