You are likely going to encounter conversations from fellow RVers and rig owners about their vehicles’ batteries. Some people want to use 6 volt RV batteries while others prefer 12-volt options.
With that in mind, what are the differences between 6 volt vs 12 volt RV batteries?
Each option has its unique pros and cons. For instance, you can run a single 12 volt RV battery. On the other hand, you may need to use 2 6 volt batteries in series vs 1 12 volt in certain scenarios.
Continue reading to know more about the differences between these two battery choices for your camper or travel trailer. By the end of this article, you should have a better idea of which selection to choose to gain excellent value from your purchase.
The Differences Between 6v vs 12v RV Batteries
Take note that you can find different RV battery options on the market. Take the 12 volt Lithium Iron battery from Ampere Time and the 6-volt battery from NOCO; at first glance, you should already see some relatively apparent differences, such as the voltage.
However, you can find the difference between 6 volt and 12 volt batteries under the hood. Here is a list of the dissimilarities that you can find among 6 volt and 12 volt RV batteries:
- Usage: When it comes to high-power applications, 12-volt batteries tend to reign supreme as opposed to 6-volt ones. Nonetheless, you can opt to put 6v batteries in a series connection to achieve a similar power output.
- Charging: You can attach two 6v batteries in series to charge them. Take note that when you charge these batteries in a series connection, the batteries will only charge to the lowest amp hour rating.
Additionally, when you pair two 6 volt batteries, their combined voltage will remain the same, but their ampere-hour capacities will be equivalent to the total capacity of the batteries.
- Longevity: Due to the heavier plates used in each cell, a 6v battery has a longer lifespan than a 12-volt model. In general, a 6-volt battery can last up to 8 years, particularly if you are using a deep cycle battery.
- Weight: A 6-volt battery is lighter than a 12-volt battery, which means that it can be handled by a single person. In some cases, running two 6v batteries is still lighter than using one battery with 12 volts.
6 Volt or 12 Volt Batteries for RV: Which One to Choose
The short answer to that question is ‘it depends.’ Different factors play vital roles in your decision for the best RV 6v battery or 12v battery for your current setup. Still, 12 volt and 6 volt batteries for RVs have their unique pros and cons.
It is important to understand these benefits and shortcomings to help you make the right purchasing decision.
The Pros of Using 12-Volt RV Batteries
- Consistent use of 12 volts with relatively no voltage drops.
- Doubled amp hours. RV owners can use twice the charging capacity than using 6v batteries.
- Relatively inexpensive options. Buying one 12v battery tends to be a less expensive choice than buying two 6-volt models.
- Wide availability. Many garages and auto parts shops sell 12-volt RV batteries, making hunting for replacements easier than expected.
The Cons of Using 12-Volt RV Batteries
- Lower charge. Many 12v batteries carry lesser amp-hour ratings than their 6-volt counterparts.
- Shorter lifespan. Many 12v batteries, particularly low-quality models, tend to discharge faster than 6-volt options.
The Pros of Using 6-Volt RV Batteries
- Larger amp-hour capacities. 6-volt RV batteries generally have larger charging capacities than many 12-volt options.
- Lasts longer. Many 6-volt batteries discharge longer, allowing for better longevity.
The Cons of Using 6-Volt RV Batteries
- More expensive choices. Since 6-volt batteries tend to be more flexible and versatile than 12-volt ones, they generally carry higher price tags.
- Size issues. Small campers, travel trailers, and other rigs may find it challenging to fit multiple 6-volt batteries because of their tall sizes.
- Relatively uncommon. It is more difficult to find 6-volt batteries than their 12-volt counterparts on the market.
How to Connect 6v Batteries in a Series
After hooking the #1 battery to the ground, hook the remaining positive terminal on the #2 battery. Then, connect the negative terminal on the #1 to the 12-volt wiring of the coach.
How to Connect 12v Batteries Connected in Parallel
Connecting these batteries in parallel works by connecting the positive terminal of the #1 battery to the positive input of the #2 battery. Then, you hook the negative terminal on the #1 battery to the ground. In turn, and if done correctly, the voltage will almost always remain at 12.
How to Choose the Right RV Battery
After knowing the right voltage requirements for your current RV setup, you may still need to consider some important factors to make your battery purchase worthwhile.
You should be able to find four relatively common types of batteries for RVs on the market. These classifications are Lithium, Gel, Absorbed Glass Mat, and Lead Acid.
Lithium, or lithium-ion or LiFePO4, is relatively new on the RV battery scene. It is a non-combustible compound, allowing for the safe deliverance of power throughout the electrical appliances of your travel trailer.
Gel batteries do not require maintenance. These options transfer electrolytes to connected devices, such as solar panels, through a gel substance, hence the name. One distinct advantage of this type of battery is that you can put it on its side.
Absorbed Glass Mat or AGM batteries use fiberglass between their cells’ plates. The material is used for the power to pass through the connection and into connected devices.
Finally, lead acid batteries use distilled water to transfer power. Although relatively inexpensive options, the use of water means that frequent maintenance and mopping become requirements.
Many rig owners dread buying RV batteries that do not last long. Thankfully, you can find out the relative longevity of the product by looking at online reviews and posts.
Additionally, you can help extend your RV battery’s lifespan with frequent maintenance and proper storage.
It is essential for the battery to stay in a container or housing properly. Choosing an RV battery with the appropriate size is essential to avoid usage complications.
For reasonably small RVs, a 12-volt option might be better because of their smaller dimensions. Some 12v batteries can also fit a golf cart and many camping and marine vehicles.
On the other hand, if you are a proud owner of a large camper or fifth wheel vehicle, purchasing two or more 6v batteries might be a better option.
Additional Notes to Consider
Take note that the longevity of a battery depends on its voltage. In other words, you will not gain significant benefits in terms of longevity in using either two 6 volt batteries or one 12 volt battery. Also, don’t be afraid to disconnect batteries wired to the camper for storage.
It is important to know the differences between 6 Volt vs 12 Volt RV Batteries to make an informed and reliable purchasing decision. In summary, here are the key dissimilarities between these two options:
- 12-volt batteries have higher battery capacities
- 6v batteries have larger dimensions
- 6v batteries wired in series tend to last longer
- 12-volt batteries are generally heavier
Also, understand your current battery requirements for your RV. That way, you will purchase RV batteries that will be worth your hard-earned money.