Here are my top eighteen tips on how to store your RV for winter. When you are putting your RV to bed, it is super important that you get it ready to store. If you follow a few simple rules of thumb come spring, you’ll be less likely to have problems when you want to use it again. Here are my top tips for correctly storing your RV. Equally important to preparing your RV for storage is checking on it through the winter months. This article on Winter Maintenance gives you tips on what to check during winter.
There are necessary maintenance steps you need to complete for every RV regardless of the type, like draining and perhaps winterizing the freshwater system. It’s also essential to take care of those high-dollar items like batteries and tires. I’m going to share the rules of thumb for those systems in just a bit. But first, you need to figure out where to store it.
RV Storage Tip # 1
Where to store the RV?
The best-case scenario is to store the RV inside in a dry, well-ventilated place out of the weather. Most of us don’t have this option, so we are faced with dry storing it in an RV storage lot of some sort. Some storage lots offer covered or enclosed parking and 110 power at the site to maintain your batteries or perhaps run a dehumidifier. As you add amenities, naturally, the cost goes up.
Here are some typical inside storage costs for an RV. Many storage lots charge by the foot. So for dry storage (basic storage outside and uncovered, no power) for 40-foot Class A, you may pay as little as $1 per foot to as much as $5. Inside storage may cost you much more. The table to the right shows you a typical rate you might pay for inside storage. So, for example, to store the average 40-foot Class A at this location, it is $326.00 a month! Inside storage is the best, but as you can see, it can get expensive pretty fast, and it is probably not practical for most RV owners.
The decision to dry store is dependent on the value of your RV. If you have a million-dollar Class A, then the need to store inside is much higher than if you have a $25,000 travel trailer. Climate may also be a significant driver for wanting to store inside. However, if done correctly, dry storage usually is just fine.
Dry storage is the most common type of RV storage. My example is that I stored my RV in Denver for several years, and there I paid $125 a month. That was for dry storage with excellent security. I mention security because it is one of the things you need to have in mind when selecting a place to store your RV.
RV Storage lots are a favorite place for thieves looking to steal some high-quality electronics out of today’s high-dollar RVs. I’ve heard several first-hand stories, and my dad’s 5th wheel was broken into twice in an Omaha storage lot.
In the case of the lot I chose to store my RV, they had roaming night security. There was a person that would patrol the storage lot watching for nefarious people looking to break into your RV. Tight security came at the cost that access to the lot was not 24-hour. I was able to work around that pretty easily, but that is something you want to consider.
RV Storage Tip # 2
Cover your RV
Another thing I did was get a cover for the RV. This had multiple benefits in my mind. One, it protected the RV from the elements, and two added just a bit of security. Usually, criminals look for the easiest access, and having to mess around with the cover, which was a pain to get loose enough to access the door, might deter a lazy felon.
I mention covering your RV while storing your RV because it is a very inexpensive option that will preserve the exterior of your RV. The sun’s rays, even in the dead of winter, can be very hard on your RV’s exterior surfaces. And if you are storing your RV in a sunny climate, the benefits multiply.
The things you need to look for in a cover is that it is ‘breathable.’ Breathable means that it won’t trap moisture between it and the RV and that it provides UV (ultraviolet) light protection. All sunlight is damaging to your RV, but UV is the worst. It can cause severe damage to the rubber parts (seals, roof, tires, etc.) of the RV. A sure sign of UV damage is that rubber becomes brittle and starts cracking. Much more when we talk about protecting your tires is below. But if you cover it, humidity could become a problem.
If you cover your RV while storing, you need to pay special attention to humidity. This is super important if you live in an area where the humidity is over 30% much of the time
RV Storage Tip #3
Humidity is an RV killer!
A very important thing to know about how to store your RV for winter is the humidity is an RV killer. Just like in your home, when the humidity is too high for too long, molds and mildew can start to grow. Those who live in humid climates are all too familiar with this problem. This problem is compounded in your RV because while storing, there is little to no air circulation. As I mentioned covering your RV will compound the lack of air circulation and may make humidity accumulating in the RV worse. It does not take long for mold and mildew outbreaks to destroy your RV.
