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Old 10-23-2009, 08:30 PM   #1
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Winter Storage of Batteries

I put my Airstream in a friend's barn for the winter. Unfortunately, for me anyway, he sold the farm and is moving. No more indoor storage. In the past I pull the batteries and keep them in the garage where it gets cold but does not freeze. The A/S will over winter in my driveway. Do most folks pull their batteries or just keep the trailer plugged in all winter so the batteries stay topped off? Suggestions?
Thanks,
Tom
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Old 10-23-2009, 08:43 PM   #2
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Ton,

I keep mine in the basement on a piece of scrapwood. (We have a cement floor, and there is/was some story about how you shouldn't keep batteries on a cement surface. True or false, I depending on what you read)

Bought a thing called a Battery=minder about $50US or less, and keep batteries hooked up until spring.

Though I'll be replacing the two Interstates with two Interstates in the spring, they were the original batts we got with our AS and are 5 years old!

Get a battery-minder.

Jonathan
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Old 10-23-2009, 08:53 PM   #3
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Hi Tom. The trailer has a small but significant parasitic drain (propane detector, voltage convertor or who knows..). A battery alone loses about 15% charge per month. Extra drag (ie, leaving hooked up to trailer) would amplify that by an unknown but potentially significant amount.

Appropriate for northern winter temperatures -- I find it easiest to deal with batteries removed from the trailer and put a charger or battery minder on them for a while every 4 weeks. Charged batteries will not freeze. I certainly wouldn't trust a 1978 Univolt (and probably not my 2005 Parallax) to safely maintain batteries for months on end.

I've had the factory OEM lead-acid batteries last a surprising 4 seasons (though they are done for now). Pay no attention to the urban legend of concrete floors discharging batteries. This is not true. Store them inside in the most convenient place, put a charger on them once a month and you'll be okay.
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:12 PM   #4
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:16 PM   #5
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Jonathon and Bob,
I don't have a univolt...I installed an inteli-power with a charge wizard a few years ago. I figured that would keep the batteries charged and would not let them freeze if I kept it plugged in. But, I don't want to run up an electric bill unnecessarily so I'll probably pull them out and store them. Thanks for the info.
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazylev View Post
I keep mine in the basement on a piece of scrapwood. (We have a cement floor, and there is/was some story about how you shouldn't keep batteries on a cement surface. True or false, I depending on what you read)
In Airstream Life's Winter '06-'07 issue, David Tidmore (a once driving force but now moved on from Dallas' Roger Williams Airstream IIRC) wrote about the myth of discharging due to storing on concrete.

Further backing:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449...tml#post538511
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449...tml#post376574
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449...tml#post376473
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449...tml#post207020

I hear batteries spontaneously lose charge on planets with oxygen-bearing atmospheres. That one is true ... but still, 15% per month, concrete or not (I stand to be corrected on that exact number )
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:56 PM   #7
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Interesting. Thanks. I'm a newbie and will be pulling mine out this winter. I've read disconnect negative first, but with the 2 separate batteries on my AS, I'm wondering if there is a curve ball there...or do I just remove them separately (one at a time)...doing negative then positive on battery one, and then removing negative then positive on battery two? Thx!
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:14 PM   #8
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I am storing this winter where I have 15 amp power. If I keep it plugged up, is there anything else I need to do? Also, any other experiences with an inexpensive solar battery charger?
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:32 PM   #9
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Taking the batteries out is probably the best way to go, however I've had good luck leaving them in. That said, and since I don't like to leave the AS hooked up full-time, my normal routine is to plug it in for the first week of each month. The downside of leaving the batteries outside is that, here in northern Maine, if you let them fully discharge, they'll freeze and self-distruct! Furthermore, if they crack they'll make a real mess.

The advantage of leaving things hooked up is that you can still use the onboard lights and, in an emergency (i.e. - loss of power) we can still use the trailer with nothing more than the Honda 2000 providing back up power to keep the furnace running and the TV on. As an aside, and unless I'm mistaken, you should never plug the trailer in without the batteries being hooked up???
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:51 PM   #10
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Taking the batteries out is probably the best way to go, however I've had good luck leaving them in. That said, and since I don't like to leave the AS hooked up full-time, my normal routine is to plug it in for the first week of each month. The downside of leaving the batteries outside is that, here in northern Maine, if you let them fully discharge, they'll freeze and self-distruct! Furthermore, if they crack they'll make a real mess.

The advantage of leaving things hooked up is that you can still use the onboard lights and, in an emergency (i.e. - loss of power) we can still use the trailer with nothing more than the Honda 2000 providing back up power to keep the furnace running and the TV on. As an aside, and unless I'm mistaken, you should never plug the trailer in without the batteries being hooked up???
I would guess that the reason you shouldn't plug in the trailer to 110v without the coach batteries hooked up is that the cables would be laying loose in the battery boxes, and that even if the battery box liner is plastic, the cable ends could touch each other, and they would be live due to teh charger. You would the be putting a dead short on the charger section of your converter. Probably would just blow a fuse rather than cause damage, but I'm not certain about that - I would think there is a fuse to protect it.

Likewise, the same could happen if you plug in the tow vehicles 12v trailer connector without the coach batteries connected. - you could blow a fuse in the tow vehicle if the loose battery clamps shorted.

As well, if you planned on towing, you would have no breakaway switch brake protection if the coach batteries were not hooked up.

Brian
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Old 10-27-2009, 03:01 PM   #11
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I would guess that the reason you shouldn't plug in the trailer to 110v without the coach batteries hooked up is that the cables would be laying loose in the battery boxes, and that even if the battery box liner is plastic, the cable ends could touch each other, and they would be live due to teh charger. You would the be putting a dead short on the charger section of your converter. Probably would just blow a fuse rather than cause damage, but I'm not certain about that - I would think there is a fuse to protect it.

Likewise, the same could happen if you plug in the tow vehicles 12v trailer connector without the coach batteries connected. - you could blow a fuse in the tow vehicle if the loose battery clamps shorted.

As well, if you planned on towing, you would have no breakaway switch brake protection if the coach batteries were not hooked up.

Brian
Brian:

I think that it also has to do with the converter "running wild" without a battery load hooked up to it??? Maybe someone else can chime in on this aspect.
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Old 10-27-2009, 05:26 PM   #12
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battery booster packs make wonderful portable batteries as do motorcycle batteries but MC batteries don't come with a case with handles.
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Old 10-27-2009, 05:45 PM   #13
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Brian:

I think that it also has to do with the converter "running wild" without a battery load hooked up to it??? Maybe someone else can chime in on this aspect.

Could well be, although I would have thought it would be just like hooking up a battery charger at home with no battery on the clips - ie would do nothing other than waste power heating the transformer I would think. But I'm no expert, I've proven that to myself time and again!


Brian.
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Old 10-27-2009, 10:19 PM   #14
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Great suggestions here. I'm going to go look for a solar battery charger just for grins. Otherwise the Battery Minder or Battery Tender seem like good ideas.
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