6 Volt vs 12 Volt RV Batteries: The Pros & Cons Of Each (2022)

What Is The Best RV Battery Set-Up?

If you’ve ever talked to dedicated boondockers or dry campers you’ve probably heard your fair share of RV battery talk.

Some people are purely 12 volt battery users and others swear by 6 volt batteries and the incredible benefits they believe come from using them.

Related Product: We use the reliable VMAX 100Ah AGM battery (click to view on Amazon) in our RV.

It can be hard to weed through all the opinions when it comes to each style and I’m going to try and lay down the facts in this article.

When it comes to the best RV battery set-up for boondocking I would say lithium with solar power all the way.

But that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, especially for regular weekend campers or people who usually camp with electrical hookups.

So what’s the best RV battery set-up when it comes to 12 volt vs. 6 volt RV batteries?

Like everything that has to do with RVing that question has a long answer and it ultimately depends on you and your camping style.

I’m going to start by outlining each kind of RV battery set up and end with my opinion on what is the best RV battery set-up for each kind of camper.

Related:Best Deep Cycle RV Battery (AGM, SLA, 12V, 6V)

What Is The Best RV Battery Set-Up?

The Different Setups

The Traditional 12 Volt RV Battery Set-Up

The 6V/Golf Cart RV Battery Set-Up

6V RV Batteries vs 12V RV Batteries

How To Decide Which RV Battery Set-Up Is The Best

My Choice For The Best RV Battery Set-Up

(Video) How Long Will Two Six Volt Batteries Last In Your RV Tested
(Video) 6v vs 12v BATTERIES FOR YOUR RV | BUDGET RV BATTERY UPGRADE

The Different Setups

The Traditional 12 Volt RV Battery Set-Up

RVs, travel trailers, 5th-wheels, truck campers, and vans all run on 12 volt power when not connected to electrical hookups. So naturally, you use a 12 volt battery to run everything.

A 12 volt marine deep cycle battery is the most common type of battery used in RVs and the easiest to find in a regular store when you’re on the road.

Even if you buy from a dealer they will normally install one or two 12 volt batteries connected in parallel.

6 Volt vs 12 Volt RV Batteries: The Pros & Cons Of Each (1)

12 volt batteries are more affordable than 6 volt ones and it’s super easy to connect two of them together to double your amp hours.

Amp hours are a unit of measurement commonly used to give you an idea about how much storage your RV battery is capable of.

Most regular RV/Marine deep cycle batteries will have around 35-70 amp hours in them, but you can buy deep cycle RV batteries with much less or much more amp hour storage capabilities.

See Also:Best 12 Volt RV Lithium Battery Reviews + How To Charge

For regular campers who dry camp on the weekends or full-time RVers who mostly camp with hookups in campgrounds or RV Parks, I recommend a battery set-up that ends up being at least 70 amp hours whether it’s with one or two 12 volt RV batteries.

PROS

  • You can run an RV with just one battery. If you have two 12V RV batteries and one fails you will still be able to run your RV.
  • 12V deep cycle RV batteries are usually the more affordable option.
  • Easier to find in smaller stores.
  • Each 12V battery you connect in parallel will add more amp hours (if connected properly you can add as many 12V batteries as you want)

CONS

  • The more amp hours a 12V battery has the bigger it gets. One 200ah 12V AGM deep cycle RV battery can weigh as much as 114 lbs.
  • Can be slightly less durable than a 6V battery, but a high quality 12V battery (AGM, Gel, Lithium) that is not marine deep cycle battery can be just as durable.
  • If your RV has a small battery storage area you may not be able to fit larger 12V high amp hour batteries.

The 6V/Golf Cart RV Battery Set-Up

RVs run on 12V power. So how can you run a 12V RV with a 6V battery? There are two ways to wire batteries together, series and parallel.

When you wire in parallel like you do with 12V RV batteries you are basically making a larger battery but the voltage stays the same.

When you wire in series you are increasing the voltage but not the amp hour capacity.

(Video) 6 Volt Batteries in Series vs. Single 12 Volt

To read more about wiring multiple 6 volt or 12 volt batteries together for RV use, check out this article here.

