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Mixing AGM and Sealed Acid Batteries in RVs: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to powering the electrical systems of a Recreational Vehicle (RV), battery selection is paramount. RV owners often grapple with the decision of whether to mix AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) and Sealed Acid (FLA – Flooded Lead Acid) batteries. This article delves into the intricacies of this decision, providing a detailed analysis and expert recommendations to ensure optimal battery performance in your RV setup.

Understanding the Fundamentals

AGM Batteries: The Modern Choice

AGM batteries have gained popularity due to their numerous advantages, including a lower maintenance requirement, higher discharge rates, and a longer service life. They are designed to provide a stable power supply for the house system in RVs, withstanding deep discharge cycles that are typical in RV use.

Sealed Acid Batteries: The Traditional Option

Sealed Acid batteries, also known as FLA batteries, have been the traditional choice for RVs. They are cost-effective and provide ample power for starting engines. However, they require regular maintenance and are more susceptible to damage from overcharging and deep discharges.

The Technical Challenge: Resting Voltage Discrepancies

One of the primary concerns when considering the mixing of AGM and FLA batteries is the difference in their resting voltages. AGM batteries typically rest at 13V, whereas FLA batteries rest at 12.65V. This discrepancy can lead to suboptimal charging and potential battery damage when connected in parallel.

The Impact of Voltage Mismatch

When AGM and FLA batteries are connected in parallel, the AGM battery may attempt to equalize the voltage by supplying current to the FLA battery, resulting in an overall voltage drop to 12.65V. This can leave the AGM battery undercharged and reduce its lifespan.

Expert Strategies for Battery Management

Utilizing Solenoid Relays for Controlled Charging

To mitigate the risks associated with mixing battery types, some RV owners have successfully implemented bidirectional voltage sensing solenoid relays. These relays isolate the battery banks during discharge or storage and only connect them during charging when a voltage of 13V+ is detected from either bank.

The Advantages of Homogeneous Battery Systems

Many experts recommend using AGM batteries exclusively for both the house and chassis systems. This approach eliminates the complexities associated with different charging requirements and resting voltages, leading to a more harmonious and efficient battery management system.

Real-World Insights from RV Owners

Testimonials and Case Studies

Drawing from the experiences of RV owners, it is evident that a uniform battery system, particularly one that utilizes AGM batteries, can significantly enhance the performance and longevity of the RV’s electrical systems. Case studies showcase RVs where AGM batteries have been successfully implemented without the need for mixing with FLA batteries.

The Role of Battery Management Systems

Advanced battery management systems can also play a crucial role in optimizing the performance of mixed battery systems. These systems monitor and control the charging and discharging processes, ensuring that each battery type is treated according to its specific requirements.

The Future of RV Battery Technology

As technology evolves, so does the landscape of RV battery options. The advent of new battery technologies and management systems promises to further simplify the task of selecting and maintaining RV batteries, potentially offering even greater efficiency and reliability.

Conclusion: Prioritizing Battery Compatibility

In conclusion, while it is technically possible to mix AGM and Sealed Acid batteries in an RV, the optimal choice for long-term performance and reliability is to use a uniform battery system. By leveraging the insights and strategies outlined in this article, RV owners can make informed decisions that will enhance the efficiency and lifespan of their RV’s electrical systems.

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