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Old 06-27-2017, 08:48 PM   #1
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6 Volt or 12 Volt Battery?

I believe the standard for most RV dealers is to provide a 12 volt battery for their customer. I was told that two 6 volts are better than one 12 volt if you want longer power for camping off the grid. I have had a lot of battery problems with my two 6 volt batteries, and now I am told that 6 volt batteries are more expensive and require more maintenance that the 12 volt. (12 volt are sealed and 6 volt have to have water added regularly.) Would I be better off with two 12 volts instead of two 6 volts? Looking for less expense, less maintenance, and maximum battery power over a longer time.
Thanks for any advice you can give me.
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Old 06-27-2017, 08:57 PM   #2
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I want to follow this to see what the recommendations are - will make use of the info when it comes time to replace mine.

Only thing I can say, there are sealed 12 volt batteries that don't need water added. There are also ones that need water - mine does. So I carry a bottle of distilled water for it.

I'm aware that there are a number of options. Besides standard and sealed batteries, there are AGM and much more expensive Lithium-Ions. From what I've read, all have benefits and drawbacks....
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Old 06-27-2017, 09:28 PM   #3
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The six versus 12 is a great debate. I believe on a rig that has big power demands and an inverter to power a residential frig and such the six volts work better, on the normal rig that does once in awhile extended boon docking I feel the deep cycle 12Vs are a better option. I have two actual deep cycle 12Va on my rig and have never run out of power. both are sealed type of batteries.
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Old 06-27-2017, 09:36 PM   #4
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Batteries can be very complex but for automotive, rv and marine use are 2 types relevant: so called flooded batteries and sealed batteries, aka AGM batteries. They are not really much different from each other from the user standpoint, flooded batteries can and will lose liquid (acid vapors) over time and need to be replenished with distilled water where AGM batteries are sealed and should not lose vapors. The internals are slightly different but who cares.
Flooded batteries can and will suffer from sulfur buildup over time from evaporation and should be equalized every so often, this sulfur buildup does not happen in AGM batteries because they are sealed.
It does not matter whether it is a 6 Volt or a 12 Volt battery.
However, the big issue is that most rv dealerships supply 1 battery with the trailer which is most often a so called hybrid battery, a battery that is not really suited for constant charging/discharging below 80% capacity and will consequently die prematurely. A true Deep Cycle battery is built to handle these situations much better and will outlive a hybrid or starter battery 5 fold. A deep cycle battery aka as golf cart battery to some is also much more expensive than starter or hybrid batteries.
Proper charging and storing batteries also has an effect on their longevity.
Then there are lithium ion and gel filled batteries but these are not really relevant here.
There are some folks on this forum who are much more knowledgeable than I am but this is it in a nutshell.
I personally have good luck with 6 Volt AGM golf cart batteries, they are more money up front but are nearly maintenance free, last a long time, don't gas off and are therefor corrosion proof.

Edit: AGM battery stands for absorbed glass mat battery.
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Old 06-27-2017, 10:33 PM   #5
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The difference between 6v and 12v true deep cycle batteries are the 6v have much thicker plates and can handle many more discharge/recharge cycles and are much more severe duty. They are all-around tougher batteries.

Finding a true deep cycle 12v is more difficult, so most of the time people are using 12v "marine" batteries which makes the comparison favoring the 6v even more.

With a decent converter, there is no more maintenance required of 6v batteries than 12v.

I run twin 6v Trojan T105 batteries and a Progressive Dynamics 9270 converter. Other than checking the water once a month, I ignore them for the most part. My iN-Command has a voltage display on it so I can easily tell when they get low. When boondocking, I run the genny once or twice a day for a recharge and a Keurig!
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Old 06-27-2017, 10:57 PM   #6
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Yep, I concur with previous posting. Most readily available 12 volt RV batteries are not truly deep cycle and have thinner plates then golf cart 6 volt batteries.

