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Old 09-09-2013, 12:10 AM   #1
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Winter Battery Storage Options

The discussion came up tonight. The co-pilot asked me what my plan is for the batteries this winter. I told her I'm planning on keeping the camper plugged in all winter. Her reply: "Oh great...then your plan is to replace them much sooner than should be needed!" I told her that I believe the batteries will be fine outside (Minnesota winter) plugged in. Her reply: "How much is that going to cost us leaving them plugged in?" I told her not much as it will be on trickle charge. The same as being inside. She thinks I should remove the batteries, bring them inside and hook them up to "some sort of charger" that we dont own yet. I have read many different opinions and the one I like best is the one I've chosen. The problem is I've been wrong far too many times in the past. Grrr.

I need some input as to what others do and think my best course of action is.
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:02 AM   #2
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If you have a 3 stage converter, then leaving it plugged in over the winter ia as good an option as any other, and is easier than most.

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Old 09-09-2013, 11:46 AM   #3
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Wisconsin here and I prefer leaving my batteries (I have two 6-volts) on the trailer.

Batteries are heavy and my two 6-volts are heavier than most so the less I move them the better.

I charge them fully with a good charger (not the WFCO on my trailer) and disconnect them through a battery disconnect. The full charge keeps them from freezing in our winters and the disconnect minimizes the discharge. The last couple of winters, for example, I was able to go many months this way without having to recharge.

I will check the voltage every 6-8 weeks or so and recharge if it gets to less than 70% state of charge.

I store on our property, which is safe, so I don't have to worry about thieves. I guess anything can happen, but I'm not going to worry about it. However, I would take more precautions if I felt that it was a problem, including removing the batteries as needed.
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:47 AM   #4
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It is a three stage converter (WF-8955PEC).

Will the cold temps have a negative effect on the batteries? Minnesota winters routinely stay below freezing for weeks at a time and can have below zero temps for many days consecutively also.
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triguy View Post
Wisconsin here and I prefer leaving my batteries (I have two 6-volts) on the trailer.

Batteries are heavy and my two 6-volts are heavier than most so the less I move them the better.

I charge them fully with a good charger (not the WFCO on my trailer) and disconnect them through a battery disconnect. The full charge keeps them from freezing in our winters and the disconnect minimizes the discharge. The last couple of winters, for example, I was able to go many months this way without having to recharge.

I will check the voltage every 6-8 weeks or so and recharge if it gets to less than 70% state of charge.

I store on our property, which is safe, so I don't have to worry about thieves. I guess anything can happen, but I'm not going to worry about it. However, I would take more precautions if I felt that it was a problem, including removing the batteries as needed.
We've pretty much got the same trailer.
So what you are saying is:
1. Leave them in trailer.
2. Get them fully charged with your other charger. (I read here on another post what that model was but I have forgotten what you use)
3. Unplug the camper when the batteries are charged.
4. Hit the battery disconnect.
5. Check in with them periodically to verify they are above the 70% charge.
6. Recharge if necessary.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:00 PM   #6
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The bottom line is this: If you have good deep-cycle batteries, I do not think the WFCO is sufficient to keep your batteries healthy over the long haul (see sulfation below).

If you have cheaper batteries that do not require a higher voltage (like Trojan's do), than the WFCO is fine.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TK421 View Post
It is a three stage converter (WF-8955PEC).
I also have that converter (8955). Here's the manual (WFCO 8900 Converter). Its a fair converter/charger but this depends on your batteries.

I don't think its a good converter for my battery bank (two Trojan T-145 batteries) because of the way it runs though its stages...

The WFCO's three stages are:
  • Absorption Mode at 13.6 Vdc range
  • Bulk Mode for when the converter thinks the batteries are less than 50% charged will give 14.4 Vdc for a maximum of four hours.
  • Float Mode is a trickle voltage of 13.2 Vdc if the RV is not being used for approximately 48 hours.

You need to be aware of a couple of issues:

First, the WFCO doesn't really enter into bulk mode that easily or for long enough to adequately charge my two 6-volt batteries (Trojan T-145s). Also, many deep cycle batteries need a higher voltage than the converter can provide.

Since Trojan batteries need 14.8 volts, I use a portable 40amp 3-stage charger that hits the mark. I charge through the converter for convenience and when I am using the trailer, but use the charger when I am at home.