If you’re storing your RV in the dry west, where the humidity is usually pretty low (less than 30%), you can get by with fewer preventative measures. But you should still put a couple of desiccant-type dehumidifiers in the rig. If you live in a humid climate, you MUST provide for dehumidification any time you store the RV unoccupied for more than a couple of weeks. There are several products out there to help keep the humidity under control. I use Eva-dry products. There is also the popular DampRid and many, many more desiccant products out there.
I read while researching the article of a person who used a dehumidifier with a built-in pump. He attached a garden hose to the pump run out of a window for discharging the water. He had power available where he was storing the RV. Dehumidification is an excellent solution if you are storing the RV at home, where you have 110 electricity and live in a very humid climate. A dry or humid climate will determine how many times a month you need to visit your RV.
RV Storage Tip #4
Check on the RV regularly
Yes, you need to visit the RV at least monthly. Make time to go and check on your RV. Finding a problem early can prevent massive damage or alert you to a problem you may need to resolve before you can use the RV again. This will give you time to fix the issue and not ruin your next RV trip when an issue or problem comes up at the last minute.
Like all real estate, it’s about location, location, location. Try and get a storage lot reasonably close to your home. That will make it easier to visit the RV on a no less than monthly basis. In a humid climate, you may need to visit the RV more often to service your desiccant packs. A friend of mine who stores his RV in Florida visits his RV every other week to change his desiccant packs. He has two set’s so he can take one home and recharge them. Thinking of the location, rodents, insects, and other critters can be a particular problem in RV storage lots, even in urban areas.
If you have a motorhome (*Class A or Class C), you should start and warm the engine to operating temperature. It is also a good idea to drive it around if you can. Driving it around helps to keep all the seals and moving parts lubricated and will help prevent mechanical problems in the spring. If you can’t drive it around for some reason idling the engine for at least 5 minutes will help greatly. Newer diesel motorhomes may not like idling for longer than 5 minutes, so watch this and check your owner’s manual for specific instructions. There are more RV chassis maintenance items listed below in the rolling chassis section of this article. Next to mold and mildew, rodents and insects can also be a big problem while your RV is in storage.
RV Storage Tip #5
Rodent and insect-proofing your RV
Rodent proofing starts with removing all food from the RV while in storage, but don’t stop there. My personal experience is stopping them from getting into the RV in the first place is most effective. There are many ideas on the internet on how to repel rodents and insects. I’ve had limited success with most of the home-cooked ideas. It requires some work, but once you take the necessary steps, you should not have to repeat it as long as you own the RV.
To start rodent-proofing my rig, I crawled under the RV and packed every penetration into the RV body I could find with ‘Stainless Steel’ steel wool. You need to use Stainless Steel to prevent it from creating a rust stain or rusting away and falling out. I’ve also used this method for years in homes I had that had rodents and bird nesting problems in my attic.
Crawl under the RV and use coarse #3 or #4 steel wool and a flat blade screwdriver to pack any gaps around water lines, drain lines, electrical wire, etc., with a small amount of the steel wool. Using coarse steel wool is effective because rodents cannot chew on it without doing severe damage to their mouths. This is a very effective preventative measure and may also protect you from larger insects. Another thing I have had limited success with is scented dryer sheets.
Standard dryer sheets are a popular recommendation in the online RV forums, as are mothballs. Note: you must use ‘scented’ dryer sheets. Some even claim that they repel insects. My personal experience is that dryer sheets work for a week or two for rodents but then stop working. My guess is the scent wears off the dryer sheets, and then the pests can smell that food.
Mothballs stink longer and may be a little more effective, but the smell may last for months after you remove them. I’d rather not have my RV smell like mothballs, personally. Of course, there are commercial rodent and insect repellants that humans can’t smell but are very useful on mice and rats.
Although I have not personally used it, I have several friends that use ‘TomCat’ rodent repellants with success. Reading the application instructions for these types of products shows that you need to re-apply every 30 days or so. If you’re visiting the RV regularly as you should, this may not be a problem. Also, natural repellants like mint and lavender work pretty well but haven’t had the opportunity to try them.
