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Old 11-28-2015, 09:48 AM   #1
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Winterizing house batteries in 2004 Itasca

Hello,

My DH and I live in Michigan and have winterized our 2004 Winnebago Itasca for pipes and drains. We are unsure about what to do with the batteries. Do we take them out and store in our basement, do we start the MH once a month and make sure the batteries are charged? This is our first year with a MH and we don't want to have to replace the batteries next year.

The MH is stored under a covered three sided barn, one side being opened. It will get quite cold here and as I said, being new at this MH winterizing, we want to be sure we have this right.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you, Lynne
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Old 11-28-2015, 12:35 PM   #2
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If the batteries are fully charged, they won't freeze. If you can plug in the RV to use the onboard charger or a trickle charger, that's all you'd need to do. If you can't connect a charger, then take a cable off each battery and they will remain about 99% charged.
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Old 11-28-2015, 12:38 PM   #3
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You can keep the house batteries OK if you keep the unit plugged into 120v power. However, since covered, the chassis battery charger (assume you have one on the roof) will not charge these batteries. You either need to remove all the batteries and move them into the house or you need to keep them on power. If you are on 120 power, then you will want to start the RV once a month to charge the chassis batteries.
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Old 11-28-2015, 12:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhanan View Post
You can keep the house batteries OK if you keep the unit plugged into 120v power. However, since covered, the chassis battery charger (assume you have one on the roof) will not charge these batteries. You either need to remove all the batteries and move them into the house or you need to keep them on power. If you are on 120 power, then you will want to start the RV once a month to charge the chassis batteries.
I've left fully charged batteries disconnected 4-5 months through Ohio winters and had no problems. If batteries needed to be babied, why don't we have to bring in auto batteries on cold nights?

Starting the RV to charge batteries means long times of cold idle, causing more damage to the engine and transmission than battery troubles. Exercise the generator under half load or better, but leave the main engine off. An electric heater or two will put a good load on the generator when charging batteries.
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Old 11-28-2015, 12:57 PM   #5
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In summary!! You do have choices.
1. Keep it plugged in to keep the coach batteries charged. That won't charge the engine battery so you'll need to add a separate trickle charger for that.

2. If you have no power start the genny every month, under load and run it for an hour. That will do the job.

3. Keeping it in a covered building won't charge anything that has a solar panel. That was alluded to by poster #3 but not called a solar charger. And it's iffy as to how much charge the solar charger will provide and which batteries. That you won't know unless it's in the manuals. We had one and after 10 years I still didn't know what it actually charged.

4. The hardest one is to remove all batteries and take them home. You will still need to run a trickle charger on all batteries at home every month for 3-4 days.

I know how hard the MI Winters are. That's why we live in AR and have for the last 35 years.

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Old 11-28-2015, 02:16 PM   #6
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Thank you for the answers No power in the barn no solar on the roof. Went and started the MH today and let it run a while. House batteries at full charge.


Will probably unplug batteries or go charge once a month with generator.


When I retire in 16 months we will no longer be in MI during winter. Thank You, Lynne
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Old 11-28-2015, 07:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Will probably unplug batteries or go charge once a month with generator.
Lynne
Yes, running the generator will charge up the house batteries, but does not charge the chassis batteries. That is why to fire up the coach - it will not damage anything. Since you do not have power, you don't have the option for a trickle charger, however, you could put a full power battery charger on the chassis batteries and use that while you run the gen set. Note that on Winnebago MH's (like my Horizon), when you run the engine it will charge BOTH the chassis and house batteries I'm assuming you have pretty cold winters in MI like I have in upstate NY were below zero F temps happen throughout the winter -so mid winter charge up's are a must at least 2 times. I look for nice days to do this.
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:44 PM   #8
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jhanan is right about the generator and coach battery charging. But I would not start the coach engine just to charge the batteries.
Cummins advices against that practice. see the attached thread.



http://www.irv2.com/forums/f258/star...ge-271683.html
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:20 PM   #9
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Gas or diesel, running an engine to charge batteries is a silly exercise. At idle, gas or diesel, it won't really warm up to temperatures to burn off the moisture collecting in the crankcase, in a gas engine excess gasoline can also go past the rings from the cold engine conditions that increases the gas/air mix.

I'd suggest adding a charger plugged in an outlet inside the RV running to the chassis batteries so they can charge with the generator. BUT FIRST I'd take a voltage reading from the batteries to see if it's needed.

As I stated before, I've left my RV two winters in a storage lot in Southern Ohio. We get weeks of below freezing with dips sometimes to below zero and my batteries have had nothing done but a full charge and physical disconnect knife switches. One winter I was out of the country for almost 3 months and left the RV as mentioned. When I returned, I closed the knife switches and started up the main diesel and the generator with no problem. Taking a voltage reading before starting, I found both battery banks at almost full charge. After building up air and a fast idle to reach operating temperature I shut down the main and ran the generator and a few space heaters for an hour for exercise the generator.

Very likely if your batteries are left fully charged and disconnected you'll discover they will be close enough to full that it won't require you to run the generator or even connect them. Note: your disconnect switches really don't stop phantom draws 100%, only using those 'battery isolation' or 'storage' switches will discharge your batteries and the low charge state could cause freezing.

I've got friends on a ranch at about 7,900ft elevation in Wyoming who park their equipment outside all winter. Snow gets about 9' deep at their ranch. All the batteries are left in the equipment but one cable disconnected. From late September to May the vehicles are buried. When they're needed in May the battery is connected and they start right up. One old Jeep sat unused for 3 years and I saw it start by doing the above. I thought the gas would have turned to varnish over the time, but the cold retarded it's aging, I guess.
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