Dead battery on 5th wheel

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tjg

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Joined
Nov 17, 2005
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Have a 5th wheel and just went out to load for trip over New years and slides won't go out.  Think battery is dead, and it's a new battery.  Should I leave plugged in to electricity while in storage?  It's only been about a month since we used it last.  Does the winter months take more of a toll on batteries than spring and summer months?  Will being plugged into electricity now charge up the battery, or do I need to put on a charger?  I'm new to all this. 
 

Jim Dick

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Feb 11, 2005
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tjg said:
Have a 5th wheel and just went out to load for trip over New years and slides won't go out.  Think battery is dead, and it's a new battery.  Should I leave plugged in to electricity while in storage?  It's only been about a month since we used it last.  Does the winter months take more of a toll on batteries than spring and summer months?  Will being plugged into electricity now charge up the battery, or do I need to put on a charger?  I'm new to all this. 

A new battery will discharge over time. You probably didn't disconnect it from the coach and have some small draw from items like the propane detector. This will discharge your battery faster than if it's disconnected. Quite often there is a switch you can throw that will disconnect everything in the coach from the battery. Usually it's located near or in the 12V fuse panel. If there is not switch I would leave it plugged in or disconnect the ground side at the battery.

You should be OK as far as charging but it might take a little time. Be sure to check your electrolite level to see if it is below the plates. If so add some distilled water to bring it just above the plates. I would do it without the charger running as that might cause excess gas to expel some electrolyte while you are trying to fill the cells.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
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At our Silver Springs FL home
Yes, leave it plugged in while in storage - at least part-time.  Unless the 5W is only a year or so old, you may wish to use a timer on the converter/charger (it usually just plugs into a wall socket, so inserting an appliance-grade timer is usually easy) so that it only charges a few hours/day to be sure the battery does not overcharge. Older chargers tend to do that if left for weeks at a time.

As Jim noted, there are things in the RV that will draw power all the time, so the battery can run down fairly quickly. And it takes quite a while for a new battery to become fully charged. Same for one that has been run all the way down.  I would want it to charge at least 48 hours and preferably 72.  Check the electrolyte (water) in each cell before re-charging and top off as Jim describes if needed. A battery that is low on "water" cannot deliver its full capacity or recharge adequately.  You should check the "water" level at least monthly until you are sure that the level stays up longer than that and you can safely extend the interval between checks.

A battery is able to deliver only a portion of its rated charge when the weather is cold. The manufacturer rates the output power output in warm weather (usually 68-70 degrees F.) but it is substantially less when colder.  A battery that seems OK in warm weather may be inadequate on a cold night.
 
M

MTRancher

Guest
I leave my 5th plugged in all the time while in storage. It's new enough I don't have a problem with over charging.
Another consideration is when you put your camper in storage; were the batteries full? My truck does not charge the batteries while driving down the road; so when we dry camp we don't get any recharge to the batteries. If you happened to discharge the batteries at all prior to storing; your battery life was already shortened.
Another alternative to using the RV charger is to disconnect the batteries and use a battery tender or battery minder. There are a couple brands and various models sold, but basically most are designed to provide a maintenance charge and to also remove sulphation from the battery plates, therefore extending the life of the battery. In my opinion the best way to store RV batteries is to remove them from the RV and put them in a non freezing environment while hooked up to a battery tender; but sometime this is neither practical nor possible.
You can simply remove the leads to the batteries in the camper and then use the charger in the battery bay. As noted before; make sure your battery fluid levels are full especially prior to any recharging.
 
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