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A good portable battery is probably one of the most important components of an RV. Also referred to as house batteries, they supply 12 volts to the RV’s electrical system, allowing you to use your appliances and devices in off-grid situations. So, it’s a must have for those who do a lot of dry camping and it’s also a good investment for use as backup power and for solar applications. All RV batteries are deep cycle batteries, which means that they can run until they are almost fully discharged, at which point they will need to be recharged again. So, in this article, we’ll be looking at the best RV batteries in 2021. Below, you can find RV battery reviews, a comparison table, and a comprehensive buying guide.
It’s also important to note that house batteries are not the same as starting batteries. The purpose of house batteries is to provide a steady amount of electricity over a long period of time, while the purpose of starting batteries is to provide a short burst of current in order to start the engine. The latter is similar to the batteries used in cars. So we would like to specify that in this article we’ll be looking at the best RV house batteries and not starting batteries.
10 Top Rated RV Batteries
RV Batteries Reviewed
Battle Born LiFePO4
Another excellent choice of a deep cycle RV battery is the Battle Born LiFePO4 model. What makes this product one of the best sealed deep cycle batteries for travel trailers and RVs is its lightweight, rugged design, high capacity, and the best in the industry 10-year warranty.
What separates this battery from all the other units on our reviews list is that this is the best lithium ion battery. This type of battery offers advantages in weight, capacity, and shelf life.
This battery is rated at 3000 cycles at a 100% charge/discharge cycle. This means that if you do one cycle every day, the battery will last you over 8 years. And if you use it in less than 100% cycles, it will last you even longer. For example, 50% discharge cycles will give you 6000 cycles. That’s simply better than any lead acid battery out there.
Moreover, the lithium ion battery also offers the advantage of being more lightweight. At just 31 pounds, this unit is ⅓ of the weight of lead acid batteries with a similar capacity. And the lightweight design makes it a lot easier to install the unit.
The LiFePO4 also features a BMS or Battery Management System. It’s the brain of this deep cycle lithium ion battery. It protects the unit from the most common causes of battery failure, such as overcharging, ground faults, and temperature volatility. On top of that, it automatically disconnects the system when the battery is fully discharged, which protects the lithium ion cells and you.
These batteries can also be fully discharged with no harm done. They offer 100% usable capacity. This isn’t the case with lead acid batteries, for which it ends at 80%, though recommended is at 50%.
Since there’s no acid in the battery that can leak or spill out, you can safely mount the unit in any position that you prefer. You can place it on its side, end, or tilted. In any case, it will stay leak and spill-free.
It offers 100 amp continuous output, which is enough to power most RV electronics and devices. This battery also provides a 30 second 200 amp surge output, which you can use for higher loads. You can also combine two or more of these deep cycle batteries together and use them in 24, 36, or 48 volt systems.
Other benefits of this system include more rapid charging as the system can handle larger charge currents and a low self-discharge rate of 3% or less per month.
Universal Power Group 45978
The top rated RV deep cycle battery in 2021 is the Universal Power Group 45978 model. It’s a 12V 100Ah battery that offers solid performance in a heavy duty design. On top of that, it’s compact, powerful and versatile.
This is an SLA/AGM battery, making it less prone to leaks and maintenance free. On top of that, the sealed design allows mounting the unit in any position without worries of any spillage, even on its side or end.
The AGM technology also makes this battery a great option for RV and travel trailer use since the sloshing of the liquid battery acid solution is reduced by the absorbed glass mat. That’s why AGM batteries are usually better at handling shocks, vibrations, and movements, which are often experienced with RV use.
The shock and vibration absorption is also provided by the sturdy design of this battery. It allows providing a seamless amount of electricity without any cuts in power.
It also offers an impressive performance with a 100 amp-hour rating. This makes it a great choice for those who are looking for a highly capably deep cycle battery.
The overall life expectancy of this battery is 3 to 5 years. However, the actual number will depend on the power draw and depth of discharge. With 30% depth of discharge, you can get about 1,200 cycles or 3 to 5 years. And with a higher depth of discharge, for example, 50%, you will get only 500 cycles or 2 years and under.
Another impressive thing about this great RV deep cycle battery is its versatility. You can use it not only on your RV but also on a boat, scooter, wheelchair, or motorhome. Depending on the usage requirements, you can also hook up two or more of these units parallel to each other.
To charge the battery, you can use solar panels, a generator, or a battery charger. When choosing a charger, make sure that it correctly matches for voltage. But either than that, any charger will work. You can choose a trickle charger if you want to maintain a full battery or a regular charger if you want the battery to charge faster.
One of the best AGM deep cycle batteries for RV use is also the Vmaxtanks Vmaxslr125 model. It’s also one of the longest lasting deep cycle batteries, with an average lifespan of eight to ten years if used in float mode. That is higher than most other RV batteries on the market.
One of the first things that stand out about this unit is its heavy duty construction. It’s made using tough alloys and high quality components, such as military grade custom made plates. All this adds to the longer lasting performance of this battery. The tough design also contributes to shock and vibration absorption, which is essential if you’ll be using the battery in a recreational vehicle.
The battery is also resilient to temperature. It can operate in the temperature range between -4 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit when the unit is discharged or stored. When it is being charged, this temperature range slightly narrows down to 14 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
What we also like about this battery is that it’s designed for 99% recombination capabilities. This means that it doesn’t produce any dangerous fumes and gases, making it a great option for those looking for a safe and eco-friendly product.