I like to select natural repellants when I can, but for creepy crawlies like spiders and ants, I’ve tried everything. Comet and baby powder are the two most recommended things on the web. Neither are all that effective. I was staying at an RV park in El Cajon years ago and returned to my RV to find it with thousands of ants invading. I tried the other remedies with no success, but a neighbor told me about Ortho Home Defense.
I’ve found that Ortho Home Defense works exceptionally well and stops the ant problem instantly. An added benefit is that this stuff lasts 12 months, so if you use it around the perimeter of the RV in the storage lot one time, you should be good to go. Another essential thing to do is remove all the food from the RV. When the RV is in storage, just walk around the perimeter and spray the ground. It is very effective.
RV Storage Tip #6
Food Smells Attract Rodents
Food smells are the biggest attractant for rodents to get into your RV in storage and cause significant damage. Rodents can destroy an RV about as fast as mold and mildew can. You need to remove as many food smells as possible. Begin by thoroughly cleaning the RV. Mop the floors and vacuum out the cabinets where you store food in the RV.
I had a neighbor leave food in their travel trailer over the winter, and when they returned to use it in the spring, there were rodent nests and droppings everywhere in the trailer. Plus, there was chewed carpet, drapes, wires, etc., all over the trailer. They even had to replace the mattress and cushions from the couch. It cost them $3500 to clean and repair the RV. That is not what you want to find! I’ve had a couple of problems myself with critters when my RV was in storage.
On one of my monthly inspection trips, I opened the engine compartment to find a mouse nest and about 2 pounds of tri-colored popcorn scattered all over the top of the engine.
I knew for sure I had not left any food in my RV, but someone close by had not. I removed the mouse nest, poop, and popcorn and placed several mouse traps and some poison bait out to stop the problem. I also got some rodent repellant and used it around the RV, and re-applied it during every monthly visit.
I think a raccoon get up under the cover and clawed at the grey tank vent. It must have smelled like food, and the critter was trying to get at the food.
Natural solutions will also have to be maintained or replaced regularly. Chemical and natural repellants work similarly. There are compounds that rodents don’t like. As the odorous compounds evaporate over time, the concentration of smell in the air decreases, reducing their effectiveness. I’ll say it again, the first best defense against rodents in your RV will be removing as much food smell as you can.
For more great maintenance ideas, check out these articles on my website:
- Top 10 RV Tire Maintenance Tips
- Spring RV startup and maintenance
- Winter Maintenance on your RV
- How to Sanitize an RV Freshwater Tank
- Electrical Surge Protection for RVs
- RV and Nomadic Travelers Fire Safety
RV Storage Tip #7
Never leave food in the RV
You should never leave food in your RV in storage, but I realize this is not what most people do. So, a compromise is that you should not leave any food that is not in a rodent-proof container. When I say rodent-proof, I mean cans and hard plastic or glass bottles. The slightest whiff of food can draw rodents and create tremendous problems that are so easy to prevent. While we are talking about food, let’s address the fridge.
RV Storage Tip #8
Clean and sanitize the fridge
You should empty the fridge and prop the door open. This will remove food odors and help prevent bad smells in the refrigerator while the RV is in storage. Another tip is to use some bleach wipes or bleach spray and wipe down the interior of the fridge. They will significantly reduce the chances of having a stinky fridge when you go to use the RV again plus effectively remove food odors from the RV. Now that we have removed as many food odors as we can, we need to prevent rodents and insects from building nests in your appliance and engine exhausts.
RV Storage Tip #9
Cover or fill exhaust pipes
Cover or plug the exhaust pipes (engine and generator) in your RV. Again, I use coarse steel wool and gently pack the exhaust pipe on the engine and generator. Don’t forget the generator. Use just enough steel wool to fill the end of the pipe. Remember, you need to be able to remove it easily, so be sure you don’t shove the steel wool in too deep. You can also use a plastic bag with rubber bands, or carefully applied tape to seal the pipe.
