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Keeping the Chassis Battery Charged during an Extended Stay

One of the first things I had to replace on my RV was my chassis battery.  You probably know most coach type recreational vehicles  have two classes of batteries.  The house batteries power your interior lights and fans and just about everything that is 12 volt inside your coach.  They are maintained and kept charged by your onboard power converter.  Your chassis battery is like the battery in your car, it is responsible for powering everything associated with your drive train and unlike the house batteries, it is not charged or maintained unless you are running your engine.

I had been sitting for over a month in a remote job location during the searing heat of a Texas summer.  It is not generally recommended to start a diesel and just let it idle for extended periods.  Some people think you have to do this to keep everything lubed and to keep the battery charged.  Honestly, it hurts more than it helps because a diesel at idle speed never gets up to operating temperature.   We were mobilizing to leave and I attempted to start my RV and nothing–not even a click.  I jumped it off the house batteries and was able to get to the next location without further mishap.

When I checked this battery out it was bad.  No doubt to being discharged too far over many years.   Many coaches have a disconnect switch to negate the parasitic drain on a battery system.  This is mainly for when the RV is in storage and not being used.  It really is useless when you are using your RV day in and day out.

The Optima Yellow Top battery I got for a replacement was $$$expensive$$$ and I knew I did not want to abuse it like the previous house battery.   I did some research and decided what I needed was a trickle charger/maintainer that I could plug in and forget.  The name that was recommended over and over was a Deltran SuperSmart Battery Tender Plus 12-Volt 1.25 AMP Battery Charger.

I just looked back and I purchased my Deltran SuperSmart Battery Tender Plus 12-Volt 1.25 AMP Battery Charger back in August of ’07.  It is just like the one in the picture

Deltran Battery Tender

Deltran Battery Tender

and I am totally pleased with the purchase. The way I work it is pretty simple.  I plug the battery tender into one of the external 110 volt outlets on the RV and then place the battery tender in the battery compartment where it will stay dry. The Deltran SuperSmart Battery Tender Plus 12-Volt 1.25 AMP Battery Charger will start out at a slow trickle charge and then just change to maintenance mode one the battery is topped up. I plug it in and just forget it until I am ready to pull out for the next job.

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