This 12V battery boasts a 125 amp-hour rating. It’s a group 31 battery, which usually includes larger and more powerful batteries that are commonly used on boats, RVs, motorhomes, and other similar applications. The impressive performance also includes 3,500 cycles with a depth discharge of 10%. And a total depth discharge will give you about 300 cycles.
One more advantage of this RV battery is the low self discharge. When not in use, this battery will self discharge up to only 2% per month when kept at room temperature.
Another thing to note is that this is an AGM deep cycle battery. This design ensures dependable performance without any acid leaks and without requiring any regular maintenance. You can install it in any position and not worry that it will leak or malfunction. On top of that, there’s minimal venting with these batteries, so you can safely use them inside. And lastly, the design ensures better handling of shocks and impacts, making it ideal for any type of terrain. So, it provides consistent performance even when you’re driving your RV on harsh roads.
Mighty Max ML100-12
The Mighty Max ML100-12 is another one of the best 12 volt deep cycle RV batteries that is recommended for its long lasting durability, high level of reliability, and top performance. And with all that, it also comes at an affordable price.
This 12 volt deep cycle battery can be used for a variety of applications. On an RV, you can use it to store solar or wind energy. However, there are plenty of other applications for it. For example, it can also make an excellent power source for golf carts, builder sets, garden tools, medical mobility, or any other tool that requires 12 volts for its functionality.
This battery also offers all the benefits of AGM technology. First of all, it’s the maintenance-free operation without having to regularly add any fluid, which is necessary on flooded wet cell batteries.
Secondly, the use of the highly absorbent fiberglass mat separators and a valve regulated design, makes these SLA batteries eliminate the free streaming of electrolytes. This, in turn, eliminates the risk of any spills, even if you install the battery at an odd angle. Thanks to this design, this battery can be safely used on any type of terrain. The battery will perform well whether it’s on water, land, or sea.
Moreover, the AGM technology holds the plates and separators under pressure, which provides up to 20 times better resilience to vibrations. This is important if you’ll need the battery to withstand the tough conditions of RV driving on harsh roads.
The heavy duty calcium-alloy grid of the unit provides greater performance and longer service life. It provides reliable operation, no matter the conditions. Moreover, the thicker plates in this battery allow discharging deeper, which means that you can run it for much longer without having to worry about recharging it.
For the best value deep cycle battery, also consider the Weize LFP12100 product. It’s a sealed lead acid AGM battery that features a heavy duty design and excellent performance that can be used for a wide variety of applications.
It’s a 12 volt battery with 100 amp hours, meaning that it will provide 5 amps per hour continuously for 20 hours. And if this capacity is not enough for your power needs, combine two or more of these units in parallel and create 24 or 48 volt arrays.
The battery is built with AGM technology and a valve regulated design, which makes it perfect for RV camping use and other applications. Thanks to this technology, this unit is more compact, more durable, and maintenance-free. Moreover, the sealed design also means that you don’t need to worry about any spills or leaks. It also allows to install, store or transport it in any orientation.
It’s a deep cycle battery, which also gives it a few advantages. It lasts longer than starting batteries or regular batteries. This type of battery is also smaller and lighter than flooded lead acid batteries that offer the same capacity. There are also no hydrogen emissions, making it possible to use this RV battery inside with minimal ventilation requirements. And this battery also has a low discharge rate, offering more convenience for long-term storage.
The rugged design of this RV battery setup includes a calcium-alloy grid that provides longer service life in both float and cyclic applications. And it can be used either on an RV, boat, shed, or anywhere else.
This is also one of the lightest RV batteries, weighing just 57 pounds, making it easy to transport and mount the unit. And for the installation, the product includes screws but does not include the wire harness or mounting.
Vmaxtanks Vmax V35-857
If you’re looking for the best budget deep cycle battery for your RV, 5th wheel, or travel trailer, then we recommend checking out the Vmaxtanks Vmax V35-857 model. Not only does it come at a very good price but it is also excellent in terms of performance, durability, and reliability.
The first impressive thing about this deep cycle battery is the durability of the design that is built using heavy duty materials. It features lead tin alloys that provide an extra margin of performance and a longer service life of the unit. The plates of the battery feature unique physical and chemical structure. They go through a special manufacturing process that gives them more strength, reliability, and better performance. All this makes this RV deep cycle battery tough and suitable for all types of terrain and weather conditions. You can use it when driving on harsh roads and you can use it on either land or water.
Moreover, the addition of the Absorbed Glass Mat between the plates gives an even bigger physical and electrical advantage to the unit. This offers the strength and reliability that you’d hope to see in a good deep cycle battery. It also makes it less hazardous since the AGM completely absorbs the electrolyte and the whole unit is sealed, so there’s no risk of any spills or leaks. Moreover, due to this AGM design, you can store or mount the battery in any position you want.
Another great thing about this RV trailer battery is its maintenance-free operation. The tightly packed plates are sealed for protection, so you don’t need to add any water or check the acidity level.
These batteries are also extremely resilient to vibrations. So you can install it in your RV and not worry about it getting damaged from all the rough driving.
