Buying a battery is a major purchase for an RV that can mean the difference between a fun trip and one that you’d rather forget. The Universal Power Group AGM Deep-Cycle Battery ticks off all the boxes for the best RV battery with its reliability, flexibility, and its ability to handle vibrations and shocks well.
However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all power source for an RV. Your camping style, frequency of use, and budget all play a role in your decision for the best deep cycle battery. We’ll go over the features you can expect to see and how each battery stacks up against the competition.
Types of Batteries
Let’s begin with a discussion of the different kinds of batteries and the best use of each one in a solar system. Vehicles use an engine or starting battery, which varies from the one you use in an RV. Its main purpose is to rev up the motor and provide backup power to the electronics in your car when it’s not running. It still holds a charge, while the alternator replenishes the energy storage when you drive.
You shouldn’t let this type of battery discharge for too many cycles or preferably, not at all. That will shorten its lifespan. It is meant for providing that quick burst of power. It isn’t a practical choice for a house battery that will provide electricity for your RV, especially when coupled with the variable charging from solar power.
A deep-cycle battery, on the other hand, does best when used over the long-haul. Its function is to power the appliances, lights, and other devices in your RV. Whereas your rig will have only one engine battery, it may have more than one of the deep-cycle type, depending on the number of appliance and devices you have.
As the name implies, this battery works best if you drain it periodically to its recommended depth of discharge (DOD) before recharging it again. That makes it an ideal choice for a house battery because your usage matches its technology.
Marine batteries, on the other hand, combine the best of both worlds. It will power up an RV and hold a charge for any electronics in the rig. Some RVers use this kind because it’s often less expensive than a deep-cycle one. However, you won’t get the same functionality out of it if you’re planning on boondocking.
Types of RV Batteries
Of the three main categories of batteries, the deep-cycle is the best choice for campers and motorhomes. It’ll provide enough energy to keep your RV powered up and ready for travel. It will also last longer. There are three options for house batteries for your rig that include:
- Flooded lead-acid battery (FLA)
- Valve-regulated-acid battery (VRLA) or sealed-lead-acid (SLA)
- Lithium-ion battery
We’ll discuss each one in detail.
Flooded Lead-Acid Battery
Your camper probably has a flooded lead-acid battery already. It contains a sulfuric acid-water solution inside its housing, along with two charged lead plates and a separator. You’ll also see them called wet-cell batteries. They are not sealed so that the by-products from the chemical reactions going on inside of it can vent to the outside. It also means that the battery must sit upright in your RV to keep it from leaking.
On the positive front, flooded batteries are fast charging. That makes them one of the best batteries for camping if you need quick power, especially since they are also some of the most affordable products on the market.
While effective for numerous applications, this type has one significant downside, maintenance. You have to periodically add distilled water to it or the internal parts will deteriorate and malfunction. You also have to check the specific gravity of the solution. You must keep this battery in a well-ventilated area. We’d also recommend storing them away from any sleeping quarters, if possible.
There is more maintenance involved during the off-season, which applies to all battery types that we’ll discuss later.
The VLRA option does away with the maintenance of the previous type because it is sealed. It builds on the technology of the flooded lead-acid type with quicker recharging, higher output, and best of all, no need to add water or check any specs. There are three variations on this theme that include:
- Absorbent glass mat (AGM)
- Gel cell
- Sealed valve-regulated wet cell
All are sealed and leak-proof. The AGM uses fiberglass as a separator to help it handle the shocks and vibrations better. That makes it an excellent choice as the best travel trailer battery. They will hold a charge for an impressive amount of time too. That’s a significant advantage when dealing with a solar-powered system. Since they’re sealed, you can store them where it suits your setup best and in most any position.
On the downside, they don’t last as long as the FLA type. It doesn’t help that they are more expensive too. But you have more flexibility over its placement. Ventilation isn’t an issue either. It’s a matter of balancing the pros and cons if discharging-charging time is a concern for your camping style.
The gel cell, on the other hand, adds silica to the mix that changes the viscosity of the electrolyte solution. That allows them to perform well in warmer climates and higher temperatures. They have the same benefits that the AGM technology offers, being leak-proof and relatively maintenance-free. On the downside, they are fussier when it comes to overcharging them.
