If you own a car, you know about car batteries, but are they the same as RV batteries?
RVs need “house” batteries, as well as a starting battery for the engine. The batteries for the house may be several batteries wired together to provide power. The type of battery, that is used for starting the engine, is the same as one used in a car, except larger. This is because the RV engine is larger, so its battery needs a larger CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) rating.
This means making sure your battery has an appropriate CCA rating.House batteries differ from engine batteries, in that the house battery is designed to provide energy over long periods of time–somewhat like a marathoner, while engine batteries are meant to provide a quick burst of energy, just to get the engine going–somewhat like a 100-meter dash.
House batteries differ from engine batteries, in that the house battery is designed to provide energy over long periods of time–somewhat like a marathoner, while engine batteries are meant to provide a quick burst of energy, just to get the engine going–somewhat like a 100-meter dash.
RV house batteries go through what is known as deep-cycling, as they are usually fully-discharged, before they are recharged again. Deep-cycle batteries last up to four times longer than normal starting batteries.
Marine batteries and other options:
Marine batteries are a hybrid of the starting battery and the deep-cycle battery. They are not great at doing either the starting, or the deep-cycling. They are less expensive than a real deep-cycle battery though.
Most RV batteries use lead-acid technology. This is where lead is bathed in an acid/water solution. It requires that you fill it up every once in a while, as a little of the solution gets lost with every charge.
In an attempt to solve this, and create maintenance-free batteries, manufacturers have sealed the batteries completely, leaving only a small vent on the side. This is not great for a deep-cycle battery.
Gel type batteries are also a good choice for deep-cycle batteries.
The 6-volt, golf car battery is a popular choice to use for RV house batteries. They are very rugged, and two can be wired together to form a 12-volt power source. This is ideal for household-like applications found in an RV. You do need to use them in pairs, though.
Engine-starting batteries are the lowest-priced 12-volt batteries there are, but they don’t last more than one season as an RV house battery.
So, keep the following in mind:
- Marine batteries are cheap, and will give you two years at the most.
- Deep-cycle batteries will last between 4-10 years, but will cost twice as much.
- Flooded-cell, deep-cycle, golf cart batteries will give you 6 to 7 years.
Your style of RVing determines the type of battery you require. If you simply move from your house to a campground, and hook up to an electricity and sewer system, then a marine battery will do just fine. Your RV most likely came with this kind. If you go boondocking, however, you will need something with a larger capacity, so you will want to upgrade to a deep-cycle battery.
The 12-volt battery system allows you to run your microwave, TV, computer, lighting and other electrical appliances.
When disconnecting a battery, remove the negative charge first. When reconnecting, connect the positive terminal first.
Battery capacity is reduced as temperatures fall. On a cold morning, don’t be shocked to find your battery dead. At -22degrees Fahrenheit, battery capacity drops by 50%. Higher temperatures, like 122 degrees Fahrenheit, will increase battery capacity by 12%. On the reverse, battery life is shortened by high temperatures, but can increase by up to 60% in cooler temperatures.
A partially-discharged battery can freeze, but a fully-charged battery cannot. If you can keep your battery charged during winter, then keep it in your rig. If not, disconnect it, and store it in a warm place, until you are ready to get back on the road again. Inactivity is not good for batteries. Do not buy new ones to save for later. Keep them charged, if you do have to buy them before you are ready to use them, or better yet, buy them only when you need to.
One last note: To clean your batteries, put a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water, let it dissolve, and then spray it on the battery. This will bubble away the build-up. Use a hose to spray this off, and get the best RV battery you can!