Apart from the RV itself, the second most important item that every camper pays attention to is the house battery bank. This is different from the starting battery that cranks your RV’s engine. Without this house battery, you won’t be able to power the electrical appliances and devices in your home on wheels unless you’re plugging in to shore power. Therefore, for any camper, especially the boondockers who stay in remote places with no access to a power outlet, getting the best RV battery is absolutely crucial, no matter how little their power demand.
There are so many types of RV batteries, each with unique pros and cons, and many specifications to look out for. Things can get complicated with the math, but worry not, as we’ve handpicked the 5 best RV batteries that offer the best balance of all criteria and value for money.
There is something for everyone: the boondockers, the minimal travelers with moderate power consumption and the luxury travelers who want to run many power-hungry appliances. You will also find everything you need to know in order to pick out the absolute top rated RV batteries that suit your camping circumstances, all explained in beginner-friendly terms, as well as answers to the most common questions by fellow RVers.
RV Battery: The Basics
The house battery bank that serves as a power source for your RV’s electrical appliances is a deep cycle battery. The reason for the name is because of the fundamental difference between deep cycle batteries and regular starting or cranking batteries.
While starting batteries supply a huge amount of power in an instant to start the engine and thus only a tiny part of the battery’s capacity is discharged, a deep cycle battery is designed to discharge, or supply, a constant stream of electricity to the electronics in your rig. Accordingly, to serve as a power source, deep cycle batteries are made for much deeper discharging cycles than starting batteries, hence the name “deep cycle”.
And since deep cycle batteries function differently from starting batteries, they require a special type of charger, called deep cycle battery chargers, to be charged properly at optimal charging efficiency and for optimal lifespan.
Types of RV Battery
Flooded Lead Acid Batteries
This is the earliest type of RV house battery, so they are the least advanced but the most affordable. Its working mechanism uses lead plates submerged in liquid electrolyte, thus the term “flooded”. The resulting chemical reactions when the battery is discharged and charged produce some gasses, which are released into the atmosphere and thus causing some water loss.
This means that this type of battery can leak acid when damaged, release fumes when you connect it to a charger, and require regular refilling of distilled water to make up for the water loss.
In terms of performance, it scores the lowest across the board: more prone to damage, lower charging efficiency, cannot hold a charge for long plus higher self-discharge rate, less resistance to extreme temperatures and consequently a shorter lifespan.
Sealed Gel Batteries
Gel batteries are a step more advanced than flooded batteries: the liquid electrolyte is suspended in a gel state, thus the battery won’t leak acid even if the housing is damaged. However, like flooded batteries, gel batteries cannot withstand extreme heat due to excessive water loss.
Gel batteries are not as fuss-free as the next two types: they must be charged at a lower voltage than all the other types, otherwise voids will develop in the gel that cannot be healed, and the battery will lose some of its capacity. As a result, gel batteries in general have an even shorter lifespan than the lead acid type, at 2 to 4 years.
Sealed AGM Batteries
AGM batteries for RV are superior to its earlier counterparts in all aspects: better capacity to hold a charge for longer and supply constant power, higher charging efficiency, lower self-discharge rate, resistance to repeated deep discharges and extreme weather and physical beatings, and thus boasting a longer battery life.
Although they are not as advanced and long lasting as the latest lithium ion batteries, heavy duty AGM batteries can better withstand extreme cold, so they are more practical for winter camping, and can end up lasting longer in below freezing condition.
Lithium Ion Batteries
In a few words, lithium ion batteries are often hailed as the best deep cycle battery for RV, since they pack the most power into the smallest, lightest unit. They last the longest, up to 8 years, with the very best camper battery in the category even going as far as promising a 10-year warranty.
Lithium ion batteries outperform AGM batteries in every criteria mentioned above, with the only exception being they cannot withstand extreme cold like AGM batteries, despite being able to handle extreme heat.
Despite being the most expensive, countless full-time RVers praise them as the best RV deep cycle battery of all, considering everything they’re getting for the price.
6 volt vs 12 volt RV Batteries
When buying an RV battery for your RV, you need to choose between 12 volt battery and 6 volt battery system. If you don’t boondock, you can get away with a single 12 volt deep cycle RV battery. However, if you like to go on off-grid trips, wiring two 6 volt deep cycle RV battery in place of one 12 volt battery will give you more amp-hours as well as energy storage, so that you can power more appliances for longer.
This is although a 6 volt RV battery only has 6 cells compared to 12 cells in a 12 volt battery, each of those 6 cells has a larger amp capacity and a broader space per cell for power storage.
Another benefit is that two 6 volt batteries are better at supplying constant power and withstand more cycles of dangerously deep discharges without dying off too quickly.
And while 6 volt batteries for RV are more expensive, they have thicker plates that can withstand longer, heavier use. So while an average 12 volt battery typically lasts about 2 years, 6 volt batteries will last anywhere at least 4 years and up to 8 years, with the best lithium ion battery even approaching 10 years.
Top Rated RV Batteries: In Depth Reviews
Now that you have grasped the basics of RV deep cycle batteries, let’s dive right into our in-depth RV battery reviews of our handpicked best RV batteries.
To provide RV campers this ultimate list, besides taking a look at the feedbacks and reviews from real buyers, RV experts of RVing Trends have tested tons of different camper battery units available on the market and only included the 5 most excellent products with the highest ratings and longest lasting performance!
If you’re not familiar with all the technicalities, feel free to jump to the next section first to learn the important buying criteria, so that you’ll feel confident comparing different models to pick out the one most suited to your needs.
|No||Best RV Deep Cycle Batteries||Prices||Our Ratings|
|1||Battle Born Batteries 12V 100Ah LiFePO4||$$$$$||*****|
|2||Renogy 12 Volt 200Ah Deep Cycle AGM||$$$||*****|
|3||WindyNation 100AH 12V AGM||$$$||*****|
|4||ODYSSEY PC680 Battery||$$||****|
|5||UPG 85980/D5722 Sealed Lead Acid Battery||$||***|
|6||Optima Batteries 8006-006 34M BlueTop||$$$||****|
|7||ExpertPower EP12100 LiFePO4||$$$$||*****|
|8||Interstate Batteries 12V 75Ah DCM0075||$$$||****|
|9||VMAX857 AGM Battery 12 Volt 35AH||$$||****|
|10||Universal Power Group UB121000||$$$||****|
#1. Best Overall – Battle Born Batteries 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 Lithium Ion Deep Cycle Battery BB10012
At a glance:
- Type: Lithium ion battery
- Capacity: 100Ah
- Voltage: 12V
- Weight: 29lbs
- 10 year warranty
- Built-in BMS
- Unlimited mounting capability
What It Is Best For
- Dry camping: With a decent capacity of 100Ah and excellent performance in every criteria, this battery can sufficiently power the basic appliances and accessories in your rig for 1 to 2 days without a charge, including multiple lights, charging mobile devices, a propane fridge and some other light devices. If you have a solar system in place to charge it, extended boondocking trips will be a piece of cake.
