RV House Batteries – Comparing The Top 3 Choices

RV house batteries are a major power source for your RV living space.

If you have a motorhome, you probably have another set of batteries. They start the engine and run all kinds of chassis related items. And they are usually called the chassis batteries.

But the batteries that power your living space are designed to provide steady 12 volt power for a long time. They are not usually used for cranking an engine.

So what are your choices for RV house batteries? Let’s take a look at them now.

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Lead Acid RV House Batteries

Many RVs come with 12-volt lead acid house batteries when they are new. But RV owners often replace them with golf cart batteries instead. Especially if they plan on doing much boondocking.

Golf cart batteries are designed to provide a lot of power for a long time. So that makes them an ideal choice for RVs as well.

But they usually come in 6 volt versions instead of 12-volts. So it takes two 6-volt golf cart batteries to replace one 12-volt battery.

And they are very heavy because they have much thicker lead plates than 12-volt batteries. So you have to be able accommodate the extra size and weight.

Now let’s talk about the pros and cons of golf cart 6-volt lead acid batteries.

Watch my Youtube video on RV house batteries

Lead Acid Battery Advantages

  1. They are usually the lowest cost battery that you can use for your house battery bank.
  2. They are easy to find. You can get lead acid batteries in lots of places. Auto parts stores, Walmart, Sam’s, Costco, and other stores often carry them.
  3. The technology is old but it is also very reliable if you care for them. Do the regular maintenance on these batteries and they will reward you for it.

Lead Acid Battery Disadvantages

  1. They are very heavy. You will need a stout storage area for them. And the weight becomes more of an issue with every battery that you add.
  2. You can only regularly discharge a lead acid battery safely to about 50%. You may occasionally discharge them to as low as 20%, but don’t do it often. This means that you only have about half the stored power of the battery available to you.
  3. They require regular monthly attention to replace the water that has evaporated in the charging process. And always use only distilled water in lead acid batteries. This keeps the impurities in tap water from attaching to the lead plates. If they do, they can lower the battery efficiency quite a bit.
  4. Lead acid batteries produce toxic gasses during the charging process. So this means that they must be well vented. Storing them inside the RV is NOT a good idea.

Absorbed Glass Mat RV House Batteries

Absorbed Glass Mat or AGM batteries solve some of the negative issues with lead acid batteries.

These batteries are not filled with a water and acid solution. Instead, each cell uses a solid glass mat that is absorbed with the proper solution to charge the battery plates.

So let’s start with the pros of AGM batteries when they are used for RV house batteries.

Click here for AGM RV house batteries

AGM Battery Advantages

  1. No water in each battery cell means much less maintenance.
  2. Not nearly as much toxic gassing takes place with an AGM battery. But it’s still enough to prevent them from being used safely inside the RV.
  3. You can mount them in almost any position because there is no liquid solution to leak out.
  4. They charge faster than regular lead acid batteries in most cases.
  5. They can be discharged to 20% of battery capacity more often. I wouldn’t do it on a regular basis, but they can take more deep discharges more easily.
  6. Low self-discharge rate while in storage and not being used.

AGM Battery Disadvantages

  1. They can cost nearly twice as much as most lead acid batteries.
  2. The battery charger used for charging must be able to be used for AGM batteries.
  3. They are sensitive to being overcharged. So make sure you have a good quality battery charger for AGMs.
  4. They also must be installed in a vented exterior compartment. Even though off-gassing is lower than with lead acid batteries, it still exists with AGMs.

Lithium RV House Batteries

RV Lithium batteries are getting more popular in RVing circles by the day.

They are especially in favor with RVers who like to dry camp or boondock.

They do have a lot of advantages on their side. And they actually are practically the perfect RV house batteries. But they have just one big disadvantage that we will cover.

So let’s start with the positives about RV lithium batteries.

Click here for RV lithium batteries

RV Lithium Battery Advantages

  1. They are much lighter than any other kind of RV house batteries. Much lighter!
  2. There is pretty much no maintenance need as they are in use.
  3. They can be installed in any position. There is no liquid to leak out, so no need to be placed upright.
  4. No off-gassing. This means that they may be stored inside the RV and many RVers use them that way. Of course, that opens up a lot more options for battery storage.
  5. They last a very long time. Usually 3 – 5 times as long as other types of batteries, or even more.
  6. They charge up to four times faster than other types of RV house batteries.
  7. You can discharge them up to almost 100% repeatedly without damage to the battery. This means that you get the full use of the rated power for each battery.
  8. Very low self-discharge rate when not in use.

