Guaranty RV Super Centers

We have offered guaranteed savings to our customers for more than 50 years! From the moment you contact us until after you find your perfect RV, we strive to give you the best customer service in the industry. Stop by one of our showrooms in Junction City, OR. We'd love to share a cup of coffee and learn more about how we can help you.
Guaranty RV Employee - Shane Pennebaker

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At Guaranty, we love RVing! We know we’re lucky—we get to spend all day every day thinking about RVs, researching the best makes and models, learning about great road trips and campgrounds, and generally keeping up on the latest RV-related trends, news and lifestyle tips. Best yet, our team of RV-enthusiast bloggers get to share all of that with you! If you’re curious about the latest and greatest in RVs and RVing, we invite you to visit the Guaranty Blog. Be sure to check back with us regularly for updates.

RV Battery - Basics, Maintenance, Storage

Automotive batteries have come a long way since they became widely used in 1920 as cars began to come equipped with electric starters. What started out as inefficient, 6 volt lead acid type wet cell batteries have evolved into AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) sealed batteries and now even Lithium Ion batteries that have incredible amounts of available power and tremendous life spans. For sake of simplicity and because those fancy Lithium Ion batteries deal with cathodes and anodes, which I am sure are super boring even if I fully understood them, we will concentrate on the most common type of RV battery. The 12volt deep cycle wet cell lead acid battery.

Click here for a great explanation of how a lead acid battery works from our friends at Progressive Dynamics


Deep Cycle VS. Starting Battery

A deep cycle battery can be used as a starting battery in a pinch, but is designed to deliver a flow of voltage at a steady rate, making it ideal to power appliances and systems that require voltage long term versus in short bursts. Its available power is measured in amp hours, with the average group 24 deep cycle battery having around 100 amp hours. A starting battery can be used for this purpose but it is designed to deliver large doses of voltage on a sporadic basis. Its available power is measured in Cold Cranking Amps, which are specific to a vehicle starters demand for amperage. If a starting battery is completely drained of power it often will never recover where as a deep cycle battery is designed to be run nearly dead over and over again and still be able to return to full capacity. In fact with a deep cycle battery running it low and recharging it is actually good for the battery, like how exercise is good for you, from what I have heard. That doesn’t mean a deep cycle battery is maintenance free however.

Maintenance

To get the optimum life out of your battery keeping the fluid levels up is paramount. The liquid in the battery is a crucial part of the electrical process and if the levels are low damage can be done to cells and or the entire battery. Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link a battery that has a bad cell is unfortunately now a bad battery. There are several simple tools available to help maintain the proper water levels in a deep cycle battery, all of which can be found at the Guaranty Travel Center & RV Park.
The simplest is a battery fill jug that has a built in float that prevents the overfilling of any of the battery cells, but this requires you to have easy access to the batteries. If the batteries are on the tongue of your trailer or in the expansive front compartment of a fifth wheel you should have little trouble using the jug. If the batteries are in a compartment, even on a battery slide tray, some of the batteries may be harder to access.
This leads us to a second system, this particular system is from Flow-Rite and it replaces the battery caps with a semi permanent (the system is removable if you replace batteries and should fit provided you stay with the same voltage battery you are replacing) fill valve system. The system also has a series of floats that prevent overfilling and is designed to pump water into each of the batteries cells evenly and without having to remove and reinstall heavy batteries. More exercise? Not if I can help it!
Okay, so maintenance is vital to a long battery life and that maintenance has mostly to do with the water levels in the battery, but a visual inspection and cleaning of any corrosion at the battery terminals should be addressed as well. Corrosion can hinder the performance of the entire system both during charging and battery usage. Again there are products available at the Guaranty Travel Center that clean and prevent terminal corrosion and our experts can help you determine which product suits your needs.

Testing - Knowing Is Half The Battle

You’ve done all the maintenance but your battery is not lasting as long as it used to. It is time to test the battery’s performance and overall health. The most common battery tester is what is called a “toaster” tester, named because it works much like a toaster by using a resistance element to test the batteries performance. A resistance element demands a large amount of amperage and works by passing electricity over the element, which converts the energy to heat. Ohm’s law has some part in the math here, but we are already getting off track. The toaster tester will tell you how your batteries respond to being put under load, but if the response is poor it does not give you much diagnostic information. A hydrometer is a very useful tool because it gives you an accurate reading of the condition of each individual cell, allowing you to determine if you have a bad cell or just need a deeper charge. As I mentioned before a bad cell means a bad battery, which is always disappointing but is better caught ahead of a trip than discovered during. A bad cell can even pose a very minute safety risk, as the converter will continually try to charge that cell, to no avail, leading to boiling of the battery and in some extreme cases an electrical fire.