- Summer camping: This lithium ion battery is made for extreme heat, so it’s an ideal choice for summer camping.
We picked this 12 volt lithium battery from Battle Born Batteries as the best RV battery regarding overall performance, because it outperforms its competitors in all the important criteria. Very few products have amassed a stellar overall rating of 4.8 stars on Amazon and raving reviews on all online platforms.
As testified by buyers, Battle Born Batteries really delivers in terms of charging efficiency. It offers optimal usable power and excellent ability to hold a charge, which when coupled with an unmatched low self-discharge rate of 3% per month, means you can power your rig for longer between each charging session.
Furthermore, being a ruggedly built lithium ion battery, it not only can withstand repeated deep discharging cycles but can also handle extreme temperature variations and the physical impacts from traveling on rough terrains. These all contribute to its unmatched long service life, with buyers claiming that theirs have lasted up to 8 years and are still going strong. This means that its $800 price tag, when divided by the number of years it serves, is a pretty good bang for your buck in the long term.
If you’re still not convinced on the price, this superstar battery offers an industry-leading 10 year warranty, which is very rare even with the best camper battery out there. This should give you more assurance on its reliability and durability. This warranty is confidently offered with every single battery made by Battle Born Batteries, as every product is tested multiple times before leaving the factory.
Another notable feature is the Battery Management System, which protects the battery from operating in unsafe conditions like temperature volatility and ground faults, which further contributes to its impressive durability.
I am very pleased with this battery. I have had it for 6 months and it is great. Very reliable, zero maintenance. I have it hooked up to a 300w solar system on my camper van/RV and it charges very fast. I even hooked it up to a 450/900 watt space heater and ran it for 1.5hr on the lower 450 watt setting via a 600w (1200w surge) inverter. It raised the temperate of the RV interior from 55F to 67F in 1 hour (outside temp was 52F with @ 50% humidity in the evening).
This was just a test I ran to see what it was capable of. While it did discharge the battery, it performed flawlessly during that time and helped me to learn about how the battery reacts to large loads. The next day I checked on the battery @ noon and it was at full charge from the morning sun. The battery also performed perfectly on a 3k mile, 1 week road trip. It powered the inverter, which fed to 6 LED ceiling lights, a water pump, USB outlets keeping two cell phones, two laptops, one SLR camera, one Dometic fridge running 24/7 without any drop in temperature. Food was always cold. Cold beer in the middle of the desert anytime you wanted.
I plan on adding to my solar bank soon with another Battle Born battery and a more powerful inverter so I can run a 1200w water heater and improve the space heater’s performance (only as backup in case of extreme cold). I have not contacted customer support yet for any reason but based on other reviews I am confident that area is just as good as the battery itself. I highly recommend this product.Shared by Podroznik
Perfect solution for an RV. No water to deal with, can be placed in a completely closed space in any position, and can be discharged nearly to zero without harming the battery. Also less than half the weight of a lead acid flooded cell.Shared by R. King
- Dependable and reliable
- Setup process is intuitive
- RVers sometimes complain about chargings issues
- Customer service is less than ideal
#2. Editor’s Choice – Renogy 12 Volt 200Ah Deep Cycle AGM Battery B075RFXHYK
At a glance:
- Type: AGM
- Capacity: 100Ah
- Voltage: 12V
- Operating Temperature: -4°F (-20°C) to 140°F (60°C)
- Weight: 129lbs
- No off-gassing
- Improved electrolyte formula
- High discharge currents
What It Is Best For
- Four-season camping: Thanks to its unbeatable operating temperature range.
- Dry camping in a large RV: With a capacity of 200Ah, this powerhouse can operate basic appliances and then some, and when paired with a solar system, will run your appliances for longer.
- Traveling in groups: When you travel with companions, you will likely use multiple appliances at the same time. Therefore, you’d need an extra powerful battery like this 200Ah model, so that you won’t risk overloading your system.
Despite being heavier than the 1st lithium ion battery above, this best-selling AGM battery offers the same amp hours for just a little more than half the price. And when considering its 200Ah capacity and well-rounded performance, this one has to be our Editor’s Choice for its superb value for money.
While 100Ah is enough to power a few basic appliances, you would most likely need more if you travel in a large trailer or fifth wheel equipped with many power-hungry devices, or if you travel with someone else that might need to blow dry their hair while you’re watching the TV. As such, this 200Ah battery is the best RV deep cycle battery for heavier power use at this price range.
A contributing factor to its impressive power capacity and its reliability in supplying constant power is proprietary quinary alloy plates and exclusively treated plate grids. These features allow for higher discharge currents and low internal resistance, together enabling this powerhouse to operate appliances that consume a lot of energy like the vacuum cleaner, the oven and portable heater.
With a 4.6 stars rating on Amazon, this battery has a lot more to offer. First is its unmatched self-discharge rate of below 3% at 77°F (25°C) per month, then its testified charging efficiency and fast charging time. Its ability to perform in extreme heat and cold is also tried and tested. Another handy feature is the use of advanced valve regulated technology that ensures this battery does not release harmful hydrogen gas when it’s discharging or charging.
I hooked up two of these batteries in parallel. They did a wonderful job powering my camper during two weeks at Big Bend NP. I used 200 W of Renogy solar panels to keep them charged. I am very pleased with both the batteries and the solar panels.Shared by Cat T
I have used the battery as the house battery in my camper van. It powers the lights, two fans and a 12 volt refrigerator. I can run everything for about 2 days before I have to recharge the battery.Shared by Paul F.