DON’T FORGET to remove the packing or cover when you visit the RV for your ‘maintenance run.’ If you have filed them properly, the steel wool will likely blow out of the pipe when you start the engine. It can be a problem, so try not to do this. If you have covered the exhaust pipe, it is essential to remember to remove it!
RV Storage Tip #10
Cover appliance vents with insect-resistant mesh covers
If you have a propane furnace and or water heater, you may already have insect resistance vents. If you don’t, it is easy to add inexpensive aftermarket ‘tool-less’ wire mesh covers. It’s just a piece of mesh screen with a couple of springs that you connect the exhaust and combustion air ports on the appliance. It stops wasps and other nest-building insects from plugging up the combustion air inlet or exhaust and causing a problem. Another tip is don’t forget the fridge vents.
For ‘dual fuel’ (gas and electric) wall fridges with vents through the sidewall, the easiest trick I’ve found is to use a garbage bag. Take the cover off and put it in the garbage bag, and reinstall the vent cover. Using a pair of scissors trim the outside portion of the garbage bag even with the face of the vent. Trimming the bag prevents the wind from whipping the bag around and marring the surface of the RV or vent cover. Don’t use tape to cover the vents.
I don’t recommend tape as is it too difficult to remove after being exposed to the elements for an extended period of time. Tape tends to leave a residue that can be hard to remove. Don’t forget about the fridge roof vent.
Fridge Roof Vents
Most roof fridge vents will have a metal mesh under the cover that prevents insects. On this old picture of my roof, you may notice that the front half of the mesh is missing. I was using that vent for cable access for my cell phone booster. I replaced my fridge with a residential electric and filled the vent with insulating foam with spray foam around the perimeter. I was not worried about insects or snow drifting into it. I mention snow because one year, I had snow drift under the roof and wall covers that was hard to repair.
If you live in a snowy location, it is a good idea to cover the roof fridge vent, again with a garbage bag. Use a bungee cord to secure the bag. Doing this will help prevent snow drifting under and into the top of the fridge compartment. If you don’t have a bungee handy, you may have to use tape to secure the bag. Just be sure that you don’t tape the bag to the roof. Again, you will leave adhesive residue on the roof that can damage it.
The fridge vent is just one of several you need to address on the roof. I don’t recommend packing the plumbing vents with anything. It may fall into the holding tank and cause huge problems. There should be insect resistant covers on the vents in the first place, but if you climb up there and find any open pipes sticking out without a cover, you should address it. Again proper drain vents are cheap and easy to install. With them you should not have any problems.
Otherwise, using a bread sack and rubber bands, you can cover them pretty adequately, but keep in mind that they will decompose over time and fail. The best solution is to install a proper cover.
While we are thinking of doors, it is also a good idea to leave all your cabinet and closet doors ajar while the RV is in storage. Propping doors open will help keep malodors and humidity from building up in closed spaces. Regardless of where you store your RV, you need ‘winterize’ the RV.
RV Storage Tip #11
Winterization is not just for those who live in cold climates. Anytime you put your RV in storage, you should dump and flush the black and grey tanks and drain the freshwater tank. Leaving water in the fresh tank may cause problems with it becoming stale.
Some RV’s have ‘low point’ drains where a drain is installed at the lowest point of the water lines. If you open them, the lines will drain to the ground. Don’t forget to open all the faucets to ensure that the lines are adequately drained. You can also buy a widget to attach to the freshwater inlet. You are using air from a compressor ‘blow’ the water out of the lines. It is okay for areas that don’t freeze, but I don’t recommend it as a winterization method in cold climates.
Draining the lines helps prevent lousy taste and odors from getting into the water system. If you live in a climate where the temperature does not drop below freezing, that should cover you on the water systems while storing your RV. If you live in an environment with freezing temperatures, you need to take additional steps.
Cold Weather Winterization
It involves filling the water lines and fixtures with a drinking water safe (non-toxic) RV antifreeze. There are so many variations of RV out there it is impossible to give you step by step instructions. Consult your owner’s manuals. Consult your owner manuals for instructions for winterizing icemakers and washing machines.
