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Guide to RV Batteries

All about RV Batteries

Why you need to know

If you own an RV, it is quite important that you familiarize yourself with the batteries. You also want to become aware of all the different options, as well as the drawbacks and benefits of each. Learning these pros and cons can help you make the best battery choice for your RV and extend its lifetime.

Different Types of RV batteries

If you ever need to replace a battery in your RV and you want to do the work yourself, it’s important to know the different types of batteries. The specific battery types will depend on the specific components of your RV. For example, if you can drive your RV and use home appliances, it will come with more than one kind of battery to perform both functions at the same time.

  • The Chassis Battery: This battery is also known as the starter battery. This battery runs your driveable RV’s engine. It is responsible for starting the RV by using large currents over short periods. Your chassis battery is rated in Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) and is unable to perform deep cycle applications.
  • The 12-Volt Battery: this battery supplies the 12 volts to your RV and is also called the house battery. You may have more than one in your RV. This is a deep cycle battery responsible for powering things like the microwave, refrigerator and TV. It is rated in Amp Hours (AH) or Reserve Capacity (RC).

What is an amp hour rating?

The amp hour tells you how long the battery can run before needing to be recharged. In technical terms, it rates how many amps your battery can deliver for a certain number of hours. A battery that can produce 5 amps for 20 hours would have a rating of 100 (5×20). You may be thinking that the higher the AH the better, but you must be careful that you have the correct amount of voltage for your RV.

Disadvantages of Gel Cell Batteries

  • You must be careful to charge them slowly and use a lower voltage than you would for a flooded cell battery.
  • If you overcharge the battery you can cause lasting damage.

Disadvantage of Lead-Acid Batteries

  • Shorter lifespan than other deep cell batteries.
  • They are very heavy.
  • They require regular maintenance checks.

Maintain the Life of your Batteries

  • Always recharge after use to to prevent damage to the batteries.
  • To charge, use the built-in battery charger when your RV is plugged in.
  • Do not force the battery to supply more amperage than it is designed to supply per hour.
  • If using lead-acid batteries, get regular maintenance checks.
  • If using lithium-ion batteries, make sure you have an appropriate charger.

Most common causes of battery failure

There are two common causes of RV battery failure – undercharging and overcharging. If you frequently discharge your batteries without fully recharging them between cycles, your battery is more likely to fail. In addition, if the battery sits discharged for too long between charging periods, it can decrease the lifespan of the battery. The sulfate in the battery will harden and crystalize without fully recharging. This is called sulfation. The crystallized sulfate in your battery is eventually fixed in place, unable to convert back into an active plate material.

There are also numerous issues that can arise from overcharging. Charging for too long or at too high of power can both damage a battery. When overcharged, batteries lose water and enough water loss will render them inoperable. The plates can also become corroded if the battery is overcharged. Corrosion will make your battery unreliable.

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