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Open Roads Forum  >  Class C Motorhomes

 > Winterizing Batteries

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PopnBB

Bristol, VA

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Posted: 03/15/12 01:58pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This is probably more of a mechanic-type question, but I'd like to know how others winterize their batteries. Not just the RV battery but the one under the hood of my Class C. I've usually just stopped by every couple of weeks, start it up and let it run for a few minutes.

Normk

Canada's Wet Coast

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Posted: 03/15/12 02:33pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Starting and running an engine for short periods is almost the worst treatment possible. Almost all of the wear takes place during the period of starting and warm-up.

If shore power is not available, you may wish to seek other options such as disconnecting from all circuits which could apply parasiticic load and to install a solar panel to maintain charge, use a small generator with a charger, etc. A solar panel should include a voltaglimitingig device in order to prevent over charging if the panel has significant capacity. Solar panels are dropping in price but are still a quite expensive power supply per unit of power. They do make good economics for purposes such as maintaining batteries as even a small one will make a big difference.

A fully charged battery will not freeze but will self-discharge over time which opens the risk of sulfation and freeze damage.

If you happen to have connection to a VW dealership, ask if they still give away the small solar panels shipped to maintain the car batteries in storage.

They aren't large but may be enough to do what you need. Monitor with a voltmeter so that you have an appreciation of how much the battery voltage is actually dropping if having to use a fuel powered charging source and to ensure that a panel is doing the job.

skipnchar

Topeka or somewhere else

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Posted: 03/15/12 03:24pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Batteries need NO winterizing. Either disconnect leads to be certain nothing is drawing them down or take means to be sure they remain charged and they'll take care of themselves.


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smkettner

Southern California

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Posted: 03/15/12 02:54pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Just keep them charged and they are good to -80F.
I use solar panels to keep mine charged when not in use.
Minimize discharge by using a disconnect switch or lifting a cable.
If you start the RV I would drive it 20+ minutes so that you put it away hot.


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garym114

Bluff Dale, Texas

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Posted: 03/15/12 04:44pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Just charge them fully and femove the ground cable from the battery.
Stays charged, won't freeze, lasts for months.


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NewsW

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Posted: 03/15/12 03:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

PopnBB wrote:

This is probably more of a mechanic-type question, but I'd like to know how others winterize their batteries. Not just the RV battery but the one under the hood of my Class C. I've usually just stopped by every couple of weeks, start it up and let it run for a few minutes.



Run it for at least 10 min, preferably 15 min.

To minimize engine wear, use recommended engine oil, and if manual allows it 5w oil gets to the cams etc. fastest and have the least wear.



Start the count when temp gauge is at "warm" (thermostat opened).

Be sure you turn on the heater, alternately turn on AC to circulate refrigerant and oil to keep it from leaking out.

That way, coolant (with a fresh charge of additives) is circulated from rad to engine.


Now onto batteries.

Ideal is trickle charge them every month, and not keep it connected the rest of the time (no parasitic drain).

Parasitic drain of BCM is about 200 to 300 ma, assuming no alarms, remote key fobs, etc.

You will not deplete a battery at 80% charge for 6 months at that level of drain.

2nd best, use a cheap solar charger 10 watt or so is enough -- be sure you plug it into circuit / cigarette lighter that actually is connected to the battery.

Some circuits are disabled by the BCM.


If the batteries are old, there is a special conditioning charge (high voltage) that removes the sulfate coating on the plates. High end chargers will have that feature.

Normk

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Posted: 03/15/12 05:21pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Camshaft and upper valve train wear is not the main issue when cold starting and running for short periods. Connecting rod bearing and main bearing wear are affected to a greater degree because of the higher loading. People seem to believe that using a thicker (heavier SAE number) oil has a benefit but one should always decide on oil viscosity based on the high end of the viscosity rating and run as low a viscosity as possible for the operating temperature range. A lower viscosity/thinner oil reduces the time for oil flow to be established as Newsw indicated. In cooler climates we used 0W-30 because oil pressure came up so much faster than with 5W-30.

The biggest wear factor during cold starting and warm-up is not affected by oil flow because the problem is fuel impingement & washing of the upper cylinder walls and compression rings due to the effect of rich fuel delivery combined with cold surfaces.

In short, avoid short runs as much as is possible for maximum engine life. The effect of fuel washing is less with injected gasoline engines that for carbureted ones but the effect still remains.

One should avoid the practice of alllowing an engine to idle as a warm-up strategy but rather drive off using lighter throttle until the engine has warmed up.

Every RV operator should own a multi-meter and practice doing simple voltage and resistance measurements so that they have a basic understanding of concepts. One can obtain a great amount of help by phone if stuck but basic meter useage is necessary.

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