RV battery failure bores holes in the pocket. If your RV battery malfunctions before its time, you might need to find an immediate replacement, which can be really expensive. A malfunctioning battery is a result of poor maintenance, overcharging, and undercharging. If you want your battery to complete its lifespan, you have to regularly check its condition and know how much charge it is currently holding. There are a few ways to check your RV battery, two of which are detailed below.
- Use a hydrometer. A hydrometer, which you can buy for a few dollars, can immensely help you in checking the condition of your RV battery. It is used to test the specific gravity of each battery cell. To do this, you need to take off the vent cap of the battery, and using a syringe, get the electrolyte from the battery cell. The electrolyte is a mixture of water and acid. If there is not enough electrolyte in the cell, you can add water and charge before testing the battery. Then, fill the hydrometer with electrolyte. Hydrometer readings below 1.235 mean the battery is weak and has to be charged. Hydrometer readings of 1.235 to 1.277 mean the battery is charged. After testing the specific gravity, put the electrolyte back into the cell. Keep in mind that electrolyte is an acidic solution, so you have to use gloves and safety glasses to keep your skin and eyes from coming into contact with the solution.
- Use a digital voltmeter. Another option is to run a voltage test using a voltmeter. First, make sure that you are running the test on DC and not AC. To start the voltage test, connect the voltmeter’s red and black leads to the battery’s positive and negative terminals, respectively. Then, check the reading. A 12-volt charged battery has a reading of 12.5 to 12.7 volts. If the reading falls below 12.5 volts, you need to have your battery recharged. Readings of 12.0 or 12.1, on the other hand, indicate that the battery needs a replacement. If yours is a 6-volt battery, your target reading should be anywhere from 6.25 to 6.37 volts. When doing a voltage test, keep in mind that you should test only the batteries that have not been charged for 24 hours. Otherwise, you will not get an accurate reading.
Charge your RV battery when necessary. But to avoid early death of your battery, make sure not to overcharge or undercharge it. Overcharging and undercharging your battery result in sulfanation. This is a process in which the electrolyte forms into crystallized sulfuric acid, which disables the battery from holding enough charge. The crystals couldn’t go back to its old form and are rendered useless in regaining battery power. Sulfanation, therefore, can damage the battery and shorten its lifespan. Also, do not keep your battery discharged for too long. Doing so can also compromise your battery’s performance. To know if your battery is already out of charge, regularly check your RV battery by performing either of the discussed battery tests.