One of the most important components of your RV is its electrical system. This is the nerve center where all the electronic devices and appliances you plan to use will draw energy from whenever you are off-grid. Without proper and reliable power, most of your activities might come to a standstill in the middle of nowhere.
You, therefore, need to invest in the best RV deep cycle battery to ensure that you are not inconvenienced at a campsite. But which are some of the best batteries to buy in 2018? Are there factors that you should consider before you decide to buy one? These are some of the questions that we seek to address in this guide.
Here is a list of some of the best deep cycle batteries we have carefully selected for use in RVs. Have a look at their features, benefits, demerits and make an informed opinion based on the information that you are going to get about them.
1. Universal UB121000-45978 RV Deep Cycle AGM Battery
The Universal UB121000-45978 from Universal Power Group is the best product in this category. This battery is a 12V 100Ah type which you can rely upon when you are off-grid. It works perfectly well for general purposes like supplying 12-volt electronics such as RV water pumps among others.
Its sealed design, which is spill proof, makes it stand out as well. It makes use of the common Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) technology to provide the maximum power needed to operate RV appliances. It is sturdily made which means that it will require very minimal maintenance for as long as you will be using it. Besides, this technology ensures that the battery performs better, recharges quickly and lasts longer.
Its 100 ampere-hour capacity is quite impressive as well. This deep cycle battery is highly versatile and can be used on other equipment that might require deep cycle batteries like boats. However, note that it weighs 63.93 pounds which is quite heavy for an RV setup. You will also find it hard lifting such a weight on your own.
Its dimensions are 12.17 by 6.61 by 9.16 inches and should also be considered before buying it. As earlier mentioned; it is rechargeable and can be mounted in any kind of position as it can resist vibrations and shock.
Its use is actually commendable in case you are using a trolling motor. If you are not going to visit a campsite for the duration of 1 month; the battery will only lose not more than 3% of its capacity.
Another great performing RV deep cycle battery that does its work efficiently is the Odyssey PC680 battery. It is definitely the second choice you should make whenever you are looking for an ideal battery for use in your RV. Its rugged and sturdy construction makes it capable of withstanding all kinds of weather and environments like rough terrains, snow or even sea.
Its lead plates are tightly sealed to give the non-spill AGM design that it has. While the design ensures that there are no spills, it also works perfectly in making the battery able to resist vibrations. This product is capable of producing twice the power that other conventional batteries provide while at the same time having a lifespan that is thrice the same batteries.
What’s more, it is capable of handling 400 cycles at a discharge depth of 80%. Its design which is vibration-resistant also protects it from extreme shocks. It’s a highly versatile battery that can be used to perform a wide range of functions in areas like ATVs, watercraft and ultra-light aircraft among others.
The lead plates used in its manufacture are a pure virgin to provide optimal surface area and in the process optimizing recycling. This product also boasts of high conductivity, corrosion-resistance, safety relief valve for every cell, inter-cell connections, and well-made terminal seals. It is also durable and available at a reasonable price.
This battery has a limited warranty of two years which covers full replacement in case of manufacturing defects. The battery recharges in a quick time with the full voltage being realized in 4 to 6 hours. It is a 12-volt battery with a weight of 15 pounds and dimensions of 7.9 by 7.8 by 3.8 inches.
Rugged and durable construction
Protects against extreme shocks and vibration
No replacements in case of defects
No indication of its actual size
3. Interstate Batteries Sealed Lead Acid DCM0035 RV Deep Cycle Battery
The cheapest RV deep cycle battery that you will ever come across is the Sealed Lead Acid DCM0035 from Interstate Batteries. It is rated at 35 Ah which is capable of supplying 1.75 amperes of electric current every hour to your RTV for up to 20 hours.
It is a sealed battery hence there will never be spillages or hydrogen gas escaping during the process of recharging it. This gas is often very explosive if released into the environment which makes sealed batteries less prone to accidents. It has been cleared for use on roads, sea, and air.
The battery is very compact and lightweight, weighing just 23.1 pounds with dimensional measurements of 7.68 by 5.16 by 6.14 inches in length, width and height respectively. It is a heavy-duty battery that is capable of providing sustainable and continuous power.
It doesn’t require any form of maintenance during its seemingly long lifespan. Being that it is sealed, it can be mounted in any kind of position and angle. Besides, its no-spillage guarantee makes it a good one to use on the ground, water, and air transport.
Spend some extra amount of money and get the Optima 8016-103 D34M battery for use in your RV. It functions both as a starting and deep cycle battery. Its reserve capacity of 120 minutes makes it rank among the best performing deep cycle batteries.