The sealed valve-regulated wet-cell battery is like the flooded lead-acid, only you don’t have to add any water to it. The valve manages the gas exchange versus the water and the discharge with the flooded kind.
You’re probably most familiar with the lithium-ion battery because of its use in smartphones and other electronics. It relies on the movement of charged particles or ions to supply power. While you’ll see them in electric vehicles, they use lithium-iron phosphate. However, their low DOD makes them an excellent choice for solar-power setups with its variable charging time. This battery is lightweight and has the same advantages in placement as other sealed ones.
However, the exorbitant cost of these products puts it out of reach of many RVers. If you camp a lot, you may be able to justify the spendy price tag with the longer lifespan and faster charge rate than other types of lead-acid batteries.
What You Need to Know About Using the Best Motorhome Battery
The specs only tell part of the story. You also need to weigh these figures with other external factors. That’s where the pedal meets the metal. Most of this info involves matching what you’ve learned about the performance of the RV battery with how you will use it.
Type of Camping
How you camp can play a role in the kind of battery you should buy. You need a high-capacity, deep-cycle power supply if you go off the grid for a few days. Likewise, if you’re just pulling into a site and plugging in, you could get by with a lower capacity option or even one meant for golf carts.
Temperature and Climate
The typical weather is another factor to consider. Temperature is going to affect your battery’s performance at either end of the spectrum. For example, cooler temps will have a positive influence on your power supply’s life versus warmer temps. The opposite is true regarding its influence on its capacity. The weather also is an issue for how much you might use your air conditioning or heater.
No matter what type you choose, you must do some off-season maintenance to extend the life of the battery and get the best ROI on your investment. After all, the best RV batteries are fairly expensive. You should always remove it from your rig when the RVing season is over.
Warmer temps mean that the battery will discharge faster, whereas weather on the cooler side will slow it down. Ideally, you should store a flooded lead-acid battery fat on a full charge to prevent the acid solution within it from freezing and clean using a water-baking soda mixture. If that happens, the casing could crack. Keep it on a trickle charge, preferably off the basement or garage floor.
Specifications and Features of the Best RV Deep Cycle Battery
From types, we move onto specs to give you a better idea about what to expect from a battery. The numbers themselves don’t mean much until you put them in perspective. They also give you the info to match the equipment with your style of camping, which we’ll discuss in detail later in this piece.
You’ll likely find hundreds of choices when researching the best camper battery. You can narrow your options to a deep-cycle one. You can gauge the performance of each product by its type and specs.
Capacity is expressed in ampere hours (Ah). Whether the figure is high or low depends on the output you need, based on what you’re going to run off of it and again, your camping style. We recommend doing the math with the specs for all of your appliances, which will use the most juice. A 100 Ah is a typical capacity that will provide that much power for one hour.
You can opt for a higher capacity model than your calculations. However, that means a more expensive battery that weighs more and is larger. You can also wiring several batteries in a series to ramp up the voltage. Some RVers will use 6V golf cart batteries. The primary advantage is space and not necessarily reliability.
However, it’s imperative that you use batteries of the same type and age for optimal performance. In any case, do yourself a favor and make to measure the space you have for storage before you buy.
Many products also list charge cycle life. That’s an excellent indication of how much use you’ll get out of a battery coupled with your typical use. Deep-cycle products need to go through this continuous cycle sequence for optimal lifespan. There is some ambiguity to this figure since it depends on how you use it. Nevertheless, it’s a useful figure for comparison purposes.
You can expect to get around 500 for an FLA. The AGM comes in next around 700 to 800. The gel cell should provide up to 1,000 cycles. The lithium-ion battery will last the longest at upward of 2,000. This figure in years depends on how often you camp and how well you maintain it.
Cold Cranking Amps
You’ll see cold cranking amps (CCA) as a measure of a battery’s discharge load at a set temp and voltage per cell. It’s not as critical for the best AGM deep cycle battery since you’re most likely camping when the weather is warmer, anyway. However, if you go RVing in the spring and fall, it’ll give you a good comparison figure to use between the different products.
The truth is in the term. More isn’t necessarily better.
