How To Find The Best RV Batteries: Power Your Trip Into The Wilderness
From time to time it's amazingly cathartic to hit the road and take a nice camping trip in a recreational vehicle (RV). We all understand how these outdoors adventures can realign you and bring you to a true sense of appreciation for life.
These types of vehicles are large; and as a result, require lots of power, which is where finding the best RV battery really comes in handy. Different types of batteries will power your vehicle, provide juice for your kitchen appliances, and help keep your devices powered as well.
Some RVs use a single battery, while larger, more complex units can utilize a series of RV batteries to provide you with a steady stream of power for your camping trip. For the most part, deep cycle batteries will deliver juice for most practical RV applications.
Top 5 Best RV Batteries Reviews
- Types Of RV Batteries
- Some Considerations To Make Before Purchasing
- 5 Best RV Batteries Reviews
- Final Thoughts
Types Of RV Batteries
When it's time to select an RV battery, it's absolutely imperative that you know exactly what the battery will be used for in your recreational vehicle.
Simply put, starting batteries aren't designed to power the electrical components of your vehicle, so purchasing one of these for this function wouldn't work out very well.
Let's take a look at the different types of RV batteries that are available.
- Chassis RV Battery
- House RV Battery
- Combination Chassis And House Batteries
These are often referred to as a starting battery. These batteries are used to start the RV, or in some cases, the marine vehicle.
As a rule, vehicle starters require a larger starting current over a much shorter period than other battery types. These batteries have a large number of thin plates which are floating in an electrolytic solution of sulfuric acid and water.
These plates are large in number so that they can have a larger surface area in contact with the acid bath, which produces short bursts of current.
These batteries are designed to provide a 12-volt current to the devices inside of your RV. Typically, these batteries are deep-cycle units that have a more steady level of performance, rather than the quick bursts of high current provided by starting batteries.
As a result of this differing design, deep cycle batteries employ larger plates rather than many like you'd find in the other type.
Two of the products that we'll be reviewing in our review section can actually be used as a starting or house battery.
If you see a battery that simply says "starting" it cannot be used as a house unit, but if it says "starting and deep cycle," then it will work fine for both types of RV batteries.
Some Considerations To Make Before Purchasing
Now that you have an idea about what each type of RV battery can do, it's best to also have an idea about what some of the features the best RV battery for camping should have.
These pre-purchase considerations will all vary greatly based on the type of camping that you are planning to do, so take a look at each.
Typically, the battery bay of most RVs has room for two RV batteries, but it's useful when you can mount your RV battery in multiple orientations.
There are a few models of RV battery that allow you to mount the battery at different angles, which can give you a more versatile experience.
Also, when it has mountability in different orientations, it means that you can use it for other things than powering your RV's features, like powering backup systems, lighting, and other types of equipment.
If a battery is not mountable in any position, then it most likely isn't spill-proof either. Battery acid is dangerous, so if your battery isn't rated for spill-proofing, do your best to keep it oriented in an upright position.
Amp Hour Capacities
If you intend to really get away from it all and go to a camping area that doesn't have plug-ins for your camper, then you will need an RV battery that has a high amp hour capacity.
The easiest way to figure out the amp-hour capacity of your battery is to look at its group size rating. RV batteries come in distinct sizes, such as group 27. As a general rule, the larger the number, the more amp hours you'll have to work with.
For example: If you were to use one 12 volt battery that is in the 24 group, then you can expect about 70 to 85 amp hours. Doubling up two of the same brand and group batteries will also double the amp hours that you'll have available, which will effectively let you draw up to 170 amp hours or AH.
Undercharging And Overcharging
RV batteries require maintenance and one of the biggest reasons for battery failure are undercharging and overcharging.
When a battery is charged and then discharged in rapid succession, there is a tendency for sulfate crystals to form on the platters inside the battery. This consistent undercharging will cause this sulfate material to continuously grow, which will ruin the battery.
Overcharging, on the other hand, causes a water loss in the acid solution, which will cause the platters to corrode and ruin the battery.
To prevent both of these situations, you can purchase a "battery maintainer," which you attach to your battery. The maintainer will charge the battery and help ensure that excess sulfate or corrosion doesn't form.
Cold Cranking Amps
This is the number of amps that a battery can provide at a colder temperature, usually around zero degrees F for about half a minute. Typically, this means that the battery will not drop under 7.2 volts.
