Your RV uses house batteries to power things like the water pump, lights, and 12-volt outlets. These are different from engine batteries intended to produce a lot of power in short bursts in order to get your engine started. These batteries are intended to supply power for longer periods of time, and you’ll often find more than one battery wired together in an RV. If you truly want to go off the grid without hookups, you’ll need some of these.
You’ll often wear these batteries down very low before recharging them. This process is called deep cycling, so you need deep cycle batteries.
Some of the best things about a deep cycle RV battery are not only that it has a much longer life than a regular starting battery, but it is capable of storing power gathered from a solar panel, which means you could really go off the grid without the use of a generator.
But which is right for you? Well, it depends on how much power you need and what you want to be able to power with them. It also depends on weather, terrain, and charging speed needed.
- 1 What is an RV Battery?
- 2 How RV Batteries Work
- 3 What to Look For
- 4 RV Battery Benefits
- 5 Best Battery Options
- 6 Optima 8052-161 D31M BlueTop Starting and Deep Cycle Battery
- 7 Universal UB121000-45978 12-volt 100AH Deep Cycle AGM Battery
- 8 Odyssey PC680
- 9 Battle Born BB10012 RV Battery Setup
- 10 DieHard Group 49 RV Battery
- 11 ExpertPower EXP12330 RV Battery
- 12 FAQs
- 13 Final Thoughts
What is an RV Battery?
There are batteries specifically rated for RV use. However, some batteries are rated for use in a lot of different types of motor vehicles like boats, ATVs, RVs, and more. Without a battery, the appliances and lights in your RV won’t work.
These batteries are deep cycle batteries, which means they’re meant to discharge to a certain percentage before you need to charge them back up again. Unlike an automotive battery that can recharge itself, you do have to recharge RV batteries manually, with shore power, solar systems, a generator, or something else.
Depending on the battery type, you can discharge them anywhere from 50-100% before you charge them again.
They do not produce power but are intended to reserve a large amount of power onboard so when you hook them up and turn them on, they supply enough power to your RV to run your necessities. They work for long periods of time before needing to be recharged on a battery charger.
How RV Batteries Work
RV batteries and electrical systems can be quite complex. Even long-time RVers sometimes have trouble, so don’t fret if you don’t completely understand them yet. The best way to understand an RV battery and how it works is to understand more about voltage.
RV batteries use 12-volt direct current energy with deep cycle capability. This type of energy is typically enough to power small RV systems and appliances. The size of your RV and the number of systems and appliances you want to power will dictate how many batteries you need.
You won’t always be able to power all of your systems and appliances, because things like air conditioners use a lot of power. However, these batteries can discharge and charge repeatedly without damage.
This Durable battery type are measured with amp-hours, so you can calculate how long your batteries will last by determining how many amps you need per hour.
When you’re not using batteries, you can plug into shore power, which operates on a 120-volt alternating current. You can also charge your batteries with shore power using an AC to DC inverter.
It’s important to be responsible with your high quality RV battery by monitoring its levels. Ensure it doesn’t fall too far below the intended discharge level to avoid electrical issues or damage.
What to Look For
Whether you are looking to build a power bank or improve your current situation, there are a lot of things you need to keep in mind. You always want your vehicle to run as efficiently as possible, so consider some of the following things when finding the right one for you.
RV battery capacity is rated in Ampere hours, or Ah. This number is the amount of current the RV battery can deliver over one hour. A 100Ah battery can deliver 100 Amperes in one hour.
High capacity batteries are, of course, better for storing more power or operating for longer. But you also need to be aware of the size and weight of the battery. While bigger might be better, it may not fit in your basement storage or wherever else you keep your batteries.
You’ll need to be familiar with your energy requirements. How big is your RV? Are you powering things like air conditioning or a washer and dryer? Large RVs and motorhomes will use a lot of power every day, while smaller units will not.
Once you know how much energy you need every day, you can choose a battery that will power your necessities. You need a battery that can handle providing that much power without depleting it’s capacity too rapidly.