- Low self-discharge
- Maintenance is a cinch
- A number of units start swelling over time
- Vulnerable to UV rays
#3. Best Value For Money – WindyNation 100AH 12V AGM Deep Cycle Battery
At a glance:
- Type: AGM
- Capacity: 100Ah
- Voltage: 12V
- Weight: 66lbs
- 1 year warranty
- Heavy-duty plates
- Carrying strap
What It Is Best For
- Budget campers: Really, for $219, it’s really hard to find a 100Ah battery with this kind of well-rounded performance and durability. This will be the ideal first battery pack for the beginners and budget campers.
- Dry camping: Its Ah rating and its supply of constant power at a wide operating temperature range makes it a reliable power source for many camping situations, including long boondocking trips.
This AGM battery offers all the benefits of its type, and then some. What sets it apart from other best deep cycle battery for RV is its decent 100Ah rating for a hard to beat price of just over $200, and its capacity to withstand repeated deep discharges while still boasting a long service life of up to 12 years in a moderate environment of around 25°C (as claimed by the manufacturer, and the reviews seem to suggest likewise).
Contributing to this jaw-dropping lifespan is its overall rugged construction and the use of 99.995% pure virgin lead that allows for maximum power storage and lower discharge rate, while less well made deep cycle batteries often use recycled lead that offers far less.
I purchased these to replace the regular lead acid batteries in a trailer. The fact that these batteries do not have to be vented is a bonus for trailer use. The terminal connections are great for trailer use. Only have had them installed for a month, so long term we will see how the batteries hold up. Used them dry camping for a week, ran the generator for 30 minutes each day to use the coffee maker. The batteries always showed a full charge. Batteries are a little pricey, but so far are worth the money. Batteries arrived well packaged and fully charged. I would purchase these batteries again.Shared by Clint
- Quick recharge
- High endurance
- Reasonable price
- Occasional reports of units arriving dead
- Mediocre post-purchase supports
#4. For Light Use: ODYSSEY PC680 Red Top 12V 16Ah Battery
At a glance:
- Type: AGM battery
- Capacity: 16Ah
- Voltage: 12V
- Reserve capacity: 24 minutes
- Operating temperature: -40ºF (-40ºC) to 176ºF (80ºC)
- Weight: 13.45lbs
- Limited 2-year full replacement warranty
- Extreme temperature tolerance
What It Is Best For
- Four-season camping: This battery has a wide operating temperature range, thus is ideal for camping year round or in varying weather conditions.
- Light use/short trips with a solar charging system: The only drawback is its limited Ah rating of 16 amps per 20-hour period. Therefore, considering its excellent performance in every other aspect, it would serve as a reliable power source for a small Class B van (with a few LED lights and laptop/tablet), and an affordable choice for the spontaneous travelers who only go on short trips. In any case, it is best supported by a solar charger to constantly keep it topped off.
- When you need to keep your rig as light as possible: This featherweight battery weighs nothing, so it is ideal in cases where extra weight is costly, due to the limit of your towing vehicle, for instance.
The first characteristic that set this product apart as one of the best RV battery for any camping application is its resistance to dangerously deep discharges and accordingly a long service life. With proper charging and maintenance, this AGM battery can last three times the life of conventional gel and lead acid batteries, that is up to 400 cycles at 80% depth of discharge, while its competitors might have died off before this point. Among over 1,000 customers on Amazon who give this RV battery a 4.4 stars rating, many campers have had this ODYSSEY red top unit for 6 to 8 years that are still going strong. This suggests that the manufacturer’s claim of a service life of up to 10 years is realistic.
This battery is known for its tremendous usable power and its ability to supply constant power. Other benefits which have been testified by buyers include excellent charging efficiency. True to the manufacturer’s claim, this AGM battery can reach full capacity in 4 to 6 hours, which is some of the shortest charging times in the sealed lead acid category. It’s also praised for its superb capacity to resist vibrations and withstand both extreme hot and cold temperatures.
With such well-rounded performance, and especially at this price point, this is no doubt one of the best camper battery for the money. It’s able to deliver thanks to a number of well engineered features. One is the use of extremely thin 99.99% pure lead plates, allowing more of them to be densely packed into the battery, which directly translates to more usable power. Each of the 12 cells has a safety relief valve, and robust intercell connections act as casts to the lead plates to prevent vibration damage and internal sparking.
In addition, high conductivity, corrosion resistant tin-plated brass terminals ensure secure cable connections. This battery is safer, as it has a high integrity terminal seal plus a special sealed design allowing the by-product gasses to be recycled internally when the battery is discharging or charging.
- Sturdy and stable
- No-nonsense installation
- Inconsistencies exist between units
- Particular units show up damaged
#5. For Light Use: UPG 85980/D5722 12V 35Ah Sealed Lead Acid Battery
At a glance:
- Type: Sealed lead acid battery
- Capacity: 35Ah
- Voltage: 12V
- Weight: 8.8lbs
What It Is Best For
- Light use/short trips with a solar charging system: This can offer double the power of the ODYSSEY model above, but 35Ah is still most suitable for short trips in a minivan, with LED lights plus a laptop or mobile device to be powered.
- When your towing vehicle cannot handle heavy load: If this is the case, every pound counts.
This compact and lightweight UPG sealed battery is another perfect option for owners of a minivan who spontaneously go on short weekend trips. In this case, you would most likely need to power energy efficient LED lights, string fairy lights, and maybe a laptop or tablet.
Campers who bought this battery for such light use agree that it would typically power such a load for around 3 hours before needing a charge, which means you might be able to go on even longer trips if you pair it with a portable solar charger (a small enough panels that you can set up outside anywhere at camp).
Especially for less than $100, its impressive durability and resistance to harsh weather conditions, all testified by reviewers in varying camping environments, this little battery actually offers pretty good value for money.
- Lightweight and compact
- Responsive customer service
- Shipping still leaves something to be desired
- The charge level of several units is restricted
6. Optima Batteries 8006-006 34M BlueTop RV Battery
At a glance:
- Capacity: 50Ah
- Voltage: 12V
- Weight: 38.4 Pounds
- Dimensions: 10.0 x 6.9 x 7.8 Inches
- Reserve capacity
- Spiral-wound cells
- Stainless steel stud posts
Why We Love It:
Effective and efficient, Optima Batteries 8006-006 34M is a must-have for those who want to get the most out of their appliances. With spiral-wound cells that feature pure lead plates, this battery is able to keep the electricity flowing regardless of the conditions. Furthermore, since the vibration resistance of this battery is fifteen times as good as that of others, bumps and hits won’t affect its performance. Needless to say, in terms of consistency, a lot of RV battery reviews hold this travel trailer battery in high esteem.