Another advantage that makes this battery a good choice is that it can recover even after repeated deep discharges. And this RV deep cycle battery is ideal for those who are looking for a low capacity battery with only 35 amp hours that is compact, lightweight at 25 pounds, and reliable.
WindyNation BattaMax 100 Amp-Hour Battery
For a high level of satisfaction, we also recommend the WindyNation 100Ah deep cycle battery. It’s perfectly suitable for recreational vehicles and other types of off-grid applications. On top of that, it provides excellent performance and long lasting durability. All things that you would want in a good RV deep cycle battery.
The first thing that impresses about this unit is its heavy duty design. It’s built with strong, durable plates that are capable of handling deep, repetitive discharges. And the AGM technology adds to the longevity of the unit, which is longer compared to standard lead acid batteries.
The WindyNation battery also uses only pure virgin lead, meaning that there’s no recycled lead. This high quality lead provides an extremely low discharge rate.
This deep cycle battery offers 100 amp-hours at the 10 hour rating. You can wire these batteries in parallel to get as much power output as you need. You can create 200Ah, 300Ah, and more battery banks for 24, 48, 96, or more volt systems.
As with all the AGM batteries, this unit is also sealed, eliminating risks of spills and eliminating the need for any maintenance. You won’t need to add any water, which you have to regularly do with wet-cell batteries.
The sealed design also means that this unit can be used in any position, except terminals facing down. You can put it sideways, on its end, or any other way you like.
Since it’s a deep cycle battery, this unit is suitable for any application that requires deep-cycle performance where the battery will be discharged and recharged numerous times.
The brand Odyssey also offers a good value deep cycle battery that is suitable for RV, camper, and trailer use. It’s one of the best travel trailer batteries for a number of reasons.
First of all, this camper battery offers longer lasting performance with 3 to 5 years of service life. It features rugged construction that is designed to withstand the constant pounding, whether it is used on land, sea, or snow. This also makes it perfect for RV and camper use, since it will be able to handle all the vibrations and shocks that come with driving. You can safely rely on it for use in remote places with rough terrain, which is perfect if you’re looking for a good RV battery for dry camping or boondocking.
Secondly, due to the use of pure lead plates, you also get longer cycle life with this 12 volt battery. It’s 70% longer compared to conventional deep cycle batteries, delivering up to 400 cycles at 80% discharge.
Since it’s a sealed lead battery with AGM technology, this unit also offers fast recharging. You can get 100% recharge in as much as 4 to 6 hours. Moreover, the sealed design also means that you don’t need to add any water for maintenance and you don’t need to worry about any spills or leaks. Even if you install it on its or at an angle, it will stay perfectly dry and safe.
Moreover, the sealed design makes all the gases recycle internally. So the operation of the unit doesn’t produce any fumes or gases and it allows safe use of this RV battery inside.
The manufacturer also offers a better warranty than many other brands in the industry. Its 2 year limited warranty covers a full replacement of the product if there are any manufacturing defects. However, the item is only replaceable and can’t be returned.
Renogy 12V 100Ah Deep Cycle Battery
If you’re looking for the best battery for RV solar energy storage, a great option is the Renogy 12V 100Ah model. It’s designed specifically for this purpose and it offers reliable and durable deep cycle performance. Though, it can also be used for other purposes as well, such as in electric vehicles, motorcycles, lawn tools, emergency lighting, etc.
The high quality performance of this RV deep cycle battery is first of all achieved by the AGM design. It allows for leak-proof and spill-proof performance that doesn’t require any maintenance.
It offers 100 amp-hour at 10 hour rate power capacity. However, you can purchase several of these batteries and connect them in parallel in order to create a higher capacity battery bank.
For high performance, this RV battery is also built with high quality alloy that provides durability and corrosion resistance. You can use it for dry camping, boondocking, or as an emergency backup power source. In any application, on land or sea, it will perform well.
Due to the AGM design, this deep cycle battery offers all the same benefits as the other AGM batteries that we’ve mentioned in this list of reviews. It’s leak-proof and is not prone to spillage, so you can install it in any position you want, except for upside down. This battery is also extreme temperature tolerant with a wide operational temperature range. Moreover, the design used with the AGM technology provides resistance to tough conditions, such as shocks and vibrations. It can absorb high impact and movements, protecting the unit and its technology.
This deep cycle battery also offers good service life, with more than a thousand cycles. On top of that, it has a very low self-discharge ratio, meaning that if it’s not in use, it will last a longer time. And another notable advantage of this system is the stable charging and floating voltage.
One more benefit that is worth mentioning about this great RV battery is that it also comes with a safety feature that protects the unit against the risk of over-discharging.
Optima 8016-103 Starting and Deep Cycle Battery
The last but not least good RV deep cycle battery on our list is the Optima 8016-103. What separates this model from others is its dual purpose capability. It’s not just a house battery but also a starting battery. So, you get two functions in one unit. For the house battery function, it offers 50Ah and for the starting battery function it provides 750 cold cranking amps.
It’s designed for use on RVs and boats. It’s lightweight, compact and boasts high reserve capacity. On top of that, it features a rugged design that can withstand tough conditions, such as extreme weather or rough terrain.
This battery features a design that is different from the standard AGM units. Instead of the flat plate design, it features a series of individual spiral-wound cells, which gives the batteries better efficiency and better resilience to vibrations. These cells also consist of two pure lead plates, which also feature a coating of lead oxide, with one being positive and the other negative. All this combined, provides a safe and strong source of power.
