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Batteries

Deep cycle batteries are the heart of any mobile power solution. They provide electrical storage for you to use any time you need it. A deep cycle battery consists of primarily lead plates and acid mixed together in a series of cells which create a galvanic effect. This mixture creates an electrochemical reaction which can produce an electric current. This is what we typically call a Lead-Acid Battery. These are the most common batteries used in RVs, and they come in 6 and 12 volt packages that vary in size and reserve capacity.

Other types of deep cycle batteries used in RVs and boats are Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM), and Gel Celled. These types are more expensive than regular lead-acid batteries because they are sealed, which means they cannot spill battery acid when tipped over. AGM and Gel batteries are ideal for situations where the batteries need to be mounted upside down or sideways.

Many RVers prefer the use of AGM batteries over Gel however due to their rugged sustainability in harsh conditions. A Gel Celled battery must be charged at a much slower rate than AGM or Lead-Acid which is not ideal for situations where you need to capture as much solar power as possible before the sun goes down. AGM batteries however are very tough, and can handle extreme temperatures and vibration which is why they are a good choice for mobile applications.

6 Volt golf cart batteries are also a very popular choice among RVers today. They have thicker lead plates compared to a deep cycle 12 volt battery which can sustain deeper power draw than a 12 volt deep cycle battery. The only stipulation is that you require two of them to tie in a series connection. That means that you will need a thick jumper wire tied from one of the positive posts on one battery, to the negative post on the other, leaving and open positive and negative terminal between them. This makes the two batteries work together to produce 12 volts. 6 volt deep cycle batteries are taller and heavier than 12 volt batteries, and they cost a bit extra, but the advantage is their ability to last a long time with a heavy draw. This is the best option if you are planning to use a high powered AC inverter.

 

27 Series 12v Battery

AGM 27 Series6 volt Golf Cart Battery

Are my current RV batteries good enough to run an inverter?

In most cases, yes. However, the age and strength of your batteries will vary in performance. There is a good chance that a battery over 5 years old will not perform as well as a new one. Size and "Reserve Capacity" (RC) are defining factors of what makes a battery acceptable for your application. The term "Amp hours" (Ah) is another common term used in the battery world to calculate the amount of time a battery will last until drained to the Depth of Discharge (DoD). The higher the Ah or RC rating, the longer the battery will last. Also the number of batteries you have connected in parallel will also increase the amount of time you will get out of your batteries.

 

Series and Parallel

If you are wondering what these terms mean in the battery world, here is an easy way to understand what they mean, and how they apply to any situation.

Note: This is only recommended with batteries that are identical in voltage, reserve capacity, amp hours, and size for long periods of time. Do not mix batteries of different size or voltage. Only in instances where the connection is brief (such as jumping a car battery from another battery in parallel) will different battery size hookups be acceptable. Long term connections will cause problems.

Series Battery Hookup

When you hook two batteries together in series, you are essentially doubling the voltage.
Example: Two 6 volt golf cart batteries with 445 minutes reserve capacity (each) tied in series.
It would look like this: (6v @ 445min + 6v @ 445min = 12v @ 445 minutes reserve capacity)

Series Battery Hookup


Parallel Battery Hookup

When you hook two batteries together in parallel, you are essentially doubling the reserve capacity.
Example: Two 12 volt deep cycle batteries with 160 minutes reserve capacity (each) tied in parallel.
It would look like this: (12v @ 160min + 12v @ 160min = 12v @ 320 minutes reserve capacity)

Parallel Battery Hookup

Reserve Capacity (RC)

This is the term used to measure the amount of time you can get out of your battery from a 25 Amp draw.
25 Amps is actually quite a substantial drain on a battery when put into perspective. An easy way to visualize this amount of drain would be to imagine 16 small incandescent lights burning at the same time. Each of these lights draws a little over 1.5 Amps. If your battery has a reserve capacity of 160 minutes, your battery would be drained in a little over 160 minutes. (16 lights x 1.5 Amps = 24 Amps.)

 

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