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Batteries are a brilliant solution to our energy demands that can cause you a headache if not properly used or taken care of. It is important to be educated on which batteries are best for your RV and the purpose you are using them for – especially if you plan on doing any dry camping or boon docking.
In this article you’ll find information about the different types of RV batteries, which RV batteries you should be using, and tips on how to clean and store them.
What is the difference between a 6-volt and a 12-volt RV Battery?
A 12-volt battery source is generally considered your ‘house battery’ that is used to supply electricity to your RV and additional appliances, such as your lighting, fridge and water pump.
You can create your house battery simply by using a standard 12-volt battery or wiring two 6-volt batteries together in a parallel series. Both battery options are deep cycle lead acid batteries that contain 2.1-volt cells. 6 volt batteries contain three cells per battery and 12-volt batteries contain six cells.
What is the real difference and why would you use one over another?
6-volt batteries are generally larger in size, but significantly lighter (approximately 45 pounds) than a 12-volt battery (approximately 100 pounds). It’s a growing trend for RVer’s to use two 6-volt batteries to create a single power source, because this wired series tends to last longer, while doubling your voltage but not your amp-hours. The life span is longer because 6-volt batteries have thicker plates and more space per cell, resulting in a deeper discharge than a 12-volt deep cycle. However, if you plan on wiring a series of two 12-volt batteries you will have double the voltage and amp-hours.
Ultimately, both battery options have their perks, so it really comes down to the amount of space you have and the requirements of the RV appliances you are running.
What Does “Deep Cycle” Mean?
Deep cycle is referred to as the amount of steady current that is being provided over an extended period of time where your battery is the main source of energy, powering various RV Electronics. It is recommended for RVers to use a deep cycle battery because they have much thicker plates that are able to be discharged and recharged over and over again and are designed to last longer than a standard battery. Deep cycle batteries are measured in “amps per hour,” which is the number amps that can be delivered within a 20-hour period. They can also be measured in “reserve capacity,” which is the number of minutes that a battery can deliver 25 amps at 80 degrees F until it drops below 10.5 volts.
RV Batteries vs Car Batteries – what’s the difference?
Both car batteries and your RV batteries are lead acid batteries. This means that they have several cells that produce 2.1 volts connected in a series. These batteries consist of plates made of lead and lead oxide that are submerged in an electrolyte substance that is made of sulphuric acid and water. It’s the size of the plates and amount of electrolyte that determines the charge that a battery can store. Note: These batteries do not create electricity, they merely store it.
So then what’s the difference?
As we noted above RV batteries are “deep cycle” batteries that produce a steady amount of current over a long period of time, and can be discharged and recharged over again. A car battery is made to produce a large amount of current over a short period of time. (Simply put a car battery is designed to start your engine and provide quick burst of power – RV Batteries are designed to power your electronic accessories when your engine is not running or you are dry camping for an extended period of time).
How Does One Store An RV Battery?
In order to extend the life of your RV battery and get the most out of your investment it is important to store your RV battery properly under the right conditions. Most importantly, you must never store a battery in a discharged state or else the battery plates will begin to harden and crystallize, eventually causing them to no longer be capable of generating power. (Batteries naturally discharge every day when not in use. To ensure a battery is ready to go for the next time you plan to use it, charge your stored battery every 3 months as a best practice).
Learn more about proper RV battery storage here on our website.
How Does One Clean an RV Battery?
In order to maintain your RV battery, prevention is the key! It’s important to not wait until your battery is covered in corrosive deposits to clean it, because by that point too much damage may have already been done – clean regularly.
When cleaning your battery begin by putting on old clothing and using skin and eye protection such as gloves and protective goggles, as a drop of battery acid can cause severe damage. Using a wire brush or simply a toothbrush with a baking soda and warm water solution to neutralize the corrosion, clean the battery terminal connections, along with the clamps that connect to them. Once this is done apply a grease or petroleum jelly to the clean terminals and cables, slowing down the formation of corrosion in the future.
For more detailed information about RV batteries visit our comprehensive RV battery info sheet.