Even in the most unfavorable climatic conditions, this battery provides optimal power for startup. It is a 12-volt battery with a cold cranking ampere of 750 amperes. It has a 55 Ah C20 capacity which is enough to run most of your RV appliances and electronics.
Its resistance to vibration is 15 times more than the traditional deep cycle batteries. This makes it long-lasting since it is capable of tolerating vibrations and shock. What’s more, it weighs 43.5 pounds and has dimensions of 10 by 6.88 by 7.8 inches.
If you have appliances that tend to drain your batteries quicker, then this is the product to acquire because it has a super fast recharge time too.
Versatile (used both as deep cycle and starting battery)
Lightweight and compact design
No spillages and corrosion
Charges faster and holds a charge at the same time
A little pricey
Likely to overcharge and become hot
What are RV Deep Cycle Batteries?
These batteries are designed to provide steady and continuous amounts of power for a long duration. They are different from the starting batteries that are meant to deliver lots of power for a short time to start engines. This makes deep cycle batteries ideal for the operation of RV appliances and electronics like RV air conditioners.
Depending on the manufacturer’s specifications and battery’s construction, a deep cycle battery for RV should discharge about 50% to 70% of its capacity. Recharging the battery means re-depositing of energy which completes a cycle.
These batteries are thicker and more solid compared to the traditional batteries. This additional thickness means a reduced surface area which in return reduces the instant power provision.
RV deep cycle batteries can only discharge up to 20% of the maximum charge continuously. However, you need to take note that there are also dual-purpose batteries that can perform both deep cycling and start of engines.
Types of RV Deep Cycle Batteries
There are different types of deep cycle batteries for RVs with each type having its own merits and demerits. No particular type can be confidently said to be perfect for all RV applications. Let’s have a look at these battery types:
1. Flooded Lead-Acid RV Deep Cycle Batteries
These are also known as wet cells and are usually the most common type of deep cycle batteries used in RVs. At times you will hear others referring to them as “flooded” batteries, simply due to the fact that their lead plates are fully submerged in the electrolyte (acid).
These batteries are the least expensive of them all. They, however, demand a lot in terms of maintenance and must always be used in vented areas due to the explosive hydrogen gas that is often emitted during their charging processes.
Just like the traditional lead-acid batteries, these ones make use of lead-oxide and lead plates in a mixture of water and sulfuric acid. They, therefore, need to be recharged regularly and cannot be installed in any other angle apart from the upright position. They cannot tolerate high vibrations, something you cannot run away from while traveling in an RV.
Being that they are not sealed, “Flooded” lead-acid deep cycle batteries are good at handling cases of being overcharged. This makes them have the longest lifespan and least cost per ampere-hour. Some maintenance practices that you are likely to perform on this type of batteries are cleaning of the terminals, regular watering, and equalization of charges.
Well maintained lead-acid deep cycle batteries can last 5 to 7 years.
2. Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) RV Deep Cycle Batteries
These batteries are highly versatile and can be used across many application areas such as trolling motors, trucks, boats et cetera. They are stronger and require less maintenance as compared to the lead-acid types.
AGM batteries are sealed lead-acid types that are lightweight and more reliable. Unlike in the case of wet cells in type (i) above, here the electrolyte has been absorbed into a fiberglass mat. AGM batteries can either have flat plates just like in the case of flooded lead-acid types or the plates wound onto a tightly held spiral.
They have the least internal resistance and can, therefore, handle the highest of temperatures. Besides, they discharge slowly. In AGMs, it is the glass mats that hold the electrolyte. The glass mats have been woven with glass fibers at the same time for an increased surface area.
You can install AGM batteries in any position. On the downside, these batteries are more prone to damage due to overcharging.
3. Lithium-ion RV Deep Cycle Batteries
These are the lightest of them all. These do have life cycles ranging from 3000 to 5000 besides their high charging efficiency. They are capable of performing to the best levels regardless of the weather or environmental condition of the area.
This is another type that you can mount in any position. There are different types of lithium-ion batteries, but the Lithium Iron Phosphate is the best pick for an RV since it is safe, stable and doesn’t require any maintenance.
Lithium-ion batteries have low internal resistance, therefore, exhibiting high current rating and thermal stability.
4. Gel RV Deep Cycle Batteries
Here, the batteries make use of highly viscous gelled electrolyte to produce the needed electric current. While charging, the gases produced recombine at a slower rate compared to the AGM batteries.
What this means is that they should be charged at a slower rate compared to other batteries. If you subject these batteries to higher charging rate, gas pockets will be formed on the plates. These gas pockets will eventually force the electrolyte (gel) away from the plates.
