How to Choose the Best RV Deep Cycle Battery for You
RV house batteries may look a lot like car or starter batteries, but they’re quite different. While car batteries, or a starting battery, is designed to provide a single large charge to start a vehicle, RV batteries offer a longer, more consistent electric current to power onboard appliances and electronics.
From coffee machines and microwave ovens to TVs, phone chargers, and everything in between, recreational vehicle batteries can be used to power virtually everything in your rig and any electronics you may want to take with you on the road.
Known as deep cycle batteries, they provide a stable source of power for off-grid living, camping, and exploration.
Why You Need an RV Battery
RV Deep cycle batteries are great for powering your RV appliances and electronics off-grid. If you’re at a campground or park with hookups, they can also provide you with a backup power supply should a bad storm hit and knock the power out.
Since these products are designed for repeated charging and discharging, they’re also excellent for storing solar energy, making them excellent companions for solar panels. Some are even dual-purpose, allowing them to both start your RV and provide long-lasting deep cycle power.
RV batteries can pretty much do it all. Having one will allow you to keep you and your family comfortable wherever your adventures take you.
Types of RV Batteries
As you know, similar to marine batteries, all RV batteries are deep cycle. However, there are a few different types of deep cycle batteries out there to choose from.
Flooded/Wet RV Batteries
Flooded or wet RV batteries feature plates that are fully submerged in electrolyte fluid. They’re the cheapest type of deep cycle RV house battery and can last a long time with proper care.
However, flooded/wet batteries usually require more maintenance and need to be well-ventilated to prevent oxygen and hydrogen gas buildup.
AGM stands for “absorbed glass mat.” Unlike flooded/wet models, AGM technology is sealed and produces virtually zero gas. This also means there’s no spillage or maintenance needed.
Batteries of this type charge very quickly and are better for storage than flooded/wet batteries. They also perform better in low temperatures, making them a better option for campers north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Gel RV Batteries
Gel RV batteries predate AGM batteries. With this type of battery, the electrolyte is mixed with silica, creating a gel.
Like AGM batteries, gel RV batteries are sealed and can’t spill. However, they charge noticeably slower and are much more finicky in general.
Lithium-Ion RV Batteries
Lithium-ion RV batteries are lightweight, charge efficiently, and deliver reliable performance. They’re also more expensive, but they can be mounted a number of ways and operate well in both high and low temps.
Since they use lithium iron phosphate or LiFePO4, they’re also safe, maintenance-free, and have a long life cycle despite delivering a constant discharge.
Features and Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Camper Battery for You
In addition to the type of battery, there are several other features and factors to take into account, such as:
A battery’s capacity is rated in ampere-hours, abbreviated Ah. The greater the Ah of an RV battery, the more amps it can deliver, which is always a good thing. For example, a 12v RV battery rated for 100Ah can produce 100 amps for an hour, or conversely, one amp for 100 hours.
When determining your energy needs, it’s best to play it safe and go with a few more amps than you think you’ll need. Ultimately, you want to be able to power everything you think you’ll need in a day without your recreational vehicle battery or batteries dropping below 60 or 50 percent of their capacity.
Ideally, you would be able to recharge them through solar power, a campground electrical hookup, or a generator to have them ready for use the next day. If you plan on being off-grid without a solar panel setup for any length of time, you’ll need to select a battery or batteries with the largest capacity possible.
Unfortunately, more power usually comes at a cost. In this case, it’s size and weight. The bigger the battery, the more room you need to connect and store it.
The typical voltage for both starter and deep cycle batteries is 12V. While some campers will take a cheaper 6 volt RV battery and string it together with a second to get the 12V they need, we don’t recommend it. Sticking to 12 volt deep cycle RV batteries will serve you best.
Usually expressed as a percentage, the discharge depth indicates how much of a battery has been used or discharged. With lead-acid batteries, the extent of discharge correlates to the life cycle of the battery.
In most cases, the deeper your battery cycles, the fewer cycles it will give. Therefore, you should follow the recommended discharge depth of the battery to optimize its operating life.
When on the hunt for RV batteries, you’ll also need to consider how you’ll be charging them. Will you be using solar power, an electrical hookup, or a generator?
If you like, you can combine each of these charging methods, but you’ll need a smart charger or charge controller. This device will deliver the perfect charge based on your battery type. It will also protect your battery by automatically adjusting the voltage and current.
Unless you like twiddling your thumbs and need an excuse for a little extra wood carving time, you want a battery with a quick charging time. Less time charging means less time collecting solar energy, less money spent on gas for the gennie, and less time on a concrete slab hooked up to an electrical plug.
Different camper batteries operate better than others at extreme temperatures, both high and low. So, if you plan on camping in Colorado for some wintertime skiing or Arizona for some summertime adventure, you need to make sure your battery will keep providing power when you need it most.
Shock and Vibration Resistance
Lastly, you need to consider whether or not a battery will be able to handle the constant vibrations and shocks of your rig and the road. A well-constructed product with good shock resistance will keep on performing without a hitch when the road gets bumpy.
