Last Updated: February 5, 2023

Types of RV Batteries (AGM, Lithium, Lead Acid & more)

There a different types of RV batteries on the market, and it can get a little confusing when you are trying to figure out which one is best for you. Some are heavier than others. Some are super expensive, and others take up too much space. 

In the end, it is all a balance of budget, power requirements and size. 

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of RV batteries.

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead acid batteries are the most common type of RV batteries. They have a long-standing history of use in the RV industry, and they’re generally the most affordable option. They’re also the worst choice for a deep cycle battery because they require maintenance, they easily get damaged by undercharging and overcharging, they charge slowly, and they’re quite heavy.

Lead acid batteries consist of lead plates that are submerged in an electrolyte solution. The plates are positively and negatively charged, and it’s the chemical reaction between these components that allows the batteries to generate power.

These batteries need to be maintained from time to time. You’ll likely have to top them off with distilled water, and you might have to scrape off any sulfate that formed on the plates, especially if you got into the habit of overcharging or undercharging your lead acid battery.

AGM Batteries

AGM Battery

AGM stands for absorbed glass mat, which refers to the components that these batteries are made of. Although they function very similarly to lead acid batteries, AGM batteries are actually made from mats that have glass fibers woven through their entire surface area. The main difference between AGM and lead acid batteries is that the electrolytes cannot flood the plates in AGM batteries.

They’re unspillable, they don’t require any water, they do not emit hydrogen when they’re being charged, and they’re capable of withstanding some very low temperatures.

Just like standard lead acid batteries, AGM batteries are very sensitive to discharge depth. They should never be discharged to more than 50% of their capacity, otherwise, you could damage the battery and shorten its total life.

Gel Cell Batteries

Gel Cell Battery

Gel cell batteries are an iteration of the standard lead acid batteries. Instead of the electrolyte solution that the lead acid batteries are filled with, gel cell batteries feature gel between the battery plates.

This design seals the battery, meaning that there’s no need for regular maintenance. Also, these batteries are not spillable and there’s no need for extra ventilation, so it is safe to mount them virtually anywhere in your RV. They also charge faster than lead acid batteries, but they’re also more expensive.

Additionally, gel cell batteries are very sensitive to overcharging. If you overcharge a lead acid battery, you can just refill the water. You can’t do this with a gel cell battery because of the sealed design, so just be careful not to overcharge it.

Lithium Batteries

Lithium Battery

Lithium batteries are arguably the best kind of RV batteries. If you can afford to replace an old lead acid RV battery with a lithium one, you should definitely do it. It’s a major upgrade for your home on wheels, especially when it comes to reliability and charging speed.

Lithium batteries are also a lot lighter than lead acid batteries, plus they’ve got a longer life, and they require practically no maintenance. You also don’t have to worry about discharge depth, because lithium batteries are designed to be fully charged and discharged without any damage. This is what makes them the best option for boondocking.

They’re the better option in every single aspect, but they’re about five times more expensive than lead acid batteries if you’re wondering why they’re not the standard. The standard cost of lead acid RV batteries is between $200 and $700, whereas lithium RV batteries start at about $900 and can cost several thousands of dollars.

Car Battery

What is the Difference Between an RV Battery and a Car Battery?

Most modern motorhomes are equipped with two batteries, whereas a simple car only has one, usually a lead-acid battery. The battery that goes in a car is designed to emit a large surge of power that kickstarts the engine. The alternator takes it from there, so you could theoretically own a car battery that’s been in use for years and it’s still got more than 50% of its capacity.

It’s important to note that car batteries are not meant to be entirely discharged, and if a car battery is even entirely discharged, it’s completely dead and you can’t do anything about it. So, what about RV batteries?

Most modern RVs are equipped with two batteries. One is a car battery that is meant to help power the engine, but the other one is a battery that powers all electronic appliances. This is a deep-cycle battery that is supposed to emit a steady amount of current over a prolonged period of time, and it’s designed to be charged and discharged many times.

Deep cycle batteries are also known as RV house batteries because they’re the main source of power for the entire RV electrical system. It’s worth noting that people mod their RVs to install more than one house battery. This is known as an RV battery bank – it’s great if you’ve got lots of electronic appliances in the RV, but it’s also very expensive and adds a lot of weight to the vehicle.


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