Venturing off the beaten trail with your RV for a weekend getaway can be one of the most relaxing experiences. It allows you to enjoy the pristine Australian nature and get away from the concrete jungle. But even though the main reason why people like to get away from everything is to get disconnected, most of us still want to have some form of access to entertainment, whether it’s our smartphone, laptop or TV. So how will you keep your devices powered while you’re in the middle of nowhere, kilometres away from the nearest power grid plug? RV solar systems have become a must-have for many owners, and for all the right reasons.
Today, RV solar systems are more affordable than ever, and they provide a simple, yet efficient solution to this problem. They give you peace of mind knowing that everything that needs to be powered will be powered, no matter where you are, as long as the sun shines for a few hours a day. RV solar systems are far simpler than home systems, and the main thing you need to get right is a deep cell battery for solar that will store all of the harnessed power by the solar panels.
For that very reason, buying the ideal deep cell battery for solar requires careful consideration of a few factors, including its power, capacity, efficiency and cost. In order to get the right choice, you have to research the different types of RV solar batteries and understand their advantages and disadvantages. Solar batteries either feature lithium-ion or lead-acid cells. Lead-acid batteries can be either flooded or sealed.
Flooded lead-acid batteries are arguably the most common type of solar batteries used, as they’re affordable, recyclable and easy to get rid of after they’ve reached their life expectancy. They’re designed to handle daily charge cycling, but they emit gasses that can be harmful, so they need to be placed in a well-ventilated area. They’re ideal for people who want to be hands-on with their solar system, as they require occasional maintenance to be kept in proper working condition. The plates of their cells need to be underwater to work properly, hence their name. You’ll have to add water every month or two to keep them submerged.
Sealed lead-acid batteries are completely spill-proof and don’t release the harmful gasses than their flooded counterparts emit. There are two popular types of sealed lead-acid batteries – gel and AGM batteries. Both types are self-contained systems, and they don’t need to be refilled with water to operate properly. That being said, they require little to no maintenance, and they’re ideal for RV applications, as they handle temperatures better and they don’t discharge as quickly while not in use.
Lastly, lithium batteries are the newest deep cycle battery technology, and they’re commonly found in phones and laptops. Nowadays, they’ve become a popular choice for solar applications as well, as they don’t require any maintenance, have a longer lifespan, higher storage capacity, are more efficient, and don’t require any ventilation. However, they’re the most expensive out of all solar battery types.
As you think about what type of solar battery suits you best, you should compare their capacities, depth of discharge, lifespan and round trip efficiency, while considering your system’s requirements. The capacity is the amount of electricity the battery can store and is measured in kilowatt-hours. The depth of discharge refers to the amount of capacity the battery uses. The higher this number, the more you’ll get from your battery. Your battery’s depth of discharge should be 40% or higher. The round trip efficiency refers to the difference in the amount of energy used to charge the battery and the available amount of energy. A higher number means the battery is more economical, and you shouldn’t settle for a battery with a smaller round trip efficiency of 80%. Lastly, consider the battery’s life. Battery performance deteriorates over time, so you should get one with a warranty of at least a few years or recharge cycles to ensure it maintains a specific capacity.
As aforementioned, picking the right battery comes down to a few factors, including application, expectations for maintenance and budget. How often and how you use the battery will determine what the smartest choice for you is. For RV applications, all you have to do is calculate the watt per hour requirements of all your appliances, and choose a battery that can power them for at least a few hours a day. There are many online calculators you can use to determine this. However, keep in mind that you might add extra appliances in the foreseeable future, so it’s recommended you always go for a battery with a slightly larger capacity than what you actually need.