You may want to install a winterization kit. It is a hose and some valves that allow you to pump antifreeze through the water system with the water pump in the RV. They are inexpensive compared to having a repair done and easy to install with basic hand tools.
A good rule of thumb is to start filling the water system with antifreeze by opening the faucet furthest from the pump and working towards the pump. Don’t forget the hand sprays for your toilet and shower if you have them. I broke both of them the first time I winterized my RV. Flush the toilet and run sufficient water to make sure there is antifreeze in the valve to protect it as well.
Next, add a gallon of the antifreeze to both of the black and grey tanks. It will drain to the lowest point in the tank, the valves, and protect them from freezing. While we are talking about the valves before putting antifreeze in the tank, lubricate the valve stems.
A quick spray of WD40 on the valve stem then opening and closing the valve a couple of times will lubricate the valve stem seal and prevent them from leaking. It will also make them operate much better and prevent them from ‘freezing’ shut because of corrosion on the valve stem. Finally, don’t forget the water heater.
Winterizing the Water Heater
If you have a tankless water heater like I do running, the non-toxic antifreeze through the water lines is enough to protect the unit. However, check your owner’s manual for the device. It may have particular winterization requirements. Traditional RV water heaters need extra attention. Typically there will be a bypass valve for the water heater because needing 6 or 10 gallons of antifreeze to fill the heater is not practical.
To winterize the water heater, first make sure it is turned off and cold. Do not work on a ‘hot’ hot water heater. You can be severely burned. Open the pressure relief valve and if you can bypass the unit and remove the drain plug. Drain the water heater altogether. You may want to install a bypass kit to make winterizing the water system easier.
Don’t forget water filters and outside showers or faucets. Remove and discard the filters. If you can, bypass the filter before running the non-toxic antifreeze through the water lines. If you can’t bypass it, then remove the filter cartridge(s) and fill with antifreeze. That covers maintaining the house part of your RV. Now let’s look at the rolling chassis maintenance items you need to address.
Maintaining the Rolling Chassis
There are a few items you need to maintain on the rolling chassis to make sure it is ready for storage. The tires are the most important thing to address.
When putting your RV to bed for winter is super important that you maintain your tires properly. First thing to do is cover those tires!
RV Storage Tip #12
Class A tires cost $5-600 each, and Class C and towed RV tires run $150-300 each (perhaps more). Tire covers cost $50-150 for a set of 4…less than the cost of one tire. Covering the tires will help keep them in good shape. You should NOT put any petroleum, alcohol, or silicone-based tire dressing (Armor All, etc.) on the tires. These things damage your tires. I have a great article on maintaining the tires on your RV here: Top 10 RV Tire Maintenance Tips
Don’t use Tire Dressing
In many cases, it is not the dressing product itself that can be a problem but a chemical reaction that the product can have with the antioxidant waxes found in the tire. Heat can add to this adverse reaction.
When these same dressing products are applied to a passenger car tire that is replaced every three or four years, it is rare to see a problem. However, since Recreational Vehicle tires usually last much longer, there is more time for a chemical reaction to occur.
Proper cleaning of tires is essential to obtain the maximum years of service. Road oil will cause deterioration of rubber, and dirt buildup will hold contaminants next to the tire. A soft brush and mild car wash soap is the best way to clean tires.
Parking on wood or concrete can wick critical petroleum compounds from the rubber of the tires damaging them. Park on plastic blocks or place a rubber floor mat or garbage bag under the tire.
RV Storage Tip #13
Remove as much weight as possible
If at all possible, remove as much weight from the tires as you can. Jack the RV up and block the frame, so that the tires don’t have the full weight of the RV on them. It will help stop flat spots from developing on the tires when they sit for months. Correctly supporting the tires is essential anytime you park the RV on blocks.
You must make sure that the weight of the vehicle is supported by the whole tire. The block should be completely under the tire. Don’t leave an edge of a tire hanging off the side of the block!
