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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
- 12-Volt, 750 Cold Cranking Amps, Size: 10 inches x 6 7/8 inches x 7 13/16 inches tall, Weight: 43.5 pounds, Dual SAE & 5/16 inches Stainless Steel Stud Posts. 55 Ah C20 capacity
- Optimal starting power even in bad weather
Up first on our list is the D34M battery by Optima, which is a monster when it comes to starting capacity. With its 750 cold cranking amps, this battery shouldn’t have problems with giving the necessary kick to your RV engine at cold temperatures.
The cranking capacity of this battery isn’t the only good thing about this battery. It also boasts 55Ah of C20 capacity, which is very decent, especially for small and mid-sized RVs.
Being an AGM battery, the D34M is spill-proof, as well as maintenance-free. And thanks to the spill-proof design, this battery can be mounted in any position. Aside from that, Optima has designed this battery to be highly resistant to extreme temperatures and vibrations.
As for the downsides, we can note this battery’s price, as well as its weight of 43.5 pounds, which is quite heavy compared to some other batteries on the list.
- Plenty of starting power.
- Good battery capacity.
- Highly resistant to vibrations and extreme temperatures.
- Weighs 43.5 pounds.
- 170 CCA; Better warranty: Limited 2-year full replacement warranty, not pro rata; Longer service life: With 3-10 years of service life, ODYSSEY batteries save consumers time, money, and aggravation
- Longer cycle life: 70 percentage longer cycle life compared to conventional deep cycle batteries, up to 400 cycles at 80 percentage depth of discharge- high stable voltage for longer periods of time
The Odyssey PC680 AGM battery has the same spill-proof and durable design as the Optima D34M battery, but it is made with lightness and compactness in mind.
Weighing 15.4 pounds and sized at 7.15 x 3 x 6.65 inches, this is the smallest and lightest RV battery on our list. Those who have a smaller RV or maybe have not too much cargo capacity to spare will probably appreciate the smallness of this battery.
On the other hand, the PC680 battery obviously can’t boast as much capacity as the D34M. it has 170 cold cranking amps, which is decent but nowhere near the 750 of the D34M. Plus, it has a smaller capacity of 16Ah.
So overall, this battery is definitely a very suitable option for users of small RVs.
- Resistant to extreme temperatures and vibrations.
- Relatively low battery capacity.
- UPG #45978 UB121000 12V 100Ah
- Dimensions: 12.17 inches x 6.61 inches x 9.16 inches. Weight: 63.93 Lbs
Having plenty of cranking amps is sure nice, but not every RVer buys a battery for engine cranking. Some are just looking for energy storage. This 100Ah AGM battery by Universal Power Group is a perfect option for such people.
100Ah isn’t the most on the market, but it’s quite enough for powering several electrical devices that require DC current. This battery should be sufficient for even large RVs that have a lot of stuff in them, not to mention smaller RVs.
Being an AGM battery, this unit shares its benefits with the previous batteries – namely, it is spill-proof, maintenance-free, can be mounted in any position, and is shock- and vibration-resistant.
On the other hand, this battery isn’t as heat-resistant as some other batteries on the list. It’s designed to be stored in 5-104 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as has operational charge and discharge temperatures of 32-104 and 5-113 degrees respectively. And 104-113 degrees isn’t too hot for a battery.
Plus, this thing weighs 64 pounds, which isn’t surprising, given this battery’s power capacity.
- 100Ah capacity.
- Shock- and vibration-resistant.
- Pretty resistant to cold.
- Weighs about 64 pounds.
- Not the best for hot temperatures.
- Dimensions: L=7.7" W=5" H=6.1"
- Also avilable as a battery kit: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HOUCLWE
The VMAX V35-857 battery by VMAXTANKS offers good cranking and power capacities for not so much money. 35Ah of 20Hr capacity and 300 cold cranking amps are great for the price that VMAXTANKS asks for. It also weighs just 25 pounds and is sized at a mere 7.7 x 5 x 6.1 inches.
Overall, judging by these numbers, this battery would be suitable for a mid-sized RV.
Aside from that, the V35-857 battery can boast a very good resistance to temperatures. It has discharge temp range of -4-140 degrees, charge range of 14-140 degrees, and storage range of -4-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Good battery capacity and cranking amps.
- Good resistance to temperatures and vibrations.
- Avoid over - discharging batteries, especially when they are in series connections.
- Charge the batteries with recommended voltages, ensure the battery can be fully charged.
Up next on our review is Renogy’s 100Ah deep-cycle AGM battery. This battery is very similar to the Universal Power Group 100Ah battery we reviewed earlier, but it seems to be aimed at more moderate usage.
Renogy doesn’t indicate any vibration resistance for this battery, which may mean that it isn’t too shock-resistant. However, given that this battery is designed for marine use, it should be resistant to vibrations, it’s just surprising that Renogy didn’t mention it anywhere.
Other than that, this RV battery is very similar to the UPG 100Ah battery.
And, of course, being an AGM battery, the V35-857 has all the constructional benefits of the previous batteries. In particular, their operating temperatures are very close, though the discharge temperature range in the Renogy battery is 5-122 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a bit more than in the UPG battery.
- 100Ah capacity.
- Sealed and maintenance-free.
- Decent resistance to cold temperatures.
- Heavy and bulky.
- Steep price.
- Not too suitable for hot temperatures.
- WindyNation 100 amp-hour, 12 Volt heavy duty deep cycle AGM sealed lead acid batteries with heavy duty plates are designed for deep, repetitive discharges.