Storage

Maintenance is important for battery life and for safety, but you only use your RV part of the year. What about when it’s stored? If you are fortunate enough to have RV parking where you live and you can plug the unit in you can almost “set it and forget it”. Almost because even though the modern converters have charge controllers built in to prevent overcharging, over time fluid is lost due to the normal charge and discharge processes so checking your fluid level is still important. Some seasoned RVers will alternate weekly or bi-weekly between leaving the RV Plugged in and unplugging it, allowing the slow natural discharge of the battery to occur. This can “exercise” the battery, but if we forget and let the battery stay discharged too long it may have difficulty recovering as it ages, just like me. If you store your RV at a facility and do not have the ability to plug the unit in and your RV does not have solar panels then disconnecting the batteries is a good idea. There are many components in the RV that use small amounts of voltage even when they are “off”, like the propane/co2 detectors and the station “memory” in the house stereo etc., that can drain a battery surprisingly quickly. More and more RVs come with a battery disconnect switch, but if yours did not they are easy to install and multiple options are available at the Guaranty Travel Center. Yes, the Travel Center has just about everything for your RV. Be warned however that in my twenty-five plus years in this wonderful industry I would say, conservatively, 99.9% of theft or vandalism occurs while the RV is in storage. This means leaving your batteries disconnected but still easily accessible really only makes them easier to steal. Placing the disconnected batteries inside the RV makes them harder to steal, but does not address the fact they will most likely be dead when you return. Often the batteries are taken home and left on a trickle charger in the garage. Remember this will cause the fluid levels to naturally deplete, so we are right back to maintenance, and the lesser expensive trickle chargers may not have the correct setting for deep cycle charging and may not have a charge regulator. Don’t cost yourself money by saving money on the battery charger! There are some old timers that will tell you to never put a battery on the ground or concrete, as it will drain it. In the very early versions of the car battery the construction included wooden boxes holding glass plates and if those wooden plates absorbed moisture from the ground or concrete they could swell and break the glass plates, but the chances of a modern battery being affected are negated by its plastic construction. Temperature is going to have an effect on the charging and discharging of a battery, and the colder it is the less efficient it becomes, so garage storage on a concrete floor can affect a battery vicariously.
The moral of todays story is that no matter if it is mid camping season or the darkest days of winter, battery maintenance is the best way to ensure optimum battery operation and prolong a battery’s life span. Make it part of your pre-trip or post-trip checklist and the extra few minutes you spend might just ensure all your RV adventures are electric!


Please remember Guaranty RV Super Centers is here to help when you need it. We can test your battery, your vehicles 12 volt system, or anything in between. If you need to replace your battery Guaranty RV Parts can provide you with a direct replacement or an upgrade. For assistance from Guaranty's RV Service or Parts departments fill out our simple contact form or call us at 1 (800) 283-9163 seven days a week.

Taking on a Full-Time RV Lifestyle: How to Choose the Right RV, Part 1

When it comes to RVs, we know you love adventure. We do too! That’s why we’re so passionate about RVs, whether it’s keeping an eye on the latest models, checking out remodels done by our customers, or learning more about those who live a full-time RV lifestyle.

We often have customers interested in learning more about not just owning an RV and using it to go camping, hunting, and more, but living in an RV full-time. Is it possible? Is it difficult?

In recent years, the full-time RV lifestyle has become more popular. There are entire blogs dedicated to van living, renovating RVs, and the best places to stop across the entire United States. It can be pretty overwhelming to take on, especially if you’re new to the RV world in the first place, but from what we’ve heard, it’s worth all the work it takes!

In this blog post, we’ll go through what the full-time RV lifestyle means, how to make a plan to best suit you and your family, and how to decide on the perfect RV. Part 2 of this blog post will cover everything you need to know about altering your RV to fit your lifestyle needs! Let’s get started.

1. Why Live a Full-Time RV Lifestyle?


There are lots of reasons that people choose to live a full-time RV lifestyle. They might be retired and just wanting to travel for a few years before settling down. They might be young and wanting to see the best parts of the United States. They might be adventure seekers, writers, or young families. Lots of people choose a full-time RV lifestyle and the only thing they have in common is a love of adventure and travel.