I can’t give you advice on how to jack up your RV. RV owners with jacks for leveling their coach may think I’ll just lift the tires off the ground with the jacks and leave it that way. It is not recommended and strongly discouraged because in humid climates, the jack tube can rust and be costly to repair. Also, you should never crawl under an RV only supported on the leveling jacks. You could be killed if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a jack fails.
In every owner’s manual, there are definite warnings about this. You should always support the RV properly with jack stands or wood blocks supporting the frame. It’s also an excellent idea to place a garbage bag or rubber floor mat between the tires and the ground. Parking on plastic is a good idea too. In any case, be sure the tires are properly inflated.
Tire Pressure Loss In Storage
Tires naturally leak a little air over time. It’s not much, but you may notice some loss of air after your RV is in storage for a couple of months. Starting with full tires will minimize the chances that you leak enough air to break the sealing bead on the tire and end up with a flat. There is also an 80% underinflated tire rule for commercial vehicles.
The tire safety experts and government agencies that investigate crash causes estimate that many, many crashes are caused by underinflated tires. See this article for just one example: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/809846 RV Storage Tip #14
A Warning about Underinflated Tires
Under inflation is often referred to as a “run-flat” tire and is caused by operating a tire at low or zero pressure. A tire is considered to be flat when it has operated at less than 80% of the recommended inflation pressure.
So, for example, if you should be running your tires at 110 psi for the load you are carrying, and the tire pressure drops to 80% of that, 88 psi is considered flat. When a tire is underinflated for the weight it is carrying, the sidewall flexes too much, and it builds up heat.
The tire is unable to dissipate the heat effectively, and the heat damages the inner liner, the casing, and the outer sidewall of the tire. When a tire is operated underinflated, the tire casing is irreversibly damaged. This same thing will occur, storing your RV with under-inflated tires carrying all the weight will also cause this type of damage.
If a tire has been operated underinflated, there will be physical signs of damage. The inner liner will show signs of marbling or creasing. The sidewall may show signs of creasing or flexing damage. If an extremely underinflated tire is operated at highway speeds, the tire may unseat itself from the rim. The rim will be destroyed as the wheel rolls on the uninflated sidewall.
Have I convinced you yet of the importance of taking care of your tires when storing your RV? I certainly hope so. Moving on to the engine and fuel systems.
RV Storage Tip #15
Maintaining the Fuel Systems and Chassis
Fuel ages over time. Gas and diesel both have this problem. There are treatments available to keep the fuel fresh. I have used the StaBil products in my gas engine equipment. For diesel, I prefer Power Service products. Now those are my opinions, and there are hundreds of other products that claim the same things, but these two work very well for me. Another problem that can come up with diesel is the growth of algae in the fuel tank.
Algae in the tank can cause tremendous problems in your diesel engine. If you live in a humid, non-freezing climate, you should be particularly concerned with this problem. Again it’s an easy fix to add some algaecide or biocide to the tank. Another thing that can cause a problem is moisture condensing in the fuel tank.
It’s also a good idea to change the oil and lube all the grease fittings before putting the RV in storage. It helps prevent moisture in the crankcase and other moving metal parts on the chassis. Finally, you must make sure your batteries are fully charged.
RV Storage Tip #16
Another expensive to replace item in the RV you need to prepare for winter is the batteries. Lead-acid Batteries for the typical RV cost between $100 and $200 each. If you have four or more, that is a pretty good chunk of change if you kill them while storing the RV by not getting them ready to store. Lithiums are 4-5 times more expensive.
With lithium battery costs around $900-1000 each if you have four that you destroy because they discharge too deeply. You can buy a decent used car for your teen driver for that kind of money. Hopefully, it should be clear that maintaining them will be much less costly than not! First, a little background.
All batteries discharge while they are in storage. Leaving a lead-acid battery over the winter in a low charge state causes battery sulfation, and this kills cells. Letting a lead-acid battery discharge too deeply can allow it to freeze and permanently damage the battery. Plus, it may leak all over the battery tray. It is a big mess that is tough to clean up and best avoided.
