When embarking on an RV journey, having a reliable power source is essential for a smooth and enjoyable experience. But with so many different battery options available, it can be tough to know which one is right for you. And one of the most common questions RVers ask is whether to choose a 6-volt or 12-volt battery for RV camping.
Choosing the right power source for your RV can make or break your camping experience. In this guide, we’ll explore the key differences between these two battery options, helping you make an informed decision for your nomadic journeys.
6 Volt vs. 12 Volt RV Batteries: The Differences
When it comes to capacity, 6-volt batteries have the edge. They have a higher amp hour rating than 12-volt batteries, thanks to their design and construction.
6-volt batteries for RV are typically engineered with larger cells and a configuration that allows for more amp hour capacity. This increased capacity is especially beneficial for RVers who need sustained power output over extended periods for their appliances and devices.
On the other hand, 12-volt batteries have a lower amp hour rating but are often preferred for applications that require higher voltage levels. While 12-volt batteries may not have the same capacity as 6-volt batteries, they still provide enough power for most RV usage. A single 12-volt battery can handle the power requirements of most RV systems, making it a viable option for RVers with moderate electricity needs.
Charging two 6-volt batteries connected in series can be a bit more involved than charging a single 12-volt battery. You need a charger that can handle a 12-volt system, and you need to make sure that both batteries receive equal amounts of charge to maintain balance and extend their lifespan. While this may seem daunting, modern battery chargers have features that make this process relatively easy.
Charging a single 12-volt battery is however simpler because it doesn’t require multiple connections. Most RVers find the charging process more convenient with a 12-volt battery, as they can use standard chargers without having to worry about balancing individual cells.
One of the biggest advantages of 6-volt batteries is their durability and longevity. They’re built with thicker lead plates, which makes them better equipped to handle deep discharges and frequent recharges. With proper care and maintenance, 6-volt batteries can last longer than 12-volt batteries.
12-volt batteries are reliable, but they may not have the same long lifespan as 6-volt batteries. The thinner lead plates in 12-volt batteries make them more vulnerable to damage from deep discharges and heavy use, which can shorten their lifespan.
Weight & Size
12V RV batteries tend to be heavier than their 6V counterparts due to the need for more cells to achieve the same voltage output. The battery’s weight increases with the number of cells it houses.
For instance, when comparing batteries with a 225 amp hour rating, a 6V battery weighs around 50 pounds, while a 12V version tips the scales at about 80 pounds. This weight difference of around 60% is a result of the 12V battery requiring twice as many cells to reach the desired voltage level.
This added weight can be a concern for RVers dealing with limited space or those who have to handle batteries manually. If weight is a consideration, 6V batteries offer a lighter alternative without sacrificing power capacity.
6-volt batteries have a lower voltage than 12-volt batteries, so you need to connect two 6-volt batteries in series to get a 12-volt output. This is because most RV appliances and devices require 12 volts of power to operate.
Wiring two 6-volt batteries in series to achieve 12 volts of output is a bit more complicated than using a single 12-volt battery. However, it’s not too difficult if you follow these steps:
- Disconnect the negative terminals on both batteries.
- Strip about 1/2 inch of wire insulation from the ends of two pieces of wire.
- Connect the positive terminal of the first battery to the negative terminal of the second battery with one wire.
- Connect the negative terminal of the first battery to the positive terminal of the second battery with the other wire.
- Reconnect the negative terminals on both batteries.
- Securely attach the battery terminals to the wires.
The installation process for a single 12-volt battery is much simpler. You just need to connect the battery to your RV’s electrical system, making sure the polarity is correct, and then secure it in place. If you’re looking for an easy installation, a single 12-volt battery is the way to go.
6-volt batteries are available in many places, but they may not be as easy to find as 12-volt batteries.
12-volt batteries are widely available in stores, making them easy to replace or upgrade when needed. You can find them in most auto parts stores, RV dealerships, and even some big-box retailers. Whether you’re in a city or a remote location, finding a 12-volt battery for your RV is usually not a problem.
6-volt batteries are not as common as 12-volt batteries because they are not used in as many applications. 12-volt batteries are the standard for cars, trucks, RVs, and boats. 6-volt batteries are typically used in smaller devices, such as golf carts and trolling motors.
As a result of the higher demand for 12-volt batteries, there are more manufacturers that produce them. This means that there is a wider variety of 12-volt batteries available to consumers, and they are typically more affordable than 6-volt batteries. If you are looking for a 6-volt battery, you may have to shop around a bit more than if you were looking for a 12-volt battery. However, their availability has improved in recent years due to the increasing popularity of RVs and renewable energy systems.
6-volt batteries tend to be pricier than 12-volt RV batteries for a few reasons, including manufacturing costs, demand, and their specialized nature in certain applications.
In addition to the higher cost of the battery itself, RV owners who opt for 6-volt batteries need to purchase two of them to achieve the same voltage capacity as a single 12-volt battery. This results in a higher upfront investment. If you’re on a budget, you might want to consider going with a 12-volt battery instead.
6 Volt vs. 12 Volt RV Batteries: The Pros and Cons
6 Volt Batteries
- Smaller and lighter than 12 volt batteries
- More robust and can withstand more vibrations on the road.
- Have higher amp hour rating per battery, which means that they can provide more power for a longer period of time.
- Longer lifespan
- Lower voltage, so you need two batteries to get 12 volts
- A bit harder to find
12 Volt Batteries
- Higher voltage, so you only need one battery
- Widely available: 12-volt batteries are more common and easier to find, making replacements or upgrades hassle-free.
- Easier charging
- Larger and heavier than 6 volt batteries
- Shorter lifespan
Are Two 6 Volt Batteries Better than Two 12 volt Batteries?
When comparing two 6-volt batteries connected in series to create 12 volts with two 12-volt batteries wired in parallel, there are distinct considerations to keep in mind.
Two 6-Volt Batteries in Series
- This configuration provides 12 volts and potentially higher capacity for extended power use.
- It is ideal for applications that require deep cycling and longer runtimes.
- However, it may require more space due to the size of 6-volt batteries.
Two 12-Volt Batteries in Parallel
- Wiring two 12-volt batteries in parallel maintains a 12-volt output but increases overall capacity.
- This setup is suitable for applications where space is limited, as 12-volt batteries are generally more compact.
- While it may not offer the same deep cycling capabilities as the series setup, the increased capacity can still meet many RV power needs.
The best choice for you will depend on your power requirements and available space.
- If you need deep cycling and higher capacity, then two 6-volt batteries in series may be a good option.
- If you are limited on space, then two 12-volt batteries in parallel may be a better choice.
Ultimately, the best way to decide which setup is right for you is to consult with an RV expert who can assess your specific needs and recommend the best solution.