RV Batteries – What You Need to Know
RV batteries are critical to most RVers, who should understand the basics about types and maintenance. Most of the lights, refrigerator mother boards, A/C control boards, furnace/water heater control boards in our RV’s rely on a good battery to provide a constant 12 volts. A weak or discharged battery can adversely affect the performance and longevity of the appliances they control. And improperly maintained batteries can mean unnecessary expenses to replace them before the end of their normal life cycle.
A weak battery will also need constant charging – putting an additional load on the charging system and if severe enough, will divert power needed for other applications.
We rely on our batteries to provide power when boondocking and when otherwise without power. We have learned to love them and care for them. Battery power is an integral part of RV operating systems, so treat them right.
There are three major type of batteries: flooded lead acid batteries, Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries, and Gel Cell batteries. We will only address the first two, since the Gel Cell batteries are no longer used much as RV batteries.
There is an additional subdivision of whether the battery is a starting battery or a deep cycle battery. The difference between a starting and deep cycle battery is the way it is used. A starting battery will be rated in Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) and a deep cycle battery will be rated in Amp Hours (Ah). There is a drastic difference in how these batteries are built. The starting battery has many thin plates that provide a high rate of power over short periods of time, which is what you need to start an engine. A deep cycle battery has fewer plates but are much larger and thicker to provide power over an extended period of time. Because of this difference in design you should use the correct battery to fit the application. While you can use them interchangeably they work best when used correctly.
The primary enemy of any battery is sulfation of the plates caused by improper charging, lack of charging after use, or loss of water over the plates. Sulfation happens when sulfur molecules crystallize and form a coating over the lead plates. Sulfated plates are a triple whammy: sulfation causes quick discharge of a battery, decreases the life of the battery and prevents the complete charging of the battery. And according to one manufacturer is the primary reason why batteries fail.
Learn about RV Batteries
Here is an easy way to learn about battery ratings, types, sizes and configurations, battery maintenance, testing, charging, storage and more. Whether you own an RV or a boat you can watch this video as often as you need, making care and maintenance simple.
In most cases, problems related to deep cycle batteries are usually a result of not understanding what is involved to properly maintain and care for lead acid batteries. 85% of all 12-volt batteries manufactured in the United States die before they should. This Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance DVD was designed to help extend the life of your deep cycle batteries and to save you money. With a little routine preventive maintenance your deep cycle batteries can and will last as long as they should.
There is a lot to learn about RVs, and mistakes can be costly. Try to make the time to learn as much as you can about operating your RV, troubleshooting and resolving problems. You will find that as you learn about one topic, you learn something about other aspects of RVs.