Not so long ago, going on a picnic or camping meant saying goodbye to the comforts of the modern world. While dining out beneath the stars, cooking food in a bonfire, and listening to just the sound of the woods may sound romantic, being without modern conveniences may sometimes prove to be too inconvenient.
RVs have made camping and picnic activities more convenient and more enjoyable. Now you don’t have to say goodbye to the conveniences that you cannot live without.
Watch your favorite TV shows or an important game while enjoying the great outdoors. Charge your mobile phones, tablets, or desktops when their batteries run low. Brew your favorite coffee blend. All of these are possible because of the RV battery that powers your entire vehicle.
Two Types of Battery Your RV Needs
There are two types of batteries that you will need for your recreational vehicle. The two have very different uses, so it is important not to confuse one with the other.
- Chassis Battery
The Chassis Battery or Starting Battery is the battery required to start your RV’s engine. Starting batteries provide the engine the large current it needs to start. They have thin plates which are exposed to the electrolyte. The Chassis battery is rated in Cold Cranking Amps (CCA), which refers to the current in amperes the battery can deliver at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 seconds. You should not use a chassis battery or starting battery as your deep cycle battery. Once the engine is up and running, the vehicle’s alternator gives all the power that it needs. When used properly and mindfully, your chassis battery can last you for years.
- Deep Cycle Battery
A Deep Cycle Battery, unlike your chassis battery, is designed to produce a steady current over long periods. It can discharge deeply and is designed to be recharged often. Doing the same with a regular car battery can ruin it. Deep cycle batteries are designed with thicker plates to allow deep discharging and recharging over and over.
Your deep cycle
Your RV Has Two Electrical Systems
Your RV has two electrical systems on which it runs: 12 volts and 120 volts. The 12V system is powered by the house battery of your RV, which is the deep cycle battery. In some set-ups, depending on the requirement of the RV and its owner, multiple batteries are used. It can power the lighting, heating system, refrigerator, and some basic necessities in your RV.
The 120V system runs on an external generator or an electrical hookup plug. It can power your kitchen and other home appliances, your TV set, among others.
Benefits of Having the Best RV House Battery
A recreational vehicle can significantly improve your camping and picnic experience. However, without a power source, an RV will simply become a cover over your heads. With a house battery, you may greatly enjoy the comforts of home on your camping and picnic trips. Here are some of the benefits of having a house battery in your RV, on top of your generator and your chassis battery.
- Turn on your lights even when the RV engine is off.
Imagine having to grope for your flashlight once the sun sets and nighttime came. Your RV’s house battery is enough to power the lighting system of your RV, even when the engine is off. It can also power up your water heating system, refrigerator, carbon monoxide detectors, and other light electrical loads.
- Have comfortable and convenient camping or picnic trip.
If you love to go off the grid and you frequent campsites without electrical hookup plugs, then a house battery can make your trip more comfortable and convenient for you. With a house battery in your RV, you still get to enjoy modern conveniences even in the most remote areas.
- Enjoy a warm bath, anytime, anywhere.
You do not have to endure icy, cold baths when you are on the road. Your RV’s house battery can power up your water heating system. You get to enjoy a warm, relaxing bath, even if you are camped in the middle of nowhere.
- Use it to jump-start your generator.
If you have a portable generator for your RV, you might think that you can forego a house battery. You will still need your house battery before you can use your generator. Some would argue that you can use your RV’s chassis battery to do this. While this may be true, you will end up replacing your RV’s starting battery more frequently. You may think that you have saved money by not buying a deep cycle battery, but you will be spending more on replacing your starting battery more often.
You can then use your portable generator to power heavier loads, such as a TV system, a satellite cable system, and other heavier loads.
- Leave your security alarms on even when the engine is off.
You may have a fire detection and alarm system, a small CCTV system, or a carbon monoxide detection system installed in your RV. These safety precautions may need to be always on, even if your engine is off. Your house battery can power these safety precautions, to ensure your safety, and that of your family and your RV as well.
