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Do I Really Need A Deep Cycle Battery In My RV?

by Barry Grable
(Longwood, FL)

Why You Should Use Deep Cycle Batteries as Your  RV's House Batteries

Why You Should Use Deep Cycle Batteries as Your RV's House Batteries

Why You Should Use Deep Cycle Batteries as Your  RV's House Batteries
Do I Really Need A Deep Cycle Battery In My RV?
Do I Really Need A Deep Cycle Battery In My RV?

Pictured at the top of this page: Trojan 12 Volt Deep Cycle Battery and Trojan 6 Volt Deep Cycle Battery

Question: We only use our RV house battery to start the generator. Normally when we camp, we have provided electricity. When we dry camp, we use the generator. In that case, wouldn't a regular car battery work better for starting the generator rather than buying a more expensive deep cycle battery?

ANSWER Hi Barry, the simple answer to your question is yes, you should always use a deep cycle battery as a house battery in your RV. Here are few reasons why.

1. Whether you use a deep cycle battery or regular car battery, it will not make your generator start any better.

2. You will end up replacing the car battery frequently. Deep Cycle batteries are designed to be charged over and over. Car batteries are not designed to be deeply discharged and recharged that often. Every time you plug into electric or run the generator, the house batteries are getting recharged. Since car batteries are not designed for frequent deep discharge/recharge cycles, you will be replacing them more often; so you will not end up saving money in the long run.

3. In case of a generator or power failure, it will be nice to know that you can run your RV's 12 volt system for a greater period of time using a deep cycle battery rather than a car battery.

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I realize that all of us are trying to save money right now, but in this case you may very well end up spending more money by replacing the car batteries more frequently.

Now if your RV has room for more than 1 house battery, the next question is do you want to use two 12 volt deep cycle batteries wired in parallel or two 6 volt batteries in series. Take a look at the video below to find out the answer (which may surprise you).

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You may also want to take a look at the answer I gave to this question to get more information on Deep Cycle Batteries. What Is Causing The Problem With My RV's House Battery?

I hope this has helped you understand the importance of using Deep Cycle Batteries as house batteries in the RV.

If any of our visitors would like to weigh in on this topic, they can do so by clicking on the add a comment link near the bottom of this page.

Happy RVing

RVing Al

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Comments for Do I Really Need A Deep Cycle Battery In My RV?

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Discharging car batteries
by: Anonymous

I think, to clarify, what was being attempted as an explanation about recharge frequency of a car battery, is that a car battery is not designed to be DISCHARGED and recharged like a deep cycle battery. Deep discharge of a car starter battery may just kill it the first time it happens, and will definitely shorten it's life. Car batteries are replenished by the alternator each time a vehicle is started, and may last for four to six years in this scenario. Used as a deep cycle battery, you would be lucky to get one to two years out of one, if not as little as months. Wet cell car batteries really do not like being discharged below the 12 Volt mark.

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Reply to: "to keep RV plugged into electrical or not"
by: Anonymous

It depends. If you leave it plugged in full time, you should check the electrolyte level in the batteries occasionally. (Every couple of weeks) Newer RV chargers will provide the proper charge to keep the batteries healthy. Older chargers may provide too much of a charge and boil your batteries dry. In my opinion, as long as you have disconnected the batteries, there isn't a reason to keep them plugged in full time. - John

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Another Question
by: Anonymous

In getting my trailer ready for winter I took out the battery for storage forgetting I need power to run the anti-freeze through the lines. Can I just plug into the AC outlet on the side of the house for the length of time I need to do this or will I damage anything?

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to keep RV plugged into electrical or not
by: Anonymous

I am trying to find an answer to my question---when my RV is sitting in the driveway, I turn the aux. batt. off and I do not have the RV plugged into Electric.
I used to keep it plugged in to electric all the time and and stopped when I was told it wears the house batts.out faster. Is this true??
Thanks

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Don't agree with #1 and #2
by: Anonymous

#1) a car battery is better designed to provide high-amps for a short period of time than a deep cycle battery. For starting a generator, a car battery would be both better AND less expensive.

#2) A car battery recharges every time a car runs. That hardly sounds like "Car batteries are not designed to be recharged that often." A properly-designed charging system will not overcharge the battery, regardless of whether it is a starting battery or a deep cycle, in a car or an RV. That said, if his RV has a charger designed for a deep cycle (which it likely does) using it on a car battery might be detrimental.

Editor's Note The reason I recommended a deep cycle battery, is because the battery that starts his generator is the same battery that powers the house portion of his RV. The best batteries for powering the house portion of the RV are deep cycle batteries, because they provide 12 volt power for longer and are designed for deep discharge and deep recharge cycles. Car batteries are not designed for deep discharge and recharge cycles.

Furthermore RV generators are designed to start off of deep cycle batteries. The starters on RV generators do not draw near as many amps as the starter on an engine.

Finally the house batteries are constantly being charged when the generator is running or when the RV is plugged in (this is not the same type of charge a starting battery receives from an alternator). A normal starting battery would not be suitable for a situation where there is a constant deep charge and deep discharge. A normal starting battery would wear out quickly when used for this purpose. Hope this clarifies the point I was trying to get across.

RVing Al

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