The typical voltage is 12 for a deep-cycle battery. You may need a 24 or even a 48-volt system if you run some high-end electronics in your RV. It also depends on the wiring of your rig. You may also find that the 12 V costs more, which is a consideration if you’re planning on making a change. It also goes back to capacity.
We’d suggest getting a battery with more than you need based on your calculations. That gives you the extra cushion in case you’re faced with different weather conditions. Be safe, rather than sorry, as we always say. Besides, you also have to take into account the DOD. For lead-acid batteries, that figure is 50 percent. A premium battery pushes it to 95 percent.
Always get a battery that has a warranty of some type. Be sure to read the terms too. They will often include conditions related to maintenance with some products. It’s not overkill but instead good sense for both you and the manufacturer.
How Long Do RV Batteries Last?
With all said, you can expect to get about two to four years out of a flooded lead-acid battery—as long as you take care of it properly. You can expect a similar lifespan out of a marine battery. While a deep-cycle power supply is the most expensive, you’ll also get more bang for your buck for up to 10 years.
Our Roundup of the Best RV Batteries
- Best Overall: Universal Power Group AGM Deep-Cycle Battery
- Best Construction: Odyssey 65-PC1750T RV Battery
- Best for Large Solar-Power Systems: Weize 12V Deep-Cycle AGM SLA VRLA Battery
- Best for Smaller Setups: ExpertPower 12V Deep-Cycle Battery
- Best for Wired Series: WindyNation 12V AGM Battery
- Best Lithium Battery: Renogy Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery
- Best Hybrid Battery: Optima Batteries 8016-103 D34M BlueTop Marine Battery
- Best RV Battery for Dry Camping: VMAX SLR AGM Deep-Cycle 12V Battery
We’ve taken many factors into account and have found the best 6 volt RV battery and also the best RV house battery. Cold weather? We also go over the best RV battery for Canada.
Taking into all of these factors, we researched the lineup of batteries available, comparing them against the features and specs we considered essential. The good news is that you have a lot of excellent choices that will work for a variety of applications.
Universal Power Group AGM Deep-Cycle Battery
The Universal Power Group AGM Deep-Cycle Battery takes our pick as the best RV battery. It scores points on many fronts. First, there are the inherent advantages that an AGM deep-cycle brings with no maintenance and reliable performance for a variety of applications including boats and trolling motors. Second, it has the juice and amp hours to provide ample power for your RV no matter what setup you’re using.
The battery is versatile so that you can put it where you need without the need to keep it upright. You can use it mounted on the top of your rig to take advantage of positioning it to maximize the recharge time with the available direct sunlight. It’s an excellent choice for smaller solar systems.
Odyssey 65-PC1750T RV Battery
The Odyssey 65-PC1750T Battery has two features going for it. Its dimensions are 14.9 inches long by 10.7 inches wide by 10.1 inches tall. It also only weighs in at 58 pounds. The amp hours are a bit less at 65 amp ours, making it a better choice for smaller solar setups with limited room. The product is well made and can handle the impact of shocks and vibrations that a travel trailer would encounter.
The manufacturer provides a generous three-year replacement warranty. It’s longer than we often see with comparable products. It has more surface area on the plates, which increases its efficiency. It also has a respectable CCA of 950, making it a wise choice if you camp during cooler times of the year.
Weize 12V Deep-Cycle AGM SLA VRLA Battery
Best for Large Solar-Power Systems
The Weize 12V Deep-Cycle AGM SLA VRLA Battery is an excellent choice for larger solar-power systems requiring a 24 or 48-volt power source. It is affordable with a great ROI for the price, making it an excellent value too. The dimension are what we’d expect with a battery of this type at 12.1 inches long by 8.9 inches wide by 6.7 inches tall and weighing in at 60 pounds.
The battery has the standard volts and amp hours we’d expect with this type of product. We liked the fact that it include both a refund policy and warranty. The manufacturer provides some specific info about compatible uses, making your purchase easier. We think that this one is the best deep cycle battery for RV if you go dry camping for longer stretches and need reliable power.
