12V Leisure Batteries for Campervan and Motorhome
- 12V Leisure Batteries for Campervan and Motorhome
- Types of Leisure Batteries:
- Let’s jot down some pros and cons for quick analysis:
- The best brands manufacturing AGM batteries are Banner, Exide, and Xplorer.
- The best brands for these batteries are Banner, Bosch, and Exide.
- The best brand for this is Betta batteries.
- The best brands for these batteries are Relion, Valence, and Leoch.
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The leisure batteries are a ray of hope during camping or a trip far away from home with no electricity or power. Unless connected to the mains electricity supply, your campervan or motorhome needs a leisure battery for the 12V equipment in the van.
The leisure batteries are different from the standard car batteries, these are optimized to handle the loads and the patterns of use common in campervans and motorhomes. A battery is an essential addition to your van or camp, whether you attend rallies or you camp by the side of a river in your campervan.
Most of the new motorhomes are not supplied with leisure batteries so you need to keep one in it or buy one for yourself. The standard car batteries are different as they need to provide a high current surge to start the engine of a car which is then replenished by the vehicle’s alternator immediately, once the engine gets started.
However, the leisure batteries do not get replenished over time by themselves until the user recognizes that the voltage of the battery has fallen substantially. They have to provide a steady flow of current. This is when the recharge has been duly done. In case the battery remains in the discharge state for long, it might not come to its former condition. So, the manufacturers recommend recharging the leisure batteries when their charging falls off to 50% of its full condition.
Now the question arises that why car batteries are not used for your 12V appliance? This is because the standard car batteries provide the sudden burst of current that may burn or damage your electrical appliances.
Types of Leisure Batteries:
A range of technologies is used in Leisure batteries lately manufactured for the caravan or motorhome. Some of the leisure batteries present today are:
- Gel Leisure Batteries
- Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) Batteries
- Enhanced Flooded Batteries
- Lead Acid Batteries
- Lithium LiFePO4 Leisure Batteries
We will talk about all of these, one by one to help you choose the best leisure batteries for your campervan or motorhome.
- Gel Leisure Batteries:
The Gel Leisure Batteries are very similar to the AGM batteries in terms of maintenance and leakage with the availability of VRLA to control pressure. These are liquid-free batteries so it takes away the problem of acid-spillage, like all the sealed batteries. We recommend you getting a suitable charger to prevent overcharging as you must be aware of not overcharging them.
Talking about the electrolyte, which is made into a thick pasty gel rather than a fiberglass mat to suspend the electrolyte. However, the gel batteries a little bit expensive. Every battery has its pros and cons. This one has the advantage that it can be discharged for as low as 80% without any permanent damage to it. The gel batteries have slightly higher ambient operating temperatures. The main issue faced regarding these batteries is their charging. These should be charged correctly, the charger should be properly fitted into it, it must be adjustable or designed for the gel batteries otherwise the battery may face premature failure. The gel batteries are produced by the brands Exide and Leoch.
Let’s jot down some pros and cons for quick analysis:
- Longer lives at slightly higher operating temperatures
- Liquid-free, non-spillage, and maintenance-free batteries
- Suitable for low discharges up to 80% without damage
- Suitable for off-grid camping as well
- These may be mounted in any position
- Perfect and safe for usage in limited ventilation areas
- Low self-discharge rates
- Low charging/discharging rate
- Cannot be used in higher temperature areas
- Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) Batteries:
These batteries have become popular and well-established as an effective campervan and motorhome leisure batteries. The AGM batteries are specially designed to suspend the electrolyte between the battery plates. They contain enough electrolyte liquid to keep the mat wet and if the battery broke accidentally then there will be no free-liquid to leak out.
Both the gel and the AGM batteries have almost similar traits like non-spillage, deep cycle, low self-discharge rates, maintenance-free, and can be mounted in any position in your caravan. Like gel batteries, they are also a form of Valve-regulated lead-acid(VRLA) batteries to reduce the pressure inside the battery. These are expensive than wet batteries and are usually considered when you need a high-burst of amps or current. The life expectancy in most AGM batteries remains excellent if the batteries are not discharged more than 60% between the recharges without any damage. An AGM battery can be your serious consideration if you do infrequent off-grid camping.
The best brands manufacturing AGM batteries are Banner, Exide, and Xplorer.
- Non-spillage and maintenance-free
- Shorter operating life
- Better cope in potholed pathways and with vibrations
- Short charge time
- High-power output
- Suitable for low discharges up to 60% sometimes80% without damage
- Sensitive to overcharging
- Reduced service life than sealed batteries
- Enhanced Flooded Batteries:
The new technology is helping the motorhome battery market to progress and new names are coming forward. The Enhanced Flooded Batteries are the newly available batteries. They are well-suited for their use in campervans and motorhomes.
The EFBs are called the improved or enhanced version of the wet-flooded technology. These are wet-filled and are the entry-level batteries to be used in the caravans. Also, they are designed to be the mid-tier version of the AMG batteries in terms of durability and output. The start-stop systems require enhanced flooded batteries, for which the EFBs perform well.
They have good battery life and provide a higher state of charge than the AMG batteries so they live up to the expectations as a cost-effective, increased charge acceptance due to the homogeneous density of the electrolyte and hence improved battery life and deep-cycle. The main improvement is the addition of the carbon-additives during the manufacture of battery plates.