RV Lithium Battery Disadvantages

  1. There is one big disadvantage of RV lithium batteries at this time. And that is the cost. They often cost 8 – 10 times what a lead acid battery costs to buy. So buying a full bank of lithium batteries is very expensive.
  2. Usually can’t be charged while the temperature around the battery is below freezing. Of course, if they are stored inside, that’s usually not a problem.

RV House Batteries Comparison Conclusions

So having covered the pros and cons of the three most popular types of RV house batteries, what can we say?

Generally speaking, lead acid RV house batteries are great for RVers that spend most of their time in campgrounds. They also are good choices for those who are RVing on a budget as they are much cheaper than other battery types.

But you have to be willing to do regular maintenance on both them and the battery cables to keep them in shape.

AGM batteries are very good choices for full-time RVers and those who like to boondock a lot. They are a great choice for a solar panel systems too. You just have to be able to afford the extra initial cost.

RV lithium batteries answer almost all of the disadvantages of the other two battery types, but they are very expensive. The good news is that the costs seem to be lowering as they become more accepted. So hopefully, they will eventually become much more affordable for most RVers.

They are very good choices for full-time RVers and boondockers who have a large budget to work with. And they are practically made for use in RV solar systems.

A couple of very important extra points need to be made here.

First, don’t mix and match battery types. That’s a big no-no!

And make sure that you get a high quality multi-stage RV battery charger for charging. Doing so, will reward you with a long and productive battery life.

I hope this information on RV house batteries helps you understand your choices better.

Have safe and happy travels my friends!

The Top 10 RV Tools That Are Must-Haves For Every RVer

All experienced RV travelers know that having the right RV tools on hand is essential. That’s because RVs constantly need minor repairs.

It’s not hard to understand why when you realize that an RV is a home that is driven down the road. And that means that it’s being shaken and jostled as it goes.

So RVs are subjected to stresses that stationary homes never experience.

That means that screws and bolts often get loose. And sometimes things break. But if you have the right basic tools on hand, you can handle most of these repairs yourself.

So this article is about the kind of tools every RVer should have readily at hand for minor repairs. Let’s get started on the top ten list of RV tools that will be needed.

The Top 10 Tools For Your RV Tool Kit
Watch my video on the Top 10 RV tools by clicking the image above

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#1 – Cordless Drill/Driver

There are lots of screws that are used in the construction of an RV. In fact, that is the one fastener that you will most likely encounter in any repair project.

Of course, you can choose the more labor intensive way and just use a set of screwdrivers if you wish. But having a good cordless drill/driver will make your life so much easier.

And you could just choose a corded one instead. But my experience has been that although it works just fine, it’s more of a hassle to use.

That cord is always getting in the way it seems. And usually it happens at the worst times. So not having to think about managing an electrical cord as you work is great.

It may seem obvious, but don’t forget that you will also need a good assortment of drill and driver bits. The drill/driver is no real help unless it has the bits that go with it.

And finally, there is no need to overbuy this kind of tool. Expensive drill/driver sets are mainly for heavy duty use by professionals. So getting a lower cost quality unit will be just fine for your needs on minor RV repairs.

Cordless drill/driver I recommend

RV tools #2 – Drill/Driver hand tool

You may be wondering why I also recommend having a manual drill/driver after singing the praises of a powered one in the section above.

The main reason it’s a good idea to have one of these tools is to avoid over-tightening screws and fasteners. One of the last things you want to do is strip out a hole where the fastener goes.

And powered drill/drivers can do this very quickly if you aren’t careful.

So I often use the cordless drill/driver to screw in the fastener most of the way. Then I use the hand tool to finish it off.

That’s because you can feel when the fastener is getting tight by hand and then stop. But the powered tool can easily go too far before you know it.

Multi-use hand drill/driver I recommend

#3 – Claw Hammer

Almost any construction or repair project can benefit from having a hammer handy.

And one of the most versatile hammers available is the good old-fashioned claw hammer.

The hammer part of the head is useful for nailing things as well as taking things apart in demolition. It also can be useful for driving stakes in the ground.

The claw part of the hammer is great for removing things that are fastened down.

All in all, it’s a really useful and versatile tool that any RVer should have on hand.

Claw hammer I recommend

#4 – Utility Knife

There are all sorts of minor repairs and projects around an RV that can benefit from using a utility knife.

And there are several kinds of utility knives to be had. But I personally recommend using one that has snap-off blades.

I find that it works well for almost any project around the RV and allows you to have a sharp blade all the time.

Utility knife with snap-off blades I recommend

RV tools #5 – Multi-Tester

If you have any kind of electrical problem or issue on your RV, you will be glad to have an electrical multi-tester to use on it.

