Should You Remove RV Batteries in Winter?


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RV batteries handle a strong current throughout the year. Even when you’re not using the vehicle, small trickles pull from smoke alarms, lights, meters, and other sources. When winter rolls around and your motorhome’s battery starts getting too cold, there are quite a few issues it might run into.

You should remove RV batteries in the winter to prevent them from freezing or draining too far below their charging point. An RV’s battery can get too cold if it drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.7 Celsius). Charge the batteries before storing them, and never leave them directly on the floor.

In this article, we’ll show you exactly what you should do with your motorhome’s batteries during the winter, optimal storage practices, and where you should place them until the vehicle is warm enough to reinsert the batteries.

Do You Need to Remove a Motorhome Battery in the Winter?

You need to remove a motorhome’s battery when it gets cold because it could break from frost exposure, moisture, low-charge levels, and constant trickling from various sources. If you live in a sunny climate and it never gets too cold, you can use solar panels to keep the battery charged and in good shape around the clock.

Follow these helpful tips:

  • RV batteries should be stored in the winter, regardless of the external temperature. Many devices, such as alarm systems, smoke detectors, level sensors, and other sources, can trickle the battery. If it’s not getting enough power when it’s not being used, the battery will eventually drain too low.
  • Frozen motorhome batteries can become permanently damaged and won’t ever work the same. According to RV Travel, your RV’s battery can’t get below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it dips too low, the cells can freeze and expand, breaking the battery from the inside out.
  • You don’t have to remove the RV’s battery under the hood unless the manufacturer says otherwise. Most RVs have extra batteries specifically designed to run the internal amenities. The battery made to start the engine typically doesn’t need to be removed unless it’s also responsible for the amenities.
  • Solar panels can slowly charge RV batteries if you live in a sunny climate during the winter. Those living in warm, sunny areas will enjoy the fact that they can mount solar panels on their motorhomes and let the sunshine power everything. The previously mentioned sensors, alarms, and other devices won’t drain it too low if it’s charged by solar power.

Are you unsure of how you’re supposed to remove the battery? Working with electricity can be worrisome, especially since you don’t want to damage your motorhome. Try the tips below to learn what you should do to prepare to remove the battery.


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How Do You Disconnect an RV Battery for Storage?

To disconnect an RV battery for storage, use safety gloves and a multimeter to ensure it’s getting a full charge, then remove the alligator clips or wire rings and set the battery on a piece of cardboard. Test it again to know it’s charged properly, then store it somewhere it can’t freeze or overheat.

Here’s the five-step process:

  1. Put on safety gloves and use a multimeter to check the voltage. Most RV batteries range between 12V to 14V, so it’s safe to say that it’s in decent shape if it’s within those recommended limits. While the battery likely won’t shock you (much like a car’s battery), it’s still a good practice to wear gloves.
  2. Remove the battery by disconnecting the clips or wires, then set it aside. Most motorhome batteries have clips or twist-on nuts that can be removed within seconds. Make sure you know where you put them, so you don’t lose them when it’s time to reinsert the battery in the spring or summer.
  3. Check the battery’s water levels (if it’s a water-filled battery). Camper’s Inn recommends topping off the water in your battery to keep it charged and prevent internal failure.
  4. Test its voltage once it’s disconnected to ensure it’s charged. Using a multimeter, make sure the charge is between the aforementioned 12V to 14V range. If it’s connected to a strong trickling supply, it can look like it’s charged until you unplug it. Batteries that can’t hold a charge should be replaced.
  5. Bring your battery into the garage, shed, or other temperature-regulated location. As long as the battery is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, it’ll be good to go. However, there are a few other things you should keep in mind when storing the battery. We’ll cover all of them in the following section.

Where Should You Store an RV Battery During the Winter?

You should store an RV battery in an elevated indoor space to prevent freezing temperatures, rain, and other factors from draining it or making it too cold. Use a piece of cardboard or a plastic tub to keep the battery off of the floor so it doesn’t get too cold from the surface below.

Many people store their RV batteries in sheds, garages, or even in their homes. If you can control the internal temperature, you’ll drastically reduce the risk of freezing or damaging the battery.

Consider using a hygrometer and thermostat to keep the battery from getting too wet from the ambient humidity in the air. You’ll also be able to keep it around 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the season, making it just as reliable as it is during the spring and summer.

Life On Route suggests charging the RV battery every so often throughout the winter to prevent it from draining too low. You can also wipe it down with a microfiber cloth to remove dust and other debris.

Conclusion

Proper RV battery storage can be the difference between decade-long battery life and one that only lasts for a year. Batteries aren’t designed to freeze, nor should they be trickled and leached throughout the winter. Either of these issues will cause severe wear and tear that you might not notice until you hit the road.

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Martin

As an independent traveler, I try to share my positive and negative observations about van life as well as tips and tricks to make your life on the road easier. I travel and work in my old RV and would greatly appreciate a coffee from you if you find my content useful.

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