Master switch while in storage - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 12-12-2019, 12:15 PM   #1
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Master switch while in storage

I am a first-time owner and have winterized our 2019 19ft Escape trailer. The trailer is plugged into shore power and I put a small space heater inside. Currently, the master toggle switch is in the Off position. In order to keep the batteries charged, should I have the master switch ON all the time or intermittently? The trailer will be off the road for the next 4 months. Thank you.
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Old 12-12-2019, 01:02 PM   #2
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with mine hooked to city power I leave the switch on. off when NOT hooked to city power.
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Old 12-12-2019, 01:39 PM   #3
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Same here, if plugged in, all on.
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Old 12-12-2019, 01:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Warpau View Post
I am a first-time owner and have winterized our 2019 19ft Escape trailer. The trailer is plugged into shore power and I put a small space heater inside. Currently, the master toggle switch is in the Off position. In order to keep the batteries charged, should I have the master switch ON all the time or intermittently? The trailer will be off the road for the next 4 months. Thank you.
Are you planning on running a space heater for four months? Are you trying to deal with humidity or some other reason?
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Old 12-12-2019, 01:51 PM   #5
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I plugged mine into a thermocube, on at 30 and off at 40. Course being in the yard I can go out and change those parameters...
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Old 12-12-2019, 02:55 PM   #6
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A suggestion
leave the switch on when plugged in. And
Check the water in your battery cells about now and you will most likely be good till spring.
That’s what we’ve done since
2013 and it’s worked well on both Escapes
Iowa Dave
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Old 12-12-2019, 10:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Warpau View Post
I am a first-time owner and have winterized our 2019 19ft Escape trailer. The trailer is plugged into shore power and I put a small space heater inside. Currently, the master toggle switch is in the Off position. In order to keep the batteries charged, should I have the master switch ON all the time or intermittently? The trailer will be off the road for the next 4 months. Thank you.
Very good question. Should you intermittently charge camper batteries during the winter, completely disconnect them or leave them connected to shore power?

The master switch simply connects/disconnects the battery from the rest of the electrical system. That means no load (that pesky CO monitor, etc.) to discharge the battery, but also no charging either from the shore power.

There's really no "Best Answer" because there's so much variation between quality of chargers, condition of batteries, and willingness/opportunity of owners to monitor battery state of charge during long-term storage.

Honestly, healthy batteries that are fully charged hold close to a full charge for several months. I've left mine disconnected all winter and found them ready to go in the spring just fine.

Sure, it's understandable to want to keep batteries fully charged, even when in storage. So, especially when there's shore power connected, it's tempting to keep the master switch on so the batteries continue charging. This is another example of personal preference. If that's what you want to do, you need to make sure your batteries don't get overcharged. Making sure there's a correct water level in flooded batteries is a good start. And make sure your battery charger is completely compatible with your batteries is another good idea (but how are you sure of the compatibility?)

Here's an idea. Do a test. It has the advantage of getting you inside that nice heated camper during the winter to dream about your next spring adventure.

- Before you put the trailer away, charge your batteries fully.

- Turn the master switch to OFF, disconnecting the batteries from load and charging.

- After waiting several hours (preferably until the next day) for the battery voltage to stabilize, measure the battery voltage with an inexpensive voltage meter. A fully-charged 12 volt battery should show at least 12.6 volts, often more (6-volt batteries each should show half that). If it's less than that, either your battery isn't fully charged or it's starting to fail.

- After a couple of weeks, measure the voltage again. Should be within .1 volt or more.

- Check again after a month. Again, shouldn't have lost much charge.

- If the voltage has dropped to 12.3 or 12.4 volts or so after a couple of months, maybe there's still some little load still connected to the battery or the battery is losing capacity.

Think of this as a good way each winter to assess the health of your batteries. It's hard to do during camping season because you're always charging and discharging the batteries and they never get to rest long enough for an accurate voltage check. But in the winter you can take your time to evaluate how well they hold a charge.
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Old 12-13-2019, 11:10 AM   #8
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The main reason for the space heater is to control dampness. Also, if outside temperatures dip below freezing, it would be nice to warm the trailer. It may be overkill to use a heater. I guess I will have to decide over time whether a heater makes sense.
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Old 12-13-2019, 11:21 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone for your input. Has anyone had a problem with overcharging their batteries? I will have a four month period of storage. Would, lets say, one month on power and one month off be a smart way to go?
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Old 12-13-2019, 11:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warpau View Post
Thanks everyone for your input. Has anyone had a problem with overcharging their batteries? I will have a four month period of storage. Would, lets say, one month on power and one month off be a smart way to go?

You don't need to worry about overcharging the batteries. My trailer is plugged in all the time it's at home. I do check the water levels in the battery about every six weeks.
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Old 12-13-2019, 11:30 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Warpau View Post
The main reason for the space heater is to control dampness. Also, if outside temperatures dip below freezing, it would be nice to warm the trailer. It may be overkill to use a heater. I guess I will have to decide over time whether a heater makes sense.
My 700 watt oil filled heater is plugged in with a thermocube on at 30/off at 40. It is set to low heat. Just checked it, outside 30 degree/inside 45 degrees, so it looks like a 15 degree differential right now.
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Old 12-13-2019, 11:31 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Warpau View Post
The main reason for the space heater is to control dampness.

