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Old 04-10-2020, 11:31 AM   #1
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Storing rv without power

Due to coronavirus I think we are going to have to drive our coach cross country to safely get home. Once we get home we wonít have power to coach and wondered what is the best way to handle batteries. Know we can disconnect chassis and house batteries but how often should we run engine and generator to keep batteries alive. Thanks
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Old 04-10-2020, 11:39 AM   #2
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Personally, I would plan on driving it once a month or so for about 30 miles to get everything up to temp. Also run the genset while driving with the air on to load it. Make sure to check the acid level monthly in the house batteries if you have flooded units.
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Old 04-10-2020, 11:43 AM   #3
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Due to coronavirus I think we are going to have to drive our coach cross country to safely get home. Once we get home we won’t have power to coach and wondered what is the best way to handle batteries. Know we can disconnect chassis and house batteries but how often should we run engine and generator to keep batteries alive. Thanks
Lead-acid, or AGM, or lithium? What will the storage temperature be?

When you say "disconnect" do you mean using the disconnect switch (which leaves the vampire loads active) or actually removing either the positive or negative battery cable (which kills EVERYTHING)?

If you leave the vampire loads on the battery can be drained in as little as a few days. If you pull a cable then the limit is the self-discharge rate of the battery itself... one number I've heard is 5% to 10% per month... and the general rule for lead-acid is never go below 50%. Lithium can go down to 10%, but I try to never go below 20%.

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Old 04-10-2020, 12:00 PM   #4
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What will the storage temperature be?

When you say "disconnect" do you mean using the disconnect switch (which leaves the vampire loads active) or actually removing a battery cable (which kills EVERYTHING)?

Mike


It will be at times hot and humid midatlantic near coast. I was referring to switches that would leave the vampire loads active. The storage will be close to us so no big deal going to it often.
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Old 04-10-2020, 05:24 PM   #5
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It will be at times hot and humid midatlantic near coast. I was referring to switches that would leave the vampire loads active. The storage will be close to us so no big deal going to it often.
So the temperature is such that you won't need to worry about cold snaps...

Honestly, I'd switch the stock battery disconnects off, switch off the refrigerator, and measure the vampire loads with a multimeter. That will give you an idea of how long the batteries will last without charging.

If you absolutely can't supply AC power to it then just pull the negative battery cables and leave it for 3-4 months. Then come back, hook them up and then drive it for 30-45 minutes. Then park it and pull the cables for another 3-4 months.

Are you sure you couldn't run a couple hundred feet of extension cord and run a pair of 3 or 4 amp Battery Tenders? That's what an acquaintance of mine does. He pulls the negative cables and clips the Battery Tenders across the batteries, then leaves it.

BTW you'll want to keep the top of the batteries clean. I've seen a dirty and moist (oily) battery self-discharge in two months. The same battery when clean (I wiped it down with a solvent-based cleaner) took over 6 months to self-discharge down to the same level.

Mike
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Old 04-10-2020, 05:49 PM   #6
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Alternators are not a very efficient charger and gen & charger better but it takes a long time to get batty back to 100%. If you go the gen route best to add load to get close to 50% load on gen... A/C, water heater, block heater, etc and watch amp draw.
Why not disconnect buy & hook up a couple of solar chargers and just position them to capture solar.
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Old 04-10-2020, 06:01 PM   #7
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Or, install a solar panel to offset the vampire loads.
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Old 04-10-2020, 06:19 PM   #8
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We live in Southern California. It took a while for me to find what we needed to do when storing without power. I did this by going to storage after a few days to check voltages, then a week, then two weeks... Now I know that if turn off all devices, and use both the house and chassis disconnect, and also turn off all circuit breakers I can still maintain 12.2 volts for 4 weeks. We have 6 lead acid batteries.

Yesterday was my day to go to our coach. I turn on both disconnects, at the circuit breaker, I turn on the inverter, both AC/HPís and the engine block heater breaker (this one does other things, not just the block heater). I then start the generator and let it warm up for 5 minutes. Then I open a few windows and start the AC or HP (depending on ambient temp), to add a load to the generator. I lock up and leave. I come back in 4 hours to fully or near fully charged batteries. I turn off the AC/HP and lead the generator cool down for 5 minutes, then shut the generator off. I close the windows, turn off the disconnects, turn off all circuit breakers, then close and lock the doors and head home.

