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If you have a car, RV, ATV, or other vessels which require full or partial battery power, having the means to store the battery when it’s not in use is necessary. Just leaving the battery in its mounting area is not ideal for the battery or the device, as the longevity of the battery may suffer. Therefore, knowing how to store batteries the right way is essential to maximizing the usability of your RV, ATV, or another vessel.
Storing other types of batteries is also important as used batteries are a danger of fire if not stored correctly.
Before conducting any maintenance or storage of your battery, safety measures must be conducted. Firstly, make sure that the device which is hooked to the battery is turned off. For RVs, ensure that both the ignition and all switches are turned to the off position. Using a battery kill switch is ideal as it helps to prevent any shorts from occurring when removing the battery.
Use gloves when removing the battery. Often with older batteries, there is a level of erosion that occurs. Additionally, battery acid can sometimes leak from the cell. Even in small amounts the acid can irritate and cause damage to the skin. If you have direct contact with corrosion wash your hands thoroughly. Call a doctor if irritation or damage continues.
Have the battery properly charged
When storing a battery there are two ways that can affect the battery negatively. First, overcharging the battery. If there is an overcharge on the battery it is usually a result of corrosion or loss of liquid within the cell, or from keeping the battery on a charger longer than the proper allotted time. Overcharged batteries will quickly lose the time between needing to be recharged. Second, undercharging of the battery will damage the battery. If storing the battery during the winter months, this could lead to crystallization within the battery. If stored in the summer, an undercharged battery may lose water quickly.
Ensure that you have your battery fully charged by using the appropriate battery charge regulator. You can also bring the battery to your nearby hardware store to have it charged (usually at little to no charge). Once charged, ensure that both terminals are fully covered before storing the battery to reduce any loss of power.
Clean the battery
Before storing any battery, it is recommended that you clean the battery fully. To clean the battery there are a few steps that should be conducted. The first step, after the terminals are disconnected and the battery is removed from the car, RV, ATV, or vessel is to remove any corrosion on the battery. Be very careful when performing this step. If you do not know how to safely remove corrosion take your battery to your authorized dealer. Typically, a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and water is sufficient. Dry any moisture from cleaning completely before storing and charging your battery for storage. If you see any cracks, wiggling, or leakage from the battery when cleaning replace it with a new battery.
With the battery safely removed, inspect the terminals for any corrosion buildup. Using a wire brush clean any areas which have corrosion. Terminals that are not clearly identifiable as positive or neutral should be labelled as quickly as possible. Never store a battery where this is in question and never reconnect a battery where you must guess which side is positive and neutral.
Picking a location to store your battery
The best way in which to store your battery is to have the battery stored in a climate-controlled storage unit. Climate-controlled units ensure that your battery is not getting too hot or too cold, something which is critical to keeping the battery usable. When picking a location to store your battery look for storage areas that are warm and dry.
Avoid concrete floors
Many storage units have concrete floors. If you must store a battery in a unit that has such, get the battery off the ground. Do not store the battery on Metal as this could cause a short and/or drain the battery power. Additionally, metal heats and cools and so the regulation of the temperature would be a factor. When storing a battery in a unit that has a concrete floor, try to find a means of elevating the battery. Batteries must be stored level without a risk of falling or damage to the cell. Never place anything on top of the stored battery as this could lead to damage to the battery.
Storing your battery within your RV or Vessel
Some people choose to store both their RV or vessel and battery together. For short periods of time, this is a decent means of storage. However, keep in mind that the RV or Vessel should be stored in a climate-controlled area, such as an RV storage unit in order to keep the battery in prime condition. Also, consider that when in storage and plugged-in (which is not advised), the electrolyte can go low on the battery. When this happens, you must fill it with distilled water. Close monitoring of the battery is therefore needed to keep it stored correctly.
If you do not know how to add distilled water to a battery, you will need to take the battery to an authorized dealer to have them do it for you. Again, it is advised not to use the method but rather to store the battery in a storage unit.
Often, owners of batteries that need to be stored forget to put a label and other critical information near the battery. Later, when the battery needs to be retrieved and used, the owner has forgotten critical data such as maintenance, when the battery was purchased, if the battery is under warranty, and the voltage of the battery (if storing various batteries). It is recommended that you store this information next to the battery in a weather-resistant sleeve. This way, then retrieving the battery, you will have all the information you need at hand.
Adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines
If you want to know how to store your battery the right way, look to the owner’s manual and/or instructions provided by the manufacturer for the ideal conditions.