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Old 09-13-2013, 11:29 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 42
Long term storage

I have a 2002, new to me, Monaco Knight and live in Newfoundland, so I need to think about 6 months outdoor storage,and have a couple questions.
No 1 Does anyone use shore power,115v, with inverter on for long term storage?
No 2 Will solar panels mounted in the window and plugged into the 12v outlet maintain the batteries, if so, what size panel for 6 batteries?
No 3 Would a battery charger/maintainer plugged into 115v be a better choice?

The owners manual refers to the installed solar panel, however, I haven't been able to find it.

Any thoughts or advice would be most appreciated, it's going to be a long dirty winter.

Bob and Maxine
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:25 PM   #2
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Great question. Solving problems in the north often require different solutions than for those living closer the the equator as anyone living through long cold winters will attest to.

If you do not see solar panels on the roof I suggest the coach is not equipped with them.

Having shore power is the best option IMHO. A simple 120v 15A circuit will work.

I would not worry about the inverter being on but the converter component of it should be on to keep batteries charged. You could disconnect the coach circuits and just leave a charger on with a float shutoff capability. Some (perhaps all) cutoff switches disconnect the charger (not talking about the salesman switch) so some other means of disabling the parasidic load would have to be employed if you wanted to minimize current drain. Easy to check if charger/converter is disconnected with cutoof switch off. Throw switch off and with external power on, see if the voltage drops across the batteries. (make certain charger is not in float mode when you do this)

But anytime the batteries are charging regardless of the power source, the electrolyte level on Wet Cell, as oposed to sealed batteries, needs to be periodically checked.

Re window mounted solar panels. Not certain you would get sufficient power to keep the batteries up in extremely cold weather with a lot of cloud cover. Might also need to put a panel facing all 4 sides to get more sun coverage, albeit not much sun would be coming in on the north side. I would think if you had the panels on the roof it might even be more problematic with snow and ice cover for several months.

You could get historical evidence re hours of sunshine in your area during the winter months and compute the daily energy produced from the solar panels you are considering vs power consumption to keep the batteries charged. The angle of the panel to the sun is also a factor to put into the equation. This would be an interesting project.

With no power, I suggest storing the batteries indoors in a controlled environment and close up the RV and let it sit. This is what I did back in the day before I had an RV garage.

Good luck - hope my comments were helpful and triggered additional thoughts on this subject.
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Old 09-13-2013, 03:02 PM   #3
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Location: Denmark and Spain
Posts: 2,026
We have stored our MH for 6 month on several occasions. Here is what have worked the best for us:

Turn off main switch for both battery banks.
Solar panel on the roof - around 140W.
Echo charger - this will charge both chassis and house batteries.
Water Miser caps on batteries that otherwise need maintenance.

With the above set-up we have had no problems even after 6 month of storage and with no maintenance.
The Great Dane
2007 Monaco Diplomat PAQ - 2007 Saturn Vue Honorary Texas Boomer
Living in Denmark - visiting the US whenever possible. www.winnebago.dk www.lasramblas.dk

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Old 09-14-2013, 08:11 AM   #4
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Good testimonial re the battery caps and that the 140w panels do the job.

I would think geographic location, hence the environment, where the stored coach is something to consider when using the solar charge system you describe. The proof is your system worked with a system capable of producing 140w. At maximium output with 100% effiency this would be about 11A charge @ 12.6v which would be more than enough to keep 6 batteries charged I would think regardless of the temperature, however conditions would have to be perfect for this to occur so I suspect the average output would be something less than 100% for the hours of daylight and less than 100% is fine.

The OP is in Newfoundland and depending where he is located on the island the weather patterns might vary. In Dec and Jan for example there is likely less than 9 hours daylight per day and in some locations there could be 50% of the time or greater with cloud cover and perhaps several feet of snow accumulation to consider.

Perhaps you could share the location of the stored coach and the actual months it was stored might help the OP and others considering a similar setup.

There is no question that solar panels are a great feature on any coach from my perspective. I have limited space on my roof for panels but I considered putting some on just because it seems like a good idea to get free energy.

Another option for storage with solar charging might be to rig panels so they can angle vs being flat on the roof and pointed to the southern sky thus capturing more direct sunlight and enabling snow to slide off. Just a thought, most northern located panels I have seen on fixed installations are positioned this way.

Not certain how cold it gets where the OP lives, but I suspect there are many days of sub zero temps and while solar panels work better in the cold, battery performance goes in the opposite direction. So all of these factors would have to be considered when engineering a solution.

Hope others pop in and provide info to help re this subject. Good luck.
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Old 09-14-2013, 09:33 AM   #5
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Location: Colchester, VT
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Along with battery issues, what about the engine and generator? It's my understanding that I should fire them up occasionally during the winter months. True? I think the owner's manual even says to move the coach a bit for the tires.
Mike & Gail
2003 Diplomat 38PST F105942D
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Old 09-14-2013, 12:35 PM   #6
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For me (before I purchased a place with an RV garage) the best solution was to plug into shore power. A 15-20 Amp breaker on a good extension cord will do just fine.
I turned off all the inside breakers for the TV/Entertainment Systems and let it rest for the winter.
Check the charge rate at the batteries once plugged in. You should see 13.4 - 13.7 VDC max. Anything higher will result in the batteries gassing excessive and using a lot of water. You can also add Mineral Oil to each battery cell. (There is a few threads on this subject in this forum). Personally, without the oil, I only top up the Electrolyte once or maybe twice a year. Fully charged batteries will not freeze.
Next thing to pay attention to is Mice. Make sure ALL Food is removed from the coach. If they can smell it, they WILL come and get it. Crawl under and make sure there are no holes where they can enter. Plug the holes with Steel Wool and Spray Insulation. They don't like to chew on Steel Wool.
Of course the obvious winterizing must be done to ensure things don't freeze and bust. Take your time and be sure you have Pink Antifreeze through all systems. Don't forget the Washer if you have one and the Outside Shower Head.
As far as moving the rig. I don't think it is necessary. I parked on pieces of 2 X 12 and make sure the tires are covered from the elements.
Some say to exercise the generator at least a couple times during the winter. I did not but it can't hurt. Give it an oil change and service in any case.
As far as running the Engine, No. You will do more harm than good by starting it up and running without reaching full operating temperature. Just make sure the Fuel Tank is full to reduce condensation and put in an additive as recommended by your local Diesel Shop to keep the fuel fresh. Also, have the coach serviced before you put it away. Crankcase oil becomes Acidic so you want to make sure to have fresh stuff during storage. Come Spring, you are ready to roll....
I used a cover the last two years. Some swear by them and some at them. Me I felt it was worth the hassle because it kept the rig as clean as when I put it to bed and protects from the elements.
Well, there you have my full novel on the subject. It worked good for me.
Happy Trails.
2019 Unity LTV CB, pushed by a 2013 Honda CRV, BlueOx Baseplate, Aventa Bar & Patriot Brake
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Old 09-15-2013, 02:01 PM   #7
Join Date: Aug 2012
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I want to thank everyone who replied to my 'long term storage " questions, The info. was great, and I'll be going the shore power route, shedding as much load as I can.
The fourm is a real asset to owners in an area where RV service is limited and you are often greeted with " sorry, we don' touch motorhomes".
As for the mouse problem, yes we gotem!, and red squirrels which are worse!

Thanks again.

Bob and Maxine
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Old 09-15-2013, 02:15 PM   #8
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I would not install the water mister caps remember water will freeze.
1999 Trade Winds 7371 Cat 3126B w/current upgrades
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