Batteries are the life blood of most vehicles and RV’s, if your battery dies you’re done, whether in your car or RV.
If your RV has an engine, such as a motor home, you will have two battery systems. One system is to start your engine and run your in-dash systems, the same as any vehicle. The other system supplies 12-volt battery power to some of the household appliances and fixtures such as lights, refrigerator (a propane fridge needs 12-volt power to operate), stove hood fan, vent fan, and water pump.
Those appliances that require a large electrical draw, like a microwave, air conditioner, toaster, coffee pot and iron, (or anything that creates heat). For these high drawing appliances, you need a110-volt or 220-volt power source, 30 or 50 amp. like an RV park.
A generator will also work although if you plan to run the air conditioner/s you will require a 4000-watt generator or larger. A 2000-watt generator will work fine for all other 110-volt appliances.
This 2000 watt champion generator is half the price of a Honda or Yamaha.
If you need to run these items on battery power you will need a large inverter and a large battery bank. An inverter changes your 12-volt DC current from your battery bank to 110 volts AC current.
To run an air conditioner (60 amp.) you will need at least a 7000-watt inverter and 4 – 6-volt batteries wired in series. This will only allow the air conditioner to run for about 1 hour before your battery bank is fully discharged.
And you will need 800 – 1000 watts of solar panels or a generator to recharge your battery bank. So as you can see it may be easier and more economical to have a large generator, if it is necessary to run your air conditioner.
This 2300 watt inverter should be adequate for most of your needs while off the grid.
A microwave can be run on a 2000-watt inverter for short periods without too much draw on the battery bank. You should note that inverters are rated according to their maximum capabilities, for instance, a 2000-watt inverter has a lower running voltage, meaning it will peak at 2000 watts but it will not run an appliance that draws 2000 watts. Check the specifications of your inverter to make sure it will meet your needs.
RV Electrical System
Notice the inverter (changes 12-volt battery power to 110 volt) and the converter that does the opposite.
RV parks make living easy, similar to being at home you just plug into the park system and voila all your appliances work perfectly. Dry camping, however, is slightly more complicated.
You will draw all your power from the 12-volt deep cell battery bank through an inverter (changes 12-volt direct current to 110-volt alternating current) to run you lights, water pump, hood fan and maybe your vent fan. The battery bank consists of one or more 12-volt or6-volt deep cycle batteries, (2 – 6 volts = 12 volts).
In order to determine the size of the inverter that will meet your needs add up the total wattage each appliance uses. Most appliances have a sticker that indicates the watts needed to run it or refer to the owners manual. You should only be concerned with the appliances that will be operating simultaneously.
Deep Cycle RV Batteries
The difference between deep cycle and regular batteries is the size and thickness of the lead plates. The thicker the plates the more reserve power.
The best batteries for an RV are 6-volt deep cycle batteries, of course, you will need two to run your 12-volt system, for those who are arithmetic challenged (6+6=12). Golf cart batteries are excellent for an RV.
AGM (amalgamated glass mat) batteries are the longest lasting by about double. These batteries are maintenance free and cost about 1/3 more than regular deep cycle batteries.
The secret to battery longevity is not to let them draw down below 2/3 of their capacity on a regular basis. A fully charge 12-volt battery after charging and the surface charge has dissipated without a load (not connected) should be 12.63 volts and fully discharged is 11.5 so 2/3 capacity would be 12.3 volts.
Deep cycle batteries need to be equalized periodically. Equalizing is an extended, low current charge performed after the normal charge cycle. It helps keeps cells in balance. Actively used batteries should be equalized once per week. Manually timed chargers should have the charge time extended about 3 hours. Automatically controlled chargers should be unplugged and reconnected after completing a charge cycle.
Testing your batteries with a voltmeter will give you and idea of how much capacity you are using. When dry camped a test in the morning before charging will indicate whether your battery bank is large enough for your requirements.
Or order this battery monitor to analyze your usage.
If you are storing your RV a trickle charger or battery tender is ideal to keep fully charges. If this is not possible disconnect the batteries and charge them for 3 hours once a month in warm climates or every 2 – 3 months in cold climates. Warmer temperatures cause batteries to discharge faster.
I hope this article is some help to you on understanding deep cycle RV batteries. If you have suggestions or comments I would love to read them.
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