A multi-tester is one of the RV tools that proves it’s value over and over again.

It’s not uncommon to have electrical circuit issues on RVs. And diagnosing that kind of problem to find the source can be problematic.

But it’s almost impossible to diagnose these kind of issues without the help of a good electrical multi-tester.

Again, there is no need for a really expensive model if you aren’t a repair expert. And a good, useful multi-tester can often be had for under $75.

Electrical multi-tester I recommend

#6 – Gorilla Tape

Of all the RV tools that you really should have on hand, gorilla tape or duct tape whould be high on the list.

This stuff is so useful for so many kinds of projects around the RV, it’s hard to list them all. In fact, you may find yourself using it more than almost anything else to solve some RV issues.

Even if the RV repair is a temporary one, it usually buys you enough time to arrange for a more permanent repair later on.

So be sure to have a couple of rolls of this kind of tape in your RV tool bag.

Gorilla tape I recommend

Duct tape I recommend

RV Tools #7 – Tape Measure

It seems that I am constantly using a tape measure to find out how much room I have in the RV for something I need.

In fact, a tape measure is useful in almost any project or repair you encounter on an RV.

And it’s a good idea to have them in different sizes. I often keep a smaller 10 foot tape measure inside the RV.

Then for larger projects I have a 25 foot and a 50 foot tape measure in my RV tool bag as well.

25 foot tape measure I recommend

#8 – LED Flashlight

RVs are filled with small, dark places that are hard to see into easily.

So having a good LED flashlight that is small and yet powerful is one of your most valuable RV tools.

I also have different kinds of flashlights too, and I keep them in various places throughout the RV.

That’s because it’s important to have one handy for all sorts of things you do in the RV.

Some of my flashlights have a normal shape, but some are also flat or can be hung up as you use it. Just make sure that one is readily available when you need it.

LED flashlight I recommend

#9 – Ladder

Getting up to the top of an RV is going to be vital. So a good ladder is one of your most valuable RV tools.

Here again, I have more than one kind of ladder for my own use.

I have a very small single step ladder that comes in handy when getting to something just outside my reach.

Then I have a 6 foot step ladder that allows me to access almost any area on the sides of my motorhome.

And then I have a foldable ladder that can be converted from a step ladder into a straight ladder. And it is long enough that I can even use it to get on the roof of my RV if needed.

The key to buying a ladder for use around an RV is to get one that is as light as possible. Usually this means either a fiberglass or aluminum ladder.

Aluminum ladder I recommend

RV Tools #10 – Socket and Wrench Set

Just as there are all kinds of screws used as fasteners around an RV, you will also encounter lots of bolts and nuts too.

This means that you must have a good socket and wrench set to handle these kind of fasteners.

These days it is a good idea to have both SAE and metric sockets and wrenches to be sure that you have the right tool on hand.

Of course, then you need to choose the size of the socket set too. The main choices are 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch drive sets.

1/4 inch drive sockets can work for many small RV projects. But if you want a good overall size, 3/8 inch sets are probably the most useful for RV projects.

And 1/2 inch drive is usually too bulky for most standard repairs on an RV.

I know that a lot of RVers just grab an adjustable wrench when they encounter a nut or bolt. But an adjustable wrench can easily round off the heads of the nuts if you aren’t very careful.

So it’s better to take the time to find the correct size socket or wrench and do the job right.

Socket and combination wrench set I recommend

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Conclusion

The list of RV tools that I just provided in this article is by no means an exhaustive list.

But it is the list of tools that I find myself using more often than most other tools.

So if you feel that you want to try to handle most small and minor RV repair projects on your rig, this list is a good place to start.

Gas VS Diesel RV – Which Is Best?

If there is one hot topic on the RV forums online, it is the question: gas vs diesel RV – which is best? And there are many opinions on the subject.

It seems that many RV owners think that whatever engine they have is best. But it’s just not that simple.

As with so many other subjects having to do with RV living, there is no one solution for everyone. So you have to find out what works best for you and your needs for RV travel.

RV manufacturers still make RVs with both gas engines and diesel engines. And they both sell very well.

So there are those who benefit in some way from the features of each engine. And that means that there are pros and cons for both gas and diesel engines.

I am going to try and provide a solid list of these pros and cons for you now. If you have even further points of your own to add to this list, please do so in the comments below.

Diesel Pusher Pros

Diesel pusher motorhome - gas vs diesel rv
Diesel pusher motorhome

Disclosure: Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means – at no additional cost to you – I earn a commission if you make a purchase using our affiliate links. I only link to products and companies I use and feel comfortable recommending. The income goes toward supporting the free content on this website.