Because you need at least 12 volts to run an RV you have to have at least two 6V batteries, there’s no way around it. And if you want to add more batteries later you will have to add them in pairs.

See Also:Best Portable Solar Panel Charger For RV Camper/Boondocking

Most people will have two 6 volt batteries wired in series for their RV. A 6V 225ah AGM deep cycle RV battery will weigh around 71 lbs.

When you combine two of them in series you get 12V. But, you still will only have 225ah. Combining two 6V RV batteries only increases the voltage but not the amp hours like when you wire two 12V RV batteries in parallel.

It’s easier to understand why this happens when you think about it in watt-hours. To find the watt-hours of a battery you multiply the total voltage by the amp hours.

One 12V RV battery with 100ah will have 1,200 watt-hours. Two 12V RV batteries with 100ah will be 12×200 which equals 2,400 watt-hours.

One 6V RV battery with 225ah equals 1,350 watt-hours, notice that even though the amp hours on the 6V battery is much higher than the 12V battery the watt-hours end up being very close.

It’s because you’re multiplying with 6 and not 12 which is a much smaller number. Two 6V RV batteries with 225ah is 12×225 which equals 2,700 watt-hours.

PROS

  • In some cases, 6V batteries can be more durable than 12V ones. For example, 12V marine deep cycle batteries which are not true deep cycle batteries and not the best option for RVers.
  • Easier to manage than large 12V batteries.
  • Take up less space.

CONS

  • If you have two and one fails you won’t be able to power your RV.
  • Harder to find in regular stores.
  • Less affordable

6V RV Batteries vs 12V RV Batteries

So, why do people like using a 6V RV battery step-up over a 12V one?

Some people swear that 6V (golf cart) batteries are way more durable than 12V batteries because they are made with thicker internal plates and made to be charged and discharged more than 12V batteries.

This is true with some 12V deep cycle batteries but not all. If you buy a high-quality 12V deep cycle battery that is not made for running marine engines like AGM, Gel, or Lithium you will find that it’s just as durable as a 6V battery.

(Video) Best RV Batteries Buying Guide 2022 [ Review with Pros and Cons]✅✅✅

See Also:Best Portable Quiet Inverter Generators For RV Camping

The second and most compelling reason for using 6V RV deep cycle batteries instead of 12V ones is the weight. Two 71 lbs 6V batteries with 225ah are way more manageable than one 114 lbs 12V battery with 200ah.

They are also smaller in length and width and more likely to fit in the designated storage area of your RV.

That being said you can always buy two 100ah 12V RV batteries and wire them together to get the desired 200ah for your RV.

How To Decide Which RV Battery Set-Up Is The Best

When we’re talking amp hours and batteries all of this only matters if you are a boondocker/dry camper.

If you only camp in RV parks or campgrounds with hookups with one or two nights of dry camping every once in a while just getting one or two 12V deep cycle RV batteries is going to be the best option.

But when it comes to boondocking the more battery power the better.

When comparing two 6V batteries with two 12V batteries I would say 12V wins.

Two 12V RV batteries with 100ah is going to be manageable for one person, fit in regular RV battery storage space, and be way more affordable.

See Also:How To Wire Multiple 12V Or 6V Batteries To An RV

If you get AGM, Gel, or Lithium, the 12V battery will be just as durable as the 6V battery or the difference will be so slight it won’t matter that much.

The only time I can see 6V being the better option is if you have at least 4 of them. I live full time in a travel trailer. The batteries are stored on the tongue behind the propane tanks.

After doing the math from the measurements of the battery boxes I will need for the 6V and 12V batteries I’ve found that I really only can fit two no matter what kind of battery I use.

The 100ah 12V battery I chose as the best one in this article, is only 2.67 inches longer than the best 6V battery from the same article. Using a 6V battery really doesn’t save me enough space to make it worth it.

(Video) Increasing Your RV Battery Bank Power Without The HIGH PRICE TAG -- Why We Switched!

That being said if I decided to start storing batteries in the front storage area of my travel trailer I would be able to store way more batteries but I still think 4 12V RV batteries would be more worth it than 4 6V RV batteries.

