If you truly want to maximize your RV’s solar system, adding a battery to your system is a good way of achieving it.
We’re going to break down the best batteries for an RV solar system and help you determine which one is the best.
Before you can answer if you should get a battery with the solar system on your RV, we must know how to size and scale the RV’s solar system.
Sizing the Solar System
The three main components that you need to size for your RV solar system are the solar panels, the inverter, and most importantly, the batteries.
The Solar Panels
The purpose of the solar panels in your RV solar system is to replenish the electricity you use in 24 hours.
Determining the number of solar panels needed for the RV can be calculated by gathering your typical electricity usage per day.
We suggest making a list of all the electrical devices, their amperage draw of those devices, and the number of hours that you plan on using those devices.
For example, if the lights system in your RV draws around 3A and you’re using it for 8 hours, multiply those two values and you have 24 Amp-hours.
What we need to do is gather the amp hours of all our devices and add them together to get the total amp hours your RV draws in a day.
This number is what the solar panels would need to replace every day when the sun is shining.
Now that we have this value, we can assume we get around 7 hours of sunlight per day.
if we take our amp hours and divide it by the 7 sun hours, we’re left with the total amperage that the solar panels should generate for 7 hours. For this example, let’s say we’re left with 30A.
Solar panels are measured in watts, but we have amperage, so simply multiplying volts by amps gives us the wattage.
The average solar panel for an RV generates around 20V. Multiplying the two values together gives us 600W.
This is the minimum wattage of solar panels needed for your RV system.
We say minimum because you’re not always guaranteed to get 7 hours of sun every day. Adding an extra 13% to 20% to that wattage should be the recommended wattage.
Sizing the Batteries
Knowing how to calculate battery capacity for solar systems, both RV and residential, is easy if we already have our solar needs from earlier. The purpose of the battery bank in an RV’s solar system is to provide a repository for the energy being generated during the day.
This allows you to make use of the power when the sun goes down. If you’re constantly on the move and come across very cloudy conditions, the solar panels won’t do much in harnessing the sun’s energy.
A battery that’s been charging for the days when there has been sun will be more than capable to keep you powered during those cloudy days. Ideally, you’d want a battery bank big enough to last for 3 or 4 consecutive cloudy days.
Same as before, we take our total amp hours and multiply it by 3 cloudy days to get the total amp hours.
To figure out how many batteries you need in your 3 kW bank, you’d want to obtain the watt hours using the voltage and amperage values and then convert that into kilowatt hours.
Once you’ve done that, it’s a matter of simple division. Simply divide the kilowatt hours by the voltage of your battery and you’ll get the amount needed in your bank. Adding batteries to an existing solar system on an RV proves useful in weeks when those cloudy days become more frequent.
Differences In the Type of Batteries Used in the System
The allowable depth of discharge of a lead acid battery is around 50%, so we need to multiply the amp hours by 2 to get the capacity of a lead acid battery bank needed for the 3 cloudy days. If our amp hours equated to around 470, we would need a total battery capacity of around 940Ah.
This is a very large and dangerous battery bank as lead acid batteries come with a multitude of problems. When using a lithium-ion battery, the discharge is around 80%. So, if we divide the 470Ah by 0.8, we’re left with a total battery bank capacity of around 588Ah.
A lithium battery solar system for your RV is safer than lead acid as you won’t need to worry about constant maintenance. The only downside is the price can be quite steep if you’re new to the RV solar system game.
Finally, we want to size our solar panel inverter for our RV solar system. The purpose of the inverter is to convert the DC electricity to usable AC power to power your appliances.
The inverter only needs to be large enough to power the AC appliances that you want to run simultaneously. Your solar needs will decrease significantly as you won’t need to worry about powering the DC devices through the inverter.
The same way we determined the watts of the solar panel is the method used here to determine the size of the inverter. you should take this total wattage and add an extra 20% to it if you want an inverter that’s overcharged rather than undercharged.
Now that we’ve covered all the aspects of an RV solar system, we can shift our focus toward the battery. Why is adding a battery to an RV solar system so important?
Benefits of Adding a Battery
There a plenty of benefits to adding a battery to your RV solar system. Let’s have a look at what they might be.
When you’re constantly on the move in your RV, your environment is forever changing. This means that you’re going to come across areas that don’t receive much sunlight.
Clouds, trees, and anything else obscuring your solar panel view from the sun can lead to no power being generated. If you have a battery, those cloudy and dark days can still be filled with power.
Your battery acts as a backup energy system as well as a repository for all the energy generated during the days when there’s plenty of sunshine.
Make the Most of Your Solar System
A solar battery ensures you’re making the most out of your solar system, guaranteeing that you always have power. You don’t necessarily need a battery for your RV solar system, but there are days when your solar panels can’t generate power.