It will also depend on how long you’re going off the grid without a chance to recharge. If you have a solar panel or a generator, you may have more opportunities to recharge than if you have to rely on a campground hookup – or lack thereof.
This refers to the number of volts your battery produces, and it’s important to know because you need to know what voltage system your RV uses as well. Most of the best deep cycle batteries have a 12-volt direct current.
Many RVers will wire two 6-volt batteries in a series to create a 12-volt system. However, if you have a solar power kit, it likely works with 24-volt batteries, so if you want your solar panel to recharge your batteries, you’ll need a power inverter that converts DC to AC.
Depth of discharge
Depth of discharge is a complicated subject, and different types of deep cycles batteries are meant to be discharged to an optimum percentage before recharging. You can’t always discharge fully (or at least you’re not supposed to) before charging them back up.
Lead-acid batteries are cheap, but require quite a bit of maintenance and shouldn’t be discharged past 50% before recharging. Absorbent glass mat (AGM deep cycle battery) batteries are a little more expensive, and can still only be discharged to about 50%, but require very little maintenance.
Lithium ion batteries are very expensive, but they’re lightweight, can be discharged 100% before recharging, and require no maintenance. The life of these batteries is 10 years compared to the 3-5 of others.
Keep in mind that your 100Ah will really only be about 50 usable Ah if you can only discharge the battery 50% before recharging.
You also need to consider how many cycles your battery is good for. Cheap RV batteries will last about 300-500 cycles, which is great for people who don’t dry camp very often. A Lithium Battery is good for 3000-5000 cycles and are well worth it for people who dry camp often or full-time.
Method of charging
Whether you’re using solar charger power, shore power, or a generator, it’s smart to have a charge controller. This allows you to monitor and regulate the voltage your battery receives. You can create a charging profile based on the charging method you’re using, and it will protect your battery by supplying the charge your battery needs when it needs it.
It will adjust voltage and current automatically no matter how the power is being delivered. It can save your battery from getting fried.
Make sure you get a battery that can supply the power you need in either cold or hot temperatures. This is another factor to consider based on where and during which season you do the driest camping.
Some batteries are rated better for high or low temperatures, or they may have an ideal operating temperature where they must stay at all times.
Your RV moves. That’s the whole point. But you need a battery that can withstand moving, no matter how frequently. It will sustain heavy vibrations, so you need a battery with a durable build quality so it’s capable of withstanding vibrations and shocks.
Your RV battery should be shock-resistant to avoid spending a lot of money on repairs when you damage the battery or your electrical system.
RV Battery Benefits
While you can use any RV deep cycle battery in your RV, it’s not necessarily a good idea. There are certain benefits to using deep cycle batteries rated for RV use. There are several reasons for this so that you don’t do any damage to your RV or the batteries.
Lithium RV batteries have built-in safety measures. For instance, if it gets close to overheating, it will turn off automatically. It won’t allow itself to catch fire, which prevents explosion, damage to your property, or death.
Deep cycle RV batteries are meant to supply power for longer and discharge deeper than regular batteries. If you choose to purchase a lithium RV battery, it will last longer and discharge deeper than a lead-acid or AGM RV battery.
RV batteries work great for dry camping, can sustain high voltage levels, and offer much more usable capacity than regular batteries.
RV batteries are more lightweight than regular batteries. Your RV is already big and heavy, so what kind of extra weight you want to add is an important consideration. A lot of times, you want to reserve the extra weight for clothes, food, and other necessities.
Lightweight RV batteries ensure that you have extra weight to spare for the other things you need. Lithium RV batteries are the lightest option. It can boost your RV’s capacity for travel by minimizing the weight it carries.
RV batteries are more eco-friendly than other types of batteries. Again, unlike lead acid batteries, a Lithium ion battery is often the best solution. If you dry camp a lot and enjoy being a friend of the environment, you can ensure that you minimize your emissions with these types of batteries.
The disposal of these Lithium ion technology batteries is also a lot more environmentally friendly than regular batteries. Many are made from recycled materials and are recyclable, too.
Best Battery Options
There are more RV batteries out there than you can count, so let’s review some of the best options.