My Choice For The Best RV Battery Set-Up

In conclusion, after taking all the factors into account like space, emergency use, affordability, durability, and weight I think no matter how many deep cycle RV batteries you use, an RV battery set-up using 12V batteries is going to be the best option no matter what kind of RVer you are.

Have any more questions about RV batteries, how to set them up, and 6V vs 12V? Leave a comment below.

FAQs

What battery type is best for an RV? ›

Best RV Battery – Deep Cycle
  1. Renogy AGM Deep-Cycle Battery. Renogy is a great name brand when it comes to many things RV-related. ...
  2. Windy Nation AGM Deep Cycle Battery. ...
  3. Optima Batteries for an RV. ...
  4. Amptre Time LifeP04 Battery. ...
  5. Battle Born Batteries for a Camper. ...
  6. Trojan 6V Deep-Cycle Battery.

Why are 2 6v batteries better than 12v? ›

From an electrical point of view a 12 volt battery is actually six 2 volt cells in series. There is no difference between 2 x 3 cells (2 x 6 volt) or 1 x 6 cells (12 volt). The physicall size of these cells is quite often an issue for different installations so sometimes one form factor is better than another.

How long will 6 volt batteries last in an RV? ›

Properly maintained deep-cycle batteries should last for 6 or more years. Unfortunately, some RV owners replace RV batteries every year or two. Extending battery life is not difficult; it just requires some basic care & maintenance.

What has more power 6 volt or 12 volt? ›

12V ride on toys is generally more expensive than 6V ones.

They are also more powerful and sometimes have twin motors to modulate the speed between different wheels.

Why do RVs use 6v batteries? ›

The 6-volt RV batteries are also used to power small devices such as lights and radios in your RV. 6-volt RV batteries have a nominal voltage of 6 V. These batteries have a higher capacity than the usual 4- or 8-volt batteries. They also have a smaller Amp output, lower discharge rate, and lower internal resistance.

Should I disconnect my RV battery when plugged in? ›

Parasitic loads like gas detectors, clocks, and other small electrical devices drain power when your RV isn't in use. If the power gets too low, it can hurt battery life. Your RV should be equipped with battery disconnect switches to prevent this, so don't forget to engage them when the RV is off or in storage.

Which is better for RV 6 volt or 12-volt? ›

Because most 6-volt batteries have a higher amp-hour rating for each battery, it makes sense to purchase two 6-volts and wire them in a series. What is this? That gives you 12-volts, meeting your electrical system's needs. The 6-volt batteries last longer than most 12-volt ones, and they are lighter, as well.

How do you maintain a 6 volt RV battery? ›

Batteries should be kept clean and free of dirt and corrosion at all times. Batteries should always be watered after charging unless plates are exposed before charging. If exposed, plates should be covered by approximately 1/8″ of electrolyte (add distilled water only). Check electrolyte level after charge.

How long will a 6V battery last? ›

With proper maintenance, 6 volt batteries can last much longer: You can expect 6V batteries to last anywhere between 4 to 8 years depending on how you take care of them and the specific conditions of the location where the battery bank is installed.

How long can an RV run without being plugged in? ›

When the RV is not plugged in, that electricity usually has to come from batteries. Under normal use conditions – lights, propane refrigerator, charging phones etc and water pump, a 12v battery will last 2-3 days.

How long will RV fridge run on battery? ›

An RV refrigerator will run off of the battery if your fridge model is set up for it or if it uses propane too. An absorption fridge will run on batteries only for about 3 hours but if using propane too it will last for weeks. A residential RV fridge will last for about 12 hours on batteries.

How do I keep my RV battery over winter? ›

Store the battery in a warm, indoor location like a cellar (don't rest the battery directly on the floor. Use cardboard or other material as a mat). Attach a battery maintainer to keep it charged during storage. Check your battery monthly to make sure it is fully charged.