Second, sulfation occurs when a lead acid battery is deprived of a full charge, which will happen if the converter cannot charge to its recommended volts as explained above. Crystals form within the battery and eventually larger crystals reduce the batteries active capacity. See Sulfation and How to Prevent it.

The WFCO 8900 series does not have the ability to de-sulfate the batteries so periodic reconditioning is recommended to maintain a battery's optimum performance and prolong its life.

On a healthy battery bank, reconditioning mode on my charger sends a series of electrical pulses to break up the crystalline form of lead sulfate and turn these chemicals into useful battery electrolytes. There are better devices to de-sulfate than the reconditioning mode on my portable, but this works for me as my batteries are 27-months old and I had done this from the start.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TK421 View Post
Will the cold temps have a negative effect on the batteries? Minnesota winters routinely stay below freezing for weeks at a time and can have below zero temps for many days consecutively also.
Batteries can freeze in cold temperatures if they are not fully charged. If batteries are stored during cold, winter months, it is critical that they are kept fully charged. That is why I check them periodically in the winter.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TK421 View Post
We've pretty much got the same trailer.
So what you are saying is:
1. Leave them in trailer.
2. Get them fully charged with your other charger. (I read here on another post what that model was but I have forgotten what you use)
3. Unplug the camper when the batteries are charged.
4. Hit the battery disconnect.
5. Check in with them periodically to verify they are above the 70% charge.
6. Recharge if necessary.
Yes - that is what I do. My charger is a Stanley 40-amp smart charger. Black & Decker is a popular smart charger. Battery Minders are very good (and will probably be my next charger) so you have a few options.
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Old 09-09-2013, 01:49 PM   #8
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While I currently live in California I have a lot of cold weather experience. Use a multi stage charger like a battery tender to get your batteries up to 100 % capacity. Turn the battery switch off and then check them every month. I just got in the habit of doing it during the first week of each month and eventually went to charging them using the battery tender until back to 100 percent. Was a bit overkill but I slept better at night and when spring came I never had battery issues.
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Old 09-09-2013, 02:19 PM   #9
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I disconnect from the trailer, but leave the battery in place, with a Battery Tender keeping it trickle charged all winter. Has always worked perfectly for me on all my batteries (Iowa winters). For example;

1. Commercial riding mower: Replaced the battery this year for the first time. 8 years of faithful service.
2. Boat trolling motor: Six years of service at end of this season, and still going strong.
3. TV. We only use our truck for hauling, so all winter it sits in the machine shed with the battery connected to the Tender. Next year will be number five.
4. Harley: Five years, with the Tender connected all winter.

None of my batteries are sealed, so I check fluid levels twice each season, and top off with distilled water (though rarely ever needed). And, I'm no fool when it comes to batteries. I'd rather spend the bucks for a reliable battery, than to try and squeeze another year out, or find myself sitting along the side of the road. A good tester lets you know the condition, and is a good investment. The only battery I ever let go until it dies is on the mower--not much risk of being stranded! I'll get a new trolling battery next year, and same with the truck.
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Old 09-09-2013, 02:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TK421 View Post
It is a three stage converter (WF-8955PEC).

Will the cold temps have a negative effect on the batteries? Minnesota winters routinely stay below freezing for weeks at a time and can have below zero temps for many days consecutively also.
Hi. I live in Minnesota too. IMO, the 3 stage converter works and is OK but not the best solution. Doesn't really fully charge the battery and is also a trickle charger; not a SMART charger. So, it can still "boil" out your battery. And as previously posted, it does not deal with sulfation or equalization.

I have had excellent results with the following:
1) Disconnect the battery from the trailer (Mine stay in the cold, in the barn)
2) Put a nice equalization charge on the battery with a smart charger
( I use a Schumacher Ship n Shore 15 amp smart charger)
3) Hook up a Battery Minder
(It's a mini-smart charger, has anti-sulfation technology, will NOT overcharge)

I use the Battery Minders on all of my occasional use vehicles; RV trailer, tractors, lawn tractor, motorcycle, etc. Most of my batteries last 7 to 10 years. I'm a huge fan of this type of product. (I have no association with any of them.) All of my equipment is ready to go at any time; including the trailer in the spring.

FWIW, here are some links. Again, no vested interest.

Amazon.com: Schumacher SSC-1500A Ship 'N' Shore 2/10/15 Amp SpeedCharge Charger with Battery Clamps: Automotive

http://www.batterystuff.com/battery-...ps/bm1500.html

Good luck and happy camping!
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