Leisure batteries are designed for motorhomes and caravans, supplying a low level of power over long periods of time so that you can watch TV, have lights, and use your appliances for extended periods. You don’t usually get one when you purchase a caravan but normally, they come with a new motorhome.
What is a Leisure Battery?
Leisure batteries are also known as “deep-cycle” batteries, as they discharge a slow and steady amount of energy over a period of time. This is known as a depth of discharge, hence the name, deep-cycle battery.
The leisure moniker is applicable because this is the battery you use when you are stopped for the day. When it’s time to relax and watch a movie, use the microwave, or just read a book in bed. In other words, “leisure time.”
Leisure batteries come in three different types, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
AGM batteries are cheap and abundant, which makes them a popular choice. They have a fast charge rate, can last a long while on a charge, and don’t require much in the way of maintenance.
Unfortunately, they can get pretty glitchy in the winter, especially if they’re exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time. They’re also extremely heavy in comparison to most other batteries.
Lithium batteries are by far the best batteries of the bunch. They have an extremely fast charge rate, last ten times longer than AGM batteries, and are much more efficient in how they release their charge over time.
They’re also lightweight—half that of an AGM battery—along with being half the size of an AGM battery as well. Like the AGM batteries, they don’t require much in the way of maintenance and, unlike AGM batteries, you can hang Lithium batteries upside down.
The only drawback with lithium batteries is their overall expense. They’re easily the most expensive batteries and it’s largely because the technology and materials are so much better.
Gel batteries are very similar to AGM batteries, but they’re slightly better at just about everything. It’s like upgrading from an iPhone 11 to an iPhone 11 Pro. It’s essentially the same exact phone with a few measurable differences that are slightly better than its predecessor.
However, gel batteries are every bit as heavy as AGM batteries and since they are filled with semi-liquid, you cant install them upside down as you can with lithium. Normally, that’s not too big of a deal but it does limit your installation options somewhat.
Of course, there are several branches of batteries that are associated with each of the above three, such as sealed lead acid, flooded lead acid, and lead crystal. They each have their pros and cons, however, the lithium batteries stand hands and feet above the rest.
How to Choose a Leisure Battery
When you’re on the market for a leisure battery, there are several things that you should consider before making your purchase.
- How big it is
- How heavy it is
- Temperature range
Lithium batteries can last up to 20 years, with half of that being the typical range. For instance, the Renogy has a lifespan of 4,000 cycles. Cycles are how many times the battery can be charged and discharged before they are reduced to a point where they are no longer viable.
If you discharged and charged the Renogy every single day, all year long, it would take 10.9 years to reach the 4,000 cycle limit. Of course, the battery will keep working after it reached its cycle limit, but it will not be the same.
Size is another important factor, mostly because you don’t want to take up any crucial space in your motorhome or caravan that could be used for something else. It’s another reason that lithium batteries have become so popular. They’re half the size of traditional leisure batteries.
Weight may be an important factor if you’re not able to heave an AGM battery around easily.
Capacity has very little to do with the cycles. It’s how much the leisure battery can hold before it hits the bottom of its cycle. You can judge the capacity by looking at the Ah. A 100Ah battery can supply 1 amp for 1 hour. So if you are using 1 amp of power, you’ll have 100 hours.
Increase that to 10 amps and you will have ten hours. This is why you will often see people purchasing two batteries, doubling up their amps per hour, and lengthening their overall usage.
Price is an obvious and important factor. Despite the quality, longevity, and capacity of lithium batteries, they’re largely set back by their extremely high prices.
Temperature is important only if you are planning on taking your motorhome or caravan into extremely cold conditions. Lead-acid batteries suffer in low temperatures and more so in extremely cold temperatures.
Once again, lithium batteries are largely unaffected by the cold and are the go-to batteries for winter weather.
Best AGM, Gel, and Lithium Leisure Batteries
No matter what battery you decide to go with, there is always a “best of the bunch” that typically packs in the best qualities of the battery type, with superior technology, capacity, and longevity.
Eco Tree Lithium 12V 110AH LiFeP04 Battery
Eco Tree Lithium batteries are by far one of the most popular leisure batteries on the market with van lifers.
With 10x the cycles, 10x the life and less than half the weight of other batteries, it’s a no brainer when it comes to switching to lithium batteries.
These batteries come with Lithium Iron phosphate technology, and they are ultra-safe. These are the batteries that we use in our van. We have 2 110AH batteries.
12V 120AH SuperBatt DT120 Deep Cycle Leisure Marine Battery
This is a very popular battery amongst the AGM choices and for good reason. At 120Ah, it has a solid capacity thanks to its Advance Calcium Technology. It also comes with a 2-year warranty.
Not only can it be used as a leisure battery but it also has the capability of cold-starting your motorhome, which is why it is classified as a dual-purpose battery.
Renogy 12V 200AH Rechargeable Deep Cycle Hybrid GEL Battery
With the advanced valve regulated tech, this 200Ah battery won’t leak on you and requires very little maintenance. At 200Ah, you’re essentially getting two batteries in one, with a lot of long-term usage for each cycle.
You will get about 750 cycles with this battery as well. The benefit of gel batteries, and especially the Renogy, is that they can be reduced to a much lower charge between recharges than AGM batteries.
Renogy 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Lithium Battery
Though it has the lowest Ah on the list, the features on this battery are almost too long to list.
- 4,000 cycles
- Continuous discharge
- Dual processors
- Protection from overcharging, over-temp, and short circuits
- Built-in Bluetooth communication
- Slower discharge
The 100Ah will last longer than you would expect and the battery is loaded with protection features for just about any eventuality. With 4,000 cycles, you will have this battery for a long time. It’s also very lightweight and small compared to the other two.
What is the difference between a car battery and a leisure battery?
The difference between a car battery and a leisure battery is that one is made for starting the vehicle, while the other is made to power the lights.
Do leisure batteries need a special charger?
Leisure batteries, also known as deep-cycle or marine batteries are heavy duty batteries that are designed to be discharged and recharged many times. Leisure batteries do not need a special charger because they can be charged by an ordinary 12 volt battery charger.
How many volts should a leisure battery read?
Leisure batteries have ratings typically in the range of 2-6 volts.
All Things Considered
Lithium batteries are generally going to be your best leisure battery in a motorhome or caravan. Unfortunately, they can also be cost-prohibitive. However, AGMs and gel batteries have a lot going for them as well.
Choosing the right leisure battery should be a measured process. Knowing where you’re going and what your daily needs are going to be should point you in the right direction.
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