6-Volt Vs. 12-Volt RV Batteries: What Are the Differences?
With reliable electricity sources, you can make your RVing experience way better. Your recreational vehicle needs an alternate current for all household appliances. These include air conditioners, television sets, microwaves, etc. Such a system is very much similar to what is running in your home.
But to have this kind of system in your recreational vehicle, you require a generator. Or you can go for an inverter unit that is directly plugged into a household circuit. Apart from that, you can also use a 12-volt battery for this.
For achieving a genuine 12-V, you can use different batteries, including 6V batteries. But to have a better understanding, read on to find the difference between these two types of RV batteries.
Different Types of Batteries
Primarily, there are three different types of RV batteries: Gel, AGM, and Lead-acid. There is a range of other variants as well, but these three types are primary. We will discuss each type in detail for your convenience.
Lead-acid batteries are most popular because they are inexpensive. However, these batteries need maintenance, especially when it comes to water levels.
It will help if you top up these levels using distilled water, monthly or fortnightly, based on how much you use them. If you don’t use your RV for some period, make sure you store these batteries vertically.
You also need to install them outside your vehicle to produce hydrogen, which becomes highly flammable.
AGM And Gel Batteries
These batteries don’t need any maintenance, and for this reason, they are expensive. You can always store them horizontally or vertically. They can be stored upside down too.
It makes these batteries far more versatile to work with different configurations. For example, when you are camping in the woods, you might not find a gel or an AGM battery in the nearest town.
Differences Between 6-Volt and 12-Volt Batteries
Besides the noticeable difference in voltage, other aspects differentiate both these battery types. Let’s have a look at each of these aspects.
When you are looking for high power, cost and weight will not be the deciding factors. 12-volt batteries are always a better option than 6-volt batteries. If you are not worried about the cost or the weight, the 12V option is always better.
6V batteries are not very common because they are not very easily available anywhere than 12V batteries. You will not find a 6V battery in a small town outside a remote area. This is exactly the reason why most RVers tend to prefer using 12V batteries.
With higher voltage, you will run multiple appliances and for a longer period because a battery with more significant voltage will have more ampere-hours.
The voltage tells you about a battery’s strength, but the ampere-hours tell you how much energy is stored. For example, 6V batteries tend to have lower ampere-hours than 12V batteries.
Connecting two 6V batteries can provide you with a 12V output. But when you connect two batteries in a series, it will only charge up to the lowest amp-hour capacity.
On the other hand, when you connect two 6V batteries in parallel, the combined voltage will remain 6V, but the amp-hour will be the sum of their capacities. Plus, batteries connected in parallel will charge to full capacity.
See also: Best RV Battery Chargers
6V batteries are much lighter than their 12V counterparts. When RVing, you have to shed weight as much as possible to improve overall fuel efficiency. Going for lighter batteries is always a good idea.
6V batteries use heavy plates per cell, and for that reason, they last longer than their 12-volt counterparts. This is especially the case when you use them in deep charge cycles. Deep-cycle 6V batteries can last up to 8 years.
See also: Best Deep Cycle Battery Chargers
Which One to Go for 12V or 6V Batteries?
Both 12V and 6V Batteries have their pros and cons. 12V batteries come with a bigger capacity, and they are relatively heavy. On the other hand, 6V batteries are lighter, and they have a smaller capacity.
But you can always configure them in different setups to make the most out of them. Before we further discuss, let’s be clear that the 6V batteries come with a higher number of ampere-hours, and they will last much longer than 12V batteries.
Therefore, it would be better to go for 6V batteries connected in series. This way, you can increase the overall output, which stays at 12V.
But how can you choose which setup is the best one?
Which Battery Configuration to Choose?
Primarily, there are two different configurations you can go with, and these are the best-performing options to explore. We will list down their advantages and disadvantages for your convenience.
12V Batteries in Parallel
The most popular battery configuration is a 12V parallel setup. This is used in most types of recreational vehicles. You will need a couple of jumper cables to make this setup. Just connect the positive to positive and negative to negative, and then connect the main RV wires at each end.
