Don’t let anyone lull you into believing that your RV’s batteries will be ok if you leave them in the RV over the winter months. When we parked our RV for the winter (wish we could have driven it to the southern states instead), I had falsely assumed that the batteries that are part of the power system for the RV’s living area would be pretty much ok because they would still be connected to the solar panel on the roof.
I had chatted with several people and many had mentioned that the dark color of the solar panel would keep snow melting and the trickle of power that the panel would create would keeps the batteries topped up.
Boy was I wrong. And it’s looking like it will be an expensive mistake too. You see, during the summer, I had discovered that the two 6volt batteries that are part of the power system for the coach were almost completely shot. I ponied up for the cost of two new batteries in the tune of about $360.
Well, I came to the RV because I wanted to check up on it and found these two brand new batteries completely frozen! What happened? As it turns out, the coach part of the RV will draw a little bit of power from the batteries on a continue basis. Almost like a phantom power draw. I was able to thaw the batteries and put a charge back into them, but will they last? I”m not too sure. I’ll be testing in the next couple of weeks with a clip on 12v lamp to see how long it lights the lamp before killing the battery. Knowing the current draw and what the battery should supply will be a good starting ground.
Now considering the conditions at the RV, as it turns out, if snow does get on the solar panel, it doesn’t create enough juice to counteract this phantom power draw. I know this for sure as I had a 12 volt deep cycle battery in the RV as well that was disconnected. This battery fared very well even though it received no charge and the temperatures dipped to -30 degrees Centigrade.
So, my recommendation to you is at the very least, disconnect the batteries. I think though, from reading on different battery maintenance sites, leaving batteries disconnected in cold weather can result in dramatically shorten lifespans for the batteries as well.
What I’ve done now is I pull the batteries from the RV and bring them back to my garage. I’ve got a spot on my work bench where I’ve got a trickle charger running and I connect the batteries to it for a couple of days once per month. I’ve found that the temperature that is just above freezing and the trickle charge is keeping the batteries completely topped up.
Well, one good thing in regards to batteries have cropped up. Since the two new batteries purchased last summer have been damaged, they may not be any good for the long term – that’s yet to be determined. I’ve seen at Costco that they’ve got the 6 volt golf cart batteries for sale again and they are pretty inexpensive in comparison to what I purchased last summer. About the same capacity too.
So take my advice and do yourself a favor. At the very least, disconnect the batteries. For real guarantees that your batteries will be ok in the spring, remove them and bring them into your garage and trickle charge them every couple of months. Oh and be sure to use black tape to tape up the positive battery posts while the batteries are removed if you do have a solar panel. Leaving an exposed positive terminal that could short out to ground could damage your solar panel, as it can push just a few amps down the pipe in sunny weather!