The Best Solar Battery For RVs
If you are looking for an alternative source of power for your RV other than gas-powered generators, solar panels might be the second-best option for you. Solar panels are built with a thin layer of silicon to convert solar energy into electrical power. However, to do that, solar panels need to be connected to a battery that would power-up and charge.
While most users would focus solely on the solar panels, it is important to understand that solar batteries are just as important. It's time to know what is the best solar battery for RV available in the market.
Detailed Reviews of the Best Solar Battery for RV
Odyssey PC680 Battery
The Odyssey PC680 is primarily known for its solid and highly durable construction. Often considered as the product’s most notable feature, its sturdiness allows it to endure constant pounding and vibrations from tough outdoor conditions and environment. Furthermore, its solid build also reflects in its performance as it can last long with little maintenance needed and still perform at its best.
This device’s top-tier construction makes it versatile enough to be used in a wide range of locations, such as in snow, land, and sea. It’s long life cycle also offers you up to 400 cycles at 80% discharge depth, making it a highly efficient and reliable battery in the long run.
In relation to its solid construction, the Odyssey PC680 is a notably heavier device compared to other models. Also, there are complaints about the battery’s incapability to hold a charge for longer periods, as well as the lack of technical support from the company.
WindyNation 100 AH AGM Lead Acid Battery
This heavy-duty deep cycle AGM lead-acid battery is known for its top-quality performance and durability. The WindyNation 100AH AGM battery is a highly versatile device that can be used in a variety of machines such as RVs, trailers, and boats, as well as in different environments and terrain.
The WindyNation 100 AH AGM lead-acid battery is a highly durable device best suitable for outdoor and off-grid applications due to its superb solar charging and storage capabilities. It requires little to no maintenance
The WindyNation 100 AH AGM lead-acid battery is known for its superb performance. However, several issues stem out from its build and construction. Users say that the battery is quite fragile and can be easily damaged if dropped.
Universal UB121000 Deep Cycle AGM Battery
Widely considered as the best 12V battery available in the market, the heavy-duty Universal UB121000 is a deep-cycle AGM battery known for its superb performance and durability. This model requires little to no maintenance and can perform at its best even after a couple of hundred cycles and with minimal discharge.
The Universal UB121000 AGM battery is known for its versatility and reliability. It can be used on a variety of purposes and can serve as a source of power for RVs, boats, motorhomes, scooters, and even wheelchairs. It stores energy extremely well and can be a reliable storage for solar energy.
This model features an acid-proof and solid plastic body that can effectively resist shocks, vibrations, and extreme weather conditions. But issues persist with its short stainless-steel hardware that makes it hard challenging for users to create additional connections and upgrades.
VMAXTANKS 857 AGM Battery
Built with solid and durable lead-tin alloys, the VMAXTANKS 857 is known for its durability, versatility, and overall reliability. It is a maintenance-free battery that does not require you to add water or check specific gravity on a regular basis.
The VMAXTANKS 857 is known for its long lifespan and hassle-free operation. It needs little to no maintenance and can also recover from numerous discharges. It features an anti-shock and vibration technology and can also weather extreme temperature conditions.
Despite being an all-around winner, the VMAXTANKS 857 has a prevalent issue of losing charge notable quicker than other 12V deep cycle batteries.
Lead vs. Lithium Batteries
There are two types of battery chemistries commonly used on the best solar battery for RVs. The two battery designs differ in function and performance.
Lead batteries are most commonly used because it is relatively cheaper than lithium-based ones. There are several more types of Lead Acid batteries – flooded lead acid (FLA) and absorbed glass matt (AGM).
FLA batteries are the cheapest, but they also require the most care and maintenance to be kept at 100% health. Aside from the monthly maintenance, FLA batteries should be stored upright and require proper ventilation to keep it from holding explosive and toxic gases when charged.
AGM batteries generally cost twice as much that of FLA batteries, but they perform a lot better. This type of battery uses glass matt instead of liquid electrode and holds charge pretty well. AGM batteries aren’t as demanding in terms of maintenance compared to FLA batteries, but they are more sensitive to overcharging.
Unlike lead batteries, lithium-ion batteries require little to no maintenance and can hold more power for longer periods. Lithium-ion batteries are considered as one of the longest-lasting battery types, but they are extremely expensive upfront.
How to Install a Solar Panel System
Installing a solar panel system on your RV would differ at times, depending on the model you are using. But as a general guideline, here is how to install a solar panel system on your RV.
- Make sure that all the parts of the solar panel system are available and ready. This includes the solar panels, the batteries, the charge controller, and the inverter for your trailer.
- To keep you safe from any form of electrocution, disconnect your RV batteries before meddling with any of your RV’s electrical system.
- Measure the length of your roof to know how many solar panels you can fit on it. Remember to allow space for walking and later inspections and to keep the panel’s junction box on the driver’s side for easier access.
- The next step is to plan where to put your control box. Keep in mind that it should be easily accessible but kept as far as possible from your gas pipes or any other heating devices as it may damage the machine. Also, keep the wiring as short as possible to better preserve power from your solar panels.
- Secure your solar panels by mounting it to the roof. Use your earlier measurements as a guide to know where to place your panels and junction box.
- After the solar panels, junction box, and charge controller are all wired up, connect the system to the batteries. Once this is properly set, the setup should be ready to go up and running.
Pros and Cons of a Solar Panel System for your RV
A solar panel system has two main roles for RV users – to store energy by charging your batteries and to provide direct electrical power in your trailer. And there are several more things that make a solar panel system ideal and worth it for most users. However, there are also some points to reconsider before opting for this kind of energy source.
A solar panel system is not cheap, especially if your gunning for premium quality parts and opting for the best solar panel, best charge controller, and best solar battery for your RV. While the initial cost might go hard on your budget, using solar panels as the main source of power for your RV will come in handy and worth it in the long run. This is because you would be solely dependent on a renewable source of energy and would no longer have to buy and refill source your generator regularly.
Unlike the commonly used gas-powered generators, solar panel systems use renewable energy and do not emit any water and air pollution. Not only will it save you money, but it will also help in lessening the amount of waste and pollution in our environment.
If you’re new to the RV lifestyle, you still might not have heard of what boondocking is. Boondocking is a term used by RVers to refer to the trailer’s capability to stay off the grid and power its own without the need for any kind of hookup. This means that the trailer is self-sufficient enough to cater to your needs as long as you need it. And one way to do that is to opt for a power generator that uses renewable sources – which includes solar panels and wind turbines.
We mentioned earlier that solar panels are cost-efficient, but you should also know that putting up a solar panel system in your RV would cost no less than $1000, and that amount is not for the best parts yet. One of the first things you should determine is whether you can see yourself spending in the RV lifestyle long enough to invest in such an expensive power generator kit. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be worth it as it would take some time to recoup the thousand-dollar investment you put into it.
Complicated and complex for beginners
Unlike gas-powered and wind turbine generators, solar panel systems are a tad bit more complex to setup. This is because solar panels require a proper electricity plan and audit so that you would know how much solar energy you would be needing. And for beginners, that would be a bit difficult to execute. You can opt for a third-party service to that for you, but that would cost you several more bucks. Plus, the control and maintenance of solar panel systems would need basic electrical knowledge.
There is a wide array of options for the best solar battery for RV available in the market. Keep in mind that there are several things to consider when you’re choosing the most appropriate type and model for your RV. But once you figure this out, it will be a smooth-sailing greener experience from then on.