Best RV Battery for Boondocking (2021)

 Best RV Battery for Boondocking (2021)

The best RV battery for boondocking depends on your needs, so let's review all the top options!

Boondocking also called dry camping, is beloved by many RVers. If you don’t know, it's camping without hookups to water, electricity, sewer, or cable. 

Jennifer and I prefer boondocking since we feel like we can truly disconnect from the hustle and bustle of life. 

RV boondocking allows you to enjoy nature away from people and be off the grid. But, still be able to enjoy some comforts from home. It provides you with the best of both worlds! 

Of course, if you want to use electricity to power lights and appliances, you will also need an efficient boondocking battery setup. 

Best RV Battery for Boondocking

To determine the best RV battery for boondocking, you will need to assess your particular needs. You will need to know how many amps each of your appliances consume when plugged in. 

Small appliances, like lights, will not drain much power of your battery. But microwaves or coffee pots will use more amp hours. You will also want to account for an air conditioner or heater if you think you will use either of them. 

Once you have set up camp, you will want to switch on a generator while using high amp consuming appliances like the air conditioner. You will also want to switch over your refrigerator to propane. 

If you have not already done so, consider swapping lights for LED, use 12-volt DVD players or TV. You can also look into solar power chargers for electronic devices like phones, tablets, and computers. 

And you might want to re-visit the podcast interview we did with Battleborn’s top leadership team to discuss the findings of a recent White Paper and what it means to RVers. Our guests were Denis Phares, the CEO, and Sean Nichols, the COO.

6-Volt vs. 12-Volt Battery

When shopping for RV batteries, you will likely come across some that have both 6- and 12-Volt size options. So, what are the differences between the two? 

6-Volt Batteries

Although it may seem unexpected, 6-Volt batteries last longer than 12-Volt batteries. This is because they have thicker plates and more space per cell. That means they have a deep discharge compared to a typical 12v battery.

Many RV owners like 6-Volt batteries because of their longer charge time, and because they are relatively inexpensive. 

12-Volt Batteries

12-Volt batteries are usually less pricey than their 6-Volt counterpart. This makes sense since they do not last as long and cannot be discharged and recharged as often. 

12-Volt batteries are fine for those RV travelers that use hook-ups. They are not always the best option for full-time boondocking trips, depending on the type of battery. 

Keep reading for my explanation of the various types of RV batteries for boondocking. 

BTW, if you love boondocking…

Best RV Battery for Boondocking (2021) 5

If you're a die-hard boondocker like Jennifer and me, you should check out our Boondocker t-shirt and Boondocker hoodie… they'll keep you comfy all year long and spur plenty of conversations.

You'd be surprised how often Jennifer and I meet people because they ask us, “What's a boondocker?” And as you know, we love to share the RV lifestyle with as many people as possible.

Different Types of Batteries

When looking into the best RV battery for boondocking, there are a lot of choices. Most batteries can fit into three broad categories, with each offering benefits and drawbacks. 

Keep reading to learn about lithium ion batteries, lead-acid deep cycle batteries, and absorbent glass mat batteries. 

Lithium-Ion Batteries

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Lithium-ion batteries are the leading battery choice for boondocking. They are newer than lead-acid batteries, and lighter and more compact. In fact, you probably already own small lithium batteries in your laptop or cell phone!

They do not need as much maintenance as lead-acid batteries, making them easier to deal with. They can also lose their charge completely without damaging the battery, unlike lead-acid batteries. 

A lithium battery is expensive, but if you spend a long time off the grid, it's worth it. These batteries are lighter and require little maintenance. They are a good, reliable battery for full-time boondocking adventures!

Lead-Acid Deep Cycle RV Batteries

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Lead acid batteries are the most common type of RV battery. They are made of lead plates that are submerged in an electrolyte solution (a combination of sulfuric acid and water). You will want to look for a “deep cycle” battery for your RV, since they can discharge better than other lead-acid batteries. 

These batteries come in both 6- and 12-Volt sizes. 

They work fine for long-term boondockers, if you cannot afford a lithium-ion battery. However, for full-time boondocking you should really consider saving up for the lithium-ion option. Just be sure to always check the water level and do not drain it fully. 

Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) Batteries

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Similar to lead-acid batteries, AGM batteries use glass fibers, not lead plates, in a mat. While they discharge better than lead-acid batteries, most RVers don’t find their advantages worth the higher price tag. 

One major advantage of AGM batteries is that they do not require maintenance like their lead-acid counterpart. 

If you plan on doing some long-term boondocking, but do not want to purchase the pricier lithium-ion battery, this will work well. Just be sure to check the water level and don’t drain it too far. 

This is perhaps the best RV battery for boondocking on short trips. If you’re only going out for a weekend, this battery should be enough to suit your needs. 

Other Considerations

After deciding on the best RV battery for boondocking for you, you may still have some questions. 

Should I Keep My Battery Plugged In?

Can keeping your battery plugged in make your battery less effective? The short answer is yes. You do not want to overcharge your batteries. 

One simple solution is picking up a smart or solar battery charger. Both devices monitor the status of your battery, keeping it only at the optimal charge level, extending its battery life. Either one will ensure that your battery does not get damaged from overcharging.

How Do I Maintain my Battery Setup?  

If you choose to purchase a lead-acid battery, you will want to ensure that the water level stays constant. If the level drops too low, it can cause damage to the battery. Be sure to keep distilled water on-hand to keep the level consistent with what is called for in the owner’s manual. 

Lithium and AGM batteries require less regular maintenance. You do not need to monitor the water level with those battery types. 

That concludes our list for the best RV battery for boondocking! You may also want to check out Solar Panels for RV Battery Charging- 8 Quick & Easy FAQs.

Your Vote for Best RV Battery for Boondocking

Please share in the comments what kind of battery management system you use and recommend. Your advice on the best RV batteries can help a fellow RVer!

And now that you know all about RV batteries – You might want to look at The Beginners Guide to Boondocking

ebook boondocking guide

More than 65 pages of downloadable content to help you with the most common boondocking problems. From how to get started boondocking to where to go and what equipment to use, it's all here in this digital guide. 

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Best RV Battery for Boondocking (2021)

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

7 Comments

  • House batteries tend to be LiFePo4, which is Lithium Iron (a very different chemistry from Lithium Ion).

    • I agree with Dolph on using the proper acronyms for battery types. Lithium (Li) Iron (Fe) Phosphate (Po4) batteries (aka: LiFePo4) are very safe and are typically what is used as upgrade replacements for lead-acid in RV’s etc… so more accurate and appropriate to refer to them as LiFePo4 to people. On the other hand Lithium-Ion batteries, which are typically is used in cell phones and other small electronics have reported instances of overheating and exploding in rare cases depending on the device. They have a “bad reputation” in that regard, which is why it’s better to not refer to lithium batteries in RV use as “Lithium-Ion” as this may discourage RV folks from making the switch to lithium in their rigs. Better to use the term “LiFePo4” so people can read/research accurate info on the battery chemistry.

  • Hi, I’m already a subscriber and enjoy your weekly updates. Did a lot of camping of all kinds over the years, but have been away from it since I am alone. I’ve decided to get back as a solo traveler, and am currently reworking my SUV to accommodate it. Would love your packing list and any other information you could provide. I’m a senior and am anxious to get back to the camping lifestyle at least part time. Wish me luck!

  • I use Big Battery 170 AH. I like that you get 70 more AH for the same price as 100 AH ones. It also has a shut of switch buoy in and display that shows its voltage. Also it has a built in 300 amp fuse to protect the battery from catastrophic damage. Has a 10 year warranty and much lighter than lead acid.

  • Good information on the batteries! You got my husband very interested in the lithium batteries!

  • Lithium iron phosphate is definitely the best, but be careful when recharging. A regular battery charger or the charger in your trailer must be rated for lithium batteries because otherwise you will shorten the life of your lithium battery

  • While lithium LiFePo4 is the superior boondocking technology, it still falls seriously short of the mark for 4 season applications because its low-temperature performance is not up to it. As has been pointed out, there are many lithium technologies. Some of them do make the grade but are not yet in common use.,

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