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What Would Cause An RV Battery To Explode?

When an RV battery explodes, it can be very dangerous. At the very least, there will be acid splatter and on the worst end of the spectrum, it could cause a fire.

There are several reasons why an RV battery might explode, such as improper wiring, not enough water, overheating, or overcharging.  

In this article, we are going to explore 7 things to keep in mind so that you can avoid a battery explosion.

1. Proper Wiring

You are probably already aware, but a loose connection can throw sparks. If your battery is leaking hydrogen and those sparks are being thrown onto it, you may end up with an exploding battery. Therefore, it’s critical to take time to check our 12-volt connections before heading out and after returning from your trip. If you have loose connections, tighten them.

If your inspection reveals that you have wiring that is frayed, you can wrap it with electrical tape as a temporary fix. However, you must take the time to replace those wires as soon as you can to avoid any issues in the future. Of course, one of the most common reasons for RV battery explosion is someone trying to replace the wiring or add an inverter themselves. This is unquestionably a job for professionals. You don’t want to skimp on this one.

Things To Avoid

Finally, you’ll want to avoid:

  1. Keeping combustibles near electrical connections
  2. Keeping oily rags near battery terminals
  3. Keeping paper towels in your battery compartment

2. Hydrogen Ignition Causes

Hydrogen tends to leak from RV batteries, which can be dangerous. If there is any spark at all around this hydrogen, it can cause a fire which could lead to an explosion. This can be prevented by having proper ventilation. You should also avoid lighting cigarettes around your RV battery and take the time to secure any loose hardware so that the metal can’t bump against each other, causing a spark. You’ll also want to make sure your vent caps are tight at all times.

Another thing to keep in mind is that gasoline and propane are an explosion risk, so you’ll want to avoid keeping them near any electrical connection or your RV battery.

Will Internal Sparks/Shorts Cause A Spark?

Keep in mind that typically, internal sparks and shorts inside of the battery are not likely to cause an explosion. Of course, if there are any plates that are warped and there is a strong burden for power, the warped plates can touch and spark. Therefore, if you notice that there are warped plates, it’s critical that you replace your battery. Finally, keep your battery posts clean because the most common cause of RV battery explosions is dirty posts and cables.

3. Not Enough Water

Quite often, flooded lead-acid batteries are used for RVs. The problem with this is, these batteries can lose water over time and when there’s not enough water or the electrolyte mixture is not balanced properly, it can explode.

Can Batteries Truly Be “Maintenance-Free”?

Even the “maintenance-free” batteries will lose water, you just can’t add more. If you notice the battery indicator is red or the case is cracked, dispose of it- don’t charge it.

4. Overcharging

The fourth reason that an RV battery might explode is overcharging. When you run too much current through it, you could boil the electrolyte mixture, which can result in an explosion. You’ll want to avoid using a cheap charger as well. Instead, invest in a smart battery charger or inverter to reduce the risk of overcharging.

5. Overheating

In some cases, an RV battery may explode because it gets overheated. The most common reason for overheating in an RV battery is charging it when the electrolyte mixture is still frozen. To avoid this, store the battery where it won’t freeze and if it does get frozen, give it time to thaw out before charging it.

Can You Use Quick-Charge Batteries?

One variation of the overheating scenario is trying to rapidly charge a battery that is not meant for rapid charging. This causes the battery to build up the heat instead of energy. You need to check the battery to make sure it’s not overheating and if it does get hot, stop charging it.

6. Over-Pressurized Batteries

As mentioned earlier, batteries generate hydrogen. If this hydrogen is not able to escape, it can cause an explosion. If your RV battery is swollen, discard it- don’t charge it. Be sure that you don’t drop it because this can also cause an explosion if the hydrogen escapes and encounters a spark of some kind.

7. Improper Connections

The most common cause of RV battery explosion is reversed polarity. However, this will not cause an immediate explosion. Instead, reversed polarity causes the inability to hold a charge, which increases the risk of overcharging.

Bottom Line

Finally, keep in mind that you can get an RV battery and/or charger that has a built-in warning if it is connected improperly. If you don’t know how to do a jump-start, find someone that does. Improperly jump-starting your RV battery can cause an explosion. Make sure that jumper cables are connected to the dead battery first.

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