  • They are powerful. In some cases, very powerful. They can climb a steep grade with ease because of the engine’s lower torque.
  • Diesel engines have exhaust brakes that will make going down a steep grade much easier too. This saves your wheel brakes from overheating.
  • Diesel engines are very good for moving heavy weight. So you can have large appliances and more luxury features built into diesel pushers.
  • More living space. Since weight is not such a problem with diesel engines, the RV can be bigger and longer.
  • The noise level while driving a diesel pusher is much lower. This is mainly because the engine is way back in the rear of the RV.
  • More storage. Most diesel pushers have large storage compartments. Some are often even pass-through bays that make storage a breeze.
  • Diesel engines usually last much longer before needing to be rebuilt. In fact, you will probably wear out the RV before the diesel engine itself.
  • Diesel pushers usually have air ride suspensions. So they seem to just glide down the highway.
  • They also can tow much heavier vehicles due to the powerful engine as well as the beefed-up suspension and braking systems.
  • Diesel pushers also hold their value much better than gas-powered RVs.

Diesel Pusher Cons

  • The cost to buy! Diesel pushers cost a lot more when new and used. If you are on a budget, this may be a big issue.
  • They also cost more to maintain. It’s not necessarily a lot more, but there is more expensive maintenance that goes with these engines.
  • Rebuilding or replacing the engine is a major expense. Again, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, get out your wallet!
  • A long diesel pusher will have more difficulty getting into some national parks and boondocking spots as well as some fuel stations.
  • Diesel fuel costs more. Although if you get a good diesel fuel discount card the difference between fuel costs narrows considerably.
  • Since diesel engines require a qualified diesel engine tech, finding repair facilities for them is not as easy as gas engines.
  • Since diesel engines require the use of DEF (diesel exhaust fluid), it is another liquid that you have to keep on hand for every fill-up.

Gas RV Pros

Gas-powered motorhome - gas vs diesel rv
Gas-powered motorhome
  • They are less expensive to buy! If you want to full-time, the entry expense can be high, but gas-powered RVs make it easier to get started.
  • They are less expensive to repair and maintain. All those extras and luxuries that go with Diesel pushers cost more to keep up.
  • When it is time to repair or maintain a gas RV, there are a lot more places to choose from for RV service.
  • Since they are smaller, they can often fit in more campgrounds and national parks. And finding boondocking spots is easier too.
  • If you have some kind of auto mechanic background, you will probably be able to do some of the repairs and maintenance yourself.
  • Gas is cheaper than diesel. So if you are on a budget, this is an area where monthly savings can be had.
  • Getting in and out of gas stations is usually much easier because the rig is not as long and cumbersome to move around.

Gas RV Cons

  • They don’t have as many extras and features as diesel pushers. All that gingerbread requires weight management that gas RVs don’t have.
  • They are not quite as comfortable as diesel pushers while going down the highway. But the newer gassers are much better at this.
  • The engine does not last as long and will require rebuilding much sooner than a diesel engine.
  • They don’t retain their value nearly as well as a diesel-powered RV.
  • They have less storage capacity. Again, this is because diesel engines can push more weight. That’s why truckers use diesel engines.
  • They can’t tow as much. There are plenty of vehicles that they can tow, but you won’t be able to tow the heavy ones.
  • They are noisier in the cockpit. Since the engine is right there next to you when driving, the noise and heat is greater, especially at high RPMs.

How To Decide Between A Gas VS Diesel RV

When considering a gas vs diesel RV, it’s a lot to think about. But essentially, a lot of the differences comes down to cost.

If you have plenty of funds available for purchasing and maintaining your RV, a diesel pusher may win out. But if you are on a budget, a gas RV may make a lot more sense.

If lots of luxury appliances and items are very important to you, then maybe a diesel pusher is best for you. Then again, maybe having a smaller and more manageable RV that can fit in smaller spaces easier is a high priority. In that case, look seriously at gas-powered RVs instead.

The good news is that either one will be fine for enjoying the RV lifestyle. Many RV owners full-time in either a gas or diesel-powered RV while enjoying the RV lifestyle immensely.

And either a diesel pusher or a gasser RV will take you where you want to go in your RV travels equally well.

So there is no right or wrong choice between these two types of motorhomes as far as RVing is concerned. Just balance your needs and concerns and make the choice that will fit your situation best.

I hope this discussion of gas vs diesel RVs has been helpful. Please comment below and add any additional thoughts about this comparison that you may have. As always, have safe and happy travels my friends!

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