- You have a standby power supply in case of power failure.
In the unfortunate event of a power failure, or a generator failure, you can have peace of mind with a deep cycle house battery. You don’t have to fumble in the dark, or suffer through cold baths. You can use your RV’s 12-volt system for a more extended period with a deep cycle house battery, rather than with your RV’s chassis battery.
- Extend the life of your chassis battery.
By using the appropriate deep cycle batteries to power the 12V supply system of your recreational vehicle, you are extending the life of your RV’s chassis or starting battery. The chassis battery is not designed to supply a steady flow of current over a long period of time. With a house battery in your RV, you avoid draining your chassis battery because of incorrect or improper usage.
- Keep your communication lines open.
By having a standby power supply in the form of your house batteries, you ensure that you maintain your communication line with the outside world. Maintaining a communication line is especially important if you love to camp in remote places. An emergency can always take you by surprise. By having the 12V supply system of your RV powered, you can charge your mobile phones even when your generator fails.
RV Battery Reviews
#1 – Optima 8016-103 D34M BlueTop Starting & Deep Cycle Marine Battery
BEST FOR: RVers with motorhomes who need a reliable battery that can work as a starter and for those RVers who often move from campsite to campsite and need a strong, powerful 12-battery.
The Optima 8016-103 D34M BlueTop not only works as a deep cycle RV battery but with 750 cold-cranking amps it offers optimal starting power in even harsh weather.
When you want a maintenance-free, high-quality battery in your camper, this Optima model featuring SpiralCell design and continual lead plates will deliver every time. The Optima battery is made specifically for use in recreational vehicles or boats that have large accessory loads so you can run your devices with confidence. The quick recharge time and long shelf life make this a battery worth the investment.
Customer reviews mention the high reserve capacity in this RV deep-cycle battery that withstands vibration damage and extremes of climate. Customers also like the sealed design that makes it easy to install in just about any configuration.
- Unique spillproof design
- High reserve capacity
- Dual-purpose starting/deep-cycle battery
- Works in extreme climates
- Excellent vibration resistance
- Quickly recharges
- Inadequate shipping protection
#2 – VMAX857 12-volt 35AH AGM Battery Marine Deep Cycle Battery
BEST FOR: No-fuss RVers who need a reliable 12-volt power-supply battery to run the refrigerator, ignite the water heater, or run lights for a few hours each day.
The VMAX857 12-volt 35AH AGM Battery Marine Deep Cycle Battery offers strength and reliability that makes trips in your RV more enjoyable.
The battery design features non-spill, safe installation in your camper and will resist all the shocks, bumps, and vibrations that occur while traveling. The electrolyte suspension system in the tanks VMAX use are high-porosity AGM (Absorbed Glass Matt) that absorb and contain the electrolyte, with no need of silica gels or other contaminants put in during manufacture.
Customers mention how happy they are with the long lifespan of the battery, even after deep discharges. They also like not having to check water-levels, which makes the battery maintenance-free and convenient.
- Quick recovery-even after deep discharges
- AGM non-hazardous, non-spillable design
- Strong and durable plates
- Resists vibrations and shocks
- Super-tough protective tank
- Holds less charge than other model batteries
- Only bolts on top, so you need connectors if your cable doesn’t have them
#3 – Odyssey PC680 Battery
BEST FOR: RVers with minimal 12-volt power needs who are looking for a long-lasting, durable battery that can withstand the test of lengthy travel.
The Odyssey PC680 battery has a rugged design that can handle the constant vibrations and bumps you encounter while traveling in your recreational vehicle.
Pure lead plates inside the battery increase the power capability and provide a long life cycle that is much greater than a conventional deep-cycle battery.
Customers agree the battery has a highly stable voltage and has a fast recharge time. They also like the flexibility in mounting positions due to its sealed design. The ability to withstand high temperatures makes this battery perfect for summertime camping trips.