There are a few other reasons too. Let’s look at them:

  • Choosing to live a more simple life. When it comes to living full-time in an RV, there is one fact that is indisputable: you have to downsize. For many, this is an exciting prospect. We all tend to acquire a lot of stuff throughout the years. Living full-time in an RV means you spend less time sorting through things and more time experiencing nature!

  • More time for what, or who, you love. This is especially true for retired couples who take on a full-time RV lifestyle: they’ve spent their lives working hard and now they want a break. For many, a full-time RV lifestyle gives them the chance to do the kind of work they want (like writing or remote work) without the stress of other bills (like rent).

  • A love of travel. If you’re someone who has always loved traveling and doesn’t necessarily want to spend their whole life in one place, then the full-time RV lifestyle is for you. You can travel the whole of the United States, visiting the places you’ve always wanted to see.

  • Less stress. We won’t lie, there are some parts of full-time RV living that are just as stressful as owning a home or renting an apartment. But overwhelmingly, people feel freer when they take on a full-time RV lifestyle.

2. Make a Plan


Many who take on a full-time RV lifestyle might be considered spontaneous—but the truth is, there is a lot of planning that goes into making it work. You can’t just jump into it without making a good plan first. Let’s walk through a few things to consider before deciding if the full-time RV lifestyle is right for you.

  • Do your research. If you’re interested in the full-time RV lifestyle, we recommend you start reading a few blogs written by those who live it already. We like Gone with the Wynns, Ditching Suburbia, and Technomadia. Learning the ins and outs and reading the stories of others can help you better prepare for what a full-time RV lifestyle entails—and decide if it’s right for you.

  • What will you do with your current house? One of the biggest issues you’ll run into when you decide to take on a full-time RV lifestyle is: what, exactly, do you do with the house you already own? Many people sell their homes, but some rent them out to cover the mortgage and eventually create another form of income.

  • Do you have enough in savings? Another thing to consider is how you will make money on the road. If you are still working you can start looking for opportunities to work remotely as you travel. Just imagine working from your RV while camping at the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park. That sounds like a dream, huh!? No matter what, you want to ensure you have plenty in savings to handle anything that might happen because even the best-laid plans can go wrong in a moment’s notice!

  • Start downsizing. Once you’ve made your choice and you know what you’re doing, it’s time to start downsizing what you own and decide what you absolutely need on the road. This will help you determine what size of RV you need and what features you’re looking for!

  • Decide on an RV. Once you’re ready, it’s time to research RVs. There are many resources that can help you choose the right RV for a full-time RV lifestyle, but we recommend visiting us here at Guaranty to walk you through the available RV options. You can check out both new and used RVs, see them in person, and talk with an RV expert to learn what your costs will be for travel and more. Click here to contact us.

3. Other Considerations


Obviously, when it comes to taking on a full-time RV lifestyle, there’s more than just those 5 steps! Let’s go over some other important things to consider.

  • Staying in touch. Just because you’re leaving your old life behind for a little while doesn’t mean you should leave everyone behind too! Staying in touch with your friends and family will be vital. Many do this through ensuring they have Internet access wherever they are, so they can email and video chat. (This is especially important for those with grandkids!) Another thing to remember is to make sure that all of your important accounts have the correct email set up before you leave—so you never miss a bill or important message.

  • Pets. If you are planning to take your pets along, it’s important to ensure they are up-to-date on all their vaccines, leash trained, and healthy enough for extended travel. Also, familiarize yourself with campsites rules regarding pets.

  • Handling important documents. You won’t want to do without your most important documents. You should have a specific box and storage location for them. Make sure you keep your bank files, birth certificates, and social security cards (and passports, if you’re planning to cross into Canada or Mexico) in a place that is secure and safe. A fire safe box is a great investment to ensure they never get damaged.

  • Mail. Some important pieces of mail just can’t be sent via email. So you’ll need a mailing address. Some choose to use a friend’s address to receive mail, but this doesn’t always work. Some states have easier rules for establishing residency and obtaining a PO box; South Dakota, Texas, and Florida are the most popular options.

Conclusion


Well, has your interest in a full-time RV lifestyle peaked? There are many pros and cons to taking it on and we’re excited to help you make your decision. In next week’s blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about picking the right RV and remodeling it to suit your exact needs. Until then, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send them to us.

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