The battery made by Optima Batteries is a sealed model, thus, I don’t have to worry too much about leakage. Besides that, by taking advantage of the stainless steel stud posts, I could set up this battery in mere moments. Your schedule is kind of tight so you cannot spend all day setting up the battery bank of your rig? Then I’m pleased to say that this battery is the best travel trailer battery you can get nowadays.
About affordability, 8006-006 34M is a budget-friendly model that fits the shopping budget of ordinary RVing enthusiasts. Upon purchase, this battery is accompanied by a three-year warranty that brings peace of mind too.
- Great values for the price
- Second to none adaptability
- Old stocks don’t get pulled from the market
- It’s not uncommon for units to be dead-on-arrival
7. ExpertPower EP12100 12V 100Ah Lithium LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery
At a glance:
- Capacity: 100Ah
- Voltage: 12V
- Weight: 22.6 Pounds
- Dimensions: 13.0 x 6.8 x 8.4 Inches
- Safety features
- Environmentally friendly
Why We Love It:
Capable of overcoming challenges of RVing with relative ease, ExpertPower EP12100 seldom lets people down in the course of operation. Owing to the high energy density, this battery not only holds more power than its competitors but also takes up less space inside vehicles. Additionally, this battery for RV packs a low self-discharge rate so there is no need to do much to maintain charge level in the off-season. Naturally, this battery is popular among no-nonsense RVers who wish to have a solid battery bank.
Everything fails one day but with the average lifespan ranging from 2,500 to 7,000 cycles, EP12100 could last up to a decade. Hence, after setting up this battery, it’s going to be a while before I must find new batteries. It’s worth pointing out that this camper battery includes safety features against short-circuit, deep discharge, overcharge, overheat and so on as well. Unsurprisingly, during discussions about the best deep cycle battery for camping regarding protection, this battery appears multiple times.
As proof of confidence, ExpertPower willingly offers everyone that decides to pick up its lithium-ion battery for RV a five-year warranty. If my battery fails due to manufacturing defects within the warranty period, I could claim a replacement free of charge.
- Installation is a cakewalk
- Slim and sleek
- Quality control could use some work
- Steep price
8. Interstate Batteries DCM0075 12V 75Ah AGM Deep Cycle Battery
At a glance:
- Capacity: 75Ah
- Voltage: 12V
- Weight: 49.0 Pounds
- Dimensions: 10.2 x 6.6 x 8.2 Inches
- Removable handle
- Universal fit
Why We Love It:
Despite its plain appearance, Interstate Batteries DCM0075 is capable of matching the characteristics of all sorts of setups on RV. This battery for travel trailers is spill-proof by design so it won’t cause a mess and that is advantageous in the outdoors. Moreover, this RV battery boasts a removable handle so relocation is going to be a walk in the park. Thus, in my opinion, this battery is the best deep-cycle battery for RV once it comes to ease of use.
While the capacity of the battery from Interstate Batteries is not exactly impressive, it remains adequate for RVing. Aside from that, the low-profile casing of this camper battery means it should fit everywhere in the interior of my vehicle. As a result, I could avoid the hassle of turning everything upside down in order to make space for the battery bank. Finally, since this battery is maintenance-free, it requires little attention to stay in good conditions.
Among batteries for RV campers, DCM0075 is one of the more affordable models so its impact on my future spendings is inconsequential. As for post-purchase support, this RV battery is backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty that covers defects.
- Quick shipping
- Easy to maintain
- RVing enthusiasts occasionally notice damages on new units
- Particular batteries won’t hold charge as time passes by
9. VMAX V35-857 TM 12 Volt 35AH AGM Deep Cycle Battery
At a glance:
- Capacity: 35Ah
- Voltage: 12V
- Weight: 25.0 Pounds
- Dimensions: 7.7 x 6.1 x 5.0 Inches
- Lead-tin alloy
- Fast recharge
Why We Love It:
Possessing lead-tin alloy, VMAX V35-857 TM simultaneously works better and lasts longer than standard deep-cycle batteries available for purchase. Even if it’s charged and discharged in quick succession, this battery for RV would still perform to expectation on the road. In addition, this camper battery is sealed which is why there is no need to check out electrolyte, add water, etc. Thus, this battery is going to serve me until the day it gives out while needing next to zero maintenance.
With an intuitive setup process, V35-857 TM takes just a bit of time and effort to install on today’s RV. Noteworthily, a capacity of 35Ah and a voltage of 12V allow this battery to support an assortment of RV as well. Because of that, I have an easy time adapting this travel trailer battery to my rig and its appliances. Last but not least, with the space-saving casing of this battery, I could assemble my battery bank using multiple units.
To reassure customers, VMAX backed its deep-cycle RV battery with a one-year warranty that put camper owners at ease. In the case that you prefer to play it safe as you travel, you should consider adding this battery to your shortlist.
- Self-discharge is low
- Top-notch handling
- Certain units come with mismatched screws
- Irregular interruptions to the connection
10. Universal Power Group UB121000 Solar Wind AGM Deep Cycle Battery
At a glance:
- Capacity: 100Ah
- Voltage: 12V
- Weight: 60.0 Pounds
- Dimensions: 12.1 x 6.6 x 9.2 Inches
- Shock and vibration resistance
Why We Love It:
Versatile and flexible, Universal Power Group UB121000 (ALT136) performs well in quite a few settings. Made from the ground up to be spill-proof, this battery can be mounted in multiple positions which is a big plus by all accounts. In addition to that, thanks to the space-saving design, this 12-volt deep cycle RV battery occupies little space inside my rig. As a result, from what I see, it’s the best travel trailer battery on the market for small vehicles at the moment.
Since the installation of UB121000 (ALT136) is a straightforward affair, there is no need to set it up. By taking advantage of the carrying strap, I don’t have to touch the casing as I move this battery around. Aside from that, this battery for campers is a low-maintenance model so I don’t have to give it special care on the road. Therefore, with it around, I may spend less time on looking after my battery bank and more time on enjoying myself.
About longevity, with excellent shock and vibration resistance, the battery made by Universal Power Group lasts for years in use. The long replacement interval means I could save a couple of bucks for more pressing needs.