- Ideal for all types of off-grid power: Solar Systems, RV's, UPS, Off shore Marine power, Telecommunications, Portable tools, etc.
Yet another 100Ah RV battery on our list! This battery is more or less similar to the Renogy battery we’ve just reviewed but without the marine orientation. In addition, this battery didn’t have as steep of a price tag as the Renogy battery at the moment of the material’s writing.
So if you don’t need a marine-oriented battery (which you probably don’t), then this one is going to be a better choice.
In terms of specs, the WindyNation battery doesn’t differ too much from the other 100Ah batteries we’ve examined up to this point. Namely, they share their high capacity, AGM design, big size, heaviness, the good resistance to cold temperatures, and the not so good resistance to high temperatures.
WindyNation boasts that the 99.995% pure virgin lead allows for extremely low discharge rate, but we can’t compare this battery’s discharge with that of others due to lack of exact figures.
Overall, this battery seems to be a good option for smoother rides since it appears not to be particularly designed shock-resistant.
- 100Ah capacity.
- Sealed, maintenance-free design.
- Seems to have a very low discharge rate.
- Good resistance to cold temperatures.
- Big and heavy.
- Rather expensive.
- Poor resistance to hot temperatures.
- Cold Crank Amp (CCA)- 330
- Better warranty: Limited 3 and 4 year full replacement warranty - not pro rata
Remember the lightweight and compact Odyssey PC680 battery we reviewed above? Well, if you’ve liked everything about it apart from its starting and power capacities, then maybe the PC925 battery will be a better option for you.
The PC925 battery boasts cold cranking amps of 330 and 20Hr power capacity of 28Ah, which makes it a suitable choice for small- to middle-sized RVs. At the same time, this battery still isn’t too heavy – 28 pounds – though it is heavier than the PC680 battery. The same goes for the size.
That’s basically where the difference between the two Odyssey batteries end. Other than those, they have the same number of cycles and the same non-spill and maintenance-free design.
- Good starting and power capacities.
- Great tolerance to temperatures, especially to cold
- Spill-free and vibration-resistant design.
- Rather expensive.
- 12-Volt, 900 Cold Cranking Amps, Size: 12 13/16" x 6 1/2" x 9 3/8" tall, Weight: 59.8 pounds, Dual SAE & 5/16" Stainless Steel Stud Posts
- Reserve capacity of 155 minutes for constant performance
The Optima D34M battery had a remarkable starting capacity. 750 cold cranking amps isn’t a joke. However, the D31M battery by Optima pushes this number even further.
The 900 cold cranking amps that this battery has to offer should be well enough to start most, if not all RV engines out there. Moreover, this battery is going to be excellent for cold weather uses, not to mention warmer conditions.
The power capacity in this battery is also higher – 75Ah versus the 55Ah of the D34M. Not the most what we’ve seen on the list, 75Ah nonetheless is a very decent amount of power to have.
On the other hand, this battery is heavier, larger, and more expensive than the D34M. A decently-sized RV plus a big budget would be thus necessary for the Optima D31M battery.
- Huge starting capacity paired with good power capacity.
- Highly resistant to extreme temperatures and vibrations.
- Very expensive.
- BUILT-IN BMS: BMS stands for "Battery Management System" - the brain of our deep cycle lithium batteries. Our BMS protects your battery from most common causes of battery failure, such as temperature...
- LITHIUM ION TECHNOLOGY: Unlike Lead Acid batteries, Battle Born's deep cycle lithium ion batteries have unlimited mounting capability, exceptional longevity, and are more cost effective. When...
Well, what you see now is the priciest battery on our list. Being a LiFePO4 battery, this unit has a plentitude of advantages over all other batteries on the list, but at a very high price. But this battery is worth it for those who really need its benefits.
Lithium batteries, in general, have many benefits, and we’ll touch upon them a little bit later. However, among the key advantages of the Battle Born Batteries 100Ah RV battery are its very long lifetime and weight.
This battery is designed to deliver 3000-5000 cycles, more than any other battery on the list. In addition, having a power capacity of 100Ah, this battery is half the weight of AGM batteries with the same capacity.
And this is just the surface of what benefits this battery has to offer. This battery offers a plethora of other advantages associated with efficiency and lifetime. For a rather astronomical price.
- Lifetime of 3000-5000 cycles.
- 100Ah capacity and 200A surge output.
- Very lightweight for its capacity.
- The priciest battery on the list.
- CERTIFICATION - ISO9001, ISO14001, CE, and UL Certified
- BATTERY TYPE - 6V 225 Amp NP6 225Ah AGM Deep Cycle Camper Golf Cart RV Boat Solar Wind Energy Storage, Pack of Two Batteries.
The NPP NP-6 225Ah battery is the best AGM deep cycle battery on our list, in our opinion. For a very steep price, this battery offers excellent power capacity, as well as great resistance to shock and temperatures, both high and low.
Surprisingly, this battery weighs just 65 pounds, as much as batteries half its capacity weigh. This definitely is a plus for RVs with not so much spare cargo capacity left.
So if you happen to be looking for a high-capacity battery without aim at cranking amps, then the NP-6 battery may be an excellent choice for your RV.
- 225Ah capacity.
- Resistant to shock and temperatures.
- Surprisingly light for the capacity.
- Very steep price tag.
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
Deep-cycle RV batteries can be classified into four types:
- Flooded lead-acid.
- Absorbed glass mat (or AGM).
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 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 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 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.
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.