Since it’s an AGM battery, it also offers the maintenance-free and spill-free operation due to its well-sealed housing design. Besides that, you also won’t have to worry about the unit breaking down because of driving on rough roads in your RV. It can easily handle constant shocks and vibrations, so you can rely on it to perform in any situation.
It seems like Optima used to be making good quality batteries. However, in recent couple of years, there has been a lot of complaints from users of the battery dying within 1 year and not being able to take a charge. There are some good reviews of this RV battery but lately they’ve mostly been negative. So, if you want to make sure that your investment goes towards a more reliable product, one of the options that we’ve listed above might be a better choice.
What Is an RV Battery?
An RV battery is a deep cycle battery that is installed in a recreational vehicle in order to provide power to the onboard electronics and appliances. Such appliances can include water pumps, water heater, fans, lights, coffee machines, microwave ovens, TV, etc. All these things depend on 12 volt power source as a means to function.
However, an RV house battery shouldn’t be confused with a starting battery. It’s two different pieces of equipment. An RV house battery provides your vehicle’s appliances with a consistent current that lasts over an extended period of time. A starting battery, on the other hand, only gives a short surge of power, which is used to start the engine of the vehicle.
What Is a Deep Cycle Battery?
Deep cycle batteries are designed to cycle or discharge and recharge. What makes deep cycle batteries different is that they provide a steady, consistent supply of energy over a longer period of time than starter batteries. This type of battery can provide a sustained amount of power until it is 80% or more discharged. However, most manufacturers recommend not discharging below 50%, which helps to extend the life of the battery.
There’s also a difference in construction between deep cycle batteries and others. They feature solid lead plates, which gives less surface area and results in less instant power.
Deep cycle batteries are commonly used in appliances and motors that depend on a consistent supply of power. That includes trolling motors, small vehicles, electric wheelchairs, golf carts, navigation devices, etc. This type of battery is also often used in RVs, motorhomes, boats, or sheds for storing solar or wind energy.
Benefits of RV Batteries
- If you do a lot of dry camping, you’ll need a power source to supply electricity to your appliances and devices onboard. That’s when a battery can become handy, especially if you also have solar panels installed. It will provide you with a consistent amount of energy when your trailer is turned off, when you’re boondocking or when you’re parked at a campsite with no electricity provided.
- Batteries can also make your RV camping experience more comfortable. With it included in your RV equipment, you’ll be able to have light when it gets dark, you’ll be able to keep your heater running when it gets cold and you’ll be able to run your fridge avoiding spoiled food.
- Another benefit is that it will allow you to save money on gas. Without the battery, you’d have to keep your RV’s engine running, which would provide electricity. However, this burns fuel and requires you to spend more money to refill the tank. By combining an RV battery with a solar panel system, you’ll be able to save money and have less impact on the environment.
- The RV battery can also be used for other applications. For example, you can also use it on a boat, wheelchair, motorcycle or scooter.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best RV Deep Cycle Battery
If after reading our reviews above, you’re still not sure what is the best RV battery for your particular needs, this buying guide will help you make the right choice. In this section, we’ll cover all the things to look out for when buying a new RV battery. By considering all the factors listed in this buying guide, you’ll be able to find the product that is the most appropriate for your recreational vehicle.
1. Types of RV Batteries
The first thing to consider is the type of RV battery that you need. All RV batteries are deep cycle but they have a few subtypes. Each offers its own pros and cons. And one might be more suitable for you than the other depending on what you’ll be using the battery for.
Most recreational vehicles today use deep cycle batteries. It’s a type of lead acid battery that uses the same chemistry to create and retain power as a car battery. Though, instead of a surge current over a short period of time, deep cycle batteries produce a steady amount of current over a long period of time.
Deep cycle batteries also have a few subtypes.
Flooded Lead Acid
Also called the wet-cell battery, the operation of this type is also based on lead acid chemistry. Unlike AGM batteries, however, these come with electrolyte fluid that floods the plates or makes them fully submerged. This allows free movement of the electrolyte around the battery encasement.
This type of battery features a non-sealed design. Due to that, all the gases don’t recombine to liquids internally. Instead, they have to be vented externally. Moreover, these batteries always have to be mounted upright or otherwise, the electrolyte can leak out of the caps on top.
Flooded batteries also require regular maintenance. Monthly, it needs checking of the electrolyte level, which is gradually lost through venting. If it’s depleted, it requires adding water.
What makes this type of battery popular is the longer service life, better handling of overcharging, and cheaper price. Moreover, these batteries are better at handling overcharging due to the hydrogen venting process and the non-sealed design.
Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
The sealed lead acid type is similar to the flooded type. The main difference is that these batteries come in a sealed design, so there’s no access to the inside compartment. Due to this design characteristic, you don’t need to add any water and you don’t need to worry about venting.
This type of battery is also referred to as VRLA or valve-regulated lead acid battery. It features a small valve on top of the unit, which is used to allow excess gases to escape if the pressure within the unit exceeds the safety limits. However, when the conditions are normal, the gases recombine within the battery itself without the need for venting out.
AGM or Absorbed Glass Mat
As you’ve probably noticed, most products on our recommended RV battery list feature AGM technology. But what does the AGM battery mean?