- Portability is tip-top
- Undemanding setup process
- Packaging requires improvements
- RVers report losses of capacity every now and then
Choosing The Best RV Battery: Buying Criteria
The best RV battery not necessarily needs to be the most expensive one, or one made by the biggest brands. The best battery for camper that gives you the most bang for your buck depends on what application you need it for, your typical camping environment, and your power demand.
The best way to pick out the best RV is to have a clear view of your daily power consumption, understand the most crucial RV battery ratings and criteria, and know your priorities. Below are the important specifications and criteria to look out for when buying RV battery:
Unless you don’t have a limit in terms of budget, choosing the best camper battery for your own circumstances will always be about choosing the right balance between price and a set of priorities and power demand. And the first consideration is to decide which among the many types of deep cycle batteries will give you the optimal balance of everything. As detailed above, there are quite a few types of RV battery, each with both pros and cons and are available at different price points.
In general, flooded lead acid batteries are the cheapest. However, they require regular maintenance in the form of refilling of distilled water and equalizing charge; they can spill acid if damaged and they have the poorest performance in all aspects compared to the other three more advanced types.
The next generation of sealed lead acid batteries, gel and AGM batteries, are spill-proof and almost maintenance-free. They are more expensive, but offer better power supply and charging efficiency, a longer lifespan and much lower self-discharge rate, so they will hold a charge for longer.
All in all, lithium ion batteries are the most superior, followed by AGM batteries: best charging efficiency, best capacity for constant power supply and to hold a charge, highest tolerance for repeated deep discharges without permanent damage, and the longest lifespan. Lithium batteries perform best in almost all aspects despite being by far the lightest in weight, making them the best performing RV battery in general.
However, do note that for campers who often travel on rough terrains and in extreme winter conditions, AGM batteries are more practical since they perform better than lithium ion batteries in extreme cold and can better withstand shocks and vibrations.
Capacity, Power or Size
There are two crucial RV battery ratings to pay attention to: capacity or power, commonly referred to as “size”, and reserve capacity.
The first rating to check when hunting for the best camper battery is capacity or size. It measures how much power a battery can supply to power your electronics at usable current (defined as 10.5 volts or higher) over a specific time frame (the standard is a 20-hour period, unless specified otherwise by the battery’s manufacturer).
How much power the battery discharges is rated in ampere hours or amp-hours (Ah). A 200Ah battery supplies 200 amps in a 20-hour period. The higher the Ah rating, the more appliances the battery can operate within a set time frame. The next section “How To Choose RV Battery Size” will show you the math of how to know how much Ah you would need, based on an estimate of your average daily power consumption, also measured in Ah.
Another rating related to capacity is reserve capacity. All in all, the best RV deep cycle battery for any application should have higher Ah and reserve capacity ratings, so that you can operate more appliances for longer.
The reserve capacity is rated in minutes and measures how long a fully charged battery at around 80°F can discharge at 25 amps of current before its voltage drops below the undesirably low level of 10.5 volts. The better a battery can sustain its amperage before the voltage decreases, the more usable it generally is, and the more bang for your buck.
Tolerance to Repeated Deep Discharge Cycles
Regardless of the battery type and price, no deep cycle battery should be repeatedly drained down to less than 50% of its capacity before getting a charge. This is true even for the very best camper battery. Doing so is detrimental to the battery’s lifespan.
That said, although you should try not to abuse your expensive RV house battery bank, such deep discharges might happen from time to time, and is particularly hard to avoid for boondockers who do not have a solar charging system in place to constantly top off the battery. Therefore, high quality RV battery units should be capable of withstanding more cycles of deep discharges without dying off too quickly.
Tolerance To Varying/Extreme Temperatures
This is not a major source of concern if you often travel in moderate weather conditions. However, both extreme heat and cold have an adverse effect on charging efficiency and the general health of deep cycle batteries. Extreme temperatures can kill off a battery, and you don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery.
Therefore, RV batteries should be able to supply constant power at both high and low temperatures. Like with Ah ratings, this is where a battery’s marketing claims and real-life performance can differ, so it’s best to dive into the reviews to judge whether a certain battery for RV use really delivers.
The best RV deep cycle battery in terms of weather resistance for four-season camping should be able to handle several degrees below freezing in the winter and 35 degrees Celsius plus in the summer.
Size and Weight
This is more often than not overlooked by a novice, but is an important consideration for campers, since RV house battery banks are bulky and heavy. This is especially so with the increasingly popular setup of wiring two 6 volt batteries instead of a single 12 volt battery for more power.
Campers who need an extra power supply even go for a system made up of four 6 volt batteries wired in a specific way to match a 12 volt battery in terms of voltage but surpass it in terms of amp hours. 6 volt batteries are larger than 12 volt batteries, and the setup will take up a lot more space, so you might need a new battery box.
The best RV battery for the money should last a long time, and a contributing factor is a high construction quality that can handle all the shocks and vibrations of off-road traveling.
In general, a sealed battery is safer and less demanding in terms of maintenance than a flooded lead acid battery, since a sealed model won’t spill or leak acid even when the housing is damaged.
The most expensive batteries don’t necessarily make for the best battery for RV. The great camper battery units should offer the best balance between price and how well it satisfies your camping needs. This is what you can generally expect to get at different price ranges:
- From $100 to $170: Most offerings in this range are the least advanced flooded cell batteries with lower amp-hour ratings and reserve capacity, as well as less rugged builds, lower resistance to extreme temperature and therefore a shorter lifespan. Therefore, remember that when you divide the price by the average number of service years, these affordable options might not be that cheap after all.
- From $170 to $900: Batteries in this range are typically the sealed AGM and gel batteries, which cost between $200 and $350, with lithium ion batteries reaching the right end of the scale, costing north of $400. Sure, you’re paying more, but you’re getting much more over a longer period: more amp hours, better charging efficiency, longer run time between charges, constant power supply even at extreme temperatures, higher construction quality and accordingly a longer service life. So while more expensive upfront, the best camper battery might actually cost you less each year down the road.
How To Choose RV Battery Size
A common question by campers who seek the best travel trailer battery for their camping needs is “what size battery do I need?”. The answer differs in each case, since no two campers are the same. One might only need to power a few lights and mobile devices in a small Class B van, while the other needs to run the fridge, the microwave and a host of other creatures of comfort in a large fifth wheel.
