RV Repair – Tips for Inexpensive RV Repairs (Part 3) RV Batteries Explained!

There are different battery types for very different purposes. In this article we will be referring to the “chassis” battery and the “coach” battery.

A “chassis” battery starts the engine and runs the automotive systems in either the motor home or the tow vehicle. A “coach” battery powers the lights, furnace, water pump and other 12 volt devices in the coach.

Engine Starting battery – this type of battery is constructed to supply a high amount of current in a short amount of time, as when starting a cold engine, and then it is recharged immediately by the engine alternator. The internal plates are thin to allow more contact area with the acid solution. This allows a great amount of chemical reaction to take place in a short period of time. The starting battery does it’s job very well but will perform poorly as a coach battery.

Marine Battery – this type of battery is constructed in a similar way as the starting battery but the internal plates have more support built in to withstand the pounding of a boat going over rough seas. This battery is required to provide high current to start the boat engine, so it is essentially a beefed up starting battery.

Deep cycle/RV battery – this type of battery is built to supply relatively smaller amounts of current for relatively long periods of time without being recharged immediately. The internal plates are thick and robust to supply this continuing current but the power is distributed over a longer time span. A deep cycle battery will require a longer recharge time at a lower current level to be fully and safely recharged.

Multiple RV Batteries

Connecting Multiple RV Batteries

When installing more than one battery for use with the 12 volt RV system, it is recommended to purchase the batteries at the same time. The batteries should be matched with regard to capacity, brand, and age. This will give you the best possible life from your RV battery bank.

RV Battery Voltages

RV Batteries are constructed to supply 12 volts or 6 volts (for the purpose of this article).

In most cases two six volt batteries will have about 20% more capacity than two similar sized 12 volt batteries. This is due to the larger plates that are built into a six volt battery.

RV Battery Circuits

Two 12 volt batteries are connected in a parallel configuration with the two positive terminals connected together and to the positive trailer lead. The negative terminals are connected together with the trailer negative lead.

Two six volt batteries need to be connected in a series circuit in order to get the 12 volt needed to run the coach system. In this case the trailer positive lead is connected to the positive terminal of the first battery. The negative terminal of that battery is connected to the positive terminal of the second battery. Finally, the negative terminal of the second battery is connected to the trailer negative lead. The size of the jumper wire should match or exceed the size of the trailer leads.

RV Battery Polarity

It should be noted that the positive lead from the trailer is normally the black colored wire(s) while the negative lead is the white colored wire(s). This is sometimes confusing, as most automotive applications use red as the positive and black as the negative. Polarity is very important to the electronics and the various motors in the RV and must not be reversed.

Note: battery terminals (or posts) are marked with a plus sign for the positive terminal and a minus sign for the negative terminal.

To make it even more confusing, makers of after market items, such as solar panels will have the red wire as positive and black as the negative.

Before disconnecting your RV battery for any reason, it is suggested that you tape the wires together near the terminal that they are attached to and then mark them with respect to what terminal they go to. This will avoid confusion and reversed leads when re-connecting the terminals.

RV Repair – Tips for Inexpensive RV Repairs (Part 1)

Let me share this tip with you from a local RV dealer. He recommends that you put a single ice cube in a paper cup and leave it in your freezer and check it daily to be sure there had not been a power failure at the campground while you were away for the day, or that nothing else has happened to cause the frozen foods to partially thaw and re-freeze again.

If the freezer has been working well, the ice cube should retain it’s original shape. If it has melted and re-frozen the ice will be puddled in the bottom of the cup and chances are that the quality of your food in the freezer and refrigerator will be comprised.

RV Roof Inspection, Maintenance and Repair

Inspecting the roof sealant on an RV is something you should do twice a year. Why?

Because that is the likely place that a water leak will first develop. Water runs downhill, of course, and a tiny leak on the roof will turn into a major problem within the structure of the RV.

Think about this – one drip per minute (through a pinhole leak) adds up to 1440 drips per day or 10,080 drips in a week.

I don’t have time to figure out how many gallons of water there are in 10,080 drips, but I think you see my point.

Closely inspect the roof sealant condition on every protruding fixture on the roof. Any cracks or thin spots can be touched up with the appropriate material. If the roof sealant is peeling or flaking in any way, then the old coating must be physically removed.

On metal roofs I use a 1′ wide scraper with a firm blade, like the ones used by auto technicians for scraping off old gaskets. For rubber roofs I made a similar sized plastic scraper that won’t cut the rubber membrane.

If you heat the old coating with a hot air gun, it will come off fairly easily.

RV Repair – Tips for Inexpensive RV Repairs (Part 2)

You may at some time experience an electrical shock when entering or exiting your RV. This is often caused by the wiring in the electrical receptacle that your RV is plugged into or an improperly wired extension cord. If the “hot” and “neutral” wires are reversed, your coach and you may become an electrical circuit with unpleasant or dangerous results.

There is a small polarity checker available that will eliminate the guesswork and the hazards before you plug in your electrical cord. Everyone should have one of these as standard equipment!

RV Winterizing Tip

Never simply pour antifreeze into your RV fresh water tank to run it to the pump. Even when the tank is drained there remains a gallon or so of water in the bottom of the tank and this water mixes with the antifreeze and lessens its protection level. Also the antifreeze will be very difficult to flush out in the Spring and will taint the water taste for a long, long time!

Disconnect the water inlet side of the pump and introduce the antifreeze at this point. A pump winterizing kit makes this easy to do with the flip of a valve.

RV Reminders Tip

Ever forget to lower your TV antenna or unhook your power cord?

We have all done something similar, and this weeks tip deals with one method of reminding yourself of routine tasks.

Put a labeled clip or ribbon on your antenna handle, for example. Whenever you raise the antenna, put the clip or ribbon on your steering wheel. When you break camp, the clip on your steering wheel will remind you that your antenna is still up.

Do the same for anything else you want to remind yourself of …

If you have a slide-out, hang a length of brightly colored ribbon on the travel lock bars (if your slide uses these). The ribbons will attract your attention BEFORE you try to extend the slide.

Simple but effective!