AGM is a type of sealed lead acid battery and it’s the best type of battery for travel trailers and RVs. It’s a fairly new type of battery but it has become common across all motorhomes due to a number of reasons.
The technology of this type features an absorbent glass mat that is sandwiched between two lead plates. It absorbs and holds the battery’s acid in place with capillary action, preventing it from flowing freely inside the battery. Moreover, the plates and the mat are packed very tightly, which makes the battery almost immune to vibration. Furthermore, the compression also lowers internal resistance and this, in turn, maximizes power output and decreases charging time.
One of the benefits of this type of battery is the maintenance-free operation. They recombine the gases produced internally back into a liquid. So, there are no hazardous gases produced during operation, allowing the use of these units inside RVs. There’s only minor gassing, which occurs during charging. And most AGM batteries are equipped with a valve that opens and closes automatically to provide relief venting at low pressure.
The sealed design of the AGM batteries also means that you don’t need to worry about any liquid spilling out of the battery. It also gives you more mounting options since you can place it in any orientation. The electrolytes won’t spill out even if you turn the battery upside down. Though, it’s not recommended to mount it in this position.
The downside to AGM batteries is that they require a higher initial investment. However, the extra price is worth having the luxury of not having to maintain the unit or dealing with venting of the gases.
Gel cell batteries also feature a sealed design, just like the AGM battery. The difference is that gel batteries use silica to turn sulfuric acid into a jelly-like substance that acts as the electrolyte. The gel-like substance is immobile making these batteries spill-free and allowing positioning of the unit on any side.
These batteries are the most sensitive to over-voltage charging. They perform better in very deep cycle applications and last longer in hot temperature conditions.
It’s critical to use the correct charging parameters since high amperage charging or discharging can create pockets inside the gel battery. These pockets will eventually corrode the plates and cause premature failure of the battery.
Another disadvantage of this type is the high initial investment. So, these batteries are not very common aside from applications in very hot climates.
Another great choice for RV’s solar power system are lithium ion deep cycle batteries. One reason why many RV owners choose this type of battery is the longer service life. While lead acid batteries last only about 300-400 cycles, a lithium ion battery can last for 3,000 to 5,000 cycles.
The lithium batteries also have high energy capacity, offering up to 100 amp hours. They are also lightweight and they offer fast charging, providing a full charge within one or two hours.
One more benefit of these batteries is the level of discharge they can tolerate. For lead acid batteries, it’s recommended not to discharge below 50%. But lithium batteries can safely go down to 100% depth of discharge.
The next thing to take into account before making a purchasing decision is the power capacity that you need. The battery’s capacity is measured in Ah or Ampere hours. It indicates a specific amount of power that the battery is capable of supplying over a period of time before the battery is discharged.
Usually, it’s rated over a 20-hour period. However, always check specifications as some brands rate their batteries amperes over a 10-hour period. So, for example, if a battery is rated at 100Ah at 20 hours, it means that it can put out 5 amps over a 20-hour period. And if a battery is rated at 200Ah, it can deliver 10 amps over the same amount of time.
Generally, the higher the capacity of the battery, the better. It will provide you with more stored power and will serve you longer. However, at the same time, avoid getting an oversized battery since the higher capacity usually comes at the cost of size and weight. On top of that, it also usually comes with a higher price tag.
To ensure that you choose an RV battery with the optimal capacity, you need to calculate your energy needs. Think of all the appliances and devices you have onboard and consider how often you use them. This will help you figure out how much power you use in a day and then choose a battery that will allow for a little extra. Also, make sure that the battery will be able to deliver that amount of power without falling below 60% or 50% of its total capacity.
If you’ll be using a solar system, a generator, or some other power source that would be able to recharge the battery, take that into account as well. But if you’ll be going off-grid and doing a lot of dry camping with no electricity source around, look for an RV battery that would be able to supply a sufficient amount of daily power needs.
3. Depth of Discharge
A battery’s depth of discharge refers to the percentage of the battery that has been discharged relative to the overall capacity. And if you’ll be choosing a lead acid deep cycle battery, then keep in mind that there’s a strong link between the lifespan and the depth of discharge. The more frequently and deeper the battery is charged and discharged, the shorter will be its lifespan. And it’s highly recommended never to discharge a battery entirely since that will dramatically shorten the life of the unit.
Each battery offers a certain cyclic life, meaning that it can provide a certain number of charge and discharge cycles. However, it all depends on how much of the battery’s capacity you usually use. For example, a battery can have 1,100 cycles at 50% depth of discharge but it will go down if you increase the depth of discharge.
If you’ll be using a lithium ion battery, the depth of discharge becomes less important. Many brands even offer 100% depth of discharge on their batteries, though it’s still better not to discharge them below 80%. These batteries also typically have a battery management system that prevents over-discharging.
4. Self Discharge
All batteries are affected by self discharge, meaning that when not in use, they gradually lose charge over time. Self discharge refers to the electrical capacity that is lost when the cell sits on the shelf. For various batteries, the self discharge rate will be different. However, for lead acid batteries, it’s about 3% per month. For lithium ion batteries, it can be shorter.
Voltage is the term used for electrical potential difference. And typically, most RV appliances use 12 volts, such as lights, fridge, awnings, and furnace. That’s why many RV owners opt for 12 volt batteries. However, many also choose to combine two 6 volt batteries and wiring them in series in order to achieve the same 12 voltage. Such setup offers a higher amp hour rating and it also extends battery life between recharges.
