RV Batteries 101

Are you new to the world of RVing and feeling a little overwhelmed by all the technical aspects of RV batteries and power output?  This is an article for you!

In this guide we will get you up to speed on the two types of batteries in an RV, give you a quick intro to understand the units of battery power including volts, amp hours and watts as well as give you a quick exercise to determine your RV’s power draw so you know how big of a battery system you would need.

When your RV is not plugged into the grid, your battery is the primary source of power for all the appliances on it. It’s important to understand that your RV may have different types of batteries, depending on the size and age of your rig.

The Two Types of RV Batteries

When you think of RV batteries, the first thing that comes to your mind may be car batteries. These are one kind of batteries but when it comes to RVs, there are two main types of RV batteries: deep cycle and starter batteries. Starter batteries are your car batteries that give a high burst of power to start your engine. They’re not designed to be deeply discharged thus not recommended for the RV’s appliance load. Deep cycle or house batteries, on the other hand, are designed to be discharged deeply and recharged frequently. These are the batteries you want powering your RV’s appliances.

Understanding the Units of Battery Power

To determine how much power you need, there are two important technical terms you need to understand: volts and amps.

Volts (or V) refer to the amount of electrical pressure in the battery. RV batteries typically have 12 volts, although some may have 6 or 24 volts.

Amperage (or A) is the measure of electrical current flowing through a circuit. In simpler terms, voltage is what makes the electricity flow, while amperage is how much of it is flowing.

Amp-hours (or Ah), is the measure of the battery’s capacity. It tells you how much energy your battery can store and how long it can run before it needs to be recharged. For example, a 100 Ah battery can theoretically provide 5 amps of power for 20 hours (100 Ah ÷ 5 A = 20 hours).

Keep in mind that appliances take in different amperage to run and you will have to add it all together to know the average power draw. However appliances display their power draw in the form of watts (W) which you can convert to Amp using the following formula:

Amps = Watts/Volts.    A = W / V

For example, if an appliance has a power draw of 600 watts and your RV battery is 12 volts, you would need 50 amps to power that appliance (600 watts / 12 volts = 50 amps). With a 105 Ah battery, you can power it for a little over 2 hours.

How to Determine Your RV Appliances’ Power Draw

Now that you know the basics of RV batteries and appliance power draw, how do you determine how much power you need for your specific RV setup? First, make a list of all the appliances and electronics you plan to use, along with their wattage. Then, calculate the total amp hours needed per day by adding up the amp hours for each appliance and factoring in how long you plan to use them as well as which ones will be running simultaneously. Keep in mind that you’ll need to add some extra amp hours for things like lights, fans, and other miscellaneous items.

Once you have an idea of how many amp hours you need, you can choose a RV battery and RV inverter that meets your requirements. It’s always a good idea to choose a battery with a little extra capacity, just in case.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, understanding RV batteries may seem intimidating, but it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Remember the basics of volts and amp hours, and use the watts-to-amps formula to calculate how much power you need for your appliances. By following these tips, you’ll be able to choose the right battery for your RV and enjoy a worry-free adventure on the road.

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