best rv batteries for boondocking

The 10 Best RV Batteries for Boondocking of 2019: Reviews & Buying Guide

Last Updated on

Happen to be looking for the best RV battery for boondocking/dry camping? Well, if so, you are in the right place.

For today’s review, we’ve decided to pick 10 batteries that we consider the best out there for RV dry camping and boondocking. And since choosing an RV battery is quite uneasy, we’ve crafted a handy buying guide to help you with the buying process.

Let’s get started with our reviews without further ado!

BEST RV BATTERIES FOR BOONDOCKING COMPARISON TABLE

IMAGE

PRODUCT

DETAILS

SHOP

Good Battery Capacity

Optima Batteries 8016-103 D34M BlueTop...
Optima Batteries 8016-103 D34M BlueTop...
  • Plenty of starting power.
  • Highly resistant to vibrations and extreme temperatures.

Compact Design

Odyssey PC680 Battery
Odyssey PC680 Battery
  • Lightweight.
  • Resistant to extreme temperatures and vibrations.

Pretty Resistant to Cold

Universal Power Group 12V 100Ah Solar Wind...
Universal Power Group 12V 100Ah Solar Wind...
  • 100Ah capacity.
  • Shock- and vibration-resistant.

Relatively Inexpensive

VMAXTANKS VMAX V35-857 12 Volt 35AH AGM...
VMAXTANKS VMAX V35-857 12 Volt 35AH AGM...
  • Good battery capacity and cranking amps.
  • Good resistance to temperatures and vibrations.

Maintenance-Free

Renogy Deep Cycle AGM Battery 12 Volt 100Ah...
Renogy Deep Cycle AGM Battery 12 Volt 100Ah...
  • 100Ah capacity.
  • Decent resistance to cold temperatures.

Very Low Discharge Rate

WindyNation 100 amp-Hour 100AH 12V 12 Volt...
WindyNation 100 amp-Hour 100AH 12V 12 Volt...
  • 100Ah capacity.
  • Sealed, maintenance-free design.

Vibration-Resistant Design

Odyssey PC925 Automotive and LTV Battery
Odyssey PC925 Automotive and LTV Battery
  • Good starting and power capacities.
  • Great tolerance to temperatures, especially to cold

Resistant to Extreme Temperatures

Optima Batteries 8052-161 D31M BlueTop...
Optima Batteries 8052-161 D31M BlueTop...
  • Huge starting capacity paired with good power capacity.
  • Highly resistant to extreme temperatures and vibrations.

Very Lightweight

Battle Born LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery -...
Battle Born LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery -...
  • Lifetime of 3000-5000 cycles.
  • 100Ah capacity and 200A surge output.

Resistant to Shock

NP6-225Ah 6V 225Ah AGM Deep Cycle Battery...
NP6-225Ah 6V 225Ah AGM Deep Cycle Battery...
  • 225Ah capacity.
  • Surprisingly light for the capacity.

BEST RV BATTERIES FOR BOONDOCKING

THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN THE BEST RV BATTERY FOR BOONDOCKING/DRY CAMPING

Batteries are quite complex electrical devices, and there are many technical aspects to them. To make the buying process a little bit clearer for you, we are now going to describe the things that matter the most in them, starting with their type.

WHAT IS A DEEP-CYCLE BATTERY?

Before moving on to the types and features of RV batteries, let’s revise what deep-cycle batteries are.

Deep-cycle batteries are batteries designed to be deeply discharged regularly. In other words, they allow you to use most of their capacity in contrast with starting or cranking automotive batteries that are designed to deliver a small part of their capacity for cranking vehicle engines.

Deep-cycle batteries, like any battery, have an anode (a negative element) and a cathode (a positive element). In addition, all batteries have some sort of electrolyte, a substance that allows energy to flow between the positive and negative elements.