When shopping for an RV battery, look for one with a sealed design. It’s also a good idea to pick one you can mount without spills or leaks in any position. However, the most important thing is that its housing is sturdy and secure.
The Best Deep Cycle Battery Reviews
Odyssey PC680 Battery
Best RV Deep Cycle Battery
There are a lot of great recreational vehicle batteries out there, but the Odyssey PC680 stands up to them all in nearly every category, making it our pick for the best overall RV battery on the market today.
Not only does it look great with its sealed case and hot red color, but it performs just as well. It delivers up to 170 cold cranking amperes and a high amount of voltage, yet it does so in a stable manner, allowing it to last up to 70 percent longer than standard ones. This is great for RVers because no one wants to run out of power six hours deep in the sticks.
It also features a sturdy yet flexible body for great shock and vibration resistance as well as a no-spill design to prevent leaks. Plus, it has a quick recharge time too. It can be fully recharged in only four to five hours.
On the downside, the Odyssey PC680 lacks universal sizing, which may result in some sizing issues for some recreational vehicles. So, you’ll need to do some measuring and see if it will fit first.
- Longer life cycle saves money and stress
- Rapid charging time
- Resistant to bad weather, vibration, and shocks
- Lacks universal sizing
Optima 8016-103 D34M BlueTop Starting & Deep Cycle Marine Battery
Most Durable RV Battery
If durability is a concern, which it should be, the Optima D34M BlueTop might be what you’re after. While the well-designed RV battery is incredible in its ability to provide ample power and serve as both a starter and a RV deep cycle battery, its durability is where it shines.
The Optima’s strong body allows it to withstand all types of bumps, shocks, and types of weather. This is a real plus when going off the beaten path. In other words, it’s tough and designed to deliver years of dependable performance in all conditions.
It also lasts a long time from a power perspective. It has a two-hour reserve capacity with the power set to high. With such a capacity, you can use to start and run your recreational vehicle along with several small appliances for up to two hours between charges. Without starting, it will last even longer.
The only real drawback of the Optima D34M is its sub-par packaging. According to reports and our own experience, packaging and handling can be kind of hit and miss.
- Strong power delivery
- Very tough and reliable
- Works well in extreme weather
- Packaging could be better
Universal UB121000-45978 12-volt 100 amp hours Deep Cycle AGM Technology
Best Maintenance-Free RV Battery
Another sturdy, reliable, and maintenance-free RV battery worth checking out is the Universal UB121000- 45978 12-volt 100Ah Deep Cycle AGM Battery, but we’ll just call it the Universal for short. Spill-proof and maintenance-free, it’s one of the most reliable and user-friendly products available.
It’s also easy to install and designed to fit just about any RV. You can also mount it in any position, and it does an excellent job of resisting shocks and vibrations as well. In other words, everything about it works.
While it provides more than enough power and charges pretty quickly too, if you have the room, you can also quickly hook two together in a parallel position for 24 volts and 200Ah of traveling power.
That said, this Universal already tips the scales all by its lonesome, so just be prepared to lug around some extra weight.
- Maintenance-free, user-friendly design
- Easy installation with several mounting positions
- Fast recharging times
- Heavier than some RV batteries
VMAX857 12-volt 35AH AGM Marine Deep Cycle Battery
Best Bang for the Buck
Whether you’re on a tight budget or you love getting a great deal, the VMAX857 12-volt 35AH AGM Marine Deep Cycle Battery might be for you. VMAX prides itself on making the highest quality deep cycle AGM batteries at the best possible prices, and this one is no exception.
In addition to recharging more quickly than many other deep cycle RV batteries, it’s able to consistently provide power to multiple recreational vehicle appliances at the same time.
Thanks to the VMAX’s extremely strong custom-made plates, you can feel confident in your ability to power just about anything and enjoy the comforts of home hundreds of miles from the nearest cell phone tower.
The only thing we would change is the charger. A special charger is needed, which will increase your out-of-pocket costs.
- Great value
- Built to last
- Good build quality
- Special charger needed
- Not as powerful as some options
Renogy 12-volt 100Ah Deep Cycle AGM Battery
Best Off-Grid RV Battery
If you plan on taking your RV off-grid and don’t want to haul gallons of gas with you for a loud, obnoxious generator, this Renogy might be a perfect fit. The deep cycle absorbed glass mat battery was explicitly designed for use with solar energy systems.
Not only is it super easy to connect and truly plug n’ play, but it’s compact as well, making it an excellent option for using multiple batteries to create a solar power bank. However, at 12V and 100Ah, you may not need more than one. With an internal cell fuse, short circuit protection, and over-discharge protection as well, it will run at peak performance for thousands of cycles.
As an off-grid battery designed for solar applications, this Renogy RV battery is also super tough. There’s no destroying this battery, even when exposed to zero-degree temps and reaching 100 percent depth of discharge multiple times, it will keep on charging and discharging just like you need it to when you’re miles away from the nearest town.