The result will be a decrease in capacity up to the moment when the gas will have found its way to the battery’s top to recombine with the electrolyte. They are also lightweight and easy to transport, but you need to be very careful when charging them as inappropriate charging will damage them.
If you lack the experience to use these batteries, then you shouldn’t buy them for use while RV camping.
How to maintain RV deep cycle batteries
Proper maintenance of these batteries will ensure that they deliver the needed power in a long period of time. You will also be able to improve its lifespan in the process. But what are some of the maintenance practices you can perform on them? Here are some of them:
Proper and regular charging
Don’t overheat or overcharge the battery
Regular cleaning of the terminals and surface
No charging using under or overvoltage
Charge continuously up to full charge
Things to consider when shopping for the best RV deep cycle battery
Whenever you are equipped with the necessary knowledge, the process of choosing the deep cycle battery that will be ideal for use in your situation isn’t a difficult thing. There are many products in the market which can be confusing as well, but you need to pick on a battery that makes use of a technology that is suitable for the purpose for which you intend to use it.
In addition to the types of deep cycle batteries discussed above, in this section, we are going to explore some other factors that should be your reference point for the most suitable deep cycle battery.
Here are some factors to consider as well:
Size and Weight
These two are also some important aspects that you need to look at before making an order. The overall performance of your deep cycle battery must revolve around its convenience as well. A heavier and bigger battery will be difficult to move around and will also add unnecessary weight onto the RV.
Even if it is the cheapest and high-quality battery around, you won’t get satisfied with its performance if it is bulky. Take your time to know how much the battery weighs. A 12-volt battery that weighs over 100 pounds, for example, is just not an ideal pick.
Whenever you are considering the size and weight, you also need to check the overall output. Don’t go for numerous but small (lightweight) batteries as you might find it hectic wiring them up together. Again, most of the bigger batteries have higher capacities something that you also need to be aware of.
Find a way of balancing weight, size, and capacity of the battery. However, the battery should not be that heavy.
The capacity of the battery
The capacity of deep cycle batteries is indicated in Ampere-hours (Ah). It is the amount of current that the battery can deliver over a given period of time. For example, a 100Ah battery means that it can output 100A of electric current in 1 hour.
The higher the capacity, the longer the battery can serve and store power. Before you decide on what capacity to go for, you need to calculate what your energy needs are and give some little room for extra. The best battery should deliver power for use during the whole day without hitting the 50% mark of its total capacity.
In case you plan to camp in an area that is off-grid, then the battery should have a capacity to sustain your needs for the entire period without a recharge.
This is the amount of power that the battery can deliver in environments with temperatures of 35oF. This is another important factor to consider as it will help you in gauging the battery’s likely performance at temperatures that are above water’s freezing point.
A battery having higher cranking ampere rating has an impressive initial performance.
Cold Cranking Ampere
This is the power that the battery supplies if the starting motor is drawing power from it at temperatures of 0 degrees Fahrenheit and below. This factor is usually of great importance to those who camp during the winter.
Low temperatures usually degrade the performance of batteries. Therefore, higher Cold Cranking Ampere rating is an assurance that the product will supply the needed energy to start the engines even in extremely cold situations.
Resistance to shocks and vibrations
A good deep cycle battery should resist shocks and vibrations. As it withstands these issues, there should never be a drop in terms of its performance even if used off-road. This is where AGM batteries beat them all.
Voltage and Charging
This is the potential difference in electric energy that the battery has. A typical deep cycle battery should have 12 Volts of direct current (DC). This voltage will serve you perfectly well, but you need to take note of the voltage that your existing systems use before you decide on the voltage to go for. There are systems that are designed to work with 6V, 12V and even 24V.
How you will be charging the battery is another consideration you have to make. Will you be using an RV generator, solar or shore power? In the process, you will need a charge controller to ensure that only the right voltage is delivered to the battery. It acts as a battery protector.
Price of the battery
Make a comparison of the battery’s features and its price. Highly performing batteries are often more expensive. Don’t go for a cheap product that will make you spend a lot in terms of maintenance and replacements. Look for a reasonably priced battery but has almost all the features you want; that is what will give you value for your money.
Your electronic devices and appliances should never stop operating because you are camping in an off-grid area. You will not even enjoy your camping in the absence of these little things that we often assume. But with deep cycle batteries for RVs, know that your needs will be well covered.
Universal UB121000-45978 AGM Battery is the best RV deep cycle battery due to its relatively higher capacity, strength and being that it can be installed in any position. Additionally, it is reasonably priced, lightweight, well-sized and requires minimal maintenance. These are just some of the many features that make it stand out from the rest.
You, therefore, need to buy it for your future use. In case you don’t find our top pick so ideal for you, there is no harm in considering the other three products on our list.