Here’s what goes into the math: the total power consumption per day in amp hours, how many days you need to rely on the battery before you have access to shore power to charge it, and the battery’s amp hour rating (and by the number of batteries, if you want more than one in your setup.
A battery’s Amp Hour rating: Size or capacity refers to how much power, measured in ampere hours or amp-hours (Ah), a battery can supply over a determined time frame to power electrical appliances in your rig.
For instance, a 100AH battery discharges 100 amps in a 20-hour period, or any other specified period (20 hours is the standard, unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise). All in all, the higher the Ah rating of a deep cycle battery, the more appliances it can operate for longer. 100Ah batteries are perhaps the most common, but there are 200Ah, 225 Ah or 250Ah batteries for heavier power use.
So how can you know whether a single 100Ah battery, for instance, is enough for you? First, you need to have a clear view of your daily power consumption, that is the total amp hours that the electronics and devices in your rig draw from the battery. Knowing this will also help you estimate how many hours your RV batteries can go on before needing a recharge, so that you can run the generator or plan your trip accordingly to get access to shore power in time.
Finding the Amp Hour rating of an appliance: Each appliance has an easy to find nameplate, on which you will find its current demand, measured in amp hours. That is the amount of power, in amps, that the appliance consumes in 1 hour. So multiply that number by 24 hours to get the appliance’s power consumption per day.
Make a list of the frequently used electronics in your rig and their amp hours, then add up their daily power draw, starting with the items that draw the most power. Remember that you’re not going to run all of them at the same time, but do allow for a safety cushion.
The calculations: For instance, most RV refrigerators are rated for 1 amp to 6 amps per hour. Multiply this number by 24 hours, and the appliance’s operating cycle (measured in percentage), to get the appliance’s daily amp hours. If your fridge pulls 4 amps per hour and has a 40-percent cycle, then it pulls a total of 4 amps x 24 hours x 40% = 38.4Ah per day. When you know all of the inputs for your math, you can estimate with more precision how many hours your battery can power all the needed appliances before needing a recharge.
A super important note: If you have one 100Ah battery, you will not want to completely drain that 100Ah before you can recharge the battery. Any deep cycle battery should not be repeatedly discharged down to below 50%, or else their lifespan will be shortened. This is true even with the best camper battery that claims to withstand dangerously deep discharges of between 80% and 95%. Therefore, with a 100Ah battery, you must make sure you only draw about half of its capacity at a time, or some 50Ah of power.
Solar is the way to go: Most seasoned RVers seek to get about 2 days of constant power from their battery bank before having to run the generator or connect to shore power at the campground. However, you won’t have to worry about this with a solar system installed on your RV’s roof. These solar chargers will supply charge to your battery, as long as there is some sun during the day, and store power for use at night time.
As for the number of batteries an RV needs, there are only a few possibilities: one (or two) 12V deep cycle battery, two 6V batteries (the most popular setup these days), or four 6V batteries for extra heavy use. More on these setups further down below in the FAQs section.
Must-have Accessories for RV Battery
1. Deep cycle battery charger
You should not charge your RV deep cycle battery with a regular charger. A deep cycle battery requires a special charger specifically made for it to achieve the highest charging capacity as well as optimal lifespan.
Charging speed and heat: While a regular charger would charge a deep cycle battery too fast at higher amperage rates, which results in low charging efficiency and high internal resistance. High internal resistance produces excess heat, which can cause internal materials to slowly break down. And since a deep cycle battery is not made to handle such high heat, doing so repeatedly would shorten the battery’s lifespan.
In contrast, a deep cycle battery charger charges the battery slowly at a much lower amperage rate. By doing so, it minimizes internal resistance, avoids overheating and ensures optimal charging capacity efficiency. In addition, such slow charging allows enough time for the electrolyte to penetrate the thicker plates, which are typical of a deep cycle battery, without damaging them. All of these will make your expensive RV battery bank healthier and last longer on the road.
Charging current and efficiency: Furthermore, note that although you might use a regular charger once or twice when you’re really in a pinch, it will never fully charge your RV deep cycle battery to 100%. The charger might show that the battery is topped off, but in reality this is never the case. Such inefficiency is caused by the fact that regular chargers charge a battery at a constant current rate from start to finish, which is not optimal for deep cycle batteries.
Meanwhile, a deep cycle battery charger charges the battery in three to four stages, called a stepped model charging, and at a different charging current during each stage. This allows for the shortest charging time and enables the battery to keep its charge longer.
In the first stage, more current flows to the battery to quickly restore it from a deep discharge. Then in the later stages, the battery receives less current as it approaches full charge. The charger detects the amount of current in a drained battery and charges it accordingly to reduce charging time while maximizing the life of the battery in the long run. Then once the battery is at full charge, the charger goes into what’s called “float mode” to just offset the battery’s natural self-discharge rate, therefore keeping the battery at full charge for longer.
2. Trickle charger
If you’re planning to put your motorhome into storage for an extended period in the off season, you must get a trickle charger to keep your battery topped off. No one wants to come back to a dead battery when the new camping season starts.
All deep cycle batteries are prone to a natural and unavoidable phenomenon called self-discharge, that is even when nothing is drawing power from your RV battery, it will lose its charge over time. This is due to the internal chemical reactions that take place inside the battery without any connection between the electrodes or any external circuit.
Even the absolute best and most expensive lithium ion batteries on the market would have a self-discharge rate of at least 3% per month. The least advanced lead acid batteries often have a discharge rate of up to 15% per month, depending on the storage temperature.
A trickle charger tackles this self-discharge problem by charging the battery at the same rate as the battery’s self-discharge rate, so the offset means the battery is maintained at full capacity during storage and ready to roll whenever you need it to.
3. Solar battery charger
You can connect a trickle charger to shore power at home to charge your RV battery while in storage, or connect a deep cycle battery charger to the power outlets at RV campgrounds to top off your battery on the road. But when you boondock or dry camp in remote places with no access to shore power, the only way to charge your battery is to install an RV solar battery charger.
As long as there is some sun, the solar panels on the roof of your RV will absorb energy from sunlight and convert it into electricity usable by the battery. That way, you can run the electronics inside your rig without having to worry about draining your battery down to a dangerous level (that is below 50% capacity). These solar charging systems also charge the battery slowly and steadily, thus like a deep cycle battery charger, maximize the battery’s lifespan.