I have two Dri-Z-Air containers that require emptying every two to four weeks. I sometimes run an electric space heater for no apparent reason.
All cupboard doors are left open and cushions topsy-turvy.
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Old 12-13-2019, 11:33 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Warpau View Post
Thanks everyone for your input. Has anyone had a problem with overcharging their batteries? I will have a four month period of storage. Would, lets say, one month on power and one month off be a smart way to go?
I leave mine plugged in, check my water every 6 months, since May pick up, just one refill this month, took about 1/2" per cell. All plates were covered.
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Old 12-13-2019, 11:43 AM   #14
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It sounds like leaving the trailer plugged in but checking the battery water levels periodically is the way to go. Thanks all for your help.
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Old 12-13-2019, 12:20 PM   #15
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We store our 2012 19 in the outdoors without access to power.
We have the master switch turned off.
Vents and windows are closed.
Batteries are kept charged via the 90W solar panel.
Batteries are still the original ones that came with the trailer.
We do not access the trailer 5 to 6 months at a time and therefore cannot use Dry- Z.
We have not had any mould or mild dew occurring anywhere inside the trailer.
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Old 12-13-2019, 06:15 PM   #16
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Very good question. Should you intermittently charge camper batteries during the winter, completely disconnect them or leave them connected to shore power?

Here's an idea. Do a test. It has the advantage of getting you inside that nice heated camper during the winter to dream about your next spring adventure.

- Before you put the trailer away, charge your batteries fully.

- Turn the master switch to OFF, disconnecting the batteries from load and charging.

- After waiting several hours (preferably until the next day) for the battery voltage to stabilize, measure the battery voltage with an inexpensive voltage meter. A fully-charged 12 volt battery should show at least 12.6 volts, often more (6-volt batteries each should show half that). If it's less than that, either your battery isn't fully charged or it's starting to fail.

- After a couple of weeks, measure the voltage again. Should be within .1 volt or more.

- Check again after a month. Again, shouldn't have lost much charge.

- If the voltage has dropped to 12.3 or 12.4 volts or so after a couple of months, maybe there's still some little load still connected to the battery or the battery is losing capacity.

Think of this as a good way each winter to assess the health of your batteries. It's hard to do during camping season because you're always charging and discharging the batteries and they never get to rest long enough for an accurate voltage check. But in the winter you can take your time to evaluate how well they hold a charge.
We are first time Escape owners, too so we appreciate your question, Warpau. Nice to hear how everyone winterizes, regarding the battery disconnect switch. Also appreciate, HawkeyeEZ's post - a simple way to 'test' the batteries over time. Easy for us to try. Thanks all. -The Bea Team
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Old 12-16-2019, 11:45 PM   #17
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Did notice with master switch off after 6 weeks in storage (no light, fully enclosed location) battery level was 12.8. So the drain was minimal. Do have solar but don't think it works in isolation.
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:25 AM   #18
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Related question. If I activate the master switch, does my solar panel continue to charge the batteries? My guess is yes but confirmation would be nice.
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Old 12-17-2019, 07:41 AM   #19
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Related question. If I activate the master switch, does my solar panel continue to charge the batteries? My guess is yes but confirmation would be nice.
Yes, the solar panels are connected directly to the battery and are not affected by the battery master disconnect switch. You can confirm this by turning the disconnect switch off, then look at the GoPower display, you will see that it still reflects solar charging and the status of your batteries.

We store our trailer in an open area with the battery disconnect switch off and the solar panels keep the batteries fully charged.
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Old 12-17-2019, 12:06 PM   #20
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Related question. If I activate the master switch, does my solar panel continue to charge the batteries? My guess is yes but confirmation would be nice.
David points out that some solar charging systems are connected directly to RV house batteries rather than "downstream" after the master switch. In those cases the "master switch" really isn't a master switch because it doesn't affect whether the solar charging system still can charge the batteries. David gives a good tip on how to check to see how your system is wired.

Before the wide adoption of solar charging, the typical use of a master switch was to disconnect and isolate the house battery from all inputs and outputs during long-term storage. Batteries in good condition that are fully charged can sit for several months without harm and will hold almost all of their charge.

On the other hand, a battery connected constantly to even a minor draw, such as a CO detector, will become discharged over time and may be damaged. Likewise, an unattended battery left constantly attached to a shore power converter-charger or a solar controller-charger could be damaged by overcharging. Modern multi-state converter-chargers (whether shore powered or solar powered) are designed to not overcharge batteries in long-term storage. Still, cautious owners still may choose to disconnect and isolate their fully-charged batteries when they are unused for extended periods.

Batteries are normally protected by an inline fuse located close to the battery in the positive battery cable that connects to the master switch. Sometimes there's a similar fuse in the negative battery cable. Pulling those fuses during long-term storage is usually another fool-proof way to make sure that the battery is disconnected from loads and charging. That's how I easily make sure my batteries are disconnected during long-term storage - I pull the fuses.

Unfortunately, electrical equipment occasionally gets connected directed to a battery terminal, bypassing the main battery power cable. If you have more than one wire or cable connected to the positive side of your house battery, pulling the power cable fuse or turning off the master switch won't disconnect that equipment. In that case, the only way to absolutely guarantee that your battery is completely disconnected is to remove every wire and cable connected to the positive terminal of your battery, leaving it bare.
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