Picking the Optimal 12 Volt Battery Type
Batteries are important in any vehicle, boat, RV, or other equipment. There are various 12-volt battery types available on the market, but which one is right for you? This blog article will go through the many sorts of 12-volt batteries and help you decide which one is best for your needs. Stay tuned!
What is a 12V Battery?
Frequently used in RVs, boats, and other automobile systems, 12V batteries are a key component in many devices. A battery will need one or more cells to produce an electric current through a chemical reaction, allowing electrons to flow through a circuit. However, batteries cannot generate energy or power on their own and instead store it for later use.
The power provided by a battery is direct current (DC) as opposed to the alternating current (AC) received from wall outlets in homes. If necessary, DC electricity can be converted to AC power using an inverter.. Additionally, multiple 12-volt batteries can be connected in series or parallel to create a higher voltage or more storage capacity. For example, two 12-volt batteries in series results in a 24-volt system. However, if these same batteries were connected in parallel, the voltage would remain at 12 volts, but the amount of time the device can be powered would double.
Installed on a boat, these batteries are often used in series to provide 36 volts for a trolling motor. In an RV, this battery system generally powers basic systems like lights and some appliances while plugged into shore power. However, when travelling or boondocking, the battery system is the main power source.
12V Battery Types
Two dominant types of 12-volt rechargeable storage batteries are lead-acid and Lithium-ion. While Lead-acid has been around for quite a while, Lithium‐ion is the newer technology. There are many kinds of Lead‐acid batteries, so we will start there.
The electrolyte in flooded lead-acid batteries can move freely within the battery casing. The battery acid and lead plates combine to store energy when charged. These batteries should be mounted upright so that the electrolyte does not escape from the tops of the caps.
Flooded Lead-Acid batteries have many advantages. They are very inexpensive, starting at around $100. They are also durable, lasting 2 to 5 years with proper maintenance. These batteries are also easy to find and widely available.
One of the main advantages of Flooded Lead-Acid batteries is that they require very little maintenance. You only need to check the water level periodically and top it off as needed. These batteries are also more tolerant of deep discharge cycles than other types of lead-acid batteries.
There are certain drawbacks to using Flooded Lead-Acid batteries. One is that they require more frequent maintenance than some other types of batteries. You must check the water level on a frequent basis and top it off as needed. These batteries are also more sensitive to temperature extremes than other types of lead-acid batteries. They may need to be stored in a cool, dry place to maximize their lifespan.
Sealed Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid Batteries (VRLA)
The VRLA battery is the most popular among reserve power designs because electrolytes cannot spill even if the case becomes punctured. Also, maintenance for VRLA batteries is not required–you don’t have to add water or any other substance to them.
VRLA batteries are very low maintenance, as they do not require frequent watering like flooded lead-acid batteries. This also makes them more spill-proof and safer to use. They can be mounted in any orientation, as there is no risk of leakage. VRLA batteries also have a longer lifespan than flooded lead-acid batteries and can tolerate more deep discharge cycles.
VRLA batteries are more expensive than flooded lead-acid batteries, both upfront and in terms of replacement costs. They also require a higher initial current to get started, which can be an issue for some applications. Additionally, VRLA batteries tend to self-discharge at a higher rate than flooded lead-acid batteries, so they may need to be replaced more frequently.
Gel 12 Volt Batteries
The 12V gel battery uses a different type of electrolyte: a gel made of silica. The necessary lead plates are suspended by this silica-based gel while allowing electrons to flow between them.
Gel batteries have a few advantages over traditional lead-acid batteries.
First, the gel electrolyte is less likely to spill than liquid acid, making gel batteries safer to use and transport.
Additionally, the gel electrolyte is not as susceptible to low temperatures as liquid acid, meaning that gel batteries may be utilized in a broader variety of environments.
Finally, gel batteries require less maintenance than lead-acid batteries, as they have a lower risk of developing sulfation (a buildup of lead sulfate on the battery plates).
Despite these advantages, gel batteries do have a few drawbacks.
First, they are generally more expensive than lead-acid batteries.
Also, gel batteries typically have a shorter lifespan than lead-acid batteries, meaning they will need to be replaced more frequently.
Ultimately, whether or not a gel battery is the right choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences.
AGM 12 Volt Batteries
An absorbent glass mat (AGM) sealed lead-acid battery. AGM 12V batteries have lead plates sandwiched between fiberglass electrolyte mats. This allows for increased efficiency when discharging and recharging the batteries.
Though AGM batteries have several benefits, they can be more expensive than lead-acid or gel batteries.
Challenges For All Lead-Acid Battery Types
Lead-acid batteries are not ideal for renewable energy applications because they require a lot of maintenance and have long recharge times.
Deep discharges and partial charges damage lead-acid batteries, so careful monitoring is required to get the full lifespan of these batteries.
In addition, lead-acid batteries need a special absorption charge to get fully charged, which makes them less practical for applications that involve lots of charges and discharge cycles.
Lithium-Ion 12 Volt Battery Types
Lithium-ion batteries offer several advantages over their lead-acid counterparts.
- Firstly, they are much more efficient in terms of electricity storage. This means you can get more power out of a lithium-ion battery than you would from a lead-acid battery of the same size.
- Secondly, lithium-ion batteries are much lighter than lead-acid batteries, making them easier to transport and install.
- Finally, lithium-ion batteries have a far longer lifespan than lead-acid batteries, which means they won’t need to be replaced as frequently.
Despite the advantages, some people still stick with lead-acid batteries for their RVs.
- The main reason is cost – lithium-ion batteries can be nearly double the price of lead-acid batteries.
However, many people feel that the benefits of lithium-ion batteries outweigh the cost and are happy to make the investment.
If you’re considering upgrading to lithium-ion batteries for your RV, it’s important to research and make sure they’re the right choice for you. Consider the advantages and drawbacks carefully to ensure you make the best decision for your needs.
How to Select the Best 12 Volt Battery Type for Your Needs
There are various 12V battery types available on the market, each with its advantages and disadvantages. When choosing on the finest sort of battery for you, you must consider your budget, the temperatures you will be using the battery, and how much maintenance you are willing to do.
Lead-acid batteries are more affordable but can be less reliable in extreme temperatures and require more maintenance than other types of batteries. Gel batteries are a good choice for people who don’t want to worry about adding water to their batteries but require additional charging steps. AGM and sealed lead acid batteries are low-maintenance options that are ideal for people who don’t want to deal with the possibility of spills or corrosion. Lithium-ion batteries offer the longest lifespan and highest power output, making them the best choice for most RVers.