The average RV runs off two batteries. The first is a car battery to get the engine started so the vehicle can move. This may also be called a starter battery or chassis battery. The second battery is the RV house battery, whether you have a single 12 volt house battery or two 6 volt batteries. It may be called the coach battery. These batteries can be a deep cycle battery, though some choose to use marine batteries instead.
Here are a few tips on how to select a deep cycle battery for your RV.
Tip 1: Understand the pros and cons of each type of battery.
Lead-acid batteries are the original RV batteries. Their pros include broad availability, low cost and familiarity. Their cons include heavy weight, risks like outgassing of poisonous fumes and maintenance requirements. Gel-cell batteries eliminate the maintenance requirements, the ability to be mounted sideways and most of the hazards of lead-acid batteries, but they charge more slowly and cost a lot more.
AGM batteries are spill-free, nearly maintenance free, charge faster than gel cell batteries, have a slow discharge rate in storage and can discharge to 80 percent without ill effects. They rarely need to be equalized, too. Downsides include cost and difficulty getting them serviced.
Lithium ion batteries are safe, stable and have a very long life. There’s no off-gassing, and you can discharge them nearly entirely without harm. They’re lightweight and can charge faster. What’s the downside? Fast and thermal concerns if charging quickly.
Remember the stories of smart phones catching fire when fast charging? Now imagine that if you use the wrong charging profile but in your RV. Lithium batteries often can’t be charged near freezing temperatures, too, though there is no water in them to literally freeze. They also need much more complex battery maintenance systems to protect overcharging and overheating.
Once you understand the pros and cons of each type of battery, you’ll understand which type is right for your situation.
Tip 2: Identify performance standards the battery has to meet.
Batteries are not all the same. If you’re going winter camping in an RV, you need batteries that will charge and won’t freeze under those conditions. If you’re going to spend a week in the hot desert for a festival, verify that the battery won’t die because it is so hot.
Tip 3: Know what power means in your current context.
House batteries store and release power. That power capacity may be measured in amp-hours (AH) or reserve capacity (RC). Amp hours states how many amps a battery can release over twenty hours.
Reserve capacity refers to how long it could put out 20 amps of output. You can convert the RC rating to the amp hour by multiplying it by sixty percent. Ensure that the battery is capable of delivering the power you need.
Tip 4: Find out how much space you have.
There’s no point buying batteries that don’t fit. If you only have so much space, you can either buy batteries designed to provide the power your RV needs and fit, or you can pay more for energy dense batteries that will outperform conventional batteries.
Don’t forget to account for the space battery charge controllers and wiring take up. And give batteries that out-gas space to breathe.
Tip 5: Determine how you’ll be using the batteries.
If you’re going to be living off the grid for weeks on end, you’ll want batteries that can full charge and discharge repeatedly without failing. The number of charging cycles it can handle matters, but the ability to be nearly fully depleted before fully recharging matters as well.
If the house batteries will only power your camper once in a while, then a slow discharge rate in storage and the number of years it will last matters more.
Tip 6: Choose safety features based on your particular situation.
Batteries may come with safety features, and you should prioritize the batteries that protect you from what you’re concerned about.
For example, if you don’t have good insulation in the battery storage component, batteries that won’t out-gas are a priority. If you’ve destroyed batteries by over-charging them, batteries with built-in protections from overcharging become a priority.
Batteries that are difficult to over-heat and don’t leak are a plus if have young children around.
Tip 7: Compare batteries based on overall value.
Most of the criteria we’ve shared allow you to strike prospects off the list such as batteries that lack power or are too big. Knowing the safety features you want them to have and battery chemistries that won’t work in your situation allow you to narrow the list down further. Now we’re down to the final criteria – value. This is going to be a matter of preference.
We can say buy the cheapest batteries that meet your needs. However, you might want to pay a little more for “better batteries”. Do you want batteries that last years and won’t leave you dead? Then batteries that resist sulfation or can be easily desulfated are a plus. A good warranty or built-in monitoring features may be worth it, too. To get more updates, Click here.
There are many different types of deep cycle batteries on the market. Knowing the criteria to use to find the right ones for your RV will allow you to find the best deal on RV house batteries.