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Old 09-10-2012, 02:24 PM   #1
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Are my batteries gonna be toast?

Just getting ready to head up to the Rockies and dust off the Airstream. We left it in outside storage for the past 11 months. I turned off the dc to the coach, as I remember, but I did not have a way to trickle the batteries. Should I assume that they are toast after sitting for 11 months through a northern Colorado winter?
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Old 09-10-2012, 02:59 PM   #2
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I would think if they are 3 years or older they my done. Only way to know for sure is charge them up and see if they hold a charge. If money is not an issue, then replace and be on the safe side.
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Old 09-10-2012, 03:23 PM   #3
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I would put them on a charger and see what happens, if they are toast, batteries are readily available almost anywhere and quick to change if necessary. If they do recover you've saved the cost of replacement at least temporarily. Check you water levels first.

I seem to have good luck reviving batteries, one of my classic cars just sat for the last 11 months in a friend's garage (unheated in the Great White North). I had hooked up a battery maintainer but the power was shut off at some point during the winter. A battery charger can actually drain a battery if not pluged in. We push started the car, and I drove home (10 miles) then put the charger on it for 3 days. The battery seems to have totally recovered and I drove the car all weekend with no problems. This is a mid grade battery from the local parts store, about 5 years old now.
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Old 09-10-2012, 03:24 PM   #4
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They might be better than you think, if, in fact, they were disconnected from all loads. But, the slightest load over that time period has killed them, and they probably will not come back. By slight load, I mean even a few miliamps.
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Old 09-10-2012, 03:25 PM   #5
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Also, I use a solar charger for the Airstream, pluged in to the 12v outlet in the bathroom with the panel hanging in the window facing south. It won't charge but will maintain my battery when not in use. This winter I plan on setting something similar up in the window of the garage I rent for the old car.
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Old 09-10-2012, 07:11 PM   #6
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I bought a car that had been sitting for 3-4 years, I charged the battery for 2 days and then used it in the car for a year and a half before it died.
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:01 PM   #7
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Depends on the type of battery and whether they were fully charged when you stored your RV. We had two Optima Blue Tops in our boat that would hold a full charge from early fall to late spring when completely disconnected from the boat and each other, using a marine battery isolator switch. While this was only 7-9 months, the Blue Tops were supposed to last 12 months or more in dead storage.
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:34 PM   #8
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I left mine in all winter(forgot to take them out ). 8 months hooked up and they are still fine. One battery is the original so 5 years at least. The other is 3 years old. I have no drain on them if they are left hooked up. Give them a try.
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:27 AM   #9
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Actually, the issue will not be so much whether they discharged, but whether they froze. If they froze, they're toast. You should be able to tell just by looking; the caseing probably would have bulged, if not cracked.

If they didn't freeze, they proably just need to be recharged and they'll be fine.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:17 PM   #10
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Well, it's good news that they're not necessarily a foregone conclusion. I am going to have to come up with some solution long term, as this trailer is going to be sitting in storage in the Rockies every winter for some years to come. Do you guys use the little solar panels to trickle charge? or remove the batteries and try to find someplace warm to keep them?
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:32 PM   #11
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If they are in unattended storage in subfreezing weather, I would recommend storing them inside (where it's above freezing) on a trickle charger.
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gringo View Post
Well, it's good news that they're not necessarily a foregone conclusion. I am going to have to come up with some solution long term, as this trailer is going to be sitting in storage in the Rockies every winter for some years to come. Do you guys use the little solar panels to trickle charge? or remove the batteries and try to find someplace warm to keep them?
we also live at 7000 ft on the westside of the Rockies. Until this year(when I forgot) I pulled them out, and placed them on my WOOD "not concrete" bench in my garage, I put a trickle charger on them every month to keep them topped off.
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Old 09-12-2012, 03:08 PM   #13
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I know that storing them inside is the ideal solution. however, I sincerely doubt that the airlines would let me bring them home with me as baggage. It has never gotten below 65 degrees at my house...
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Old 09-12-2012, 04:00 PM   #14
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Cold is a preservative. A charged battery will not freeze. Is the worst winter test is to park your Airstream in Death Valley? We all used to laugh at this non-gotcha endurance test...

DieHard "Starts on Frozen Lake" Commercial - YouTube

You probably had a fairly good charge present through the coldest months last winter. But plan on disconnecting the cables when you are away for months and months. A disconnected battery will drop charge slowly. That is accelerated by parasitic draw when it is hooked up -- odd little things like the LP detector are still functioning.

I bring my batteries inside in the winter so I can put them on a trickle charger for a couple days once a month. I don't store my 'Stream at home, so doing that while they're still in the Safari is not easy. Storing batteries on a concrete floor does not cause them to discharge or get damaged.

Check the electrolyte levels, plug it in and see what ya got.
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