Living in a cold climate has its challenges for recreational vehicle enthusiasts. Most of us have already put our motorcycles, ATVs, and other recreational vehicles into storage for the winter months.
All winter, we dream of using those vehicles in the spring, yet that dream quickly hits a big pothole for some of us when we turn the key and hear a “click.” That’s usually the sound of a dead battery that died over the winter season. In this short article we’ll show you how to greatly extend the life of your vehicle’s lead acid battery.
What happened and Why?
Assuming that the battery is Lead-acid/AGM/Gel, the likely reason that your battery died is that it discharged over time and died from sulphation. Battery sulphation occurs when lead sulphate crystals build up on a battery cell. This is caused by extended storage, overcharging, or undercharging of a battery. As more sulphate builds on a battery, the less effective the battery becomes. At some point it just will not hold a charge, or accept a charge when placed on a conventional charger.
Do Regular Tenders work?
Most regular simple battery tenders can only maintain battery voltage by charging with a small steady trickle charge. However, the battery needs to be in good condition for this to work and there is sometimes a risk that the battery can be overcharged.
Prevent dead batteries, recover dead batteries and actually increase the service life of your Battery
A smart charger is a bit different than typical battery chargers. They not only can maintian battery voltage, but also have the ability to will help prolong the battery life in your recreational vehicles, and recover dead batteries. Smart chargers do more than just trickle charge when the vehicle is not in use. A smart charger can detect the amount of voltage the battery needs. There is never a risk of overcharging the battery.
There are a few smart chargers on the market, selling under different brand names. One that I’ve been using for the past 15 yrs is the Optimate high performance battery charger. It has a special charging algorithm that adjusts charge rate to battery size, condition and also for desulphation.
This type of charger doesn’t just slow down sulphation, it stops it, making the battery last even longer. If a battery is already sulphated, you can de-sulphate it and recover it, saving you from having to replace it. Depending on which model you have, you can recover batteries that have fallen all the way to 1 or 2 volts. Using a smart charger annually can extend the life of your battery to 8- 10 years or longer.
How to use it?
Just simply connect the smart charger to your battery in the off-season and plug it in. Leave it on til you’re ready to use the vehicle again. Keeping you battery fully charged the right way as much as possible is the best way to make it last.
If you have multiple batteries, some manufacturers make smart chargers that can charge/maintain/recover multiple batteries at a time.
An Optimate smart charger starts at roughly $90 CDN. When you consider that you won’t have to buy a new battery every few years, this charger ends up paying for itself quite fast, especially if you have multiple vehicles.
Here is a short video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2oCCUNFXAY
Check out more great helpful videos, here
Do have any tips, thoughts or questions about winterizing recreational vehicles? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.