On those days, if you don’t have a battery or generator, you’re at a dead end. As much as a generator does the job of keeping you powered, they constantly need to be refilled with gas, which is an expense.
Also, gas isn’t the most eco-friendly resource, whereas most batteries designed for solar panels are. So not only are you saving money, but you’re saving the environment too.
Renogy 12V Smart LiFeP04 Battery
Renogy comes in swinging with the 12V Smart battery and tries to cater more towards the RV and camper audience.
It’s small, affordable, and something that RV users are sure to find to be a good addition to their solar system.
This is a lithium-ion battery so you can expect a quality, lightweight, and an eco-friendly battery that will last you for years to come.
The battery has a classic look that doesn’t do too much to spice up the appearance, but it’s a battery.
You aren’t purchasing it for the looks, but some RV users may want a more visually pleasing battery.
There are two ports located on the top of the battery. One is the up port and the other is the link port.
These are used to connect battery monitors if you’re wanting to track your battery’s performance, or for connecting the battery to another.
The battery itself isn’t too heavy, coming in at around 26lbs. so connecting them in parallel and securing them in a frame is easy.
These batteries have a rated capacity of 100Ah, a nominal voltage of around 12.8V, and a voltage resistance of around 14.8V.
To put this into perspective, a single battery like this can run a 1200W appliance for around 1 hour.
You’ll be able to power smaller appliances like 600W or 400W for around 3 hours.
Finally, if you have a 100W appliance, it can be powered for 12 hours straight without any hiccups.
This battery includes Renogy’s auto balance feature that allows you to connect multiple batteries in parallel without any issues.
Connecting batteries in parallel for RV users can prove useful if you’re wanting to increase the battery capacity and overall duration in which they remain on.
Protection and safety are key when it comes to batteries, and luckily, this battery ticks the box.
It includes a battery management system that manages the charging and discharge process effectively, preventing any cases of overheating and overcharging.
There’s a communication port located near the top that enables data transmission to suit the needs of various devices in different scenarios.
This port also allows for real-time monitoring of those devices, providing an accurate statistic of how much power is being drawn.
It has a lifespan of over 4000 cycles and a continuous discharge of 100A. You won’t be needing a replacement any time soon.
The Renogy 12V Smart LiFeP04 battery is priced at around $880. For a battery with an extensive list of features and charging capabilities, it’s well worth the price.
Any RV user will be happy to add this to their solar system.
SOK 12V Battery
SOK brings affordable and high-quality lithium-ion batteries to the market, perfect for your RV solar system.
The SOK 12V battery is light and affordable, feeling at home when paired with the components of your solar system on the road.
The SOK 12V battery offers a more traditional approach when it comes to the overall aesthetic. It has a neat matte black design that resembles a typical battery and it's relatively light, weighing in at 48lbs.
These batteries are easy to open and service should the need arise. The top lid is secured with a line of Phillips screws so a screwdriver is all you need when opening and closing the battery.
The battery has a nominal voltage of around 12.8V with 1,280Wh. The maximum continuous charge count is 50A and a recommended low voltage disconnect of around 10.4V This is plenty of power to keep almost every appliance in your RV energized and ready to use.
The expected charge cycle is around 8000 so you’ll be good for a couple of years before needing a replacement.
These batteries can be connected in series, allowing for a 24V, 36v, and 48V setup. This allows you to extend the battery’s lifespan as well as charge or power multiple.
It’s important to ensure that when connecting the batteries in series that they are in the same state of charge before being connected. Otherwise, you won’t be making the most out of the battery’s output.
An interesting selling point for this battery is that it has a built-in heater. This means that the battery can be charged when faced with extremely cold conditions. The heater kicks in when the surrounding temperature reaches 0 degrees.
When the environment gets back to a warm enough temperature, which is usually above 5 degrees, the heater shuts off and the battery begins to operate in its regular state.
The battery also has a Bluetooth and wifi module allowing you to use the SOK app to view statistics such as the battery life and voltage output. The heater as well as the Bluetooth and wifi module are bolted onto the Battery Management System board.
The SOK Battery has a good number of features and safety measures to ensure that your RV stays powered. One of these units can go for around $1200, falling in between budget and premium.
You probably need around 7 of these batteries to make up a bank for your RV, which is around $8,000. This is a heads-up in case you were wondering how much it costs to add battery storage to a solar system.
EcoFlow Delta Pro Smart Battery
EcoFlow hails from China and has been the go-to brand for RV users wanting a smart battery with plenty of safety features.
The EcoFlow Delta Pro acts as a portable home battery that’s environment-friendly and allows you to reap the benefits of a home battery when on the road in your RV. This isn’t your typical lithium-ion battery and serves more as a premium addition to your RV solar system.
