Are Your RV Batteries Dying Prematurely?
Are your RV batteries dying prematurely? Battery maintenance is crucial to ensure long life out of your expensive RV batteries. In this blog post, we’ll be talking specifically about Flooded Lead-Acid batteries, the type most RVs come with today.
Our rig has four Trojan T105, 6 volt, deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries. The rig originally came with two, 12-volt batteries but during our solar upgrade we also upgraded our batteries. Our main reason for upgrading was simply to increase battery capacity allowing us to boondock, taking full advantage of our solar setup.
However, I digress. This blog post is all about battery maintenance after all. So I’ll ask again, are you RV batteries dying prematurely? If you aren’t sure that’s ok and it may even be that you aren’t sure how to check them so let’s dive in.
This is a hands-on task that is much easier explained by “showing” you how it’s done. If you learn better by watching, like I do, please refer to our video at the beginning of this bog post.
Check Your Battery Status
Using a battery hydrometer like the one featured below, you can check the state of your batterie’s acid. These are pretty straight forward to use, kind of like a turkey baster or eye dropper, and will give you a direct reading, good or bad.
Simply “draw” a full hydrometer amount of liquid from the battery cell and read the condition on the hydrometer. Green means good, yellow borderline and red a possible bad cell.
This procedure will indicate the state of the specific “cell” you are testing and you’ll know how each of the cells in the same battery are performing. Low performing cells may indicate the battery is nearing the end of its life.
To Equalize or Not?
There is a good chance you can “repair” a low performing cell by running an equalization procedure using your RV battery charger. Check with your RV battery charger manufacturer for instructions on how to equalize your batteries with that specific equipment.
Equalization essentially overcharges the battery a bit in an effort to bring the individual battery cells into alignment, so to speak.
If you have a low performing cell and equalization does not bring that cell back to a good status its likely that you need to replace the battery sooner than later.
Performing this crucial check at least once a month will provide an early warning of sorts and may keep you from having a bad battery at a most inconvenient time.
Water Your Batteries Properly!
In addition to checking the cell status of your batteries it is crucial to keep the water in the batteries at a “safe” level. Allowing the water in the batteries to get below the top of the lead plates will spell doom most all of the time.
Along with performing the cell test monthly I also verify the level of water and add distilled water if necessary. Check with your specific battery manufacturer for the recommended water level required for your battery.
In the case of our Trojan T105 batteries the water level must be kept within 1/8th inch of the bottom of a tab. The fill tab is located under the cell cap/cover. This tab is also used to prevent over filling of the battery cells.
Overfilling could cause your battery to boil over spilling acid. This is bad for two reasons. It will deplete your battery of acid and will corrode anything the spilled acid comes in contact with. Neither one of these are good things ?
Adding water is also straight forward. Using a fill bulb like the one shown below simply draw distilled water from the jug. Add the water to the low cell(s) of your battery being careful not to overfill. Wipe up and spills and ensure a clean battery area.
Are You Draining Excessively?
Remember to check your batteries at least monthly and never discharge a Flooded Lead-Acid battery below 50% charge. This will also spell certain death for your batteries. If you aren’t sure of the charging state of your batteries pick up a simple battery monitor like this one.
I can’t stress enough how important regular battery maintenance is to keep your batteries performing at their best. This will help you get as much life as possible out of your batteries and ensure a happier boondocking experience.
I hope this was helpful. Please leave any questions you might have in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.
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