TYPES OF RV BATTERIES FOR BOONDOCKING

best rv batteries for boondocking

Deep-cycle RV batteries can be classified into four types:

  • Flooded lead-acid.
  • Absorbed glass mat (or AGM).
  • Gel.
  • Lithium-ion.

Each of these battery types has its own advantages and disadvantages, so let’s have a better look at them. We cannot say that there is a best RV battery type out there – each has its own uses, which you’ll see clearly once you read their pros and cons.

However, what we can say is that flooded lead-acid are the least suitable for boondocking/dry camping due to their downsides. As for the other types, any of them can be used for dry camping or boondocking.

FLOODED LEAD-ACID RV BATTERIES

This kind of battery is built from lead “plates” or “grids” immersed inside a liquid electrolyte, hence the name “flooded.”

The pros of flooded lead-acid batteries are the following:

  • Inexpensive and easily obtainable.
  • Reliable, robust, and tolerant of abuse and overcharging.
  • Low internal impedance.
  • Capable of delivering very high voltages.
  • If stored without electrolyte, have an indefinite shelf life.
  • Can be left on float charge or trickle for long periods of time.

On the other hand, flooded lead-acid batteries have the following downsides:

  • Heaviness and large size.
  • 30-50% of typical usable capacity.
  • 70-85% charge efficiency.
  • Cannot be charged fast.
  • 5% of self-discharge per month, which is high.
  • Require you to top-off the electrolyte monthly.
  • Tend to overheat when charging.
  • Generate poisonous gas when charging and thus need regular top-ups with distilled water.
  • 300-500-cycle lifetime.
  • Must be stored fully charged.
  • Do not tolerate freezing.

GEL RV BATTERIES

Gel RV batteries have a viscous gel electrolyte, which makes them much safer and easy to use than flooded lead-acid batteries. However, there are some important downsides to know about as well.

The pros of gel RV batteries are:

  • The electrolyte doesn’t spill easily.
  • The gel cells are sealed, and there are no off-gases during use or charging.
  • Require no maintenance.
  • Low self-discharge of 1-3% per month.
  • 85-90% charge efficiency.
  • Good tolerance to heat.

The downsides of gel batteries are:

  • Rather costly.
  • Do not tolerate fast charging.
  • Sensitive to overcharging.
  • Require a specific charging profile different than that of other battery types.

AGM RV BATTERIES

Absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries are technically a sealed lead-acid battery. Developed in the 1970s, they are relatively new yet already very popular in RVs. Unlike a flooded lead-acid battery, all liquid electrolyte in AGM batteries is soaked into fiberglass mats, which makes this kind of batteries spill-free.

AGM RV batteries have other advantages as well. Among them are:

  • Can be charged much faster than gel or lead-acid batteries.
  • 60-80% usable capacity.
  • The sealed AGM cells do not off-gas during use or charging.
  • Require no maintenance.
  • Low self-discharge of 1-3% per month.
  • 95% charge efficiency.
  • Resistant to freezing.

AGM batteries have two downsides as well:

  • Costlier than flooded lead-acid, but not as costly as gel batteries.
  • Sensitive to overcharging.

LITHIUM-ION RV BATTERIES

In lithium-ion batteries, lithium ions move between the cathode and anode in usually some type of lithium salt solution that isn’t based on water. Thereby, lithium-ion batteries are very different from other types of batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries are available in a variety of formulations, with each having its own good and bad sides. In RVing, lithium iron phosphate batteries (LiFePO4) are one of the most popular types due to their stability, longevity, and safety.

Overall, the advantages of lithium-ion batteries are:

  • 80-100% usable capacity.
  • 99% charge efficiency.
  • 2,000-5,000 cycles.
  • High energy density.
  • Accept very high charge rates, higher than in other battery types.
  • Don’t suffer from battery memory.
  • Require no maintenance.
  • Lose very little charge at low temperatures.
  • Low self-discharge of 1-2% per month. During the first 24 hours, the discharge can reach 5%. The discharge is the lowest if the battery is stored partially charged.
  • Can be stored with a low charge without damage.
  • Light and compact.