This smart battery doesn’t shy away from looking smart and high-tech. On the front panel side, there’s an LCD that shows the runtime in hours, as well as the power coming in and out of the unit.
There’s a variety of AC and USB ports located beneath the LCD screen, but the port we’re interested in the most is the 30A socket. This gives the ability to power your RV with ease as it catered towards RV users.
It’s modular in design meaning that it's part of a larger group of devices that can be used to power your RV for many days. The backside of the battery has a solar port allowing you to charge the battery directly using solar power.
These batteries have 5 AC ports that have a total of 3,600W total output, and 6 DC ports with a total of 300W.
It allows for AC charging of up to 1,800W and has 6,500 cycles, so it's safe to say that you won’t be needing a replacement any time soon.
The back of the EcoFlow Delta Pro has a button that allows you to throttle down your charging of the devices. This is allowing you to extend the battery’s lifespan as well as cater to appliances that don’t support 1,800W of power.
These batteries can be charged using solar power up to 1200W, making it convenient for your RV solar system. You’re able to use the EcoFlow app to track and alter settings on the battery using Bluetooth, WiFi connectivity, or an ethernet port. Should there be an issue with the internal circuitry, you can simply crack open the battery using a single screwdriver and Allen key.
With the number of features and overall design of this battery, it’s an expensive purchase for the regular RV user. But if you’re looking at it in the long run, this battery does more than keep your RV powered.
It doubles as a welcome addition to your RV solar system as well as allowing you to use it during an outdoor camping experience. You can purchase a single unit for $2500, but since these batteries encourage dual connectivity between units, most retailers sell two of them in a bundle.
Jakiper PRO Lithium Battery
Jakiper batteries provide high-quality and eco-friendly solutions to your RV solar needs. The Jakiper PRO is a 48V lithium battery that falls under the midrange.
These batteries have an old-school look, resembling part of a server. The reason being is that they can be stacked in the same way that a server is stacked. There’s a small LCD with buttons next to it to allow for navigation.
The screen displays the voltage and amperage coming in and out of the battery as well as the temperature and state of charge of the cell. The battery comes bundled with a rack to allow for stacking. This means the batteries can be daisy-chained to make for a powerful battery bank.
The Jakiper PRO has a nominal voltage of around 51V and a nominal capacity of 100Ah. The energy capacity is rated at 20A running for 300 minutes straight.
If you stack up the batteries, they’ll be connected in parallel. If you want an incredibly powerful battery bank, you can maximize the wattage to 81920W with 16 individual batteries. This is plenty of power to keep 2 RVs powered for days on end.
This battery has an automatic shutdown process that initiates as soon as the battery reaches a temperature of -5 degrees. We find this to be a good way to prevent overcharging in cold conditions which ensures that your battery has a long-lasting life.
The battery is user serviceable should any problems occur and it comes with a manual allowing you to troubleshoot your issues with ease. The inner leads in the unit itself are barricaded and protected to ensure that your wires don’t become messy when you need to troubleshoot.
The on and off button on the front of the battery allows you to toggle the battery management system. This makes it easy to use the pre-charge resistor circuit within the battery when you need to charge up the capacitors in the RV’s inverter.
These batteries serve as a good addition to your RV solar system if you’re wanting to expand and ensure that you’re set for those cloudy days. A single Jakiper Pro lithium battery sells for around $1,700 and comes with lifetime customer support.
AIMS Power Lithium Battery
Our final battery comes from AIMS Power, a company that provides good quality AGM and lithium batteries for homeowners and RV users. The AIMS lithium battery is a deep-cycle battery that packs a lot of power for its size.
This battery is a long rectangular box that’s perfect for stacking. The top of the battery has an on and off switch as well as 4 LEDs displaying the battery’s state of charge.
The rear side of the battery has 2 communication ports and two connection points for the battery’s negative and positive nodes. These batteries are more on the heavy side, weighing in at 184lb, so stacking these batteries will make for a hard-to-carry bank.
These batteries provide 8 times more battery cycles than AIM’s own AGM batteries, coming in at a whopping 3,500 cycles at 80% DoD. It can reach around 6000 cycles when at 60% DoD.
This gives you plenty of life and enough juice to keep your RV solar system running.
The AIMS power lithium battery has an automatic low voltage shutdown as well as voltage overcharge protection. This prevents the battery from technical failure as well as overheating.
Another neat safety measure the battery performance is balancing out the cells automatically using the battery management system. This ensures the cell integrity is optimal and in good condition.
You can have up to 10 of these batteries connected in parallel, so there’s plenty of power to go around. Thanks to the RS485 and CAN communication ports, you’re able to monitor as well as change settings through desktop software from AIMS’ website.
The AIMS Power Lithium Battery swings more towards the premium RV solar systems as they come in at $5,000.
This is a powerful battery so you won’t need to buy a large amount of them to make up a bank.
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