Why is my battery flat?

Why is my battery flat?

You haven’t been on an adventure for a while?  If your battery is left unused for an extended period, the battery may gradually lose charge due to self-discharge.  If you are still in adventure mode there are one or a number of other reasons why your battery is not lasting the distance or has become fully discharged.

You could have a battery thief (technical language: parasitic drain).  Your RV might have an electrical component in its ecosystem that draws power from the battery even when they are not in use. This could be a car alarm (check out the other blog), clocks, immobilizers, or anything electronic.  If these components continue to draw power when the RV is parked, they can slowly drain the battery, leading to a flat battery over time.

It could be that your charging system such as the mains power, the solar controller or voltage regulator, the charging circuit or the alternator is malfunctioning; they may not adequately recharge the battery while the RV is in operation. If this has been happening it can lead to a gradual depletion of the battery's charge and eventual flattening.

And don’t forget that over time, 12V batteries naturally degrade and lose their ability to hold a charge. This can be exacerbated by factors such as frequent deep discharges, inadequate maintenance, or high temperatures.  As the battery ages, its capacity diminishes, making it more prone to becoming flat, especially if it's subjected to heavy loads or extreme conditions.

You might also have some electrical issues such as corroded terminals, loose connections, or damaged wiring that can interfere with the charging and discharging processes of the battery, leading to a flat battery.

Last and by no means least, extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can affect a battery's performance and contribute to its discharge. Cold temperatures can increase the internal resistance of the battery, making it more difficult to start a vehicle or operate appliances, while hot temperatures can accelerate chemical reactions within the battery, leading to faster self-discharge.

When your battery is not performing like it used to, It could be one reason or a few reasons that overlap.  It's essential to determine the underlying cause (s) to prevent recurrence. This will involve checking for parasitic drains, inspecting the charging system, testing the battery's health, and addressing any electrical issues or maintenance needs. Regular maintenance and proper usage can help prolong the life of the battery, reduce the likelihood of it becoming flat and earlier than expected replacement.

See all articles in Battery Maintenance Series