Depending on the size and use of your RV, you can also create 24 volt or 36 volt battery banks. However, in most cases, a 12 volt battery serves well enough.
6. Operation at High and Low Temperatures
When choosing a new RV deep cycle battery, it’s also important to check the operating temperature range, especially if you usually travel with you RV in very hot or cold climates. Make sure that the battery can still operate at the lowest or the highest temperature.
Some batteries, for example, can’t operate below freezing or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And if you plan to use the battery during winter or during hot summer days, this temperature range might not be suitable for your use.
7. Resistance to Shocks and Vibrations
Driving an RV can be quite bumpy, especially if you do a lot of off-roading, and this can create rough conditions for the battery. That’s why you need a unit that would be able to handle all the shocks and vibrations. Otherwise, you might end up spending a lot more on repairs of the damage.
A good option is an AGM battery since they typically have a solid and sturdy design. Moreover, the use of the technology where the plates and the absorbent glass mat are tightly compressed helps in further providing great resilience to vibrations.
The weight and size of an RV battery usually correlate to the overall performance. The bigger the battery, the more power it tends to have. However, buying the biggest battery isn’t always better.
First of all, not all RVs can hold a large heavy battery. Secondly, a heavy and bulky battery is difficult to move and install. So, look for something more optimally sized.
At the same time, choosing the smallest battery isn’t always the best either. If you need high capacity, you might have to buy 5 or more of the small sized units. This can create a lot of problems with wiring and maintaining them, which you would probably rather avoid.
The goal here is to find a battery that would provide the perfect balance between weight, size, and capacity.
9. Life Expectancy
A battery’s lifespan can be measured by the number of charge and discharge cycles that it can provide. However, the lifespan also depends on two factors. It depends on how many appliances you’re powering inside your RV and how often you’re using it. To extend the service life of your battery, make sure that you don’t over-discharge or overcharge the unit.
10. Charging Options
Consider also how you’ll be charging your RV batteries. Will you be using solar panels, a generator, or shore power? Based on the battery you choose, a certain charging method might be better and more efficient.
You also obviously want to find an RV deep cycle battery that fits into your budget. Though, it might also be tempting to buy one at the lowest price. However, keep in mind that a very low price can also mean subpar quality and poor performance. So, instead of saving money, it will cost you more in the long run since you’ll have to replace the battery more often.
Ideally, the best RV battery for dry camping and boondocking would have the perfect balance between price, quality, and performance.
The last factor to consider before choosing a certain RV battery is the brand. Buying from a reputable brand can give you the highest level of satisfaction. You will know that they will be there to provide customer support if something goes wrong with your battery and they won’t just disappear.
Some of the most popular RV battery brands include Optima, Vmaxtanks, Mighty Max, Universal, and WindyNation.
How to Install an RV Battery?
Installing an RV battery is a fairly easy process that requires just a few steps. The below step-by-step instructions you can use as general guidelines. However, check the manual that came with the battery that you bought as it can have its own instructions that may differ from the ones below.
- Start by turning off all power draw in your RV. This includes turning off any lights, appliances, and other accessories that use the RV battery for operation.
- Note the position of the battery in the tray and the polarity.
- Next, disconnect the cables, starting with the negative one first. When removing the negative cable, if you see any sparks, it means that a draw is still present. In this case, go back to the first step.
- Remove the battery and check the casing and other hardware for any rust or corrosion signs. If you see any, remove it before proceeding to the following steps.
- Check your new battery if it has a proper level of electrolyte. However, most AGM deep cycle batteries already come with the right level. If you do need to top it up, simply add distilled water.
- Clean the terminal posts.
- Install the new battery into the tray, making sure that it’s in the same polarity position as the old battery was.
- Connect the cables and install hold-down hardware.
- Do a test by switching on the lights in your RV.
RV Battery Maintenance
RV battery maintenance requirements will depend on the type of battery you have. Flooded cell batteries require more maintenance, lead acid require minimal maintenance and lithium ion require pretty much zero upkeep. But the tips provided below are mainly for the deep cycle lead acid batteries.
- Never completely discharge your deep cycle battery as it will lead to a shortened life expectancy of your battery. Try not to go below 50% depth of discharge since then the battery will last you twice as long as a battery that is discharged to 20% every day.
- If you’re using a 12 volt battery, don’t let it discharge below 12 volts. A fully charged 12 volt battery is actually 12.7 volts. So, when it reads below 12 volts, the battery is already at or even below 50% state of charge. You can keep track of the voltage using a digital voltmeter, so you’ll know when the battery needs to be recharged.
- When you’re not using the RV, turn off the battery disconnect switch. It will make sure that there’ll be no parasitic loads discharging the battery over time. Parasitic loads in an RV can include clocks, TV antennas, appliance circuit boards, etc.
- Always use the right battery charger. Ideally, you want a charger that would be able to fully charge your battery in about 8 hours. An undersized unit can undercharge and an oversized one can overcharge your battery. Both of these instances can lead to battery damage. Instead, you can also use a smart 3-stage charger that provides fast charging, and then when the battery is fully charged, it switches to float mode.