Lead-Acid Battery Sulfation
During prolonged charge deprivation, however, the amorphous lead sulfate converts to a stable crystalline and deposits on the negative plates. It leads to the development of large crystals that reduce the battery’s active material, which is responsible for the performance. Check out this article on Preventing Battery Sulfation in your RVs batteries
There are two types of sulfation: reversible (soft sulfation), and permanent (hard sulfation). Early soft sulfation can sometimes be corrected by applying an overcharge to a fully charged battery. Higher-end battery chargers offer a setting to de-sulfate a battery, but they are expensive as well.
Permanent sulfation sets in when the battery has been in a low state-of-charge for weeks or months. Depending on the age and condition of the battery, recovery may not be possible, and the battery refuses to take and hold a charge. You can avoid sulfation by making sure the battery stays fully charged. Lithium batteries also discharge while in storage but at a much slower rate.
Likewise, letting a lithium battery voltage drop too low can permanently damage them. In most cases, if you’re storing your batteries for six months or less and you park with them fully charged, you should not have any problems with lithium. However, you must disconnect the negative battery cable.
Most Class A’s and some Class C’s will have a master battery disconnect. IT IS FOR THE CHASSIS Only!!! Consult your owner’s manual for locations and operating instructions. You may also have a disconnect for your house batteries. Turn it off too. Otherwise, disconnect the negative terminals to stop any sneak current from killing the battery. Oh, and be sure to top your lead-acid batteries off with distilled water when you’re checking the other fluids.
Sneak current is when you have some amount of current flowing that you may not know exists. An example: In my first year of storing my RV, I had it in my driveway. I had a 110-battery tender attached to the house batteries. I also have a solar chassis battery tender. The tender appeared not to be charging the batteries.
Some investigation reminded me of sneak current. I had not turned off my inverter, thinking that I was not using any 110 power in the RV. I’m good. Well, the inverter took 3 amps of power just to be turned on (not providing a load, just idling), and the battery tender was only 2 1/2 amps. I was not replacing the amount of power the inverter was using, and I was losing charge. The one sure way to make sure there is no sneak current is to disconnect the negative side of the battery. Battery tenders are an inexpensive solution to extend the battery life in your RV.
You will find additional tips on extending the lifespan of your RVs batteries here: How to Extend the Lifespan of Your RVs House Batteries
RV Storage Tip #17
Battery tenders are available and inexpensive to install. There are 110-volt types if you have utility power at your storage location or solar. If you do have 110-volt power at the storage facility, it may be ‘rotating’ power. It means that you will have 110 power for a couple of hours a day. It is enough to maintain your batteries in a fully charged state and prevent sulfation. For those in dry storage, solar also works very well.
Solar battery tenders are just that, solar. They work anywhere the sun is shining. Comprised of a small solar panel, a charge controller, and a way to connect to the battery, they are super simple to use. Some use a cigarette lighter plug or can connect to the battery. I prefer the direct connection types myself, but either should be enough to keep your batteries charged.
If you get a solar-type, be sure that it has a charge controller. In the simplest of terms, this is a device that monitors the battery voltage and shuts the charger off when the battery reaches a fully charged level. Overcharging a battery can be just as damaging as leaving a lead battery discharged too long.
Finally, if you have four batteries or less, you’ll need between 2-5 amps to maintain the battery at full charge properly. If you have a larger battery bank, consult your owner’s manual or the manufacturer.
You’re Ready for Storage
That should do it. Follow these simple guidelines, and you should be in good shape. I’m prepared checklists that you will find here that may help you develop a checklist specific to your RV that will help you make sure that you have properly cared for your RV prior to putting it to bed for the season.
I’ve set up an Amazon Store to make it handy for you to find the items I am discussing in this article. These are items I have personally used and found to work well and offer good value. As an Amazon affiliate, I get a small commission if you purchase these products through the embedded links or in my store. I appreciate your support. It allows me to continue to provide what I hope are very helpful RV lifestyle articles. Now that is out of the way let’s talk about where to store your RV.