- Non-spillable AGM design
- Rugged construction
- Lighter in weight than other RV batteries
- Withstands shocks, vibrations, and impact
- Allows for flexible mounting positions
- Quick recharging
- Small battery/low power storage
#4 – Renogy Deep Cycle AGM Battery 12 Volt 200Ah for RV
BEST FOR: RVers who need a battery to create a high-performance RV solar-power system.
The Renogy 12-volt 200Ah deep cycle AGM battery is ideal to avoid over-discharging your RV batteries, especially when they’re in a series connection.
Any RVer who has or is considering installing a solar power kit to their camper will find this battery, while more expensive than other options, to handle the job of storing power in a very efficient manner. Customers note that the battery is maintenance-free, making your camping trips less stressful and that this battery keeps even RV residential-type fridges running smoothly.
- Spill-proof and leak-proof
- Helps prevent battery over-discharge
- Specific design for solar energy storage
- Very heavy
#5 – Odyssey PC925 Battery
The Odyssey PC925 battery boasts an impressive life cycle that will keep your RV in power for years.
The sturdy construction makes it resistant to the shocks and vibrations of RV travel. The sealed battery design will prevent dangerous spills and allows for a variety of mounting positions and is guaranteed never to leak.
Customers like that the Odyssey PC925 battery has 330 cold cranking amps, which makes it a reliable source of power to start your motorhome. Customers also like that the battery keeps your appliances running at a stable high voltage even during harsh weather conditions.
- High-efficiency recharge
- Allows for different mounting configurations
- Vibration and shock resistance
- Handles extreme temperatures
- Non-spill design
- Returns must be made through a local dealer
The Odyssey PC680 battery is our pick as it has a rugged design that can handle the constant vibrations and bumps you encounter while traveling in your RV.
How to Maximize the Lifespan of Your RV’s Deep Cycle Batteries
The lifespan of your RV’s deep cycle batteries will depend on many factors. These factors include how you use your RV’s house batteries, how they are discharged and re-charged, how they are stored when not in use, and how they are maintained.
Here are some tips on how you can maximize on your RV’s house batteries.
- Charge them properly.
One of the common causes of the demise of an RV house battery is improper charging. Improper charging may leave your RV batteries undercharged or overcharged. A cell becomes under-charged if it is repeatedly discharged, but not fully recharged in between use. When a battery is undercharged, the sulfate material that is attached to the discharged part of your battery’s plates harden. Over repeated undercharging, can severely damage your RV’s house batteries. The same also happens if you keep your deep cycle batteries discharged over a long period.
Overcharging can also cause permanent damage to your house batteries. Overcharging your batteries can result in severe water loss and corrosion of your battery’s plates.
Undercharging and overcharging can both be avoided, so always be mindful when charging your deep cycle batteries.
When your RV is connected to an electric hookup plug, your batteries are also recharged.
- The sooner you recharge your batteries, the better.
A discharge from 100% to 50% is considered as one cycle. Discharging your batteries at 50%, then recharging it to 100% can extend the life of your batteries. You don’t want to discharge your deep cycle batteries completely before you recharge them. A battery that is recharged at 50% will last twice longer than a battery which is recharged after a discharge of 80%.
- Use batteries that are compatible with your RV needs and requirement.
Ensure that your batteries are set-up and designed to meet your RV needs. Your RV house battery may differ if you are always plugged on an electrical source versus camping on sites without electrical hookup plugs. Deep cycle batteries come in a range of sizes. The larger the battery, the greater its amp-hour ratings. Identify the loads that your house battery will need to power up before you go battery shopping.
- Mind how you store your RV’s batteries when not in use.
Not every day is camping season. For example, the winter season is not exactly the perfect time to go on a camping or picnic trip. When your RV is parked for months, your deep cycle batteries will naturally discharge over time. Your battery can discharge completely if you are not careful.
You might consider taking the batteries from your RV for the time being. Check the voltage of the battery monthly, to ensure that it does not discharge up to 80%.