Both 12 and 6 volt batteries can be maintenance free or not...doesn't matter.
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Old 06-28-2017, 02:36 AM   #7
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My perspective:

Interstate 6V golf cart batteries at Costco ($150 for the pair in 2015) were cheaper than the despised Interstate Marine/RV 12V batteries at any location. True deep cycle 12V batteries were even more expensive. AGM batteries are more expensive than flooded.

What does one get for the extra money?

To get the most from AGM batteries, the charger has to have a different profile - a profile that your stock converter does not have. That's been the drawback to getting the extra performance that AGM batts are capable of - building the full matched system around them. (The same is even more true for Li batteries - the system has to reflect their different characteristics to get all the performance you are paying the extra $$ for).

Given that the PD converter that replaced my stock WFCO is optimized for flooded batteries, going with the cheapest good quality flooded batteries made the most sense. Possibly those that spent twice as much for Trojans will get an extra year of life in additional charge/discharge cycles. I'll just suck it up and replace my Interstates (latest price $160 for a pair at Costco) every 5 years instead of every 6 years for Trojans (realistic average lifespan - some will get more, some will get less).

A good converter with a battery bank sized for usage profile will minimize battery maintenance. I believe I have achieved that balance. I have reduced my demand while dry camping down to 20-25AH per day. I have 232AH 6V GC-2 batteries to carry me for 4 nights without recharging. I don't have to carry a heavy generator and gasoline, or deal with finding sun without wind for solar panels. At the end of 4 days, I'm running out of water and fresh food anyway, and it's time to move on to another site or go home for replenishment. Moving on is very easy with the A-frame.

At home after a trip, I plug in for at least a few days to get everything ready for the next trip. After that, I may remain plugged in with the converter on trickle charge, or just unplug and turn the batteries off with a true disconnect.

My maintenance is limited to checking water level every 3-4 months and converter/battery voltage. I have added water once in 2 years, and I'll top off the batteries with water again this weekend. While camping, I check the voltage daily simply to make sure everything is working as it should.

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Old 06-28-2017, 06:09 AM   #8
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I believe it all comes down to the Ampere-Hour rating of the battery(ies). I was just up to the DEKA battery plant in Lyons, PA to see about a battery to replace the Grp 27 marine battery the dealer put on my TT. A Group 31 battery with a 20 amp hour rate of 105 / 185 minutes at 25 amps was $185. I thought that was a bit much, especially at the factory but I've purchased many batteries there with no issues; they make great batteries.

I want something to keep DW's CPAP machine running when we are in areas without power. Their Group 27 battery is rated for a 20 amp hour rate of 90 and 175 minutes at 25 amperes. Even this one would keep a CPAP with <5 Amp draw running during the night. (did not get the $ on the Gr 27) I need to weigh out my anticipated requirements versus changing to a larger size, more $ and more space. If I were a boondocker, from all the info I've gleaned from these forums, I think It would go with 2 6-volt batteries for much higher Ah.
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Old 06-28-2017, 12:05 PM   #9
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As much as I like Costco, If found that that their 6v GC batteries are not as good as the more expensive ones at Sam's Club. Sams has two different GC batteries, the more expensive ones have thicker lead plates (battery weighs more) than the cheaper Sam's one and equivalent Costco ones.

The Costco battery and the cheaper Sam's Club ones are rated for 207 amphours last time I checked. The more expensive golf cart battery that Sam's carries is 232 amp hours.
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Old 06-28-2017, 12:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyliner View Post
As much as I like Costco, If found that that their 6v GC batteries are not as good as the more expensive ones at Sam's Club. Sams has two different GC batteries, the more expensive ones have thicker lead plates (battery weighs more) than the cheaper Sam's one and equivalent Costco ones.


I recommend buying a known excellent quality battery like Trojan. How much cost savings are we talking about here? I bought two brand new T105 batteries for $250. That included $30 of core charges because I did not have cores to hand in. We're talking $100 per battery here.

Even if Trojan batteries were twice the cost (which I doubt), it would be worth it knowing you are getting one of the best (if not the best) batteries on the market. We are after all wanting them to work when we need them most.

Does that $10 or $20 savings mean anything when you aren't getting the performance you need?
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