Optima 8052-161 D31M BlueTop Starting and Deep Cycle Battery
The nice thing about a lot of the Optima batteries is that they function as both starting and conventional deep cycle batteries. They’re ideal for motorhomes that need both, but if you have an RV that you tow with a separate vehicle, they’re not necessary.
The 155-minute reserve capacity is more than a lot of other RV batteries, and it’s what makes it so great at both trolling and deep cycling. With 900 cold-cranking amps, the starting power of this battery is incredibly powerful.
The rugged construction is durable, making this battery super dependable. An added bonus is that it’s easy to mount anywhere and will protect itself from spills and vibration. You’ll experience consistent performance no matter the situation.
When it comes to charging, the battery charges back up quickly so you won’t be without power for long. The only downside to this battery is that it’s large and heavy, so if you have a smaller RV, you may not have enough room for it.
- High reserve capacity
- Dual-purpose for starting and deep cycling
- Easy to mount
- Vibration and spill-resistant
- Rugged and durable construction
- Large and heavy
The Optima batteries function as both starting and deep cycle batteries. They’re ideal and definitely the BEST choice for motorhomes that need both!
Universal UB121000-45978 12-volt 100AH Deep Cycle AGM Battery
AGM batteries are great because they require very little maintenance. You don’t have to check the electrolyte levels because the glass mat on the inside absorbs them. It also affords you a lot of flexibility because you can mount it in different positions without affecting its performance.
When you’re tight on space, sometimes it’s beneficial to mount your battery on its side, and this one will allow you to do just that. It’s also a versatile source of power for RVs, boats, motorhomes, golf carts, scooters, wheelchairs, and a whole lot more.
AGM technology also makes these types of batteries much more resistant to shock and vibration, which means you have to worry even less about the roads you take, even the most rugged.
This battery includes a valve that allows you to regulate performance by controlling the output. You can push it up to as much as 300 watts for as long as 30 minutes if you need a large boost of power and then drop it back down when you’re done.
It stores energy well and the seal prevents leaks and spills, making it even easier to mount on its side for a variety of uses. The acid-proof plastic body makes it extra durable and rugged. It can also withstand various inclement weather conditions.
The one drawback to this particular model is that the stainless steel hardware it has built into it is short, and makes it difficult to wire several batteries in a series or make additional connections.
- Can power multiple motorized vehicles
- Can be mounted in various positions
- Is resistant to vibration, shock, and weather
- The seal prevents leaks and spills
- Built-in valve allows performance regulation
- Short hardware makes it hard to connect
AGM batteries are great because they require very little maintenance and it also affords you a lot of flexibility because you can mount it in different positions without affecting its performance.
This Odyssey battery prides itself on extra sturdy construction, so it can handle even the most rugged use, whether you’re using it in a snowmobile, a boat, or an RV. Like other AGM designs, it comes with built-in protection against vibrations.
But the truly remarkable thing about this particular battery is not how durable or vibration resistant it is, because the batteries we’ve reviewed so far are also fairly good in these two departments.
This one has lead plates that increase the power supplied by the battery, meaning it will power more and last longer compared to other standard deep cycle batteries. The voltage is highly stable, contributing to its reliability.
This design also helps it to recharge quickly, and you can mount it in various positions, depending on your needs. It can also tolerate high temperatures and has a lifespan of up to 10 years, which is a lot more than many other AGM batteries.
It may seem that with all of these great things, there’s no downside to this battery, but if you do encounter problems with the battery’s performance, their technical support team is difficult to reach.
- Rugged AGM design
- Quick to recharge
- Highly stable voltage offers increased reliability
- Poor technical support
This Odyssey battery prides itself on extra sturdy construction, so it can handle even the most rugged use, whether you’re using it in a snowmobile, a boat, or an RV!
Battle Born BB10012 RV Battery Setup
If you want a premium, top of the line battery that functions on lithium-ion chemistry, Battle Born is truly the best. It will last for 10+ years, has a lightweight body, and you can mount it in any direction without suffering a battery power loss.
These premium grade batteries cost an arm and a leg, but they’re worth it for full-time RVers. Battle Born even offers a ten-year warranty because they’re so sure it will work for you no matter what.