Unfortunately, all this awesomeness comes at a hefty price, literally. Weighing in at 66 pounds, you’ll definitely want to hit the dumbbells prior to installing this bad boy.
- Compact and lightweight
- Works perfectly with solar power systems
- Strong performance in all conditions
- It’s quite heavy
WindyNation BattaMax 100Ah 12-volt AGM Deep Cycle Lead-Acid Battery
Best for Battery Banks
The Windy Nation BattaMax is another deep cycle 12V AGM battery that’s perfectly suited for solar charging and recreational vehicle use. The lead-acid battery is housed in strong ABS plastic and is completely sealed, so it’s spill-proof, leak-proof, and maintenance-free.
Using 99.995 percent pure lead, it maintains minimal self-discharge to prolong its longevity while still delivering enough power to run your AC, refrigerator, microwave, TV, and other appliances.
Since the BattaMax is competitively priced and sold by one of the top makers of solar recreational vehicle kits, it’s perfect for building a parallel battery bank with other BattaMax batteries for even greater capacity. At 100Ah, four of them would provide you with 400Ah, which is more than enough power to bring all of the comforts of home with you to your campsite.
Unfortunately, its operational temperature range is somewhat more limited than other batteries in this guide.
At 5°F to 122°F, its operational temperature range is one of its only drawbacks. If you plan on camping in Colorado in December or Arizona in July, you may be better off going with another option.
- Strong value
- Great for battery banks
- Good combination of longevity and performance
- Operating temp range is somewhat limiting
Odyssey PC925 RV Battery
Best for Extreme Temperatures
Unlike the WindyNation above, the Odyssey PC925 is designed to deliver consistent performance in both sweltering and cold weather. With a whopping 330 cold-cranking amps, it provides enough reliable power to start your motorhome any time of year and run virtually any appliances you can cram inside it.
It doesn’t just provide big bursts of power either. We found it offers high yet stable voltage in even the harshest of weather conditions. So, as its name implies, it allows you to take your recreational vehicle on odysseys anywhere, anytime.
If that weren’t enough, like the Odyssey PC680, the PC925 offers a 70 percent longer service life than many other brands. It comes with a full 4-year warranty, giving you a solid 4-10 years of use. With a fast recharge time as well, there’s certainly a lot to like.
On the downside, it only offers a 28Ah capacity, so depending on your use, it will need to be recharged more frequently than larger capacity products.
- Works great in extreme temps
- Can start and run any RV
- Made to last
- Needs more frequent recharging
Optima 8052-161 D31M BlueTop Starting & Deep Cycle Battery
Best Dual-Purpose RV Battery
We’ve discussed a few starting and deep cycle batteries so far, but our favorite of the bunch from a dual-purpose perspective is the Optima D31M BlueTop Starting & Deep Cycle recreational vehicle Battery. Despite a low discharge rate, which is excellent for its life cycle and ability to hold a charge, it’s also able to deliver a strong burst of power to start your recreational vehicle should you need it to.
The Optima D31M BlueTop also has an impressive capacity. Not only does this give it a longer shelf life, but combined with its use of SpiralCell technology, it provides you with the right amount of maintenance-free power when and where you need it.
Of course, like the other great deep cycle batteries in this guide, its spill-proof and leak-proof as well. Plus, it’s resistant to shocks and vibrations, which is great for going off the beaten path.
You can also mount it in any position you like, so installing it is pretty darn easy. However, it is a bit heavy, so you might want to eat your Wheaties before giving it a go.
- Dual-purpose design
- Impressive starting power
- Low depth of discharge
- Quite heavy
Battle Born Batteries 12-Volt 100 Ah LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery
Best Lightweight RV Battery
At the opposite end of the weight spectrum is the Battle Born 12-Volt 100 Ah LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery. Unlike the others, it’s lithium-ion, making it the lightest recreational vehicle battery on our list. This makes it great for installing and RVing in general.
Despite weighing ¼ the weight of a traditional lead-acid battery, this Battle Born lasts up to 10 times longer, so it really packs a punch. It also has an incredible depth of discharge. In our tests, even after 1,000 cycles at 100 percent discharge, the battery’s storage capacity only decreased by less than 10 percent. That’s incredible!
It lasts a long period of time too. In fact, with an expected life cycle of 3,000-5,000 cycles, it should perform admirably for a minimum of five years. It can also hold its charge for up to a year with no load charging, which is pretty impressive as well.
Even with our skepticism, the only drawback we found with this Battle Born lithium-ion RV battery is the need for a smart charger designed for lithium-ion batteries. Even with one, charging will take a while. Aside from this, we think you’ll enjoy its lightweight and intelligent, sensical, and sufficient design.
- Extremely lightweight
- Smart lithium-ion design
- Will last forever
- Takes a while to charge
Last update on 2020-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API