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Old 09-28-2013, 06:17 PM   #1
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Winter Storage - Indoor and Heated

Newbie in AK. First winter. Found an indoor storage facility that has radiant heat. I am assuming that unless there is a prolonged loss in natural gas/electricity, that it is safe not to fully winterize? Also, is it possible to leave batteries? If so, will I need to periodically charge? And I am also assuming that I do not need to top off gas tanks? Thanks for any input in advance!
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Old 09-28-2013, 06:35 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by akstrm View Post
Newbie in AK. First winter. Found an indoor storage facility that has radiant heat. I am assuming that unless there is a prolonged loss in natural gas/electricity, that it is safe not to fully winterize? Also, is it possible to leave batteries? If so, will I need to periodically charge? And I am also assuming that I do not need to top off gas tanks? Thanks for any input in advance!
Unless you maintain a trickle charge I would pull the batteries or provide a small amount of charge (not the charger built into the trailer). If you don't they will be dead by spring.

I have indoor storage that is not heated but is very well insulated. I have kept an indoor thermometer and one year it never got below 35. I winterized anyway and in your situation, you can't guarantee that power will always maintained. We had a severe ice storm in our area one year and some locales were out of power for almost 2 weeks. While I don't know your facility it always is possible for the storage facility to have a door open for some reason, thus negating your warm environment. Even in your shoes I'd probably play it safe and winterize. Here's a picture of my Classic next to the storage building owner's vintage Airstream.


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Old 09-28-2013, 06:39 PM   #3
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Alaska...no way would I trust the unknown.

I would winterize...

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Old 09-29-2013, 11:10 AM   #4
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Winterize in Alaska. YEAH . You never know. For the batteries whether you remove them to home or leave them in if you have a source of electric I'd recommend a battery tender. Low enough current so you can leave it on full time and will trickle just enough charge to help keep them powered up and warm. They are hooked in series so you attach the clamps to one battery and it will serve both.
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Old 09-29-2013, 11:23 AM   #5
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You definitely want to keep your batteries charged up. If you don't they will discharge and be seriously damaged. I like the Ctek multi-stage smart chargers a lot. I have 3 and they have performed perfectly. Make sure the one you get has the Ah capacity you need for your battery bank. See CTEK Battery Chargers - The World's Smarter Battery Charger

As for winterizing, where are you in Anchorage? If you are storing where power is provided by ML&P you are in better shape than if power comes from Chugach Electric. ML&P outages are pretty rare and usually of short duration. And does the facility have in-floor radiant heat? I you are in an area that has generally reliable power and the storage facility has in-floor heat, even if the power is off for several hours, the thermal mass of the floor and the storage area will keep things above freezing for a long time. Also, ask the facility manager if they have a backup source of electricity. OTOH, you might not want to take the chance. Damages from a really hard freezup can be extensive.

Welcome to AK by the way.

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Old 09-29-2013, 12:46 PM   #6
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I am a contrarian on the issue of batteries and removal. I have lots of personal experience over many years to back my opinion up.

Lead acid, flooded cell batteries do not have significant self discharge when they have clean tops and are totally disconnected. They will sit, unattended for many months and not discharge to any significant extent. They do not need to have periodic charging. They will not freeze and become damaged in normal temps (down to about 0 F). In fact, lower temps are better for slowing down their already minor self discharge than bringing them in where they are "warm".

I have had 3 motorhomes. An Argosy, an Airstream, and a GMC. All were stored in my large carport with the batteries disconnected, but left in the rigs, for 5 months over the winter. No charging was done to the batteries. All started just fine in the spring. Same deal with the house batteries. Totally disconnected, left in place, no charge, no problems.

Same with my Argosy trailer with two golf cart batteries. I disconnected them, left them last winter for 5 months, and in the spring when I re connected them and monitored the charge current from my 3 stage "smart" converter/charger, it stated off at somewhere around 4 amps and within a few minutes had tapered to almost no charge current. The batteries had not self discharged to any extent at all.

I store my Tow Vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, the same way. Just disconnect the battery and leave it in the rig. In the spring, re connect the battery and it starts and I drive it away.

The KEY is disconnect the battery totally. Most everything these days has some kind of tiny always on thing in the battery circuit. No matter how small, those minor loads will kill the battery and cause it to be dead in the spring. The battery will not recover from being discharged and sitting that way. It will be damaged, and will never properly be able to be charged again. If the battery top is wet and dirty it will act the same as a small load on the battery, and will also discharge it. The battery top must be clean and dry when you put the rig away.

So, disconnect the batteries, clean their tops and dry them, and leave them in place.