- Regularly perform a visual inspection, checking if there are any cracks, defects, or damaged terminal posts and cables. If any damage is found, repair or replace the battery.
- Check for any loose connections. If needed, tighten them to make sure that they are secure. However, at the same time, it’s also important to avoid over-tightening them.
- Keep the terminals clean and corrosion free. Dirt and corrosion can run into the cables, which will with time start obstructing current flow.
- If you’re pairing several batteries together, make sure that they’re of the same size.
RV Battery Storage
Proper care for an RV battery should also include proper storage when it’s not in use. It also plays a role in keeping up the health of a battery.
The main thing to avoid is storing the battery in freezing temperatures. Otherwise, it can cause irreparable damage to the plates and container. The location for storage should also be cool, dry, and protected from the elements. Avoid also exposure to heat sources, so keep the battery away from radiators and space heaters. High temperatures can accelerate the battery’s self discharge rate, which can also cause damage.
Before putting away the battery for storage, charge it to full capacity. During storage regularly check the charge. If it falls below 80%, recharge it. And when you’ll decide to put the battery back to use, charge it to full capacity again.
Temperature Effects on Batteries
RV batteries provide optimal performance at room temperature. If the temperature goes down, the capacity decreases. This is the same reason why your car battery dies on a cold winter morning. At freezing temperatures, the capacity for most batteries is reduced by about 20%.
Hot temperatures can also affect the performance of a battery. Higher temperatures shorten the life of the battery. For every 15 degrees Fahrenheit over 77 degrees, battery life is cut in half.
That’s why if you do RV camping in extremely hot or cold temperatures, you might want to look for a battery that will not be as affected by it.
RV Battery FAQ
Do I need a battery for my travel trailer?
Batteries are a fundamental feature of any travel trailer. They are the backbone for all the electrical components of the vehicle.
First of all, all your RV electrical appliances, devices, and lights run on 12 volt DC power and that’s exactly the type of power RV batteries provide. Even if you’re parked at a campsite, you still need a battery that would convert the current.
Moreover, a battery will also be able to keep all your appliances running if there’s a power outage. Also, if you’re dry camping where there’s no source of power, you’ll still be able to continue enjoying having lighting, heating from the furnace, or cooling from the AC.
What are AGM deep cycle batteries?
AGM deep cycle batteries are advanced lead acid batteries that are designed to provide higher electrical demands in a unit that is extremely durable, maintenance-free, and non-spillable.
The electrolyte in AGM batteries is fully contained, which eliminates the risk of spills and leaks, even if broken. Moreover, the sealed design makes these batteries recombinant, meaning that the gases recombine inside the battery. Due to the recombining, there’s almost no water that gets lost. This provides maintenance-free performance with no requirement for the regular replenishing of water.
On top of that, AGM batteries have a very low self discharge rate. Typically, it’s around 2% or 3%. This means that they can sit in storage for much longer before they’ll need to be recharged again.
What makes AGM batteries also ideal for RV use is that they are built with a sturdy design that can withstand the abuse of off-road driving. They achieve this by having a tightly packed plates and glass mat design that offers good resilience to vibrations.
What are RV batteries made of?
The main component of RV batteries is lead acid, which is included in the battery’s cells. Other components include plates, an absorbent glass mat, and lead oxide which is a combination of sulphuric acid and water. These are the main parts that give the battery its ability to store energy.
What type of battery is best for RVs?
The best type of battery for RV is the new lead acid batteries with AGM technology. They offer a number of benefits that make them a safe, convenient, and efficient option.
Another popular option is a 6 volt golf cart battery that in a series of two can also be used in an RV. Wired together, they provide a 12 volt power source that is reliable and stable.
What voltage is an RV battery?
Most RV batteries run on 12 volt DC power since this system powers most lighting fixtures, appliances, and devices. For example, it’s used in powering your fridge, microwave, laptop, TV, etc.
Alternatively, you can use two 6 volt batteries, which are also called golf cart batteries. These work in a series of two in order to achieve a 12 volt system that is required for the RV. One of the main benefits of this system is the higher amp-hour capacity and greater discharge and recharge capacity. Moreover, 6 volt systems also tend to last longer. The downside, though, is that they require a higher initial investment.
What are amp hours on a deep cycle battery?
The amp hour rating on a deep cycle battery shows its capacity. Typically, the Ah rating time period for most deep cycle batteries is a 20 hour rate. What this means is that for a 100Ah battery, you can get 5 amps an hour over a 20 hour period.
However, it’s also important to note that the total time of discharge and load applied does not have a linear relationship. With an increased load, it decreases the realized capacity. This means that if you have a 100Ah battery and you discharge it with 100 amp load, you won’t get a full hour of run time. Instead, you’ll get only 64 amp hours.
How to charge RV batteries?
There are several ways that you can charge your RV battery. The most common include using solar energy, a generator, an alternator, or shore power.
The best way to charge RV batteries is by using solar energy. It does require a higher upfront investment but it does provide a cost effective and environmentally friendly solution.
How to charge an RV battery with solar panels?
One of the options of charging your RV battery is by using solar panels. Most solar chargers are designed for 12 volt DC, which is perfect for a 12 volt battery. However, if you have a 24 volt battery, you’ll have to wire a series of solar panels together.
