In the world of campervan living, whilst some things may feel important to have, there are a few components that are as vital as the leisure battery. It’s the unsung hero of van life, generating power for your appliances, gadgets and lighting, allowing you to enjoy life on the road as much as possible.
What is a campervan leisure battery?
Before discussing the details, let’s first clarify what a leisure battery is. It is the batter that supplies power to the appliances in your campervan, distinct from the starter battery used to crank the engine. The leisure battery keeps your interior lights on, fridge cool and your devices charged whilst you are off-grid.
How a Campervan Leisure Battery Works
Campervan leisure batteries function by storing electrical energy as chemical energy, similar to a normal battery. This stored energy can be sourced from solar panels or a battery-to-battery charger. The beauty of it is that your appliances won’t differentiate between these power sources.
How much power do you need?
The first step to choosing a campervan leisure battery is to determine how much power you need. Consider the electrical appliances and devices you plan to use in your campervan. Create a list of everything in your campervan that needs power, whether it’s lights, fans, laptops, or other gadgets. Once you have an idea, estimate the power consumption of each item. Once you add them up you will get a rough idea of how much power you need your leisure battery to provide. Make sure to overestimate to ensure you have a comfortable margin of power for unexpected situations.
The capacity of your leisure battery will depend on your specific power needs. Digital nomads relying on their van for work will require more capacity than the occasional day-trippers.
The importance of getting the capacity right
With the previous points in mind, choosing the correct battery capacity is crucial. Insufficient capacity can leave you struggling regardless of your solar panel setup or driving time. A well-matched battery ensures you have power when you need it.
Leisure Battery Charging Options
Campervan leisure batteries function similar to a phone batteries. When you use your phone in the day you use up charge and when you charge it overnight it undergoes a charging cycle. Repeating this cycle can gradually degrade the battery and reduce its capacity over time.
Knowing how you plan to charge your campervan leisure battery is crucial. There are several ways to charge your battery, including:
Alternator Charging: Many campervans charge their leisure batteries while driving through the alternator. This is a reliable way to keep your battery topped up while on the road.
Solar Panels: having solar panels installed on your campervan can offer a sustainable, eco-friendly way to charge your caravan or motorhome battery. If this is something you are interested in choosing make sure your battery is compatible with solar charging.
Battery Charger: some campervans or motorhomes have an external battery charger when connected to a power source, this includes a campsite hookup.
What happens if you reach the maximum number of cycles?
Campervan leisure batteries have a lifetime defined by the number of cycles they can undergo before degrading. While they won’t suddenly stop working they will gradually require to be charged a lot more frequently from losing the ability to hold charge.
How to Decide What Type of Leisure Battery You Need?
There are two main types of leisure batteries: Lithium and Deep-cycle AGM batteries
Lithium batteries commonly provide a longer lifespan, ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 cycles with a degradation rate of approximately 1% per year. They are a great choice for those with high-spec electrical systems and a focus on reliability and longevity.
In comparison, AGM batteries offer a lifetime of around 500 cycles, they are suitable for smaller systems and van lifers who spend less time off-grid. Plus they are more budget-conscious!
Campervan Leisure Battery Size & Weight
Campervan leisure batteries are available in an array of sizes and weights. When choosing a battery it is important to ensure it will comfortably fit within your campervan’s designated battery storage area and doesn’t exceed any weight limits in place.
If you have a smaller campervan it may be beneficial to find a battery that has a compact design.
Whilst weight may not be a major factor in your decision, it is worth remembering that AGM batteries are a lot heavier than lithium equivalents. If you are looking to minimise weight in your campervan than lithium batteries may be better suited to your needs.
How Much Do Campervan Leisure Batteries Cost?
Determining the overall lifetime cost of a battery can be a challenge, this is due to the variations in charging and discharging patterns. However, it is important to note that whilst lithium batteries may have a more expensive upfront cost, they can last ten times longer than AGM batteries.
To summarise, choosing the right campervan leisure battery is highly dependent on your specific needs. It is important to consider factors like weight, size and capacity. Whilst upfront costs can vary, investing in the right battery can save you money and headaches in the long run.
At Nomadic Leisure we have a range of Victron Lithium batteries available to purchase. Our Victron lithium batteries are series-connected and are compatible with Victron energy solar panels. If you have an enquiry or can’t see the product you require, get in touch with us today!