Now, on your heated storage, I would still drain the water, just in case.
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Old 09-29-2013, 06:13 PM   #7
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idroba,

Here's my take on the question. There is a lot of information including from some well known battery manufacturers that say otherwise. You may be able to get away with it but it's quite easy and inexpensive to keep a battery in storage fully charged. In the examples you cite, the batteries would start the vehicle without any problem. BUT, what was their SOC at the end of the storage period? Many manufacturers suggest not letting a battery discharge below 80% SOC if you want to maximize the useful life of the battery. Depending on the size of your battery and the storage temperature, your battery could well have been under 50% SOC. In the example given below, the 125 Ah battery would have been at 36% SOC. Yes, this was at 80 deg. and your storage temperature was no doubt lower, but....................

One thing I do agree on is your practice of disconnecting ALL loads from the battery prior to storage. Unless you have them connected to a smart charger in which case there would be no reason to disconnect them.

One reputable source of information on the topic says this:
"All batteries, regardless of their chemistry, will self-discharge. The rate of self-discharge for lead acid batteries depends on the storage or operating temperature. At a temperature of 80 degrees F. a lead acid battery will self-discharge at a rate of approximately 4% a week. A battery with a 125-amp hour rating would self-discharge at a rate of approximately five amps per week. Keeping this in mind if a 125 AH battery is stored for four months (16 weeks) winter without being charged, it will loose 80 amps of its 125-amp capacity. It will also have severe sulfation, which causes additional loss of capacity. Keep your batteries charged while not in use!"

You will find different numbers cited for rate of self-discharge.

Maybe I'm over conservative (anal) but I keep my RV batteries on a smart charger when the camper is in storage.
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Old 09-29-2013, 06:39 PM   #8
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With Wayne on this one...

Our batteries have their own room...

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Old 09-29-2013, 07:01 PM   #9
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I am with Wayne

Quote:
Originally Posted by wayneskid View Post
idroba,

Here's my take on the question. There is a lot of information including from some well known battery manufacturers that say otherwise. You may be able to get away with it but it's quite easy and inexpensive to keep a battery in storage fully charged. In the examples you cite, the batteries would start the vehicle without any problem. BUT, what was their SOC at the end of the storage period? Many manufacturers suggest not letting a battery discharge below 80% SOC if you want to maximize the useful life of the battery. Depending on the size of your battery and the storage temperature, your battery could well have been under 50% SOC. In the example given below, the 125 Ah battery would have been at 36% SOC. Yes, this was at 80 deg. and your storage temperature was no doubt lower, but....................

One thing I do agree on is your practice of disconnecting ALL loads from the battery prior to storage. Unless you have them connected to a smart charger in which case there would be no reason to disconnect them.

One reputable source of information on the topic says this:
"All batteries, regardless of their chemistry, will self-discharge. The rate of self-discharge for lead acid batteries depends on the storage or operating temperature. At a temperature of 80 degrees F. a lead acid battery will self-discharge at a rate of approximately 4% a week. A battery with a 125-amp hour rating would self-discharge at a rate of approximately five amps per week. Keeping this in mind if a 125 AH battery is stored for four months (16 weeks) winter without being charged, it will loose 80 amps of its 125-amp capacity. It will also have severe sulfation, which causes additional loss of capacity. Keep your batteries charged while not in use!"

You will find different numbers cited for rate of self-discharge.

Maybe I'm over conservative (anal) but I keep my RV batteries on a smart charger when the camper is in storage.
I stored my Airstream in Skagway, AK two winters ago. I removed the batteries, stored them in a heated area and trickle charged them. When spring rolled around..all was perfect. Low stress and no mess!
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:17 PM   #10
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We take ours out for the winter and use a trickle charger. I'd also winterize just in case.
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Old 09-29-2013, 08:10 PM   #11
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As I said, I am a contrarian on the topic. My batteries are left in the trailer, and thus stored in a cool to cold climate, probably an average temperature of 40 F. That reduces the self discharge rate I believe. I too have read the information from some battery makers with the rates mentioned of 4% a week at 80 F. I simply find that to be an incredibly high number. That would mean that in 5 months (20 weeks) I would lose 80% of my battery charge, and that is simply not happening. I would say 2% a month is maybe what I experience, so in 5 months a 10% total discharge. BTW, I just looked at the Trojan battery site, and they give no statistics which indicate any such discharge rate, at least that I can find.

As for the state of charge at the end of my storage period, as I mentioned last year I stored my Argosy from mid October to mid April, no charge system and disconnected batteries. When, in April, I started my PD 9245 three stage smart charger, it only sent about 4 amps into the batteries, and within a short time (maybe 2 hours) that tapered down to less than one amp. This was measured on an accurate digital ammeter. What the PD charger was saying, in effect, is that these batteries don't need a charge, they are virtually fully charged already. So the SOC was way up there and the batteries were not sulfated, or damaged.