The downsides of lithium-ion batteries are:

  • The priciest up-front. However, inexpensive in the long run, given the high number of cycles.
  • Some lithium-ion formulations are thermally unstable and pose a fire hazard.
  • Cannot be charged at low temperatures (near freezing or lower).
  • Require complex battery management systems for safe operation.

KEY THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN RV BOONDOCKING BATTERIES

CAPACITY

Capacity is the most crucial spec in any kind of battery. It is measured in ampere-hours (Ah) @ some time period. Ah indicates how much electricity the battery can deliver for an hour. For example, a 200Ah battery is capable of delivering 200A for one hour.

The time period indicates the length of time over which the battery has been discharged for testing. Usually, the testing is done for 20 hours at 5-amp loads.

To figure out the proper capacity for your RV battery, you should calculate how much energy your devices and appliances need. Don’t just add up all their energy needs – consider which ones you will be using simultaneously and which ones one at a time.

After you have the number, add some extra room so that your devices only consume about 50-60% of the battery’s total capacity in order to prevent too deep discharges that can shorten the battery life.

VOLTAGE

Voltage is also very important in batteries. Typically, RV batteries have 12V DC (direct current) voltage, though there are other kinds of battery voltages as well.

Obviously, when selecting voltage, make sure that it corresponds to the voltage of the equipment that you want to hook your battery to. Otherwise, your devices won’t get the required amount of power or will just blow up from excessive current.

CRANKING AMPS

Cranking amps are used to measure the amount of current that batteries provide in order to start the engine. Usually, it is measured by testing the battery’s performance for 30 seconds and with at least 1.2V per cell. Two-in-one deep-cycle & starting batteries usually have very high cranking amps.

This metric is useful if you, for example, have a motorhome and will be using the battery to start its engine. But if you will only use the battery to power your appliances, cranking amps are of little relevance to you.

There are two main types of this measurement – cold cranking amps (CCA, amount of current provided at 0 degrees Fahrenheit) and regular cranking amps (at 0-30 degrees Fahrenheit). There are also hot cranking amps (at 80 degrees Fahrenheit), but they are rarely used nowadays since automotive industry requirements are based on cold cranking camps.

Needless to say, the proper CCA in the battery will depend on the power requirements of your vehicle.

DEPTH OF DISCHARGE & CHARGING CYCLES

Depth of discharge indicates how deeply the battery is depleted. When the battery is fully depleted, its depth of discharge is 100%. And when it’s fully charged, its depth of discharge is 0%.

Depth of discharge is crucial since it heavily impacts the number of charge/discharge cycles that a battery can undergo over its lifetime. Frequently going deep into the battery is going to significantly shorten its lifespan.

Due to this, when indicating the number of cycles, manufacturers indicate the depth of discharge at which that number can be achieved, e.g. 400 cycles at 80% depth of discharge. Going deeper too often is going to decrease the lifespan of the battery and vice versa.

RESISTANCE TO VIBRATIONS

A vital thing to consider is the ability of the battery to resist vibrations. A solidly built battery is much more likely to withstand the shocks of an RV journey, especially if it is a long one. Thus, do make sure to get a shock-resistant battery that will allow you to avoid wasting money on repairs.

RESISTANCE TO EXTREME TEMPERATURES

The ability of the battery to deliver power at low and high temperatures is also extremely important. This isn’t a thing that will be needed by everyone, but you should probably go for a temperature-resistant battery even if you don’t need it. Otherwise, if the weather suddenly changes drastically, you may be unable to use your RV battery.

FINAL WORDS

RV batteries are no simple devices, and you may come across a lot of intricacies when choosing one. Hopefully, our top 10 has provided you with some good options to look out for. And if you happen to have found that best RV battery for boondocking/dry camping, maybe you should go ahead and buy it.

Home

DMCA.com Protection Status