Choosing the Best Battery for your Caravan or Recreational Vehicle
Getting the Best Battery for Camping with your Motor Home, RV or Caravan should not be confusing!! Our customers often ask what is the best battery for camping or what is the best caravan battery or AGM battery for my caravan? Let's look at some of the most popular batteries for Camping, Caravans, RV's & Motorhomes. This guide will look at your battery options when it comes to getting the best power solutions and what size battery you need for your caravan setup. Understanding the best type of battery for your caravan or motor-home is essential before hitting the open road for your retirement or camping adventures around Australia.
Deep Cycle, Gel or Conventional Car Battery? Which is the best power option for your setup?
Let's look at the best portable power options for caravans, motor homes and recreational vehicles. Including dual battery set-ups and a look at the accessories that you'll need to give you power for whatever of life's luxuries that you want to take away with you!
Like all camping situations, the more you can suit your deep cycle battery to your camping application, the far better performance you will undoubtedly achieve. However, with so many camping batteries on the market, how do you identify what the best deep cycle battery for camping is?
DEEP CYCLE BATTERIES FOR CAMPING - CARAVANS - RVS
There are three primary sorts of Deep Cycle Batteries used for running appliances when camping with your caravan, 4WD, recreational vehicle or camper trailer. The Best Deep Cycle Batteries are Gel, AGM and Lithium.
The biggest misconception among amateur caravanners is that car and caravan batteries have the same function - they don't!!. A car battery provides high power in short bursts enough to start the car.
On the other hand, a proper Caravan Battery is designed to allow for the discharge of steady power over a prolonged period to power multiple appliances.The power requirements for caravans and recreational vehicles is often dependant on your needs for comfort and connectivity to the outside world while you are off on your camping adventures. Whilst the efficiency of many 12Volt appliances is improved especially with the newer inverter options and LED lighting options in this day and age batteries and solar can now replace your generators and gas bottles with better efficiancy and cleaner renewable power that is better for the planet and more cost effective in the long run. With portable refrigerators, televisions and lightweight microwaves, kitting out motor homes and caravans with the comforts of home is easier than ever before. Of course such luxuries require power and while parking up at a powered campsite is one solution, many of us want to explore more eco-friendly options, such as free camping. Installing a battery into your caravan or motor home is great way to provide and store the energy for your electronic devices without the need for mains supply or noisy generators.
Conventional vehicle batteries may be a cheap option but need to be kept fully charged by your car’s regulator in order to function. After a few days of camping, don’t be surprised if your battery has run flat. Caravan batteries are designed to provide a specific number of what are called "deep discharge cycles". Depending on the type of battery, you are using one can achieve 20 to 300 cycles (Flooded or Cheap Batteries), 400 to 500 cycles (Gel) or 600 to 800 cycles or higher with AGM Deep Cycle Batteries. For best results whenever your battery charge falls below 75% re-charge it and try not to let it fall below 50%. Using a digital voltmeter, will ensure that your battery is charging and discharging power appropriately.
The best options for caravan and campers are Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) Deep Cycle Batteries which can be recharged when flat (better to keep a constant charging cycle) from Solar Panels or charger and are designed to have power drawn from them over a longer period of time. Gel Batteries also provide sustained power and produce no gas when charging, making them perfect for use in your caravan, 4WD, motor home or boat.
Choosing the best Deep Cycle Battery for your Caravan or RV application is important. The size and type of Deep Cycle Battery that you select is dependent on the application and operating conditions. It is important to ensure there is sufficient battery capacity (Amp Hours) to power the equipment you intend to use. The most popular Deep Cycle Batteries for Caravans are Gel Deep Cycle Batteries and AGM Deep Cycle Batteries (Absorbed Glass Mat); and in more recent times Lithium-Ion and Carbon Lead.
Designed to work with 12 volt devices and compatible with solar charging, both AGM Deep Cycle and Gel Batteries are an increasingly popular option for caravan owners. Still not sure which portable power option is right for you? Give one of the Aussie Batteries & Solar experts a call or read more to find out about the best batteries for your caravan setup.
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Types of Caravan Batteries 6 Volt & 12Volt Deep Cycle Batteries for Motorhomes and Caravans
As well as providing reliable power, AGM deep cycle batteries are “unspillable”, making them perfect for caravan or motor home installation. The thin sheet of Boron-Silicate glass mat between the lead plates keeps the battery’s acid in place, unlike the free flowing electrolyte found in wet cell batteries. Weighing as little as 9.35kg, AGM deep cycle batteries add minimal load and fit easily into most caravans’ storage lockers. Their sealed design and hardwearing exterior also ensures that they can withstand road vibration without dangerous leakage.
With electrolyte mixed into a paste between the lead plates, gel batteries offer the same non-spilling and non-gassing properties as their AGM deep cycle companions. If properly cycled and charged, a gel battery can last longer but will require a special charger due to its increased sensitivity to voltage spikes.
While AGM deep cycle batteries can be charged from the car battery when driving, this method requires expensive cabling and becomes useless once the vehicle is parked. Fitting a mounted solar panel to the roof of your caravan or motor home or investing in portable solar panels provides a free and reliable energy source for the duration of your trip. The 4-stage charger built into the solar regulator also helps to extend battery life.
After being placed in the sun, the solar panels are simply connected to a regulator such as the 20A Tracer MPPT Solar Charge Regulator. The regulator converts the voltage and amps from the panels into the correct format for charging your battery. The most popular types of solar regulator are the Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) which operates at around 70% efficiency and the Multi Power Point Tracking (MPPT) which operates at 97% efficiency and transforms excess solar voltage into an increase in current.
An alternative to charging from solar is investing in a good battery charger, such as the 12V 3amp 7 Stage UltiPower Automatic Desulfation Deep Cycle Battery Charger. Suitable for charging both AGM deep cell and gel batteries, the charger displays the charge voltage and current and comes with heavy duty cables and clamps. Unlike conventional chargers, automatic reverse pulse desulfation chargers maintain battery cells while charging and avoid the higher voltage that can cause overcharging.
When using a battery charger, it’s important to know the correct voltage as overcharging can compromise the battery’s internal structure. Most modern chargers will have settings for AGM and gel batteries but if you’re using an older charger, ensure that you match the rate of charging to the battery type. Remember, AGM batteries require 14.7 volts while gel batteries need only 14.4v.