How long do my batteries last? The Argosy had a single battery when I purchased it. I changed that out to a pair of Trojan T 105 golf cart batteries. Several years later I removed the original Univolt and put the PD smart converter charger in place. I finally replaced the Trojan's 9 years from the date of install. Each winter I left the batteries in the trailer, and did not charge them from fall until spring, but they were fully disconnected from the trailer and had been fully charged when the trailer was winterized and put into storage. I have never replaced a battery in any of my many RV's over the years with less than 5 years of life as I do care for them.

I will repeat myself. You can store the batteries in the trailer, no need to remove them, just A) Be sure they are fully charged to begin with, B) clean the tops so there is no leakage due to dirt or moisture and C) disconnect either the positive or negative leads from the batteries so there is absolutely no possibility of discharge from any source.

Never try to store a battery which has been discharged in any way. It will never recover it's capacity. It must be fully charged to store it.

Never allow the tops of the plates on any battery to become exposed. It is certain death for them. That is, check the water level in your batteries.

If you live in a cool to cold climate, it is actually better to store them outside in the trailer, as bringing them inside to "keep them warm" actually just increases the rate of self discharge.

One certainly does not have to agree with me and my methods, but my batteries do last and last. I don't have to handle them, move them, remove them, or even recharge them all winter.
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Old 09-29-2013, 08:35 PM   #12
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As I said, I am a contrarian on the topic.
One certainly does not have to agree with me and my methods, but my batteries do last and last. I don't have to handle them, move them, remove them, or even recharge them all winter.
And that is certainly your right....

As is others right to have contrary opinion to your contrary opinion...

None of my batteries have lost a charge because I was keeping them warm.

I will repeat myself...you certainly have a right to do as you please.

All my working life in the auto service field, I find your procedure, never mind.

TETO

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Old 09-30-2013, 09:06 AM   #13
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I too have read the information from some battery makers with the rates mentioned of 4% a week at 80 F. I simply find that to be an incredibly high number. That would mean that in 5 months (20 weeks) I would lose 80% of my battery charge, and that is simply not happening. I would say 2% a month is maybe what I experience, so in 5 months a 10% total discharge. BTW, I just looked at the Trojan battery site, and they give no statistics which indicate any such discharge rate, at least that I can find.
FWIW, from the Trojan FAQs (emphasis mine):
Do batteries self-discharge when not in use?
All batteries, regardless of their chemistry, self-discharge. The rate of self-discharge depends on the type of battery, the age of the battery, and the storage temperature the batteries are exposed to. As an estimate, Trojan batteries self-discharge approximately 4% per week at 80o F. You can read it here (search on "self"): Trojan Battery - FAQ's

I will continue to maintain my batts with a multi-stage smart charger when they are in storage. I expect you will not. I'm sure we will both roll on through the rest of our lives equally happy with our respective choices.
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Old 09-30-2013, 12:01 PM   #14
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FWIW, from the Trojan FAQs (emphasis mine):
Do batteries self-discharge when not in use?
All batteries, regardless of their chemistry, self-discharge. The rate of self-discharge depends on the type of battery, the age of the battery, and the storage temperature the batteries are exposed to. As an estimate, Trojan batteries self-discharge approximately 4% per week at 80o F. You can read it here (search on "self"): Trojan Battery - FAQ's

I will continue to maintain my batts with a multi-stage smart charger when they are in storage. I expect you will not. I'm sure we will both roll on through the rest of our lives equally happy with our respective choices.
Thanks for finding that, from Trojan. My search of their site missed that statement.

I think they are selling themselves short, or the temps that I see when I store batteries make a very significant difference (probably 40 F average). I simply do not see any such self discharge over a winter of storage. I guess this winter I will have to set up a controlled experiment to measure the recharge in the spring, and report back next April. I can do it with a pair of golf cart batteries in my Argosy, and with the original pair of type 24 interstate batteries which came in my new FC 20'.

I was looking up the old statement about chemical reactions doubling (or halving) for each 10 degrees C and found this:

"A general rule of thumb for most (not all) chemical reactions is that the rate at which the reaction proceeds will approximately double for each 10°C increase in temperature. "

Since my storage temp is about 40 F average, that is about 22 degrees C below the 80 F temp mentioned in the Trojan site. The doubling or halving statement would then mean half for the first 10 C or a 2% a week and half again for the second 10 C or 1% a week. That would say that the self discharge would be about 4% a month. Over 5 months of storage that would be 20% self discharge. My experience is that it is even less than that, I would estimate 10% or less.

At any rate, as you say, I will probably go along my merry way doing what I have been doing, and you will go your way too. Freedom is great, eh?

And I think we hijacked this thread pretty badly. Sorry to the original poster, we got off on other somewhat related issues, I guess.
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