Types of batteries for solar rv campervan
Types of batteries and their abbreviations explained: FLA, SLI, AGM, VRLA, SLA, CCA, DOD, MCA….WTF??

Test post……When I first started researching the types of batteries for a campervan conversion, it was a little confusing.  There seemed to be so many overlapping categories — and tons of abbreviations!  So I thought I’d put together this campervan battery comparison guide to keep things straight in my head and to help out other people as well.   This is not only for camper van owners, but also for RV owners and anyone else wondering which batteries to use for solar power.  Here’s what’s discussed below:

The inside of a car battery is made up of positive and negative metal plates called electrodes, with an insulator between them called a separator, all immersed in a solution called electrolyte.  The electrochemical reaction between the electrodes and electrolyte stores energy when a battery is charged and then releases it as electricity when we draw power from the battery.  The types of chemicals making up the electrodes and electrolyte gives us the different types of batteries in common use today.

The starter battery in automobiles is a lead acid battery, comprised of lead and lead oxide as the electrodes and sulfuric acid diluted in water as the electrolyte. Everyday consumer rechargeable double AA or triple AAA batteries have either nickel-cadmium (NiCd) or nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) as electrodes and potassium hydroxide as electrolyte. The battery in your phone or video camera is a lithium ion battery, the name coming from the lithium in the electrodes.

Types of Batteries To Consider

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead acid batteries are categorized as either cranking or deep cycle.  The cranking battery gives a rapid burst of energy, making it ideal as an engine starter battery.  It’s also referred to as an SLI battery, short for starting, lighting, ignition.  The deep cycle battery delivers less immediate energy but is more suitable for long term use, as it can endure more charge, discharge and recharge cycles than the cranking battery.  This is because their lead plates are solid metal and are thicker than the cranking battery plates.

There are also hybrid batteries which are a combination of both cranking and deep cycle.  These dual purpose batteries are also referred to as marine batteries, as they are commonly used on boats.  The marine batteries differ in that their plates have sponge-like holes, are thinner than true deep cycle battery plates but thicker than cranking battery plates.  The thicker the plates, the more charge-discharge cycles can be achieved and the longer will the battery last.

When looking at camper van batteries, whether it’s a cranking or deep cycle battery, there are three main types of lead acid batteries to choose from.  The first type is the wet cell or flooded lead acid (FLA) battery, named for its liquid electrolyte.  The second type is the gel cell, in which the sulfuric acid is mixed with silica to create a stiffer jello-like electrolyte.  The third type is known as an AGM battery, which stands for absorbed glass mat. AGM lead acid batteries consist of very fine glass fibres woven into a mesh that holds the electrolyte.

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