One day, I was walking around the campground looking at other trailers and started to wonder: Do I need a vent on my battery box? It seems like some campers and RV’s have them while others do not. I decided to ask some other campers to see what they thought about a battery vent. This is what I found:
It is highly recommended to have some sort of vent whether it is a tube or an open vent on the side of your camper or RV. Most recreational camping vehicles have battery vents. Let’s look into what they are, different types of vents, and the additional safety they can provide.
Types of Batteries in a Camper
Before covering the kinds of battery vents, we need to talk about the types of batteries your camper may use. Your camper may have more than one battery. In most cases, one is explicitly used for starting the vehicle and another one for everything else. A deep cell battery is a battery that can hold power and output it at a constant rate. A deep cell battery does not have enough power or volts to start an engine but can operate lights for an extended period of time.
Both batteries use lead plates and acid to store power and draw from it. The only difference is the space between the plates. This means that both are prone to leaking if not maintained correctly.
I never really thought about it, I have batteries in my camper that need to be refilled with water maybe once or twice a season. Where does the water go that I refill it with? It goes into the air when batteries get overheated. Water vapor is vented to cool down. Crazy, right? That’s when I figured that all batteries should be vented to allow for safer handling.
Types of Battery Vents
Battery Box Openings
Battery box openings are the simplest types of battery vents. Your camper might already have one, and this might look like the image below. These are most commonly found on trailers on the frame near the hitch in the front. Since the vent is outside, there is no need to worry about the vapors, they can quickly be taken away by the outside wind.
To find the ventilation holes make sure the lid is on the battery box, run your finger around the lip of the lid feeling for gaps. There will most likely be one or two gaps between the cover and the body of the battery box. These are your vents.
There are many pros to this type of battery vent. Since the battery is so accessible, it is effortless to take out, replace, or recharge without hassle. Also, the ventilation can never fail, even if it does there is no risk of vapors entering your camper. Lastly, it doesn’t take any space up inside your trailer leaving more room for storage.
However, there are also a few cons that come with being exposed to the elements. You may lose some power or battery life from the cold if you camp in the winter. Also, a windy rainstorm could push some water into the battery box. This should not be an issue as long as it can drain or dry before the box fills. Lastly, theft is more common with this because it is on the exterior of the camper and might not be the most secure.
Louvered Side Vent
Louvered side vents are more common in RV’s or larger trailers and can look like any other vent on the outside of your camping vehicle. If you store your batteries inside the trailer instead of on the frame, then you definitely need a vent. These vents can be found on the outside wall of wherever your batteries are stored. You may be able to access this from a small door, from outside, or a small cabinet or bench inside your RV or trailer.
Since these are stored inside your vehicle, you run the risk of inhaling dangerous battery acid vapors. As long as a vent is present and operating properly, this should not present an issue.
This vent is valuable because it gives a good amount of airflow to keep the battery compartment cool and vapor free. It is a low profile and can sit plush against the outside surface. The batteries are more protected from the outside elements allowing them to work better in the cold or rain. Lastly, the louvered designed to keep out small animals and leaves so it is perfect for the outdoors.
If you have a battery compartment on the inside of your trailer and more than two or three batteries, it is a good idea to look into a powered vent. This type of vent looks the same as a louvered side vent but has a small powered fan and heat sensor. If the heat sensor notices the temperature inside the battery compartment is to warm it turns on a small fan to draw the heat out, just like an automatic thermostat.
Here are some things to consider: you will need electricity for the fan, however, it can quickly remove warm air vapor from your camper automatically. This keeps the inside of your camper cool without letting warm air from the battery in.
Battery Vent Tube
Battery vent tubes can take up the least space and can be installed on any battery without any modification. Installing these are by far the easiest modification for any battery vents. These are most common for tiny travel trailers, like one that would typically be towed with a smaller vehicle. This vent should only be used if your trailer contains only one battery.
Simply locate the small hole on your battery and attaching the tube to it. Then, drill a small hole on the outside of your trailer. Finally, run the tube to that hole and seal it in place. I also recommend sealing a small L-shaped pipe on it to keep rain and trail dust from getting inside of it.
The real question is which type is the best for your camper? The answer depends mainly on your trailer or RV size and the number of batteries. Almost all campers and RV’s will already have one in place; just look around your battery compartment a little, and you’ll be sure to find a vent.
Why use a Battery Box Vent?
Besides for your safety, battery box vents can help prevent battery overheating, extend the life of any battery, and help prevent battery leaks.
Battery Box Vent Maintenance
Whether or not you have a vent that came with the trailer or you put one in yourself, they all come with some maintenance. Maintenance is essential and keeps the vent clear and open, which is crucial to ensure needed airflow. Referring to your manual to see how to clean a battery vent properly is good practice.
I recommend using a pipe cleaner to clean the battery box vent on a trailer or RV. To make sure they are clear and air can pass through. As for the vent tube, I wouldn’t use the pipe cleaner to try to clean it as it may push the debris further into it. I recommend disconnecting the tube from the battery, waiting for all fumes to dissipate (about twenty minutes), then blow on the end to clear the debris from the tube.