5 Best RV Batteries Reviews
Our first product is a dual-purpose battery that can be used as a chassis or house unit. As a group 34 unit, it can manage a large electrical load and has a high amp hour capacity of 55.
As a starting battery, this product has 750 A cold cranking amps and 870 A marine cranking amps. Simply put, the 8016-103 D34M has a high performance construction that's spill-proof and can be used in any mounting style.
It also has a steady power load that can be used for multiple accessories.
- It has three times the cycling capacity of other batteries in its class.
- It has maintenance free operation
- Can be mounted in any orientation
- It is dual-purpose.
- It has a higher risk of overcharging.
- Its starting power is best used for engines with lower power needs.
We love how simple these batteries are to use in an RV. You can simply buy two and use one for your chassis and another one (or two) for your house battery.
It's also great for a battery that you need to move, since it's spill-proof and also mountable in a variety of ways.
The second Optima battery in this guide is a higher powered unit than the first, but it still uses the same dual purpose design.
It's also somewhat heavy at 59 pounds, but this marine battery has an impressive 900 A cold cranking amps and 1125 A marine cranking amps. This means that even higher capacity engines can be started by this RV, making it the best battery for high power applications.
- It requires no maintenance
- Has a high power output that lasts long for either cranking or house use.
- It can take three times the amount of recharges that most competitors top out at.
- Its spiralcell technology is very versatile.
- If you don't follow the charging manual, expect overcharge damage.
- It needs a constant voltage for charging.
This is a great model of RV battery for larger RVs. This is because of its high capacity and its ability to cold crank engines with higher power needs. We also loved the maintenance-free construction.
This batter uses AGM technology, which stands for absorbent gas mat; a technology invented in the 80s that reduce the overall size of lead acid batteries.
As a result, this battery only weighs 25 pounds. While it is considered a dual purpose unit; its cold crank amps are 300 A and its marine crank amps are 390, it still is best used as a deep cycle battery.
- Like most Vmaxtanks, this battery has solid durability.
- Can recover fairly quickly from deep discharges.
- It's ruggedly constructed and spill-proof.
- Can be mounted in any direction without a loss in performance.
- It doesn't have a very high cold or marine crank amp rating.
- Even though it has the capacity to be used for limited cranking purposes, it's recommended to be used for deep cycle purpose only.
Overall, we feel that this is a great battery for deep cycle use, and with a lifespan of about a decade, you can definitely rely on this RV battery.
Another absorbent gas mat battery, the Universal UB121000-45978 is still a bit heavy at about 60 pounds. This battery is a deep cell house unit that can be used in any position and is also considered maintenance-free.
It also has a great discharge rate; it only loses about three percent or less per month. Between this, it's compact size, and its 12-volt operation, this is a great product for powering your camping trip.
- With its AGM design, the Universal UB121000-45978 has a great performance rating.
- Its dimensions are relatively compact.
- It's maintenance-free.
- It has a good amount of reserve capacity.
- It can perform at a lower rating than some of its competitors.
- It's heavier than some AGM units.
Under moderate load, the Universal UB121000-45978 performs admirably. We really liked its compact design and overall mountability. It's also very easy to combine with a 2nd RV battery of the same type.
Our final unit is yet another AGM battery that actually has a fairly steady performance for deep cycle use. It can be used for RVs, solar panels, and emergency lighting systems.
It has an output of 12 Volts in overall voltage and 35 AH. As a result of the absorbent glass mat technology, this unit also the ability to provide better currents to your accessories.
- This battery doesn't outgas unless you overcharge it.
- Has a steady performance that's perfect for when you're roughing it and need power.
- It doesn't corrode easily.
- It's maintenance-free.
- The company only offers a 30-day refund policy and a one-year warranty for this product.
- It doesn't include a mounting harness or accessories.
We feel that this is a great choice if you need steady and reliable power without too much fear of over or undercharging the device. With good maintenance practices, this battery should last a long time.
RV batteries provide power in areas where there is no power flow, so their value to RVers is high. The products that we've covered in this guide are all excellent at providing steady power and some can even be used during the cold crank process.
If we absolutely had to pick an excellent unit that stands out above the rest, we would probably go for our second product; the Optima Batteries 8052-161 D31M BlueTop Starting and Deep Cycle Battery.
This unit has dual-operation and a high output for cold cranking, which makes it perfect for camping, even if it's a tad more expensive. We think a couple of these in an RV can provide all of the power that you need for a great trip.