Because I have wetted cells, I add water to my chassis batteries when they are fully charged.

I do not drive the coach each month. Plenty of snowbirds sit in place for months at a time with no apparent ill effects to their engines. Idling will not get the engine up to running temp so that is ineffective. Plus, if you have a DEF coach, it is actually harmful to idle for extended periods of time.

I rarely have our coach in storage more than 2-3 months at a time. Because of CV-19 we will be sitting still much longer. So, when it is safe to do so I will take the coach out for an hour or so day run.

Practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, and donít touch your face. Stay safe!
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Old 04-10-2020, 06:37 PM   #9
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Considering that you can get the virus, and be laid up for 10-14 days perhaps longer, I think it would be prudent to disconnect the battery grounds, right at the batteries. If they've been serviced, they will last for months and just need a short charge after a couple months. I did that for my flooded cell batts over 3 winters in Alaska without an issue. Batteries were fine but I did top them off before starting the engine.

Starting the engine and letting it idle is never recommended. You're suppose to drive around for 20 miles or so to get everything warmed up. But that's just a recommendation. You don't have to do that. You can leave it sit for longer periods, people do it all the time. Especially for diesels. Farmers leave them sitting all winter every winter without starting them. With a gas rig, I forget but there are some simple things you do before and after letting it sit. But that's usually spoken about rigs that have sat for years, not just a few months.

Really the easiest way is to just disconnect the negative cables right at the batteries and walk away. Takes all of 5 minutes. I keep a pair of gloves and a wrench in the battery compartment just for that.
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Old 04-10-2020, 06:49 PM   #10
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Ours sits for the better part of six months without any battery maintenance whatsoever. The terminals are disconnected & that is it. This year it looks like it will be more than seven months in storage disconnected.

We have an AGM battery. AGMs do very well in storage without maintenance. Wet cells not so good. Assuming that your battery bank is not nearing the end of its expected life cycle & assuming you have wet cells, a month or two disconnected with no maintenance should not be a problem.

Boaters do it all the time when their boats are kept on revolving moorings. The only thing live will be the automatic bilge pump. Construction machinery is left for months in storage with no maintenance. Same with farm equipment.

Don't sweat it. Start it up & run at fast idle for a bit once a month & you will be fine. If you don't already have them, you should, get a set of long heavy guage booster cables so that you can get a start from your car if needed.
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Old 04-11-2020, 01:36 AM   #11
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Add solar panels, and program the MS2812 to run the generator when the Lifeline AGM coach & engine battery banks need charging. It handles the battery chores ( plus monthly exercise) while you relax in an easy chair.

My Bay Star is thus equipped and it sat next to the house for nearly 2 years while I recuperated from a skull fracture suffered from falling off the entry steps. When I was ready to travel again both battery banks were fully charged.

Last week my wife informed me the generator was running as she set out for the senior hour at Costco. When she returned home nearly 2 hours later the generator had shut off. I do not have to add a load because the charger pulls 15-17 amps while charging both AGM battery banks back up to 90% SOC. The generator only runs when there are several cloudy days in a row. The system enables carefree camping in state and national no-hookup parks.
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Old 04-11-2020, 08:32 AM   #12
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It's interesting to see the lengths folks will go through to save the effort of disconnecting a battery terminal. For a few months this is the slam-dunk, least effort, near zero opportunity for failure option. Letting the batteries drain down betting that a few hours of generator or engine run time every few months will bring them up (it won't) or that there will never be an issue with solar or auto start generators is putting way more faith in the systems than I would have. Disconnect, and you're done. For longer periods of storage I'd entertain yanking the batteries and putting them on a maintainer. Sitting idle on a maintainer is hard enough on batteries but sitting idle and discharging for months at a time is worse, so it comes down to what level of pain you want to go through to minimize their degradation.

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Old 04-11-2020, 08:41 AM   #13
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I added 200 watts of solar and it does a good job but a real disconnect switch is not hard to do.
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