Typically, campers who often go on long trips, especially off-grid trips, would have a solar system in place, backed up by an RV generator as a Plan B. A generator for RV works like shore power, although it does not provide as much power. You can run the generator to top off the battery, or when you’re cranking the A/C on a hot summer night and don’t want to overload your battery.
A jump starter is an essential accessory for any car owner, especially so if you’re driving your RV on long trips off the beaten path. A jump starter will give a dead battery a jolt of power so that it will run again. Invest in a solid unit to avoid being stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Shore Power Cord
Many RVs these days come with the necessary power cord for connection to shore power, but many do not. Don’t fool yourself that you can just use your regular house extension cord. Fire hazards are no joke. Look for a shore power cord made for RV use with enough amps going through the line so you can power whatever appliances you need to power at once.
Every RV owner needs a battery box to safely store their batteries without having to worry about acid leaks or gas emission from the battery. Battery boxes come in different sizes to accommodate batteries of different sizes, and sometimes buying new batteries require a new battery box.
Best RV Battery Brands
The market for RV batteries is vast, and the best RV battery for your particular budget and camping needs might be made by a lesser known brand.
You don’t have to go for the most popular, most expensive offerings, but checking out the best sellers from bigger brands is a good starting point when you’re a novice but don’t want to spend too much time looking around.
Highly rated products from renowned manufacturers usually have more reviews to make your comparison between different options easier:
- Optima: Optima has many best selling deep cycle batteries for a wide range of camping applications, and the brand has earned its reputation particularly thanks to its reliable and heavy duty AGM batteries.
- Renogy: Renogy is a well established name with a broad portfolio, including deep cycle batteries and chargers, charge controllers, inverters, solar systems for virtually any application you can think of, including camping and boondocking. What sets Renogy apart from other makers of the best RV deep cycle battery is their products are more affordable while still delivering excellent performance and lifespan.
- Mighty Max Battery: This brand is quite young, but Mighty Max has quickly earned a competitive edge against more established players thanks to their affordable, reliable and long lasting deep cycle RV batteries.
- Trojan: Trojan is known for some of the best camper battery models in terms of the capacity to deliver constant power and a long service life.
- VMAXTANKS: VMAX has several offerings that are often praised by full-time campers as well-made RV battery, including best RV battery for dry camping. VMAX deep cycle batteries are reliable, and particularly can deliver high currents as well as withstand repeated deep discharges while still having a longer service life than comparable offerings by competitors.
- NPP: NP Power International Inc. has a long track record as a power supply manufacturer. While they specialize in high premium lead acid batteries for RV applications, they also offer a wide range of deep-cycle batteries, including gel and AGM batteries, and solar-powered batteries.
- Crown: What sets Crown apart as a trusted manufacturer of RV battery on the market is that their products are characterized by having some of the thickest lead plates in the industry, which contribute to their excellent capacity for constant power output and a longer lifespan despite abuse.
- Universal Power Group: You might not see a bunch of models from UPG around, since their product portfolio is rather limited. That said, UPG has some of the best RV deep cycle batteries if you’re looking for 6 volt deep cycle batteries. They offer superb lithium ion and gel 6 volt batteries.
- Odyssey: This brand has been around for over 100 years and is still going strong as the maker of some of the best camper battery. Odyssey offerings are praised for their excellent power output as well as the capacity to withstand vibrations and extreme temperatures.
FAQs About Camper Battery
1. What is the best type of battery for RV?
Lithium ion batteries are the latest, most advanced type of deep cycle battery for camping applications, and are often regarded as the excellent choice in almost all performance criteria. They are superior to the other 3 types in many regards: safety and maintenance free, usable capacity, the capacity to supply constant power for longer, charging efficiency and charging time, the ability to hold a static charge as well as to withstand more cycles of deep discharges (above the 50% safe threshold) without permanent damage, and resistance to extreme temperatures.
Lithium ion batteries typically have a built-in protection circuit to avoid dangerous operating conditions. All these mean that lithium ion batteries boast the longest lifespan of up to 8 years, with the best camper battery in this category even promise up to 10 years of service. In short, in high-performance applications where you would need the most smallest, lightest yet most powerful unit, lithium ion batteries are the best camper battery for the money.
AGM batteries: That said, lithium ion batteries do not endure extreme cold as well as premium AGM batteries. The best AGM deep cycle battery are also spill-proof even when broken and maintenance free, have a long lifespan (only second to lithium ion type), have superb charging efficiency, and can tolerate repeated deep discharge cycles as well as vibrations and extreme winter conditions. Although an average AGM battery would weigh at last double a comparable lithium ion battery, they are more affordable, so depending on your application, priorities and budget, an AGM battery might beat a lithium ion battery for your circumstances.
2. How long do RV batteries last?
The average lifespan of an RV battery depends on the type of the battery itself. While an average 12 volt battery usually lasts about 2 years, 6 volt batteries often last much longer, thanks to their typically thicker plates that will last longer even with heavy use. 6 volt gel batteries have the shortest lifespan at 2 to 5 years, while lead acid batteries last slightly longer. 6 volt lithium and AGM batteries boast by far the longest lifespan of up to 8 years, with the most advanced models offering a 10-year warranty, so you might enjoy even longer service with proper maintenance and storage.
3. Do RV batteries charge when plugged into shore power?
Yes, as soon as you plug the RV power cord into a 120 volt AC electrical outlet, the house batteries will automatically start charging via a device called a converter. The converter converts AC power into DC power so that your battery will charge properly.
4. Does a camper battery charge while driving?
Technically yes, a camper battery get charged while driving. While you’re driving, your RV batteries will receive a trickle charge via the alternator in your tow vehicle’s engine. However, the amount of charge your RV batteries will receive is really minimal. This method is not at all an effective way to top off your RV batteries, so don’t count on it. Here’s why:
When you’re towing an RV behind a truck, the alternator continuously charges the starting battery in your truck. Usually, there’s a 7-way connector between your truck and your RV that enables your truck’s starting battery to power the electric brakes, brake lights, turn signals, and running lights. Therefore, after the starting battery in your truck has powered all those electrical accessories, there is only a little bit of the power left for your RV’s batteries to draw (usually no more than 5 amps, equivalent to a trickle charge).
