Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking.
Thanks for the great information. Mike and I prefer to boondock and stay away from campsites whenever possible. I think this spring I’ll need to replace our batteries. They are going on their 4th season and last week when I gave them a midwinter charge they would not charge completely. I don’t know if that’s because of the cold or age. For primarily dry camping what battery setup would you recommend? We have a travel trailer and our batteries are out front. I have a large platform where a generator would go, so I can do two 6v golf cart batteries instead of the two 12v I have now. Thoughts? Thanks. —Amy
Maybe this short “Battery 101” will help in your decision and also be helpful to other RVers with basic battery questions.
Most RV batteries use lead-acid technology. This is where lead is immersed in an acid/water solution. You have to fill it up every once in awhile, as a little of the solution disappears with each charge. Gel-type batteries are also a good choice for deep-cycle batteries.
The 6-volt, golf cart battery is a popular choice to use for RV house batteries. They are very rugged, and two can be wired together to form a 12-volt power source. This is ideal for the house batteries found in an RV, but you do need to use them in pairs.
But comparing 6 volt to 12 volt: Both are lead-acid batteries and both contain 2.1 volt cells – three cells in the 6-volt battery and six cells in the 12-volt battery. The 6-volt battery has more space per cell than the 12-volt hybrid so the plates are thicker and will last longer. The 6-volt will be able to discharge deeper than any hybrid 12-volt deep-cycle. Two 6-volt deep-cycle batteries are a much better buy than two hybrid 12-volt batteries.
When installing two 6-volt batteries wired in series, the amp hours remain the same and the voltage is doubled. Example: Two 200-amp-hour 6-volt batteries wired in series equals one 12-volt 200-amp-hour battery.
When working with two 12-volt batteries wired in parallel, the voltage remains the same and amp hours are doubled. Example: Two 100-amp-hour 12-volt batteries wired in parallel, makes one 12-volt 200-amp-hour battery bank. Flooded-cell, deep-cycle, golf cart batteries will give you 6 to 7 years.
Lithium-Iron-Oxide batteries are more expensive (I have never used them) and you would have to talk to RVers that have installed them to see how they like them (maybe a couple will comment here). I have used Trojan 6-volt golf cart batteries and was completely happy with them and would recommend them in your situation.
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .