Caravanning has become a fun pastime for many people. But, whether you live in one permanently or you enjoy taking a few family trips each year, you’re going to need something to power your appliances.
You can’t expect the lightbulbs, cooker, or television to turn on themselves, so you need to be prepared.
A leisure battery is a perfect accompaniment for caravans or motorhomes and something all owners should have.
If you’re looking at finding the ideal leisure battery for your caravan or motorhome, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know.
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- What Is A Leisure Battery?
- Is A Leisure Battery Different From A Car Battery?
- What Are The Main Types Of Leisure Batteries?
- AGM Leisure Battery
- Sealed Lead Leisure Battery
- Open Lead-acid Leisure Battery
- Gel Leisure Battery
- Lithium Leisure Battery
What Is A Leisure Battery?
A leisure battery goes beyond the typical battery you use to power small appliances around your home. Instead, it’s a power source capable of running 12-volt appliances in motorhomes and caravans. This is because they have been specially designed to provide reliable and nonstop power for a more extended period of time.
You’ll typically use a leisure battery on appliances and smaller accessories such as ovens, fridges, kettles, and lightbulbs. They play a vital part in making your caravan or motorhome comfortable and more enjoyable for everyone travelling in it.
If you’re someone who goes off-grid caravanning frequently throughout the year, a leisure battery is definitely something you should consider investing in.
Is A Leisure Battery Different From A Car Battery?
Yes, there are some significant differences between a leisure battery and a car battery.
It’s not recommended to use a leisure battery to power the vehicle part of your motorhome because they are two different sources of energy.
In rare cases, you could use each in place of the other, but only for a very short amount of time as the way they generate electricity is different.
For example, a leisure battery releases a small amount of energy for more extended periods, but a car battery lets off much more power all at once to start the car engine.
Another difference you may find between a leisure and car battery is the way they are built. A typical car battery has different separators and thinner plates than a leisure battery, which doesn’t allow it to power appliances for very long regardless of how much energy it’s releasing.
You may be able to find a battery that can power both appliances and the engine, but they are difficult to come by and not as reliable.
What Are The Main Types Of Leisure Batteries?
When shopping for a leisure battery for your caravan or motorhome, you can’t just pick up the first one you see. This is because there is a wide range available, made from different materials. You need to ensure you’re choosing the right one for you and your vehicle before buying one.
Below is a list of the most popular types of leisure batteries.
AGM Leisure Battery
An AGM battery is a VRLA (valve-regulated lead-acid) battery containing lead and an electrolyte. The battery is designed to prevent a build-up of pressure by containing the electrolyte within a fibreglass mat. It can also cope well with vibration, which is beneficial for a caravan, a moving vehicle.
Other benefits of this type of leisure battery include the fact that they are built to be leakproof and allowed to be mounted sideways, providing the option to install two of them to better power your caravan or motorhome.
They can also be discharged lower than 50% without causing any damage.
However, due to the many advantages, they are slightly more pricey than other batteries and sometimes may not last as long.
Platinum AGM Plus Leisure Battery
This AGM leisure battery comes with a voltage of 12 V and a capacity of 100Ah. At a good size, it fits six cells to help power the entire block and your appliances in your caravan or motorhome.
Known to reach full charge and hold it for its expected timeframe, this battery is reliable and efficient. At a reasonable price, there is no doubt this product will be with you for a long time, helping power your appliances for many journeys in the future.
Banner 59201 Running Bull Leakproof Battery
At the standard 12 V, this leisure battery is one you can rely on to get you through all your road trips. With six cells and an average size, it is super easy to install and gets your appliances up and running in no time.
As its name suggests, it’s leakproof, preventing any unnecessary messes or breakdowns.
Coming in at 25kg, it’s easy to handle, which makes taking it on journeys that much easier. The durability will undoubtedly make this battery a companion in your caravan or motorhome that you won’t be able to live without.
