How to Store an RV Battery for Winter (Winter Storage Tips)

Properly storing an RV battery over winter is an important step that will improve its lifespan and save you money in the long run.

In fact, you should perform these steps any time you store your RV for an extended period, not just during winter.

So, let’s learn how to store an RV battery for winter step-by-step and ensure it’s ready to go for the next camping season.

How to Store Your RV Battery for the Winter

To store an RV battery for the winter, remove the fully charged battery from your RV and place it in a warm location, check the water levels (if using a lead-acid battery), and hook up a battery tender to keep it charged while in storage.

That’s a high-level overview for storing RV batteries over winter. Now, let’s take a closer look at each step and highlight a few key details.

Important: Lead-acid batteries contain sulfuric acid, which can cause severe burns to your skin or blindness if it gets in the eyes. Be sure to wear safety equipment (glasses, gloves, etc.) when working around these types of batteries.

1) Remove the RV Battery

As mentioned above, RV batteries should be removed in winter to increase their lifespan and minimize the chances of replacing them sooner rather than later (which can be very costly depending on your setup).

In fact, you should disconnect your RV battery and store it whenever you plan on storing your RV or camper trailer for more than a couple of months, even if you use a temperature-controlled indoor RV storage facility.

So, the first thing we need to do is cut power to the fully charged batteries, perform a visual inspection, and then remove them.

  • Switch off any appliances or devices drawing power from your house battery and switch off the RV battery disconnect switch. Then, if you don’t already know, consult the owner’s handbook to find out where your battery is.
  • Once you’ve located the battery, look for any apparent damage, like leaking fluid or cracks in the casing. A battery that is leaking or damaged should be immediately replaced.
  • If your batteries check out, remove the negative cable first, then the positive cable. Label the wires, so you remember how to re-connect them when you de-winterize your camper in spring.
  • Once disconnected, carefully remove the battery. Most batteries feature a handle you can use to easily lift it or slide it out with.
  • Cover the cable ends with caps, making sure that they never touch one another.

2) Clean the Battery

If needed, now’s the time to perform a little RV battery maintenance.

First, remove any corrosion, dust, or dirt from the battery. Corrosion forms around the battery terminals and will have a greenish, blueish color to it.

Battery Corrosion

Use a mixture of 1:1 baking soda to water to clean the battery terminals and casing. If your terminals have corrosion, use that solution and a wire brush to scrape it off. 

3) Check the Batteries Electrolyte Levels

Continuing with our winter battery maintenance, we will want to check the battery’s water levels. This step only needs to be performed if you have a flooded lead-acid battery. You don’t need to check water levels in Lithium-ion and sealed lead-acid batteries, like gel or AGM batteries.

This quick video will show you exactly how to do that.

  1. First, if you haven’t already, put on your safety goggles and gloves. Remove the battery compartment covers with a flathead screwdriver. With the covers removed, you should be able to see into the cells to view the liquid inside.
  2. The liquid level should be at least a half-inch above the top of each plate. In other words, the fluid level should be completely covering the plates, but no higher than the bottom of the fill neck. If needed, top them off with distilled water.
  3. Once the battery is topped off, replace the caps and clean up any spills.

Tip: Be sure to only use distilled water as it contains fewer minerals that can wreak havoc on the lead plates in your battery.

4) Place the Battery in a Warm Location

If your RV is kept outside in the cold weather, I recommend storing the battery in a warmer location to ensure that it does not freeze – for example, a garage, basement, or any place that’s warm and dry.

5) Connect a Battery Tender

To keep an RV battery charged in storage, you can use a battery tender or maintainer. Connecting a battery tender is an essential step in maintaining deep cycle batteries over winter or anytime you plan to store your RV for more than a couple of months.

A battery tender or maintainer (not a trickle charger) senses when your stored battery levels discharge to a certain percentage and will automatically recharge it. They then automatically stop recharging when needed to prevent overcharging (one of the most common ways a battery is ruined). And it does all of this without you having to do anything!

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Using a battery tender is highly recommended, but if you’d rather forgo the tender for whatever reason, then you can manually check and charge your battery yourself with a multimeter. You should check your battery levels to see how much they’ve discharged at least once a month.

To measure with a multimeter, connect the positive and negative leads to the battery and read the voltage display. Your battery is at less than 100% charge if the reading is lower than 12.6 volts. If that’s the case, you can use a battery charger, generator, or shore power to fully charge it again. Just be careful not to overcharge it.

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That’s a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to keep your RV battery over the winter. Be sure to check out our guide on how to winterize a camper for more important information on winter RV storage for your vehicle.

Related: How to Keep Moisture Out of RV in Winter

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