ExpertPower 12V Deep-Cycle Battery
Best for Smaller Setups
The ExpertPower 12V Deep-Cycle Battery is an excellent choice if you don’t need a lot of power and want to stay within your budget. It provides a reliable 33 amp hours, which would be ample for boats or a small camper trailer. It’s not overly heavy at 23 pounds. The size is right too at 7.7 inches long by 5.2 inches wide by 6.3 inches tall. It has a decent operational temperature range, better than most of the products we reviewed.
You can use it with a solar generator if you prefer not to mess around with panels and a charge controller. Of course, the battery brings all the advantages of an AGM model to the table too. The performance is reliable with an excellent DOD time. We also liked that it is DOT certified. The construction is solid and is sure to handle rough road conditions if you’re traveling off the grid.
WindyNation 12V AGM Battery
Best for Wired Series
The WindyNation 12V AGM Battery is a great choice if you need more than one 100 amp hour power supply. If you buy more than one, the 2/0AWG interconnect is included with the price. The design and construction are top-notch. The battery is a good size at 13 inches long by 6.8 inches wide by 8.7 inches tall and weighing it at 66 pounds. It’s heavy but not outlandish.
The battery costs a bit more. However, the output is reliable with it holding its charge for a decent time. It is tougher to get it to its DOD than we thought. It’s a powerhouse that delivers first-rate performance. All of these factors make it an excellent choice for the best RV battery for long stints of dry camping on a solar power system. It keep providing power during stretches of cloudy days and lower recharging.
Renogy Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery
Best Lithium Battery
The Renogy Lithium-Iron Phosphate Battery is crazy expensive until you do the math. Its long lifespan is like buying four conventional AGM batteries. If you have a permanent solar power setup, it’s a smart buy because you won’t have to replace this battery anytime soon with an estimated 2,000 cycles. The battery is well-designed to manage charging and discharging for optimal performance.
This battery is top-of-the-line with a smart device app for managing its use. The usage time is fantastic at 100 amp hours at 20 hours versus the 10 or 12 hours that we usually see in an RV battery. The size is manageable at 10.2 inches long by 6.2 inches wide by 9.7 inches tall. It’s smaller than comparable batteries, making it a sound choice if space is limited. And it only weighs 28.1 pounds. It’s ranks as one of the best RV deep cycle batteries we reviewed.
Optima Batteries 8016-103 D34M BlueTop Marine Battery
Best Hybrid Battery
The Optima Batteries 8016-103 D34M BlueTop Marine Battery is a great value for those who prefer the convenience of this type of battery. It has a smaller size at 10 inches long by 6.88 inches wide by 7.81 inches tall, making it a good choice if space is limited. Its weight is more manageable too at 43.5 pounds. Its CCA is a respectable 750 as a great starting engine battery with 55 amp hours for deep cycling.
We liked the generous warranty time that the manufacturer provides with this battery. The casing is rugged and able to handle the punishment of being on the road for long stretches. The battery is maintenance-free too and holds its charge for a decent time. The proprietary design optimizes its performance while providing extra protection against vibrations.
VMAX SLR AGM Deep-Cycle 12V Battery
Best RV Battery for Dry Camping
The VMAX SLR AGM Deep-Cycle 12V Battery is a solid, well-made product built to last for the long haul. It delivers a powerful 125 amp hours with a projected float lifespan up to 10 years. Its dimensions are 12.9 inches long by 6.8 inches wide by 8.7 inches tall. However, it’s a beast, weighing in at 75 pounds. It was the heaviest of the products we reviewed.
It’s an excellent product if you want to go boondocking for longer stretches. It holds its charge well, providing reliable power along the way. You can use it in a wired series if you have a larger RV and need the best RV deep cycle battery you can get for the price. The manufacturer provides a one-year warranty against defects. Overall, it ranked high with the best deep cycle battery reviews.
After reviewing the facts about RV batteries and the details about the specs, our choice is confirmed. The Universal Power Group AGM Deep-Cycle Battery is the best overall. It’s versatility with its different models makes it a smart option for solar-power systems of all sizes. The power output is excellent, along with its reliability when you need it most. We couldn’t be more pleased.
However, it makes sense to do your homework and put the specs about what you need to run your rig efficiently versus what a battery can deliver. Most manufacturers provide calculators to help you with the math. That way, you can ensure that your camping trip will be worry-free as far as power is concerned.