Choosing the right RV battery isn’t the easiest thing to figure out. It’s just not something RVers think about much when they first start out, and there’s a reason for that. It can be complicated.
When you think about traveling in your new RV, are batteries the first thing to pop into your head? Of course not! You see yourself driving down the road less traveled, embarking on new adventures into the wild, parking your motorhome at a gorgeous site in the forest with mountains looming majestically in the background. You know, the good stuff.
But without the right RV battery, you won’t be able to do any of that, or any of the other RV joys you envision. So let’s cover exactly that – choosing the right battery for your RV. To help you become more familiar with this motorhome essential, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about RV batteries in our guide below.
Why Do You Need A Special RV Battery?
As you know, RVs are more than your typical automobile. They come equipped with bathrooms, kitchens, televisions, and many other “home” amenities. That means that a standard auto battery won’t cut it with a motorhome. Instead, you’ll need a battery that can provide long-lasting power and one that can support all your motorhome’s electrical needs.
What Should You Look For In An RV Battery?
If you’ve never shopped for an RV battery before, don’t worry – you came to the right place. As long as you take into account these important factors below, you’ll be on the right track with choosing an RV battery that will last.
The amp-hour rating will inform you how much electric capacity that battery has. The amp-hour rating will tell you how much amperage your battery can provide for one hour. Most batteries will come with this rating displayed on it, so you won’t have to worry about calculating it yourself.
Some batteries need more maintenance than other batteries. Lead acid batteries require a lot compared to lithium batteries, which require none. To cut down on required maintenance, you can opt for a lithium battery. This comes at a higher initial cost, but over time becomes much more cost efficient than lead acid.
As you think about the next factor, cost, you’ll want to first consider how long your battery will last. Lithium batteries often last 10 years and longer, but gel cell batteries and many lead acid batteries may only last 2 or 3 years (depending on a number of things, of course). To prolong your battery’s lifespan, seek out an RV battery that comes with a good warranty. (And always read them, some warranties are basically useless.)
Cost Of The Battery
Everyone would love to buy the longest-lasting, top-of-the-line RV battery if they could. If you have a tighter budget, you may need to look at options that come with a shorter lifespan or less power. If you have more money to spare up front though, acquiring the best batteries (lithium) will make a massive difference over the long haul. Top shelf lithium batteries will save you a lot of money long term. Plus, they come with a lot of other advantages like being smaller, lighter, no-maintenance, and longer lasting.
Anticipated Motorhome Usage
A final consideration is based on how often you plan to use your RV. If you don’t plan on using it much, and you’re great at battery maintenance, you may be able to get away with purchasing a cheaper lead acid battery with a shorter lifespan. But if you’re planning to use your RV often, for regular weekend camping trips and travel, a high quality battery will be worth the investment.
What Are The Different Types Of RV Batteries?
There’s lead acid, the most common RV battery (although that is rapidly changing because of the new and improved lithium batteries). Then there’s AGM, and Gel Cell. And then there’s lithium. You might be able to guess which we think is best. Let’s start with lead acid.
Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries
The most affordable RV battery option short term is a flooded-lead-acid battery. We’ll start with the cons. The thing about lead acid is, it’s super cheap short term, but relatively expensive long term. They require a good bit of maintenance or they’ll die on you quickly, and they last many years less than lithium batteries regardless.
With this battery type, you’ll also want to install it somewhere with adequate ventilation. They emit flammable and poisonous fumes that can be harmful to you and your environment. They’re also bigger and heavier. And last thing. Lead acid batteries lose their max capacity over time. A few months down the road, a lead battery’s max charge will be a portion of what it was before. Lithium batteries, on the other hand, don’t have this problem.
Now, the pros. They are cheaper on the front end. And can last a decent amount of time if they’re properly maintained AND aren’t used much. So they can be the best option for some buyers for that reason.
Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) Batteries
Unlike the flooded lead-acid batteries, these AGM batteries are stored within an absorbent mat. Like lithium batteries, these batteries don’t require ventilation. AGM batteries can also handle more extreme temperatures, unlike some other types. And here’s another advantage. Lead acid batteries generally last 400 cycles/recharges, roughly speaking. AGM batteries can last 500 cycles and sometimes more. That’s a solid advantage over lead acid. That said, lithium batteries outlast them all, rated to last 3,000 to 5,000 cycles.
Gel Cell Batteries
Gel cell batteries provide electricity from a gel instead of an electrolyte solution. These batteries don’t require extra ventilation or any maintenance. These batteries have a fairly impressive lifespan (unless you’re comparing to lithium batteries), able to achieve a max cycle life of 1,000 cycles. They’re heavier than lithium batteries, but lighter than lead acid. And finally, they’re more expensive than lead acid, but cheaper than lithium batteries.
Lithium (LiFePO4) Batteries
In our humble opinion, the best RV battery you can purchase is the LiFePO4 battery. (Unless you really need the cheap short-term option, which is understandable too.) Lithium RV batteries are lighter than the other types, and are the longest-lasting batteries you can get. They also don’t emit toxic fumes or require ventilation, and they don’t need any maintenance. If you’re looking for a battery that’ll last long enough to be more cost efficient than the rest, lithium is likely your best bet. That said, they’re not for everybody (most people maybe, but not everybody).
Anyway, let’s cover the price factor. Lead acid and other batteries can seem more attractive to some because of the price-tag. But here’s the thing. That’s just the initial cost.
Lead acid, AGM and Gel batteries are cheaper up front, but like we said earlier, they only last around 400-1,000 cycles. That’s compared to lithium’s 3,000 to 5,000 cycles. With that much longer of a lifespan (no maintenance required), they should cost a lot less in the long run.
The Final Verdict
While we would love to be able to tell you which battery is best for you, we can’t. Because it comes down to your unique RV and situation. This varies for everyone, but after this guide, we hope you’ll be able to choose the right RV battery for your specific needs.
When you’re ready to get started with shopping for your motorhome’s RV battery, browse our wide collection of Lithium RV Batteries at LithiumHub.
Here’s what you can expect from LithiumHub’s RV batteries:
An industry best 11-year warranty
2x the power
5x the charging speed
And they’ll last 4x longer than other leading batteries!
If you want to learn more about our top-of-the-line RV batteries, head to our website or contact a member of our team today.