Most dealerships install their batteries in this configuration, and your current batteries may be wired like this. For example, most 12V batteries come with 70 Ah (amp-hour). Connecting them in parallel will give you 140 Ah with a 12V rating.
6V Batteries in Series
Several experienced RVers go for this type of configuration connected in series. With this setup, you will still get 12V which is the requirement of most appliances within an RV. In this configuration, the positive end is connected with a negative then both the ends are connected into your RV. So connected, these batteries will last very long.
Pros & Cons of Using 12-Volt Batteries in Parallel
- Ampere hour gets doubled, and you will get double charge capacity.
- Allow you to connect your smaller appliances for a much longer period.
- The voltage will stay 12V as there will be a voltage drop even if the charge drops by 50%.
- These batteries are cheaper than 6V batteries despite having more voltage.
- 12V batteries are much easier to find when you are off-road.
- Their ampere-hour rating is meager, and they don’t carry much charge as the 6V batteries do.
- When completely discharged, 12V batteries can’t recover as quickly as 6V batteries.
Pros & Cons of Using 6V Batteries in Series
- This configuration features a larger ampere-hour capacity.
- When they are fully charged, 6V batteries have more power than 12V batteries
- These batteries have bigger discharge as well as recharge capacity.
- Adequate maintenance can make 6V batteries last way longer.
- They can easily last up to 8 years.
- These batteries are way more expensive than the 12V batteries.
- They take much more space to reach the maximum output, and you might not have much room for all those 6V cells.
- Most RVs come with a 12V battery box, and a 6V battery will not fit into that box.
- These batteries are not easy to find, and you will face problems if you need them in an emergency.
- There are not many brands of 6V batteries. You will mostly find these 6V batteries in large automotive supply stores or specialty stores.
Are 2 6-volt batteries better than 2 12-volts?
This depends a lot on what capacity the batteries begin to use. If the capacities are the same, there should be no difference between the setup, especially if you go for 2 x 6V series 2 x 12V parallel. This is because 6V batteries not only come with half the voltage, but they also have a higher ampere-hour rating. Therefore, there will not be any difference between these two configurations.
Can I use 6-volt batteries in my RV?
Yes, you can do so because most experienced RVers prefer to go for 6V batteries. This is because they are pretty sturdy and come with good capacity. However, most recreational vehicles come with 12V battery boxes because 6V batteries are not readily available.
Which is better: batteries in series or parallel?
When you connect the batteries in series, voltage increases, but it will not increase the overall ampere-hour capacity. When you connect them in parallel, the total current capacity decreases total resistance and increases overall amp-hour capacity. But make sure all the batteries that are connected in parallel have a similar voltage.
Are two batteries better than one?
When you wire two batteries in series, it increases the overall voltage. 6V batteries have a higher amp-rating than their 12V counterparts for their similar size and capacity. Connecting two 6V batteries in series will provide 12V of overall power supply. Therefore, it will have a greater amperage as cared for by a single 12V cell. Hence, these two are better than one.
Which is faster, 6v or 12V?
The 12V battery will be faster with higher voltage, but the 6V battery is better for durability and resilience. A 6V will not discharge that quicker, but the 12V tends to discharge faster.
Most recreational vehicles come with 12V batteries; it doesn’t mean you can use 6V batteries. 6V batteries are more durable and long-lasting than their 12V counterparts. And this is precisely the reason why most experienced RVers prefer to choose 6V batteries. But they both have their pros and cons, and you need to pick one according to your requirements and preferences.
But 6V batteries are pretty expensive than the 12 V batteries. Plus, they are not easily available on the market. This inconvenience makes most if RVers go for the 12V alternative. But if you are looking to get more performance, the 6V batteries are much better.
I`m a current Law Enforcement Officer working within the Counterterrorism Bureau in New York State. I have been Camping for over 20 years. My styles of camping include tent, car, truck, van, and RV travel trailer. I have a YouTube channel where I teach all types of camping with an entertaining method: https://youtube.com/@TheSmallsRVAdventures