5. How many batteries does an RV need?
This all depends on your daily power consumption, whether you boondock and how long at a time, and whether you have a reliable solar charging system in place to keep the battery topped off before it is drained.
Before the age of 6 volt deep cycle batteries, campers typically had to rely on one 12 volt deep cycle battery to power their electrical needs, or two of them if their rigs were extra power hungry. However, the increasingly popular solution is to wire two 6 volt batteries either in a series or in parallel as a substitute for a single 12 volt battery. Doing so has benefits, depending on what you need:
+ A series connection will have a total voltage equaling the sum of the two 6 volt batteries, but the total amp hours only equals that of a single battery.
+ A parallel connection will have a total amp hour equaling the sum of the two batteries, but total voltage is unchanged.
+ If you want to increase both voltage and amp hours, connect two pairs of 6 volt batteries in a series, then wire these two pairs in parallel.
In short, there are many things you need to figure out to answer this question. Estimate your average daily power consumption by multiplying the amp ratings of each appliance in your rig by 24 hours to get each’s daily power draw, then add them up to get your total amp hours per day.
Remember that you’re only using a few appliances at the same time, and add some buffers for safety. Now pick out one battery (or two, or four, if you’re wiring multiple 6 volt batteries) with enough amp hours rating and choose a suitable wiring setup, so that the system can meet your estimated daily amp hours draw without being drained before you can charge your batteries.
6. How to test RV batteries?
To test an RV battery, that is to measure the current voltage the battery is holding, you will need a voltmeter or a multimeter. This is to determine the battery’s depth of discharge to charge it in time, as well as to regularly check the health of a battery, as irregular voltage can point to a number of problems (as outlined in the next question).
The exact voltage at a fully charged state and the voltage at a fully discharged state will differ slightly between different types of battery and the battery’s age. A 6 volt deep cycle battery has three cells, and each fully-charged 2-volt cell holds approximately 2.15 volts, while a fully discharged 2 volt cell has a voltage of 1.9 volts. So a fully charged battery will hold 6.3 to 6.4 volts. A fully discharged 6 volt battery will hold 5.7 to 5.8 volts.
A 12-volt deep cycle battery has 6 individual cells, and thus it will measure at about 12.9 volts at full charge and about 11.4 volts when it is fully discharged.
To test a deep cycle battery using a voltmeter:
+ Let your RV rest for at least two hours, or ideally overnight. If your RV has recently been running, the voltmeter will return a misleading higher voltage.
+ Insert the black lead into the “com” connector, and the red lead for the voltmeter into the “volts” connector.
+ Turn the switch to the “DC volts” position, then set the voltmeter to 20 DC voltage.
+ Connect the voltmeter with the battery by touching the positive lead (red, marked “+”) with the positive battery terminal (red), and the negative lead (black, marked “-”) with the negative battery terminal (black).
+ The voltmeter will return a DC-volt value on the display.
7. How to tell if your RV battery is bad?
If you use a voltmeter to test the battery and have one of the following issues, chances are your camper battery is bad and you will need to replace your battery:
The voltmeter reads 0 volts: Most likely the battery experienced a short circuit. The most common cause is broken or loose terminals. When a short circuit happens, the battery unloads all of its power in an instant. This produces a lot of heat very quickly, so you will see some signs of burning or melting. Short circuits can sometimes cause the battery to explode.
The voltmeter reads 10.5 volts maximum when the battery is being charged: The battery likely has a dead cell.
The battery charger indicates that the battery is fully charged, but the voltage is 12.4 or lower: Hard sulfation has occurred, and although you can charge the battery to keep it running for a while, it has been permanently damaged.
Sulfation is the natural occurrence when the battery discharges, and is reversed when the battery is charged. But if a battery sits in a severely discharged state for extended periods of time, hard or irreversible sulfation will occur, which prevents the battery from ever reaching a full charge. Also, the battery will self-discharge at a faster rate.
At this point, nothing can restore the battery back to health, and you’ll need to replace your batteries.
8. How to properly charge a deep cycle RV battery?
#1. Before using your charger the first time:
It is important to note that for optimal charging efficiency, a deep cycle battery charger typically charges the battery in 3 distinct phases—bulk, absorb, and float. At each stage, the charger supplies a specific voltage to the battery for the fastest charging time. As such, you need to set the charger to the optimal settings as specified by your specific battery pack. Before you use the charger for the first time, refer to the manuals for your batteries and charger to program your charger to the proper settings best suited for your battery bank.
#2. Before charging:
Preparations: Before starting charging, always remove the key from the ignition and switch off all lights in your RV as well as electrical circuits connecting the charger. In addition, to avoid a surge or electrical damage during charging, always disconnect your RV house battery. Since some batteries release gasses when being charged, it is safer to inspect and charge the battery in a well-ventilated space so that the gas can safely dissipate outdoors.
Safety: Sulfides might escape from flooded lead acid and gel batteries during the charging process. It’s best to put on protective gloves and goggles for protection.
Inspect battery terminals #1: Inspect to make sure the battery terminals are dry and intact, as charging a wet battery can cause a spark and ignite the battery.
Inspect battery terminals #2: Every battery would naturally build up sulfuric acid residue on the battery terminals in the form of a yellow-ish powder. So you also need to look out for this, and if needed, clean the battery terminals using a wire brush before connecting the charger to the battery. This is to make sure you get an optimal clean charge without interference. Then, spray the terminals with an anti-corrosion spray and leave it to dry completely, or as noted above, wet terminals might cause a spark and become a fire hazard.
Charging environment: If you can, charge the battery somewhere that’s not too hot or too cold, as extreme temperatures would affect charging efficiency. While in storage too, keep both the battery and charger in a dry place with moderate temperature.
Set the charger to match the type of battery you have.
Connect the red clamp of the charger to the positive terminal (denoted “+”) of the battery, and the black clamp to the negative terminal (denoted “-”).
Then plug in the charger to the power outlet (110-120 volts AC) and turn it on.
The charger would notify you once the battery. Now remove the cables. For the first few charging sessions, it’s recommended that you use a voltmeter to check the voltage of the battery, to see if the charger really charges the battery to full capacity. If things work like they should, you may put the battery back in your motorhome. If your battery refuses to reach 100%, it is likely damaged or defective, or has simply reached old age and needs to retire.