What’s the best part about owning a home on wheels, otherwise known as an RV or motorhome? You can leave city lights behind and sleep under the stars. Breathe fresh forest air and wake up to the sound of singing birds. Enjoy campfire-cooked meals and refreshing lake swims. All this…while still enjoying creature comforts.
Thanks to motorhome batteries, you can have a fridge and running water. You can charge your phone and laptop. You can switch lights on at night instead of stumbling around a dark tent while searching for your flashlight.
With a motorhome battery, RVing is literally like taking your home with you. But what kind of batteries do you need? What are the best motorhome batteries on the market today? Read on for the answer to those questions and more.
What Are Motorhome Batteries?
There are two types of motorhome batteries you’ll need. The first is a starting battery. This battery does what its name suggests: start your RV’s engine. It provides a short burst of energy to get your engine going and keep it running.
But starting batteries don’t power the lights and amenities of your motorhome. That’s a job for a house battery. House batteries are deep cycle batteries. This means they provide a constant flow of energy for a long period of time.You might think of them in terms of the old fable: house batteries are like the tortoise, and starting batteries are like the hare.
You can discharge and recharge your deep cycle motorhome batteries over and over again. Each discharge/recharge is called a “cycle”. RV house batteries wear out after a certain number of cycles. But you can help increase their lifespan by taking proper care of them. For example, you should charge them correctly and keep them clean.
Some motorhome battery types require extra maintenance. For example, you’ll need to “water” lead acid batteries. This is because they consist of lead plates immersed in electrolyte. During the recharging process, the water portion of the electrolyte turns into gas. So you must replace the lost water every so often. You also have to vent lead acid batteries outside, because the gas they produce is flammable.
Does that sound annoying (not to mention toxic)? Unfortunately, that’s par for the course with lead acid RV batteries. But here’s some good news. Not all motorhome batteries use lead/acid chemistry. We’ll clue you in on other types below, plus how to choose the best motorhome batteries for your needs.
Types of Deep Cycle Motorhome Batteries
Lead acid RV batteries used to be the only kind you could get. But those days are long past. Gel batteries are a slight improvement. With this kind, the battery electrolyte is suspended in gel. This makes it leak proof, and therefore safer. But like lead acid batteries, gel batteries are slow charging. They’re susceptible to damage from overcharging.
Another option is AGM, or an Absorbed Glass Mat battery. These have a fibrous mat between the lead plates. The mat is soaked in electrolyte. This kind of battery won’t lose water or leak. But it’s still heavy and slow charging, like lead acid batteries.
If all those batteries sound similar to you, it’s because they are. They all have a similar chemistry that uses lead and acid. If you’re looking for something different, and dare we say better, there’s a fourth battery type you can choose.
The fourth type hasn’t been on the market that long, but it’s fast becoming a favorite among RVers. We’re talking about Ionic lithium batteries. You might see these motorhome batteries referred to as “LiFePO4 batteries”.
What’s the Best Motorhome Battery for You?
LiFePO4 batteries are a new RV battery favorite, but not just because they’re “new”.
Here’s why Ionic lithium batteries make the best motorhome batteries:
- They are acid-free and leak-proof. Their superior chemistry makes them safer for the environment.
- They are 50% lighter than lead acid batteries of the same capacity. You can go bigger and get more power for your gadgets. No need to worry about weighing your camper down with heavy, bulky batteries.
- They handle cold weather better. Lithium doesn’t freeze. It can operate in -30°C with a slight performance degradation. So go ahead, take that trip up north you’ve been dreaming of for years.
- Their lifespan is five times longer. Lead acid batteries will last around two years, depending on how many cycles you put them through. Lithium batteries can give you ten or more years. You likely won’t have to replace your motorhome batteries for at least a decade.
- Have slow charging batteries been keeping you from taking impromptu camping trips? Lithium batteries are the fastest charging battery on the market. Charge in just 2-3 hours. Now you’re out of excuses!
Batteries with lead plates were the best motorhome batteries you could get in the past. But that’s where they belong–in the past. Lithium offers superior technology for today’s RVers. And we’re not just talking about better efficiency and faster charging.
Lithium motorhome batteries offer 21st-century perks like Bluetooth monitoring. This lets you see battery charge and status in real time from your smartphone. Sounds intriguing? See how it works and read more about lithium motorhome batteries here.