Which Deep Cycle Battery Is Best For Camping?
Your camping style will determine which deep cycle battery is the right one to see you through your camping adventure.
Are you swag in the back of your ute, a soft patch of grass by a river or the seaside camper? Or do you like a canvas home with rooms and a few modern conveniences to keep you somewhat shielded from the elements? Perhaps you prefer a proper bed in your portable home on wheels where you can enjoy being in the great outdoors, without having to constantly be outdoors.
Whichever type of camper you are, there are some things you are going to need if you’re spending more than a night in nature. One of these things is the power to run the essentials such as a fridge, a laptop, phone, lights, air compressor, or even a blender for those margaritas by the sea.
If going for more than a night, you’ll need to keep your food cold, or the camp toilet will become your best friend. You may also need some lights because you may not want to go to bed when the sun goes down. And you’ll certainly need to charge your phone to post that all-important ‘having a fabulous holiday’ selfie.
So, how do you provide power to all these necessities when away from a handy socket?
Fortunately, there are a few power storage options available. And technology has made them more reliable, longer-lasting and more portable than ever. Because you’re going to need a battery that copes with the harsh and varied Australian climate.
Unlike a car battery, which is designed to deliver a burst of energy for a short time, deep cycle batteries provide energy at a steady rate over a long period. Which makes them the perfect solution to the energy requirements of camping. They are ideal as auxiliary or secondary batteries for your 4x4s, caravans and recreational vehicles.
Now, there are different chemistries of deep cycle batteries. Lead acid with a number of sub categories and Lithium or Lithium Ion as it is commonly referred to which also has it’s own subcategories.
In the lead acid category there are three main types. Wet or Flooded, AGM and Gel. The Wet lead acid battery is the most common and has been around the longest. These are similar to most car batteries in that they have a liquid combination of water and acid inside them requiring them to be secured in upright position. These batteries do require their fluid levels to be maintained and that can vary depending on your climate and your usage.
Fortunately, as technology has improved there are now maintenance free versions of these making them much more viable as an option. It is worth noting that these are one of the few models that are suitable for under bonnet installation due to their high temperature rating.
AGM or Absorbed Glass Material is a sealed unit often referred to as maintenance free. These batteries are much more durable than their wet or flooded equivalents. AGMs are more vibration resistant and have a deeper discharge capability being able to be used for longer periods. With their sealed design it allows them to be installed in a number of different applications. They are designed for long-life performance and are dependable and never need topping up with water. These batteries can be safely mounted inside your caravan or motorhome, charge quickly, will charge fully at a lower voltage, and accept a greater charge current. They only self-discharge at a rate of up to 3% per month, which means they can sit for approximately 6 months before requiring to be fully charged. A good habit however is to have them on a trickle or maintenance charger. Due to their sealed design it makes them perfect for motor homes and caravans where the battery is installed inside the cabin.
Gel batteries are the next level up when it comes to lead acid batteries. These are designed and behave in a similar way to AGMs but are built to withstand deeper repeated charge and discharge cycles and are most commonly found in industrial and commercial use.
Then there is the lithium battery. Lithium-ion batteries are already used to power many devices, including power tools, laptops, and mobile phones. Just recently they have become perfect companion to your camping kit, whether it be a motorhome, caravan, or camper trailer and have many advantages over the wet-cell batteries. They are lighter, have a much greater energy capacity, a lower self-discharge and require lower maintenance.
They have an increased life cycle up into the thousand cycle count vastly superior to the hundreds of lead acid equivalents. If you need longer-lasting power with a faster recharge, then a lithium battery is the right choice for you. And, unlike your camping mate, who forgot to bring a can opener, they are dependable. With all these pros there are some cons, they do require a specific Lithium charger and come with constraints to where they can be installed.
In order to check in and maintain your deep cycle battery there a number of Bluetooth monitoring systems that connect to your phone or smart device. Some of the new Lithium deep cycles batteries even come with these built into the unit making things even easier to know exactly what is going on with your battery.
Deep cycle batteries are a dependable, long-lasting power source for your accessories and the perfect camping companion–quieter and less demanding than the family.
The type of battery you buy will depend on how often, and how long you go camping. If you are only going for short periods, a few times a year, then a lead acid battery is a good option. If you are a more regular, serious camper, or if weight is an issue, then a lithium battery would be the best choice. These are much lighter than the lead acid batteries and have a greater charging efficiency, charge at a higher current rate and you can safely use up to 80% of the charge.
You want your camping trip to be peaceful and relaxed. Ensuring that you have the right setup for the trip planned helps avoid any nasty surprises. You can’t guarantee the weather, the fish, or your neighbours, but at least you can rest assured that the essentials are taken care of. If you’re not sure which is best for you call into your local Battery World and they’ll be able to answer any of your questions.