People taking time off work sometimes want to just “unplug.” Your battery could use a rest sometimes too. It does do a bit of heavy lifting when you are on the road, especially in the cold. An RV battery is a more serious battery used to power appliances and help keep an engine going.
Sometimes RV batteries do get breaks. Whether you are just parking for a bit at the RV park or plan to not drive for a while, your battery needs to be disconnected once in a while. But how do you do it?
Disconnecting the battery on your RV is easy. Some motor homes come equipped with a quick disconnect. Others require you access the battery directly and literally disconnect it yourself. We offer plenty of details below about how to safety and easily connect your RV battery regardless of your setup.
Disconnecting your RV battery manually
The first step disconnecting your RV battery is finding the battery. Cars and trucks almost always have the battery under the hood. The battery placement is not as consistent in an RV.
The first suggestion is to check your RV manual. While digging around to find your battery for the first disconnect shouldn’t be harmful, it’s also good to have your manual in general. The RV manual will also inform you if you have a battery disconnect – in which case you should stop reading this paragraph and go to the one about battery disconnects.
Your RV battery could be in a compartment in the floor of the RV. The battery could also be an exterior compartment. Another possibility makes it more like a car – under the hood. In some cases, the battery could be in a place near your retractable stairs.
It’s possible you might also need a small wrench. Some RV battery cables are on tight – tight enough that your hands might not do the trick.
Once you find the battery, you’ll find it looks similar to a regular car battery. RV batteries generally have a cap over each terminal. The “live” terminal should have a red cap. The black terminal, which is ground, should be black.
So, in a shorter step by step
- Get a wrench or a socket with a socket driver. Adjustable helps in the event you find the wrong size. The best way to know what size you need is to consult the manual or try multiple sockets or wrenches on the terminal cover.
- Find your battery location
- Open the battery location. If it’s under your hood, the hood hatch should be on the driver’s side down low somewhere.
- Access the battery.
- Identify the battery terminals by color. Remove the red from the battery first. This might require your wrench to remove a nut. You might also be able to pry it off by hand.
- Once you remove the connector, make sure none of the metal connector is touching another metal part of the car .
- Remove the black as well. Follow the same safety policy of not placing a metal connector on a metal part of your engine.
- Close the hood or compartment. Be sure to remove all your tools
- When you are ready to reconnect, follow the above instructions in opposite order. Sometimes putting the red live terminal on first can be helpful in order to avoid dropping the black terminal onto the live red terminal.
One potential challenge is reaching the battery terminals. You might need a socket extender, especially if you can’t reach that far, On the plus side, doing this once will quickly teach how to do it again.
Using a battery disconnect
A battery disconnect is a lot easier, though we wouldn’t say disconnecting your battery manually is difficult.
A battery disconnect is often literally a button or switch. This switch or button automatically removes the electrical connection from your battery and ensures safe placement. The disconnect reduces the need to use any tools.
Check your RV manual to see if you have one installed. If you do, great. It’s also possible to have a battery disconnect installed in much the same way you can add features like remote start or an alarm. A battery disconnect is a simple addition to a motorhome and is usually installed quickly.
- Locate the battery disconnect. This could be inside your RV or in an external compartment.
- The disconnect will often just be a button or switch. Push the button or flip the switch.
- You might not hear anything! The easiest way to check to see if the battery disconnect worked is to see if anything electrical in your RV is functioning.
- Be sure to close any bay doors you opened while accessing the switch.
- When ready, hit the button again to reconnect the battery.
A disconnect is very convenient, especially when you don’t have tools or physically can’t turn the nut needed to disconnect manually. If you plan to store your RV for a while or tend to disconnect your charged battery while using shore power, these can be a great asset to take one thing off your checklist.
Disconnecting your battery can be necessary and helpful to preserve your battery when on shore power, or when sitting idle for a while. You might need some tools like a socket wrench or other fitted tools when disconnecting manually. Be sure not to have the terminal connectors touch metal parts when disconnecting either.
The battery disconnect is the faster, safer bet. They are designed to keep you and your vehicle safe with the push of a button. You also have a bit less to worry about considering that you are likely maintaining your RV on a regular basis.