Should I Remove RV Batteries for Winter

Should I Remove RV Batteries for Winter?

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Last Updated on November 12, 2023 by Jessica Lauren Vine

The question of “Should I remove RV batteries for winter?” has long perplexed RVers. Some say that you always should, some say you never should, and some say it depends on where you live.

The correct answer is a combination of the first opinion and the last opinion. The safest thing to do is always remove your RV batteries and store them somewhere safe during the winter, but this might not always be necessary.

Cold temperatures are what affect your battery, so depending on where you live, you can probably get away without removing them and storing them somewhere.

In this article, we’re going to go more in-depth on this topic and focus on the importance of removing your RV batteries during the cold months of winter. As with most things, erring on the side of caution is usually best, and storing your RV batteries is no different.

Do I Need to Keep My Batteries Charged if They’re Disconnected?

There is a benefit to keeping your batteries fully charged when it’s cold, and they’re not connected to anything. A fully charged battery can keep from freezing in extreme temperatures, more so than a partially charged one.

Batteries that are completely charged will only freeze if the temperature drops to 50 or 60 degrees BELOW zero. A partially charged battery, meanwhile, could freeze at temperatures of 20 degrees ABOVE zero. If you want to play it safe and ensure that your battery isn’t compromised by the cold, then fully charge it, remove it, and store it in a warm, dry place. This is a good thing to keep in mind as you research “Should I remove RV batteries for winter?”

What Causes an RV Battery to Fail if They Stay Hooked Up?

This is another important question besides “Should I remove RV batteries for winter?”

The two main reasons for battery failure are overcharging or undercharging. Overcharging can occur if your batteries stay hooked up for too long and you fail to check in on them. Overcharging can result in corrosion and lower water levels for your batteries.

Undercharging occurs when your batteries are discharged for a long period of time and can be just as detrimental to your battery’s health. Undercharging for extended periods of time will cause sulfation which is when sulfate material inside the battery crystalize and harden on the interior and exterior of the battery.

Undercharging can result from having a discharged battery and not storing it properly. Overcharging, on the other hand, can result from leaving your battery hooked up and not using it during the winter months.

Doing this can cause something known as a trickle charge. Trickle charges are where you simply store up too much energy in your battery and don’t use it. Both of these are bad ways of handling your batteries and should be avoided.

What is the Best Way to Store Your RV Battery?

Simply unhooking your RV battery and sticking it in a garage isn’t going to do the trick. To properly store and extend your battery life, you should follow a few simple tricks and steps. Improper storage of your batteries is the quickest road to premature battery replacement.

Inside the RV Itself

When you’re asking yourself, “Should I remove RV batteries for winter?” this could be the obvious answer.

One of the easiest places to store your battery is inside the RV or travel trailer itself. This is a safe place to keep your batteries as long as the RV itself is kept in a dry place and the temperatures inside don’t get too cold. RV owners can rest assured that both their batteries and their RVs will be safe with this arrangement.

In a Storage Shed or Garage

Your battery should only be kept in storage sheds that are kept at reasonably warm and dry temperatures. A garage is usually a safer choice than a shed due to the fact that garages are more likely to be heated and regulated.

Whether you choose to use a storage shed or a garage, the main thing is that you keep the temperature above freezing. Cold temperatures will slowly drain your battery over an extended period of time. For this reason, unregulated areas are an unwise choice for long-term storage or for an extended storage period.

Clean the Battery Before Storing

Don’t forget these other important things while you’re getting the answer to “Should I remove RV batteries for winter?”

One of the most important things to do after removing your batteries for the off-season is to clean them thoroughly and dry them. Here is a step-by-step method of removing and cleaning your batteries.

  1. Take a socket wrench and loosen the negative terminal first on your battery. If you have a fairly new RV or a large one, you may have multiple batteries to remove. It’s important to remove the negative terminal first for safety purposes.
  2. Take baking soda, distilled water, and a wire brush and thoroughly clean the battery terminals. Whether you have a new battery or an old one, baking soda and water is the best way to keep sulfuric acid from crystalizing on your battery’s terminals. The internal chemistry of your batteries is very finicky, and sometimes all you can do is clean the mess after it happens.
  3. After cleaning the terminals of your batteries, thoroughly dry them off to ensure that mold and mildew don’t occur.

Outside of making sure your batteries are clean, drying them off is another key to properly storing them.

Charge the Battery Before Storage

Charging batteries for your RV is absolutely essential to safely store them during the winter. If your battery has a full charge, it can withstand much colder temperatures during the winter than a partially charged one can. If your RV battery capacity is less than 80%, start charging it with a smart charger or another device to charge batteries.

An undercharged battery during the winter will quickly become a fried battery even if you store it in a cool, dry place. Make sure your RV battery is clean, dry, and fully charged before winter storage.

Should I Remove Lithium RV Batteries for the Winter?

A reader pointed out that we hadn’t covered RV batteries that are lithium so I wanted to make sure that I took a few minutes to let people know if they should remove their lithium RV batteries for the winter.

Always make sure to check the manual that comes with your specific battery for temperature conditions that will work with that battery type but as a rule, lithium batteries aren’t harmed during cold storage. Disconnect the coach from the battery and you are good to leave the lithium RV batteries where they sit.

Just make sure that you never charge your lithium battery below 32 degrees Fahrenheit so they do not get damaged.

Should I Remove RV Batteries for Winter? – Final Thoughts

There you have it, the honest answer to “Should I remove RV batteries for the winter?” and why. If you want to protect your batteries and prolong your RV life for as long as possible, take these precautions to make the most out of your camping experience.

No one wants to plan a camping weekend only to realize that you have a bunch of dead batteries. Take these measures to ensure this doesn’t happen.

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4 thoughts on “Should I Remove RV Batteries for Winter?”

  1. Eli Richardson

    We’re interested in buying a second-hand RV next week, and we’d like to get a new battery before our first road trip. That’s why we’re glad you talked about removing and cleaning an RV battery, so we’ll read it very carefully. We appreciate your information on cleaning your RV’s batteries’ terminals to protect them from mold.

    1. Jessica Lauren Vine

      That’s really exciting about buying a new RV, Eli! Getting a new battery will definitely help you reduce any frustrations on the road. I am glad you found the information about whether or not to remove RV batteries for the winter helpful.

  2. Your article seems to only address lead acid batteries and fails to mention Lithium batteries that need to be treated, stored, and maintained completely different.

    1. Jessica Lauren Vine

      That is a very good point. I will talk to the team and see which expert we can have add to this content to help others. Thanks so much for pointing this out, David.

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