For traveling full-time and going off the grid, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s made from renewable, non-toxic materials, so you won’t damage the environment and you can recycle it when you’re done.
It charges up quickly and contains its own Battery Management System (BMS), giving you the peace of mind you need that your battery will always work after it troubleshoots itself. If something serious does go wrong, it will shut off before it causes damage.
- Long life
- Light and compact
- Easy mounting and setup, even for beginners
- 10-year warranty
DieHard Group 49 RV Battery
If you plan to be in cold weather settings for most of your travels, you’ll want this trusty companion. It’s packed in a heat-sealed polypropylene case with demineralized battery acid and thru-partition connectors, so you won’t have to worry about it freezing up or ceasing to work below freezing.
The spill-proof case and durable construction make it a long-lasting AGM battery that’s affordable but much easier to use than a lead-acid battery. It also has flame-retardant safety vents to protect you from fire hazards.
AGM batteries are engineered to be maintenance-free, but with the onboard Enhanced Electronic Suspension System, this particular model absorbs more electrolytes than many others, protecting the internal components and leaving the work out of it.
It comes with a 36-month replacement warranty.
- Long life expectancy
- 36-month warranty
- Great for cold weather settings
- Inconsistent quality control between batteries
This battery is perfect for cold weather. It’s packed in a heat-sealed polypropylene case so you won’t have to worry about it freezing up or ceasing to work below freezing.
ExpertPower EXP12330 RV Battery
For those who travel all over, all the time, you’ll enjoy the best performance out of this battery that’s great at handling large fluctuations in temperature. It’s made from premium materials and is built to have high endurance.
You won’t have any trouble with excess vibration and they’re easy to install, even for beginners. This AGM battery is sealed to prevent you from having to perform a lot of maintenance.
If you’re up to the task of tweaking its operations, the valve allows you to adjust the battery to meet your needs. Plus, it’s lightweight and compact enough to hook up anywhere.
- Lightweight and compact
- Valve regulated
- Can handle excess vibration and fluctuations in temperature
- Lifespan isn’t great
- Poor customer service
You’ll enjoy the best performance out of this battery that’s great at handling large fluctuations in temperature. It’s made from premium materials and is built to have high endurance.
If you’re looking for the best battery for your RV, you likely have a lot of questions. Some of these frequently asked questions may help you decide what type of RV battery to buy.
What size deep cycle battery do I need for my RV?
Some people are perplexed to learn that you need more than one battery for your RV. Size matters, and it’s much more effective to build a battery bank for your RV by wiring batteries either in series or in parallel.
Wiring batteries in parallel will increase your amp hours but not voltage. Wiring in a series will increase your voltage but not your amp hours.
One 12-volt 24 groups deep cycle battery will provide between 70 and 85 AH, while two of them wired in parallel will increase the amp hours (effectively doubling it), giving you between 140 and 170 AH.
Many RVers who have enough room will wire two 6-volt golf cart batteries in a series to increase their voltage to 12 and provide between 180 and 220 AH.
If any of these options still don’t give you enough power, you can build bigger battery banks to satisfy your needs. You can wire them in series or in parallel to give you enough voltage or enough amp hours to power what you need.
Do RV batteries charge when plugged into shore power?
If you plug your RV into shore power, your batteries will charge automatically unless you turn them off. The shore power will power your RV and send power through your inverter at the same time, which charges your battery without you having to worry about downtime.
Can I run a deep cycle battery and a starting battery in parallel?
When you’re looking at wiring batteries in parallel, you can hook up a deep cycle battery to a starting battery of the same chemistry. That means if you have a lead-acid deep cycle battery, you want to make sure your starting battery is also a lead-acid battery.
Different battery types have different charging requirements, so hooking two different types up in parallel or in a series will not allow you to effectively charge them up at the same rate or capacity. You’ll end up with a damaged battery or one battery that’s full and another that’s not.
If you’re looking for a battery for your RV, it’s important to first know how RV batteries work and what you need to use it for. Once you know those two things, you can more effectively choose the type of battery that will work best for you.