We’ve posted on the battery disconnect switch before. We’ve even addressed the question “Should I disconnect my RV battery when plugged in?” (meaning plugged into shore power). But we’ve never discussed whether or not to keep the RV battery disconnect switch on or off while the rig is in storage.
Should you keep your RV battery disconnect switch on or off when your rig is in storage? Let’s find out.
What Is a Battery Disconnect Switch?
A battery disconnect switch allows you to temporarily turn off the flow of 12-volt electric power without having to manually disconnect your RV battery bank. In an RV, a battery disconnect switch quickly and easily cuts the house batteries off from the main circuits in the RV.
A battery disconnect switch is generally placed between the negative battery terminal and the negative cabling. When an RV battery is disconnected using the switch, it stops the flow of power from reaching anything else in the rig, which keeps the battery from draining. It also protects you and your RV’s equipment from shock or damage while working on the electrical system.
You can install an RV battery disconnect switch in your battery compartment if you don’t already have one. A battery disconnect switch installation can be done as a DIY project as long as you’re able to safely, confidently, and competently work with electrical components.
There are a couple of different types of battery disconnect switches. You can read more about the options in our complete post on RV battery disconnect switches.
- Blue Sea Systems Battery Switch m-Series ON/OFF with Knob, Black, part number 6006200, is a Single Circuit ON-OFF switch. Switches a single battery to...
- IP66 waterproof, ISO 8846 and meets ABYC requirements. Ignition protected—safe for installation aboard gasoline powered boats
- Compatible: used for top post terminal, 15-17 mm cone / tapering battery NEGATIVE post only, DC 12V-24V system, 200A continuous and 600A momentary at...
- Convenience: vertical knife blade type, easy to install & simple to use. Lift the knife, then power will cut.
Should My RV Battery Disconnect Be On or Off When My Rig Is In Storage?
The answer to this question depends on a couple of factors, most importantly how long your rig will be in storage.
If you’re storing an RV for an extended period of time, it’s definitely wise to use your battery disconnect switch because batteries will discharge and degrade over time when left unused due to the parasitic drains in the RV.
This can also happen when batteries are exposed to sub-freezing temperatures. This can damage their overall health and decrease their longevity. Here are some guidelines for when to use your battery disconnect switch during periods of storage.
- If you’re storing your rig short term (a week or two for example), your batteries will probably be fine without disconnecting. However, this does depend on the loads you may have in your RV, what devices/appliances you leave turned on, and whether or not you have solar panels on the roof (and if they get sun while in storage).
- One of the biggest factors to consider is your fridge. An RV fridge can cool using propane, with only the most minuscule amount of power needed to manage the circuitry. If you have an RV fridge (and plenty of propane), you could leave it on without a problem for quite some time, even without a shore power connection.
- If you have a residential fridge, you should absolutely empty it and shut it off, even during shorter storage periods. Even with our hefty solar and lithium battery banks, we’d never leave our residential fridge on without a shore power connection while we’re away from the rig for more than a few days. The risk of melted freezer contents oozing out onto the floor simply isn’t worth the risk.
- If you’re storing your rig for several weeks or longer, you should turn on your battery disconnect switch (i.e. turn OFF the batteries) to preserve the health of your batteries.
- If your RV will be stored in sub-freezing temperatures, you may want to disconnect battery cables, remove your batteries entirely, store them somewhere they can stay warm, and/or use a trickle/maintenance charger or battery tender.
Do I Need to Use My RV Battery Disconnect Switch If My Storage Space Has Shore Power?
If you have a power hookup at your storage location, the answer to whether or not you should flip your battery disconnect switch to the “Off” position may be a bit different. For full details on this topic, read our post, “Should I Disconnect My RV Battery When Plugged In to Shore Power?”
However, generally speaking, if you’re storing your rig for a month or less and your rig will be plugged in, you can leave your battery disconnect switch in the “on” position. If you’re storing your rig for longer than that, we recommend using the battery disconnect switch to kill power coming from the battery bank by shutting it “off” during storage.
However, there are a couple of circumstances under which it’s best to disconnect your RV battery/batteries completely (as in disconnecting the cables).
When storing your batteries for long periods of time, depending on the situation, you may want to disconnect your RV battery/batteries even if your RV is connected to shore power. This is especially important if your RV has an older converter/charger (or one that’s cheap/inefficient), as those can overcharge the batteries while your rig is plugged in long term. This can be prevented by completely disconnecting the battery/batteries and, ideally, storing them in a heated location.
Also, as you may recall from our article on RV battery disconnect switches, the battery disconnect may not stop ALL power drains. Some gear may be hard-wired directly to the battery, bypassing the shutoff switch altogether. Many of an RV’s electronics will continue to draw a small amount of power even when they’re turned off. This is known as “parasitic” or “phantom” drain. You’ll want to disconnect your battery/batteries to prevent this power draw.
Disconnected batteries will still discharge… but at a much slower pace. In most situations, leaving the battery/batteries connected when your RV is connected to shore power is preferable so the battery remains fully charged.
Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews, Giveaways & More
Subscribe to our daily newsletter! We’ve been full-time RVers for 20 years (!) and share everything we’ve learned about RVing in our daily blog posts. Join our online community to receive a wealth of great RVing knowledge delivered right to your inbox.
Whether this is your first time on the road or you’re a seasoned full-timer, you’ll love the wide range of RVing topics we cover. Don’t miss a single article or any of our famous RV gear Giveaways — Subscribe today!