Energize Your RV Batteries and Get Prescriptions on the Road

RV advice from February's Mark My Words

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February 6, 2019

Professional photograph of Mark NewmanHi Mark My Words readers! This month, we’ve got questions on batteries, prescriptions, dripping air conditioners and getting your mail on the road. Remember to send your RVing questions to [email protected].

Hi Mark,
We have had a Renegade Villaggio since 2015. The house battery was replaced in 2016 because it was not holding a charge. Now, this second battery is not holding a charge. We run the motorhome twice a month, more if the weather is really cold or hot. Our RV tech did not find any issues with the inverter. From what I’ve read, the house battery should have a longer life than two years. Should we remove the battery during the winter months or have the RV connected to shore power? Please share your thoughts and suggestions.

Thank you, Yvonne

Hi Yvonne,
If you’re storing the RV for long periods, you need to make some kind of accommodation for battery charging. Not only do batteries slowly lose their charge when sitting idle, most RVs will have a few small electrical loads drawing power from the house batteries all the time. Without some kind of charging to offset this slow discharge, these small loads will run the batteries down. Batteries that have been discharged significantly and left in a discharged state will have a shortened life. Just running the motorhome for 10 or 15 minutes may not be enough to recharge the batteries. There are several options: You can plug the RV into AC power during the storage period; this will allow the internal charging system to keep the batteries charged. You’ll still need to check water levels in the batteries regularly. Another option is to disconnect the house batteries, remove them and store them in a place where you can put a battery maintainer on them, or charge them with an automotive battery charger every 30 to 60 days. This is a bit of a hassle but is the best option if you don’t have AC power at the storage facility, or if the weather gets extremely cold during storage. If you keep your batteries fully charged throughout the storage period, they should last a lot longer.

Hi Mark,
How do you get mail on the road? We are selling our house and heading out in the RV for a year. We’ll start in Colorado, then Utah, Arizona, California and then back. Our longest stay in one place will be 2-3 months.

Thanks, Jack

Hi Jack,
Do you have a friend or family member who can collect your mail and send it to you periodically? If so, all you need to do is put in a forwarding request at your local post office and have your mail sent to that person. When you land somewhere for a week or so, you can have your friend send your collected mail to the nearest post office that offers General Delivery (most do). Your mail will be held in General Delivery up to 30 days. All you need to do is go to the post office counter and show a picture ID to get your mail. This works best with post offices in towns and small cities. Simply address the package to

Your name
General Delivery
City, State, Zip

To find the post office that handles General Delivery in any area, call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) and request “Customer Service.” You can also obtain the proper General Delivery address information at any post office, or by selecting the “Look Up a ZIP Code” button on the www.usps.com home page.

If you don’t have a friend willing to do this, there are a number of mail-forwarding services that specialize in helping RVers get their mail while on the road. Most services collect your mail and hold it until you contact them and ask for it to be sent, and General Delivery is the most popular option. Many services can also send your mail via FedEx or UPS. A quick web search for “RV mail forwarding service” will turn up a number of choices. Many RV clubs also offer mail-forwarding services. The Escapees RV Club operates a mail service for RVers with options in Texas, Florida and South Dakota. FMCA and Good Sam also have mail forwarding services. I personally think the Escapees mail service is the best, but I admit to a slight personal bias in that! (I’m a long-time Escapees mail-service member, and I also work for the club.)

How do you get the AC unit to stop dripping into the RV by the table? It cools really well but it leaks.

Thank you for any help, Christine.

Hi Christine,
Water dripping inside usually means the drain on the A/C is plugged up. The condensate water that forms on the condenser has to go somewhere, usually it exits through a small drain hole on the on the roof-top unit. It’s quite easy to fix, but it does require you to go up on the roof and remove the air conditioner shroud. The drain is located in different places, depending on the make and model of the A/C, but is usually easy to find. A pipe cleaner, or a short piece of wire can be used to poke the drain hole to open it up. Here’s an example for the Coleman Mach series bryantrv.com/roofacleaks.html

If your A/C has been around a few years, it might be a good idea to have it serviced by an RV service facility. That generally includes cleaning the coils and the drain and drain pan, and usually isn’t terribly expensive. It’s also possible to do it yourself, not much to it really, and there are some good YouTube videos on the process. Just search for “RV air conditioner service” and you’ll find a bunch.

Hi Mark,
How do I deal with getting my prescriptions when I’m traveling? I usually get a 30-day supply at Walmart. Can I just go to any Walmart and get a refill?

Thanks, Mert

Hi Mert,
Normally, if you get your meds at Walmart, you can take your medicine bottle to any Walmart, even in another state, and ask them to transfer your prescription and refill it for you. You can also ask your doctor to provide you with a medication order you can bring with you and fill at any U.S. pharmacy while you are away. Just contact your doctor’s office before leaving and ask them if you could pick up an order for your medication to take with you.

Don’t wait until the very last minute to try to transfer your prescription while traveling. Walking into a pharmacy 15 minutes before you are due to take your last pill and telling them you need it transferred quickly doesn’t usually work very well. Try to bring in your bottle at least 3 days before you are due to run out. Give them the information they need, and plan to return the next day to see if it is ready. Better yet, take their business card and call them the next day to see if it’s ready. In some cases, the pharmacy may need to order your medication as it may not be something they ordinarily stock. This can take 1-2 working days.

If you’d rather avoid all that, check to see if your home pharmacy will mail you your medication for no additional cost (many will do this!). Or, simply switch your prescription to a mail order pharmacy, one that does all meds by mail. The best thing about mail order pharmacies is they usually send you a 90 day supply. Your health insurance provider may offer meds by mail, but if they don’t, check out one of these online suppliers:

www.caremark.com (CVS)

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  1. Anonymous

    We have a Jayco 2003 Class A, 33 ft motorhome. We had new batteries in 2017 when we bought it in Feb. We drove to CT in May and lost all auxiliary power. We replaced the batteries and kept it on shore power over the summer and fall. We camp monthly, traveling only a few hours before campgrounds with electric. We left for OK on Nov. 3, traveling across CN to New York. We lost all auxiliary power again there. We later lost heater fans, and other power we didn’t consider “auxiliary”. In the campground, we get back the batteries, but loose it again, within a few hours on the road. In IN, a gentleman said we needed a new connector for the two batteries. We bought one and installed it in OK. (We stayed at campgrounds to keep power as we traveled to our destination). Again, two months later, in January, traveling home, we have had the same issues. Is there something we are missing here? It isn’t the batteries alone, as we should be able to travel for at least 5-6 hours and still have heat or air from the engine. Can you direct us as we will need to correct this come spring. We are “frozen” in at this time in Northern Maine. And, is there a specialist or service center in Northern Maine for us to take it to? We are 7 hours from the nearest Camping World. Thanks for any ideas. Eagle Spirit – Lois and Paul

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Mark; I use to have battery problems until I installed a 30 AMP outside wall plug for our Travel Trailer and later a 50 AMP wall socket when we got a fifth wheel trailer. We’d not had a problem with batteries since. I use to hook a smart charger to the battery, but that was at irregular intervals. Our electric bill does not seem to have gone up at all since the trailers are always plugged in. The cost of installing a wall plug in at the house was about the same cost as replacing two RV batteries. Now we’ve not had to replace a battery since.