The best brands for these batteries are Banner, Bosch, and Exide.
- Improved battery life
- Higher optimum operating temperature from -5- to 60 degrees.
- Safe to use due to lack of electrolyte evaporation
- Thick plates due to which the work duration increases
- Increased use of pure lead and less electrolyte increases the charge accumulation by 45%.
- Maintenance-free when compared to the open lead-acid batteries.
- Expensive than open lead-acid batteries
- Cause permanent damage when discharged below 50%.
- Lead Crystal Battery:
The lead crystal batteries differ from other traditional batteries, having the crystalline silicon dioxide electrolyte. This electrolyte has an uneven distribution in the battery due to which there is reduced battery loss, active material loss, and plate sulfation which results in battery life improvement. This gives improved and reliable performance. These batteries are quite similar to the AGM batteries with the difference in mat manufacturing and the electrolyte but the Lead crystal batteries are introduced with the elimination of the shortcomings present in the AGM ones. The battery plates are safe from sulfation indicates that they can be depleted fully without any permanent damage. This means they can deplete down to 0V and again get recharged fully from 0V.
These lead crystal batteries have a life span triple that of the standard lead-acid batteries. Also, it performs well in both hot and cold conditions. But, what’s its major downside, yeah you guessed it right, it is the high price.
The best brand for this is Betta batteries.
- Plates safe from sulfation
- Full discharge and again full recharge is possible without damage
- Triple lifespan than an AGM battery
- Very low self-discharge rates when not in use
- A new electrolyte that improves the battery life and active material loss
- Too much, quite expensive
- Lithium LiFePO4 Leisure Batteries:
These batteries are becoming popular these days and are typically found in our phones and laptops. Predominantly, they are used in electric and hybrid cars. The performance of this battery is quite impressive as it does not have almost any of the disadvantages found in lead-acid or other batteries. They double the energy density for half the weight as compared to the lead-acid batteries.
These batteries can be discharged up to 95% without any damaging effects to the battery. However, they should not be fully discharged as the battery can be damaged due to this the battery has electronic controllers. It is completely having no maintenance and has low weight than other batteries. The lithium leisure batteries require more bucks to spend on as these are quite expensive than the standard lead batteries.
The best brands for these batteries are Relion, Valence, and Leoch.
- Can be placed horizontally or vertically
- Dischargeable up to 95% without adverse effects
- The self-discharge rate is low
- Fast charging
- Low weight
- Safe to use-no corrosive liquids, toxic fumes, and fire risks.
Buying guide for Leisure batteries:
All these batteries listed above do their best and give the best performance on their own. Each has its plus points and downsides as well. We recommend you buy a battery for your caravan according to your budget and the place where you are going. The place matters because the factors like temperature and flat or potholed road, etc matters. Whatever the conditions are, choose according to your preferences and keeps these guidelines in your mind:
- Battery Size:
You must be wondering does the battery size matter? Yes, you have to measure the battery tray in your campervan and buy the battery according to it to fit in and check the amp ratings as well. For most motorhomes, we recommend going for the 70AH battery but a 100 AH can also be considered. It all depends upon the space you have and the extra capacity you need. Online calculators are also available to find the perfect size battery for yourself.
- Cycles/Deep cycles:
The deep cycles tell that how frequently a battery can be partly discharged by 50% and then recharged again. The more deep cycles a battery can do, the longer is its life expectancy.
Every battery has its deep-cycle some can be fully discharged to 0V and then recharged fully from their 0V state like the sealed lead-acid batteries. So, always test the battery using the figures.
- Battery Charging:
Your campervan leisure batter should have a good, well-fitted charger, The charger should be designed only for the battery and should be portable so that it can be carried around on-board when you are on a venture. The charging of the battery should not hanker in your joyous moments. You can also use solar panels to recharge the battery. More are the solar panels, more is the recharge rate of the battery. Other ways to charge a battery can also be split charge relay-the running engine charges the battery, but this method can heat your caravan engine.
- Light-weight battery:
You might not want to carry a battery in your campervan which is heavy. There can be times where you will need to take out the battery and clean it or you may want to charge the battery separately and a heavy battery can become cumbersome to handle. We recommend buying lithium batteries as they are light-weight.
- Battery cost:
It will be tempting for you to get your hands on a cost-effective battery but we recommend you consider the bigger picture and check out all the specs of the batter before buying, Ask for the warranty as well. Always buy the battery which is manufactured about 12 months ago. Spend the money after checking all the important stuff. Take your pick, depending upon how cautious you feel. Use the online battery life and cost calculators against their power and sizes to get your desired pick. Keep your budget in mind.
Safety is a priority. If you do not like acid spillage from the battery which enhances corrosion risks, increases fire risks, and lets out toxic fumes then you should go for the lithium batteries. As you won’t need to change them for years unless any catastrophic failure occurs.
Before purchasing any leisure battery we recommend you check if it fits in your campervan or motorhome. All the batteries have their efficiency and show good performances, these are listed here for your quick analysis to make it helpful for you to choose a good battery. However, we recommend going for a 100 AH battery if you plan on running appliances as well.