Protect your caravan batteries

Protect your caravan batteries

Now that the states are opening their borders, we are all getting filled with joy at the perspective to travel again and start planning our new adventures. We dust off our camping gear, find our hiking shoes, uncover our caravans and… face a very sobering truth. Our camper or caravan batteries won’t recharge.

Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Dreaming about your next adventure?

Caravans and campers stored in garages, sheds or front yards over the past year or even longer have not had their batteries maintained well.  Caravan batteries are probably the second most expensive consumable replacement item in a RV after tyres but above gas and toilet chemicals. It is critical to think how you will maintain these during extended periods of storage. 

Not much can be done for maintaining tyres during these periods however failing to adequately care about your battery will result in a costly start to your new adventure.  For those who have not yet dusted off the cobwebs, we have a few critical tips to prevent unwanted expenditure and explain why these scenarios occur.

Three tips to maintain your caravan batteries in storage

  1. Maintenance of camper / caravan batteries during storage months should involve keeping a watchful eye on the battery to check its condition – is it swelling or has the voltage dropped to a dangerously low level? Have the terminals corroded or is the charger still functioning as it should be?  These simple visual checks can potentially identify if there is imminent battery damage enabling corrective action.
  1. Secondly, check that there are no parasitic loads on the battery that may drain it down to an unrecoverable point. An isolation switch from the loads is always a good idea.
  1. Thirdly, it is important to let the voltage on the battery come down from a float position somewhere between every 1-3 months. This enables the chemical reaction inside to prevent sulphation on the battery plates.  To do this turn the lights on for several hours and let the battery voltage be drawn back to around 12.0-12.2V. On a decent battery this should represent around 50% of its capacity.  Note that if your battery is older and well used it will reach this figure faster – keep a good eye on the voltage and do not let it drop below 12.0V. A full recharge after this will help keep your battery in good condition.
lead acid battery storage and maintenance tips
Have you been maintaining your battery?

Why is my battery dead?

The reasons that a battery may be “dead” are varied and the circumstances may be different for each battery and the environment.  It could be that the battery has not been “exercised” and that the internal chemical reaction inside has caused the plates to collapse which changes the resistance and can cause the battery to overcharge.  This is normally represented by a swelling in the external case as it tries to vent the gas that are created in this process.

Another reason is that there is no compensation for environmental factors such as temperature.  Many chargers come with a temperature sensor that can be attached to the side of the battery to detect if the ambient or internal temperature is too high and adjusts the charging algorithm accordingly.

Quality 12V lithium batteries are a good investment
Lithium batteries can be stored in winter mode for 6 months and longer

Protect your investment in batteries – they are not cheap and simple actions can ensure your return to travelling is not an expensive one. 

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