Sealed Lead Leisure Battery
Sealed lead batteries are just as their name suggests; they’re sealed. The upside of this is that they require minimal maintenance.
They are known to allow excess gas to escape during the changing cycle, which extends the battery’s lifespan and provides you with a product that will power your appliances for many journeys in the future.
You can safely discharge the battery at a level of 50% without any damage and are recommended to be used on campsites where you can hook up and recharge them when you please.
The only downsides to these batteries are that they can sometimes cost a pretty penny, and they’re usually quite heavy, meaning they’re harder to transport.
Numax CXV35MF Sealed Leisure Battery
If you’re in search of high quality, high capacity sealed lead leisure battery, then you’ve found it. At 12 V, you have all you need to live in comfort in your caravan or motorhome with the appliances that will make your stay even more enjoyable.
Requiring little maintenance, you simply install it with ease and allow it to do the job it was designed for.
For extra peace of mind, Numax offers a three-year warranty to cover any faults that may arise. It’s known to last its entire lifespan after each recharge, which is also an incredibly seamless process.
Loved by many caravanners, you cannot go wrong with this battery.
Open Lead-acid Leisure Battery
An open lead-acid battery is the opposite of a seal lead battery as it consists of open cells.
They’re one of the first leisure batteries that were created and are known to be reliable. Featuring removable caps, you top up the electrolyte yourself, usually with distilled water, regularly to maintain its performance. Therefore, unlike the sealed leisure battery, it requires a lot more upkeep to keep it running.
How often you top up the electrolyte will depend on the make, capacity, and how often it’s being used.
You will be required to regularly check how full it is, ensuring it covers the lead plates’ top. Failure to do so can damage the battery, so this stage is critical.
Similarly, you cannot discharge the battery below 50%, so a lot of attention is needed. However, they are still frequently used amongst caravanners and are a cheaper option for occasional trips rather than extended stays.
Platinum Deep Cycle Leisure Marine Battery
With a voltage of 12V and a decent capacity of 100Ah, this open lead-acid leisure battery is reliable and efficient. NCC verified and approved, you know you’re getting something you can count on to get the job done and power your essential appliances.
Equipped with advanced calcium+ alloy technology, this battery has a strong ability for cyclic use compared to other leisure batteries you’ll find on the market.
Praised for its well-written instructions, you will be able to install and use your product in no time. There’s also a three-year warranty that will provide you with all the help you need if something were to go wrong.
Gel Leisure Battery
A gel leisure battery is similar to an AGM battery, but the difference is they use a gel substance as an electrolyte rather than a liquid.
They’re known to be leak-free and require little to no maintenance, as they use a VRLA to control their pressure.
What puts them above other leisure battery types is that they can often be discharged as low as 80% without causing any damage. This is a significant advantage, and it makes them ideal for those who like to camp off-grid and don’t require multiple recharges.
You’ll find they last for a long time, too, if they are frequently used above 25 degrees celsius, but this would only typically work in countries with a hotter climate.
The only other downside is that they are higher than different battery types, but you are paying for high-quality power for many benefits.
Exide ES900 Gel Leisure Battery
This 12 V and 80Ah gel leisure battery is created from the most innovative technology to provide you with the much-needed power for your caravan or motorhome.
With minimal maintenance required, you can have the appliances you need running with peace of mind that the battery is doing its job.
Equipped with high vibration and tilt resistance, you can hit as many bumps in the road on your journeys without worrying that it could affect the efficiency of the product.
It’s also valve regulating, with six cells for the ultimate performance you can get from a gel battery.
At a reasonable price, you cannot go wrong with this product.
Photonic Universe Gel Deep Cycle Battery
This perfect gel leisure battery comes with excellent charge acceptance and an extremely low self-discharge rate. It’ll no doubt power all your appliances to their maximum capacity, with very little chance for breakdown and almost no need for maintenance.
You’ll find it has a much longer service life compared to other sealed or AGM batteries due to the optimal recovery from a deep discharge.
It can be installed anywhere, even outdoors, due to the wide operating temperature range.
To top it off, it’s non-spillable since it’s completely sealed.
If treated well, you could see this battery staying with you for up to 10 years, surviving many caravan trips for you and the family.
Lithium Leisure Battery
You’ve probably heard of lithium batteries being used to power your phone or laptop, but they can also now be used in your caravan or motorhome.
They are known as LiFeP04 batteries and are known to have double the energy density and weigh much less than a lead-acid battery.
They have a very low self-discharge rate at around 80% capacity, which makes them optimal for longer road trips in your caravan or off the grid stays in your motorhome.
You’ll also find they last much longer, so you don’t have to worry about recharging them constantly.
However, there are downsides. They can still be damaged when fully discharged, and they come in more expensive than lead-acid batteries. But, for the many benefits, you can argue that the extra costs are worth it.
LiGen Lithium Leisure Battery
Prepare for thousands of cycles with this 12 V, 100Ah lithium leisure battery.
Unlike most other batteries on the market, it has a 100% discharge depth if placed under normal conditions. This is a fantastic performance, and it’s very rare to find.
It also comes with automatic protection for overcharge, over-discharge, overcurrent, and overtemperature. This means it’ll be protected from all sorts of damage and requires little maintenance on your end.
It’s super transportable as it’s lightweight, making it perfect for any journey you want to take. To top it off, you have a six-year guarantee in case anything happens to go wrong.
What Size Leisure Battery Do You Need?
Calculating the correct sized battery for your caravan or motorhome can be difficult. However, an excellent rough calculation to use is by figuring out the total wattage of all your appliances and dividing it by the voltage to obtain the Ampere Hours needed for the battery. The values may vary due to extreme temperatures and wiring efficiency, but if you get a good quality battery, it should be fine.
How Much Does A Leisure Battery Weigh?
The weight of a leisure battery will vary depending on the type you want to purchase. They can be anywhere between 13kg to 90kg, with most average-sized lead acid leisure batteries weighing around 25kg.
How Do You Charge A Leisure Battery?
There are three ways you can charge a leisure battery, regardless of the type. You can either charge the battery while you’re driving, use a solar panel system, or hook up the battery to charge when on a campsite.
Can You Overcharge A Leisure Battery?
You can overcharge a battery if you leave it connected to a charger for more than the required amount of time.
This can damage the battery as it causes excess heat that causes the plates within the cells to destroy their active material. It will also produce excess hydrogen and oxygen, and it can shorten the battery service life in the long term.
Does Temperature Affect A Leisure Battery?
Yes, the temperature can affect a leisure battery. The battery capacity will be reduced when the temperature is too low, but it can also increase when it’s in a hotter environment.
The best temperature for you to keep your batteries in is room temperature at around 25 degrees celsius.
If your battery happens to freeze on your travels, then you may only see it work at a capacity of 20%, but at temperatures higher than room temperature, it can even increase by around 12%.
Main Leisure Battery Brands
Many brands sell leisure batteries, but the most popular ones with the best reviews are listed below:
Take proper care of your leisure battery. You may be able to extend the service life and therefore have it around for much longer to power your appliances when travelling in your caravan or motorhome.
If you have an older model, ensure you always check the charge level using a hand-held multimeter.
You also want to ensure it’s secured upright and doesn’t move around too much when you’re travelling.
Regularly clean it at least every year and look out for any problem indicators, such as a rotten egg smell or if it becomes excessively hot. These signs may suggest it is overcharged, and it could cause damage, so you’ll want to disconnect the charger from the mains and then remove the battery.
How Long Does A Leisure Battery Last?
The shortest amount of time your leisure battery should last is around five years, but some high-quality batteries can last anywhere between 10-15 years. As suggested in the last question, you’ll be able to extend the life by keeping up to date on maintenance.