What can you run off a 6v battery? ›

Here are five common applications of this battery type:
  • Lighting systems for Construction Industry and Roadworks. ...
  • Golf Carts and other Electrically-powered Vehicles. ...
  • Recreational Vehicles and Trailer Homes. ...
  • Back-up Power Supply for UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) ...
  • Light Source for Camping and Hiking.
4 Mar 2019

Can I replace a 6v battery with a 12v? ›

Expert Reply: If the two 6 volt batteries were wired in series to produce 12 volts total then a 12 volt battery would easily work as a replacement for them.

Can you mix 6 volt and 12 volt batteries? ›

The short answer is no, you cannot simply parallel your 12-volt battery with the new 6-volt batteries (in series). You can only parallel batteries that are exactly the same brand and chemistry, including age. Otherwise it will result in unbalanced charging as well as shortened battery life.

What's the difference between a 6 V battery and a 12 V battery? ›

The main difference between a 6v vs 12v battery is that a 6v battery will have 2 cells, and each cell will be producing 3.2voltage, making it 6v. A 12v battery will have 4 cells, and they combinedly produce 12v.

Do I need two RV batteries? ›

It requires a minimum of four batteries. Keep track of the connections you make. You can join as many batteries as you want to each other, though you may need an RV battery box to keep your separate cells safe and secure. Two sets of batteries connected in parallel can be joined together to form a series power bank.

How many amp hours are in a 6 volt deep cycle battery? ›

This is the 225 amp-hour, 6-volt deep cycle battery from Trojan, in the popular "Golf Car" (GC2H) size. These can be used in RV's, homes, cabins and most renewable energy systems.

Is it OK to leave RV refrigerator on all the time? ›

Modern RV refrigerators are designed to withstand being turned on and turned off at different times without causing mechanical problems. Regular RV refrigerators are made to withstand the rigors of camping life which includes sometimes turning it off when disconnecting from shore power or full hook-ups.

Should I leave my RV inverter on all the time? ›

RV inverters can seem like relatively complicated electrical devices, and it's hard to know when they should be left on or turned off. For most installations, an RV inverter should be turned off when not in use. This is because an inverter can drain power from batteries even when there is no power being used.

Does tow vehicle charge RV battery? ›

You can charge your RV battery with your truck (or any tow vehicle) while driving by way of your vehicle's alternator as long as you have a 7 pin travel trailer plug. And if you have a motorhome, your RV's alternator should automatically charge your house and vehicle battery when the engine is running (in most models).

Are 6-volt batteries better for solar systems? ›

A 6v will stand up better to 50% discharge cycles than a 12v will. Also a 6v will give way more charge/discharge cycles in its lifetime compared to a standard 12v. Agree with the above posts 2 6V is the best way to go.

How long do 6v AGM batteries last? ›

A properly maintained AGM battery usually lasts somewhere between three and four years, but this depends on the amount that you use it. Also, the amount that you drive your vehicle plays a role in how long the battery will last.

How do you wire two 6-volt batteries to make 12 volts? ›

Expert Reply: To wire two 6-volt batteries in series to produce 12-volts, you would connect the load to the positive terminal of battery # 1. Connect the negative terminal of battery # 1 to the positive terminal of battery # 2. Ground the negative terminal of battery # 2.

What happens if you use a 12V charger on a 6V battery? ›

This will run your battery dry and create a thermal runaway scenario, which is very dangerous. Again, some people use a 12V charger to get their 6V battery jump started, but it is never advisable to use a 12V charger to try to fully charge your 6V battery.

Should you trickle charge a deep cycle battery? ›

Since deep cycle batteries generally have a lower discharge rate, trickle charging would largely be ineffective and its role of maintaining the battery charge level may become redundant. As a result, one should not trickle charge a deep cycle battery.

Why Is My RV battery draining so fast? ›

Sulfation, parasitic loads, self-discharging, overcharging, undercharging, and lack of maintenance are the usual suspects of battery death, but they are all relatively easy to prevent with regular attention and smart battery charging.

Can I use a 12v solar panel to charge a 6V battery? ›

For example, using a twelve-volt solar panel to charge a six-volt battery can lead to permanently damaging the battery, exploding, or causing a fire.