- Check your battery’s water levels.
It is imperative to keep a certain water level in your deep cycle batteries to keep it fully functioning. Be sure to check on them once in a while. You can check your battery’s water levels before charging. If the water level is lower than the plates, refill it using distilled water until the plates are covered. Do not use tap water or other water that contains minerals. It can permanently damage your house batteries.
How to Charge Your RV’s House Batteries
Unlike the chassis battery, your deep cycle batteries do not recharge by themselves. You must be responsible for checking your RV’s house battery levels, to avoid draining it up to 20%. It is essential to recharge your deep cycle batteries once you have drained it by 50%. Draining it at more than 50% can cause sulfation which can permanently damage your battery cells. Here are ways which you can recharge your house batteries after every cycle.
- Plug your batteries in a 120-volt AC outlet.
Once you are home, or you are in a campground with power supply, simply plug your batteries into the power outlet to recharge. However, since the supply from the outlet is 120V AC, you will need a converter to charge your batteries.
- Use the power of the sun.
If you have installed solar panel cells on the roof of your recreational vehicle, you can harness the power of the sun to recharge your house batteries. Solar panels are especially helpful if you love to go boondocking or dry camping. Solar panels convert sunlight into energy, which is then stored in your house batteries for later use.
The downside with solar panels is that you are solely dependent on your exposure under the sun. You can only recharge your house batteries during the daytime. To fully maximize your solar panels, you must identify the loads that your battery will supply power to.
- Use a stand-alone battery charger.
Stand-alone battery chargers are useful when your battery is removed from your RV for storage. Battery chargers are available in automotive stores. They are very handy, and easy to use. In choosing the right battery charger, you must determine the amp-hours of your battery.
Types of Deep Cycle Batteries
There are many deep cycle batteries available in the market. They come in different sizes, ratings, brands, and price tags. There is no single best RV battery. The best RV battery for you will depend on your needs.
- Flooded Lead Acid Deep Cycle Batteries
Also known as wet cells, flooded lead acid batteries are the most popular deep cycle batteries used for recreational vehicles. The battery contains a certain amount of electrolyte fluid in which the plates are submerged. Flooded lead acid batteries require regular maintenance and off-season charging. They must be installed in an upright position and must be kept far from strong vibrations. However, these batteries can handle overcharging better than other types of deep cycle batteries. They also have the longest life span and the lowest cost.
- Absorbent Glass Mat Deep Cycle RV Batteries
The AGM deep cycle battery is a type of lead acid battery. The electrolyte in this type of battery is absorbed by a fiberglass mat, hence its name. Compared with flooded lead acid cells, AGM batteries are more robust, requires less maintenance, can withstand higher temperatures, and self-discharge slowly when not in use. They also charge up to five times faster than their flooded counterpart. However, AGM batteries are more sensitive to overcharging.
- Deep Cycle Gel RV Batteries
Deep cycle gel batteries offer the same advantages that AGM batteries do. Compared with AGM, they are also tougher, heat resistant, and more resistant to vibrations. Gel batteries, however, charge at a slower rate, compared with flooded lead acid and AGM batteries. Improper charging can also easily damage these batteries. They are also more expensive than their AGM counterparts with the same capacity.
- Lithium-Ion Deep Cycle Batteries
Lithium Ion is lightweight, efficient, and can withstand extreme temperatures. They outperform their lead acid and AGM counterparts. Lithium ion can safely operate up to 49 degrees Fahrenheit. Its versatile mounting allows you to install it in any direction, without hampering its performance. Although more costly, their lifetime value may be worth it in the long run.
Choose the Right RV Deep Cycle Battery
In choosing the right deep cycle battery for your RV, you must identify first what type of camper you are. Do you prefer to camp in sites that have a power supply, or are you a fan of dry camping? What electric devices and appliances do you have in your RV that you consistently use? How often do you use these devices and appliances? The answers to these questions will help you determine the perfect deep cycle battery for you and your RV.