Solar panels are sold in varying sizes but it’s best to buy one that would be suitable for the battery’s size. The most common size is a 100 watt panel. However, 100 watts is its peak efficiency in the most ideal summertime light conditions. Moreover, 100 watts can provide only about 8 amps of energy in one hour of direct sunlight. So, to charge a 100Ah battery, in this case, will take a few days, that is if there’s good sunlight.
When using solar panels to charge an RV battery, it’s also important to have a charge controller. It’s a regulator that controls the rate at which the electric current is added to or drawn from the battery. Its purpose is to protect against overcharging and prevent overvoltage.
How to charge an RV battery with a generator?
Another common way of charging an RV battery is with the help of a generator. Most generators have a 12V output. However, trying to charge a 100Ah battery this way is almost a waste of time since a 12V output is limited to around 8 amps. Due to that, it will take a long time to fully charge a battery and that would require using a lot of fuel and enduring a lot of noise.
Moreover, the voltage can fluctuate and the output isn’t regulated, which can lead to overcharging the battery. That’s why the DC output on a generator is more suitable for emergency situations or short term charging.
A solution to this is to use a smart charger that uses 3 or more stages in its charging process. This will allow to charge the battery much faster and more accurately, prolonging the life of the battery. Alternatively, you can also use an inverter generator that also offers safer and faster charging.
How to charge an RV battery while driving?
A dead battery can really put a damper on your trip. And it’s not just an inconvenience, it can also permanently affect the battery’s ability to hold a charge. That’s why it’s important to properly maintain your battery and never let it fully discharge. And one of the ways to charge it is when driving the RV.
For this charging process, you’ll need a Voltage Controlled Relay, high amperage cables, and Anderson plugs. Start by preparing the VCR, which will disconnect automatically and parallel to the auxiliary. This also starts the batteries. When the relay is closed, the trailer and its batteries get paralleled. Turning on the vehicle opens the relay and turning it off disconnects it, putting it at a pre-set voltage.
Next, use the high amperage cables to combine the RV’s battery with the house battery in order to reduce the drop in voltage. It’s advised to use Andersen plugs since they are capable of carrying a huge amount of energy, while at the same time providing a stable connection with reduced voltage drops.
Lastly, consider adding rubber boots slip on the breakers, which would help to insulate them from any short circuits. And to prevent any fire hazard, it’s also recommended to use a circuit breaker that you can add to the positive side of the Andersen plug.
What is the difference between a deep cycle battery and a car battery?
A car battery is an engine battery or a starting battery. It’s designed to deliver a quick burst of energy that would help start the engine. This type of battery provides only an initial high current and that’s why they have a high rate of Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). And once the engine has started, a car battery stops providing the current.
A deep cycle battery, on the other hand, is a house battery that provides a steady amount of current over a long period of time. Some house batteries can also provide a surge but it’s nothing like the surge a car battery gives. Moreover, a deep cycle battery can be deeply discharged over and over again, handling at least several hundred such cycles, while car batteries can’t be fully discharged.
Do I need more than one battery for my RV?
It all depends on your energy consumption and the capacity of the battery that you’re looking to buy. Start by calculating your power consumption, which will help you understand how much battery storage capacity you need. Then, you can decide if just one 100Ah battery would be enough for your needs. If you need more, you can wire two 100Ah batteries for a 200Ah capacity. For even more amp hours, you can also wire two 200Ah batteries.
How long does a deep cycle RV battery last?
If properly maintained, a good RV deep cycle battery can last as long as five years. If it’s a lithium ion deep cycle battery, it can last even longer than that. However, the life expectancy of a battery is directly related to how you maintain it and use it.
There are certain factors that can greatly shorten the lifespan of a battery. The main reason for battery failure is sulfation buildup. It occurs when you consistently deeply discharge the battery, which causes the sulfur molecules in the electrolyte to coat the battery’s lead plates. With time, the plates get more and more coated and as a result, the battery can’t hold charge anymore and eventually it dies. Other causes of sulfation can include improper storage, leaving the battery too long without charge, cold or hot weather, and exposing the battery plates to air.
Can I start an engine with a deep cycle battery?
A deep cycle battery does not deliver as many cranking amps as a start battery does. However, it still might be powerful enough to deliver a sufficient surge to a particular engine. If that’s the case in your situation, then it’s fine to use a deep cycle battery to start an engine. So, check if the battery offers a CCA rating to see if it has sufficient starting power.
However, most deep cycle batteries are not designed for this purpose and a starting battery would do a better job at this.
Do you need an RV battery monitor?
An RV battery monitor might not be a necessity but it can definitely help to improve the health of your batteries. It will regulate the battery charging level and monitor the voltage. It will allow you to monitor the amount of energy that goes in and out of the battery. With the help of all this, you can assess the behavior of the battery and charge it in time before any damage is done.
What is an RV battery disconnect switch?
The purpose of an RV battery disconnect switch is to cut the flow that comes to the negative cable, which stops any power draw from the battery. In most cases, you’ll find it on the inner control panel. However, if this switch is missing in your vehicle, you can purchase one separately and install it directly on the house batteries.
Finding the best RV battery is easier when you know how they work and how they are built. It also helps to know what features to look for in order to make sure that you choose the right product. And we hope that in our RV battery reviews and buying guide you’ve found all that information helpful. You can compare the products and check out RV deep cycle battery ratings in order to find a high battery that would provide you with the best performance and long lasting quality.