How to Avoid Deep Cycle Battery Explosion? – Read Expert’s 7 Things
RV deep cycle battery explosions at a minimum pose a threat to anyone standing within range of the splattered acid to a fire hazard for everyone in the vicinity. Regardless of what happens, the battery exploding will leave you stranded where you are and potentially cause serious damage to the rest of the RV. Here are 7 tips for avoiding RV battery explosions.
01. Proper Wiring
Loose connections can create sparks, and if these sparks are near a battery leaking hydrogen, you can get an explosion. Check all 12 volt connections before and after every trip. Tighten loose connections. If you find frayed wiring, wrapping it in electrical tape is a short term solution but the wires need to be replaced as soon as possible.
The Distressingly Common Cause
One distressingly common cause of RV deep cycle battery explosions is someone’s attempt to rewire the battery or wiring to an added inverter. It is best to call in a professional for electrical projects. Nor should you store combustible items around your electrical connections; keep oily rags used to clean battery connections away from battery terminals and the paper towels out of the battery storage compartment.
02. Hydrogen Ignition for Other Reasons
Hydrogen leaks from a variety of types of house batteries. Any spark in and around accumulated hydrogen creates a fire hazard. You can reduce this hazard by having proper ventilation around the battery. You also reduce the risk by not lighting a cigarette around the battery and securing loose hardware so that metal can’t clank against metal and risk creating a spark. For the same reason, vent caps need to be kept tight.
Note that propane and gas can create the same risk of explosion, so don’t keep these fuels in the same area as your battery or electrical connections. And give them ventilation for the same reason as your battery.
Internal Sparks and Shorts
However, internal sparks and shorts within a battery almost never cause an explosion. The only exception is when the plates inside the battery are warped, and a heavy demand for power can cause warped plates to touch and spark. This means that if the battery’s plates are warped when you inspect them, you should replace the battery instead of trying to use it.
The more common cause of battery explosions is when the posts and cables are dirty; the dirt allows for electrical arcing. The solution is to clean the battery posts often.
03. Insufficient Water
If your RV deep cycle batteries are flooded lead acid batteries, they can lose water over time. If the battery doesn’t have enough water, something demonstrated by the electrolyte being too dense, it could explode when you try to charge it.
Conversely, if you add water to the battery without giving the electrolyte time to mix and settle and then try to charge it, you could cause an explosion. Check the batteries for leaks, as well.
Even sealed “maintenance free” lead acid batteries lose water over time; they simply control the release of hydrogen gas and don’t let you add water. If the battery indicator is red instead of green, don’t charge it.
If the battery case is cracked or seems to have leaked for any other reason, don’t charge it – discard it. Charging it now could cause an explosion. Corrosion around the battery terminals from what seems like an acid leak means the same thing – don’t charge it.
Overcharging a battery can make it explode. If you run too much current through it, you could boil the electrolyte and cause an explosion. Don’t use a cheap automotive charger with poor voltage regulation.
Smart Battery/Inverter Chargers
Smart battery chargers and smart inverter chargers with the same ability to sense how full the battery is reduce the risk of this occurring. If you’ve had more than one battery explode, find out if the power converter itself is overcharging the batteries.
Confirm A Quick Check
A quick check you can do yourself is check the battery voltage during charging to see if the charger is overcharging them; its overcharge protection may not be working or the sensors that are supposed to monitor it are malfunctioning.
Overheating an RV battery can cause it to explode, and this can occur several ways. One version of this mistake is trying to charge a battery when the mostly-water electrolyte is literally frozen.
You can avoid this mistake by literally letting the battery thaw before you charge it – and by keeping the battery stored somewhere where it will never actually freeze.
A variation of the Overheating mistake
A variation of this mistake is trying to fast-charge a battery that isn’t made for it. The battery ends up building heat instead of storing energy, generating hydrogen gas and/or steam that could cause it to explode.
The solution is to have a battery with a temperature sensor or monitoring the temperature of the battery yourself, and then stopping the charging process when it starts to get too hot. If there is any sign the batteries are overheating such as plastic touching the batteries appearing melted or deformed, don’t charge them, discard them.
06. Charging Over-Pressurized Batteries
Batteries tend to generate hydrogen gas; if the gas is building up but can’t escape, it could create an explosion if you try to charge it. If the battery is swollen, replace it immediately and don’t try to charge it. At the same time, be careful not to drop it during this process, since you could get an explosion when that gas does escape and encounter a spark or heat source.
07. Incorrect Connections
Perhaps the best known cause of RV deep cycle battery explosions is reversing the polarity of the charger to the battery, though this rarely causes it to explode immediately.
Caused by polarity reversal
The damage to the battery caused by polarity reversal can cause it to lose the ability to hold a charge, raising the risk that it overcharges and explodes on the next charge. You can buy batteries and chargers that come with a built-in warning if you connect the battery and the charger incorrectly.
Don’t do a jump-start
Improper jump-starting can cause battery explosions, too. Don’t do a jumpstart if you don’t really know how to do it. Always connect jumper cables to the dead battery before you connect it to the good one.