Q. What is the best way to care for my seasonal battery when not in use?

The two most important things you need to maintain on any battery is its fluid levels and it’s state of charge!

Batteries do self-discharge at a rate of 1% to 25%. When a battery is left in a discharged state the electrolyte will crystallize/sulphate on the plates of the battery. Not only do you lose the active material where this has happened, weakening your battery, but you also run the risk of damaging a separator inside your battery and shorting out a cell. A discharged battery also runs the risk of freezing as it’s freezing point is -7° C (20° F) compared to a freezing point of -67° C (-77° F) when fully charged.

The easiest way to combat this is with a battery maintainer. The beauty of a proper maintainer is that you check your fluids levels once before charging (unless stored in high temperatures), connect your maintainer and forget about it until the next time you need to use your battery. The minute your voltage drops in the slightest a maintainer instantly brings the charge back up so you never have to worry about sulphating, or the peaks and valleys of regular charges which not only sulphate but generate the heat that requires regular fluid level checks.

If for whatever reason a maintainer is not an option for you then make note on the calendar to charge your battery once a month. Use an automatic charger and leave it on over night; remembering to check your fluid levels before and after charging.

Q. Can I test my alternator by disconnecting the battery with my engine running?

There was a time in the 1970’s and earlier when this was an accepted practice. However, as the number of sensitive electronic components in a vehicle has increased this has become an increasingly dangerous practice. A battery acts as a voltage stabilizer to the pulsating DC amps produced by your alternator. Disconnecting the battery with the vehicle running can destroy components such as your emission computer, alarm system, stereo system or the charging system itself.

Your best bet, and by far the cheaper option is to buy yourself a voltmeter and check the voltage at the battery with the vehicle running. Most alternators should be charging between 14.0 and 14.5 volts. Keep in mind though that some newer vehicle’s alternators are controlled by a computer that will not produce that voltage unless there is a load on (i.e. the radio or AC). Also keep in mind that a discharged battery will lower your reading up to a full volt. If ever unsure stop by one of our three locations and we will gladly assess the condition of your charging system.

Q. My battery keeps losing it’s charge, what is going on?

It is true that batteries self discharge. Depending on the type of battery and the temperature it is stored at, the rate can be from 1% to 25% a month. A battery stored at 35° C (95° F) will self-discharge twice as fast than one stored at 23.9° C (75° F).

However, if your battery is discharging over night one of three things is happening:

  • Your battery is not discharged, it is defective (i.e. a dead cell, an internal break, etc.)
  • Something has drained your battery, either human error or an electrical problem in the vehicle
  • If you recently charged your battery it was not completely charged. often people will think that their battery is fully charged after a short time because it successfully started a vehicle. Truth is a surface charge is what started the vehicle even though the battery is still discharged.
Q. Will driving my car charge my battery?

We all have friends who tell us “just go for a drive” when they hear we’re stuck with a flat battery. The fact is though, that alternators make horrible battery chargers. Their primary function is to operate the electronics of your vehicle and to maintain the charge in your vehicle’s battery. Though it’s possible on long drives to return some charge to your battery, it is impossible to do so with the stop and go driving of most commuters. It is always recommended that when your vehicle’s battery is discharged to properly charge it with the appropriate battery charger before driving your vehicle any further. Not only is it next to impossible to charge your battery with your alternator it will shorten the life of charging system!

Q. Is it true that storing a battery on a concrete floor is bad for the battery?

This is a myth that was once fact, and has been handed down for generations. For starters, batteries used to be stored in a glass jar encased in wood. The fear was that the wood would absorb moisture, swell and then crack the glass jar.

Later came the hard rubber cased battery which had a high carbon content and was fairly porous. If the floor was wet and the battery was able to find a ground, it would self-discharge at a higher rate. We also suspect that there was fear that the hard rubber case would crack from the cold.

Today’s batteries are encased in a polypropylene case which insulate the batteries and withstand environmental factors far better.

No, if it were true battery shops across the world would be out of business due to placing batteries on the ground.

Q. How do you hook up two 6 volt batteries on an RV to achieve a 12 volt connection

You will need a connector to go between the two batteries. That connector goes from the first batteries positive terminal and connects to the second batteries negative terminal.

Two 6 volts connected to create one 12 Volt

Please note, the information provided here is supplied as general info only. Edmonds Batteries is not responsible for any damages or injuries that may result when working on or inspecting your batteries. As always we ask that you exercise caution while working with your batteries and follow all instructions that may be on the battery or that may have come with the battery or battery component. When in doubt, bring it in and let one of our highly trained technicians diagnose or repair any problems you may be experiencing.