Your RV house batteries are essential for powering all of the electrical systems in your RV, from lights and appliances to water pumps and heaters. Without them, your RV wouldn’t be able to function off-grid. Properly caring for your RV house batteries is crucial to ensure they provide reliable power on your adventures. With the proper care and maintenance, you can help extend the lifespan of your RV house batteries and prevent unexpected power outages.
To help you take proper care of your RV house batteries, it’s helpful to divide the tips into two categories: those to keep in mind when using your RV and those to keep in mind when storing your RV. Also, know your battery type. Lithium-ion, lead-acid, and AGM batteries have different care and maintenance needs. We will look at care and maintenance when you are using the RV first.
When using your RV, keep in mind the following tips to extend the lifespan of your RVs house batteries:
Clean the battery terminals and connections regularly to ensure proper electrical contact. Corrosion and lose connections can interfere with performance and cause battery failure. Use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean corrosion off the terminals of lead-acid batteries. After cleaning, be sure to tighten any loose connections. Check out my YouTube video on maintaining your RVs batteries:
Overcharging or undercharging your RV house batteries can cause them to wear out faster. Use a smart charger or a solar charge controller with a built-in battery monitor to ensure proper charging levels. These devices monitor the battery voltage and adjust the charging rate accordingly. Using a charge controller also helps protect your batteries from overvoltage and undervoltage.
Monitor Battery Health:
Regularly check your batteries’ voltage and specific gravity to assess their health. A battery with low voltage or specific gravity may be weak or damaged and need replacement. Testing the health of your battery can help you identify any issues early and prevent more significant problems down the line.
Equalize Flooded Batteries:
An often overlooked strategy for extending the lifespan of your RVs house batteries is that if you have flooded lead-acid batteries, performing an equalization charge once a month or as the manufacturer recommends can help prevent sulfation and keep your batteries in optimal condition. This process helps balance the charge across all the cells in the battery, ensuring that they’re all charged equally. Following the manufacturer’s instructions when performing an equalization charge is vital to avoid damaging your batteries.
Keep Them Cool:
Store your batteries in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, whenever possible. High temperatures accelerate battery degradation. Avoid storing them in areas that can get too cold, like a garage or shed, as this can cause the battery to freeze.
Check for any visible signs of damage, swelling, or leaks. Replace batteries if you see any of these issues. Inspect your batteries regularly, especially before and after a long trip, to ensure they still function correctly. Let’s look at the care and maintenance tips that will extend the lifespan of your RVs house batteries when being stored.
When storing your RV, keep the following tips in mind to extend the lifespan of your RVs house batteries:
Store Your Batteries Inside:
In cold climates, storing your RV house batteries inside, such as in a basement or garage, is best. This can help prevent them from freezing and potentially cracking the battery case. If you must store your batteries outside, protect them from the elements with a battery box or cover.
Keep Your Batteries Fully Charged:
If you’re storing your RV for an extended period, it’s essential to keep your batteries fully charged to prevent sulfation and other forms of battery degradation. A battery that’s not fully charged can be damaged by the cold weather and lose its capacity over time. You can use a battery tender or maintainer to keep your batteries topped up.
Want to learn how to charge your RV batteries from your vehicle alternator? Check out this RV how-to article.
For lithium, the best practice differs. Charge the battery to around 50-60% of its capacity before storing it. Lithium batteries degrade more quickly if they are stored either fully charged or completely discharged.
Disconnect Your Batteries:
Disconnecting your batteries when storing your RV can help prevent them from discharging completely. When a battery is completely discharged, it can be difficult to recharge and may need to be replaced. To disconnect your batteries, remove the negative cable from the battery terminal. Be sure to label and store the cable in a safe
Use a Battery Tender or Maintainer:
A battery tender or maintainer can help keep your RV house batteries topped up when you’re not using your RV. These devices are designed to keep your battery at full charge without overcharging it, helping prevent sulfation and other forms of battery degradation. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a battery tender or maintainer to avoid damaging your battery. I personally use this Victron Smart Charger. It has Bluetooth and is IP65 waterproof. Get yours here and support the site. Victron Smart Charger
Check out these great RV how-to and maintenance articles on my site.
Check Your Batteries Regularly:
Even when in storage, it’s important to check your RV house batteries regularly for signs of damage, leaks, or other issues. If you notice any problems, replace your batteries as soon as possible. Checking your batteries regularly can help you identify any issues early and prevent more significant problems.
Taking proper care of your RV house batteries is crucial to ensure they provide reliable power on your adventures. Whether you’re using them regularly or storing them for the winter, following these tips can help extend the lifespan of your batteries and ensure they perform at their best. Regular maintenance, proper charging, and storage in a cool, dry place can all help prevent battery degradation and ensure you have power when needed.