How many amps do I need to charge a 6-volt battery? ›

A 6 volt battery can always be charged at 2 amps. If you're dealing with a deep cycle battery, you must charge it at a low amperage like 2 to 4 amps. A 10 amp current could overload it or even cause it to explode.

How long does it take to charge a 6 volt deep cycle battery? ›

It usually takes around 4-6 hours

This will bring your battery from 0% charged to 80% charged. In addition, it depends on the type of charger that you're using. Some chargers are more efficient than others, which means that it's important to pick out a high-quality charger.

Are lithium ion batteries good for RVs? ›

Lithium batteries work wonderfully in a travel trailer. You should be able to use a 12V lithium battery to replace almost any deep-cycle 12V battery, such as the house battery for a motorhome, fifth wheel, or travel trailer. More and more RVers are replacing their lead-acid house batteries with lithium-ion options.

What are the disadvantages of lithium ion batteries? ›

Despite their technological promise, Li-ion batteries still have a number of shortcomings, particularly with regards to safety. Li-ion batteries have a tendency to overheat, and can be damaged at high voltages. In some cases this can lead to thermal runaway and combustion.

What is the difference between RV battery and marine battery? ›

Marine batteries are designed for boats instead of RVs. They have heavier plates than other types of batteries and are designed to withstand sudden, forceful movements and intense vibrations from a motor. The amp hours on this type of battery should be fairly high.

What is the advantage of lithium batteries in an RV? ›

A lithium battery will be lighter, more efficient, and more powerful than lead acid. And while they cost more, they also last much much longer, so they save you money over time. Because of all these factors, lithium RV batteries are the best choice for most RVers.

Will my RV converter charge a lithium battery? ›

RV solar systems work best with lithium-ion batteries, but you can use lithium batteries without solar panels. Your RV generator, tow vehicle's umbilical cord, or motorhome's alternator can charge them just like the lead-acid batteries you currently use.

Is it worth switching to an RV lithium battery? ›

Bottom Line: RV Lithium Batteries Are Completely Worth It

An RV lithium battery provides tons of power much more efficiently than a traditional battery. They also charge faster, last longer, and weigh less. And while they have a few drawbacks, these can be easily worked around.

Do I need a special charger for lithium batteries? ›

You do not need a specific lithium battery charger.

What is the life expectancy of a lithium-ion battery? ›

The typical estimated life of a Lithium-Ion battery is about two to three years or 300 to 500 charge cycles, whichever occurs first. One charge cycle is a period of use from fully charged, to fully discharged, and fully recharged again.

Why is lithium-ion the best battery? ›

Compared with traditional battery technology, lithium-ion batteries charge faster, last longer and have a higher power density for more battery life in a lighter package. When you know a little about how they work, they can work that much better for you.

What should I look for in a deep-cycle RV battery? ›

What To Look For In A Deep Cycle Battery
  • Weight & Size. Weight and size are important considerations if you intend to use your deep cycle battery on a watercraft or RV, where you'll need to run several different electronic applications for extended periods of time. ...
  • Charging. ...
  • Life Span & Reliability.
28 Sept 2015

What does MS stand for on a marine battery? ›

MS stands for Marine Starting battery. A marine starting battery is a battery that is designed to start the engine of a boat. It is important to note that a marine starting battery is not the same as a marine deep cycle battery.

Does RV battery charge when plugged in? ›

Fortunately, the answer is yes; your RV house battery will charge while it is plugged into shore power. Your RV battery will charge when an external power source is connected and providing power to your RV.

How much longer do lithium batteries last in RV? ›

A lithium-ion battery can last 10-40 times longer than a lead-acid battery. Many will see 5000 usable deep complete discharges and thousands of cycles more with lighter use. In an RV, this would equate to 20 years or more of service.

How do you store lithium batteries in an RV? ›

FAQ: Storing Lithium Batteries During the Winter - YouTube

What is the difference between a deep cycle battery and a lithium battery? ›

Comparison Overview

Discharge:Lithium-ion battery reached almost 100% charge and discharge, with even the worst, have 80% of efficiency. On the other hand, Deep-cycle lead acid batteries typically have less than 80% charge-discharge efficiency, and can range from 50% to 95%.

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