6 Things You Need to Know About Your RV Battery Box

Last updated on February 19th, 2022 at 01:33 pm. Originally published on September 4th, 2015

The battery is one of the most essential pieces of any recreational vehicle — without one, you won’t have any power. To protect your battery, you need an RV battery box to shield it from the elements and protect you from the dangerous charge.

It’s easy enough to purchase an RV with a battery box included, or to purchase a replacement, but here are six things worth considering before you make any rash decisions with your RV battery boxes.

1. Types of Batteries

To understand a battery box, you first need to understand your RV battery. Motorhomes employ two kinds of batteries — one to start the engine, and another for “deep cycle” applications, like running the water and lights while the vehicle is turned off.

Starting batteries are generally 12-volts, but should never be used for deep cycle. These are housed in the engine bay. Travel trailers and fifth wheels do not have staring batteries.

Deep cycle batteries, on the other hand, are found in all kinds of RVs. These are often called “coach batteries” or “house batteries” and can be a single 12-volt battery, a couple of 6-volt batteries wired in series, or even more than one 12-volt battery wired in parallel, giving you more amp hours to work with. In any case, these house batteries are what will power your 12-volt electrical system, giving you power to your lights, fridge, fans, and other 12-volt devices when you aren’t plugged into power. 

Check your batteries to see what you already have, and consider your needs before purchasing any new ones. If you spend most of your time in RV parks, upgrading may not be necessary. However, those who do a lot of boondocking might want a way to store more power for off-grid use. 

2. Battery Prices

RV battery prices can vary wildly depending on the types, size, and brand of battery you buy. As an example, a generic 12 volt deep cycle battery can be bought for as little as $75. Meanwhile, brand name lithium ion batteries might cost you as much as $800 each. 

Which battery option you choose will depend, of course, on your budget. That said, there are other things to consider, so be sure to read up before making a purchase. 

3. What is an RV battery box?

Now that you hopefully have a rudimentary understanding of what an RV battery is and does, you may want to understand why the heck you even need a battery box.

Essentially, a battery box is a lightweight carrying case to protect the battery from water, gasoline and whatever else might leak onto or around the battery. It also provides protection to other parts of your RV should the battery itself leak. Though the cases are typically lightweight, they are usually made from heavy-duty polypropylene material that can keep unwanted liquids out. You do, in fact, need one, unless you want to put one of the most vital parts of your vehicle in consistent danger.

Some people choose to buy an RV battery tray instead of a box. Like the name suggests, these are trays that are used to strap batteries into place. They may seem a valid alternative, but they don’t protect against battery acid leaks and water damage to the batteries the way the boxes do. In general, battery boxes are reasonably priced and preserve batteries for longer, making them a better option. 

4. Features

The first and most obvious feature of any RV battery box is what batteries it can accommodate. Many batteries come with their own box, and others are made to fit into most 12-volt battery boxes, so this won’t often be a major concern. It’s always worth double-checking before purchasing, however.

It should be noted that if you have a dual-purpose battery, you will need to purchase an RV dual battery box to accommodate the unique design.

The best way to grasp the features of any RV battery box is simply to compare the descriptions. Many boast patented designs featuring locking tabs that secure the top to the rest of the box to be sure it stays fastened to keep outside elements out, as well as holes to allow the cables in. This should be standard, as should resistance to acidity, oil, UV exposure and cold and hot weather conditions.

Additionally, while the battery’s design should protect from water entering or battery acid escaping, it should also be designed to allow adequate ventilation. Again, most battery boxes will, but it’s worth checking the specifications or asking someone at a retailer to be sure you’re not buying anything inadequate.

One of the best ways to determine the quality of a battery box is to look at the specs to see how temperature-resistant it is. Some will withstand temperatures as high as 120 degrees and as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit, while others may go as far as -40, if not further. Hopefully, you’ll never need to test these boundaries, but this can be a good indicator of how hearty it is.

5. Vented Battery Boxes

A vented RV battery box is unique for its system of ventilation, as well as its ability to be installed in an indoor environment — meaning, given the proper installation, you can have access to the deep cycle battery of your RV within the actual cabin. PPL Motor Homes describes how it works on a basic level:

Battery boxes that are vented include a kit (wall connector, outside vent and 9″ hose) for inside installations. This vented battery box also has a hole at the bottom to help with air circulation. This product meets the RVIA Code. NOTE: Since the top and bottom sections of this box are identical, the hole in the bottom section also has a protruding flange so that it will not sit flat on a solid platform.

This kind of battery box can be useful for some, but is generally more costly and complicated to purchase and install than standard battery boxes. If you have any reason to want a battery inside your cabin or to protect it against extreme heat with added ventilation, speak to a representative at a local retailer to see how much installation will cost you.

6. Battery Box Prices

By now, hopefully, you have a rudimentary understanding of the features of a standard battery box, but that’s not quite enough to make an educated purchase. You need to know how one brand stacks up against another so you don’t spend too much and regret it.

Thankfully, the battery boxes themselves are generally quite cheap. The well-rated NOCO snap-top battery box for a single 6-volt battery costs about $30 on Amazon, while the standard Attwood battery box costs only $7 right now. A vented battery box will cost you considerably more. For instance, an Atlantis Plastic vented box costs $40 on Amazon.

Hopefully this helped you understand what a battery box is, why you need one, and what to look for when shopping for a battery box for you RV. Be sure to pick one up soon, so you can protect your RV battery or years to come!

This post contains affiliate links. RVshare may receive compensation if you make a purchase after clicking on a product or service link.

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