You have probably found your way to this page because you have an issue with your caravan or motor-homes leisure battery. Or it may be that you just don’t actually know the difference between the normal car battery that powers your caravan and a leisure battery?
Focusing on the latter for the moment, a lack of understanding about leisure batteries is only natural if you are completely new to caravans and motor-homes.
Regardless of whether you are a clueless newbie trying to navigate through a sea of new terms and phrases or a veteran of the tourer world – dealing with a leisure battery on a regular basis is part and parcel of owning a caravan these days.
In the following post, therefore, we are going to help you. Not only will we discuss some of the best leisure batteries available on the market right now and some practical accessories to consider, but we will also shed some light on what to consider when choosing a leisure battery (don’t forget your leisure battery chargers)
First things first though…
- 1 What Exactly Is a Leisure Battery?
- 2 Wait Though…Isn’t The Term Leisure Battery Just an Alternative Name For The Caravan Battery?
- 3 Best Leisure Batteries (Our Top Choices)
- 4 Accessories and Products Related to Leisure Batteries
- 5 Some Further Considerations About Leisure Batteries
- 6 Different Types of Leisure Battery
- 7 How To Get The Most Out Of Your Best Leisure Battery
- 8 What Can Affect The Performance Of a Battery?
What Exactly Is a Leisure Battery?
Essentially, it is the power source that allows you to run all those 12 volts electrical appliances and appliances you use or intending on using in your motor-home or caravan. They have been designed specifically to provide a reliable and constant stream of power for an extended amount of time and are used by a wide variety of appliances and accessories such as ovens, kettles, televisions and lights to name a few.
In other words, they have a pivotal role in ensuring your caravan or motor-home is a habitable and comfortable place to stay in and is not just a vehicle to get you from a to b.
You need to remember though that new-build caravans do not come with leisure batteries pre-installed; though you might get one in a new motor-home. Which is why this page is a vital resource.
Wait Though…Isn’t The Term Leisure Battery Just an Alternative Name For The Caravan Battery?
The short answer is no. The caravan battery and leisure battery are 2 completely separate sources of power. Although you could, at a push, use either of these in place of the other for a short period of time, it is not advised because of how they generate energy.
A leisure battery releases a very low level of energy for a longer duration to power the appliances, while a car battery has been designed specifically to generate a large spark of energy in order to start the car engine.
Because of these differences, they are not actually constructed in quite the same way. Typically, car batteries have different separators and thinner plates, meaning it is not well enough equipped to handle usage of more than a short period of time even if it was producing a lower amount of energy. Interestingly, a kind of battery has been produced that performs both the functions of a leisure battery and a caravan battery well. However, this is rarely actually used.
Best Leisure Batteries (Our Top Choices)
SuperBatt 12 Volts 110AH LM110 Deep Cycle Leisure Battery
The first one we want to draw attention to is the SuperBatt Deep Cycle 12 volts 110AH battery. This, like others from SuperBatt, is made to a very high standard and specification. It has been designed with what is known as ACT or Advance Calcium Technology that means these batteries are more robust and durable and require next to no maintenance. Especially when compared to other leisure batteries on the market, according to the manufacturer.
Interestingly, this is being marketed as both a starter and auxiliary battery, though it is best suited in the long run as an auxiliary or leisure battery. The company behind the batteries have put their money where their mouth is and offer a 2 year warranty with this product.
SuperBatt 12 Volts 85AH CB22MF Leisure Battery
The second one on the list we are highlighting is another from SuperBatt. This is a 12 Volts 85AH CB22MF and the main difference is the amp hours rating, which in this one as you can see is 85AH.
Much like other SuperBatt products, it has been made to meet a high quality specification and standard and features Advance Calcium Technology for a more durable and robust and require virtually no maintenance at all. Especially if you compare it with others on the market at the moment, at least according to the manufacturer – though customers appear to be more than happy with it’s performance.
Curiously, it is marketed as a dual purpose battery, meaning it can perform the functionality of both a starter battery and an auxiliary one. Further to this, the manufacturers offer a full 2 year warranty on this model as well.
Powerline Leisure Battery
The next leisure battery we are going to look at is the Powerline 12 volts 45 aH model. Although there is not a lot to say about this product, the customers who have bought it and reviewed it feel it was just what they needed.
It has a good reputation for reliability and a long-lasting amount of power. If you are therefore looking for a good quality, affordable leisure battery for your caravan, this could be a good purchase.
Exide ER550 Dual Leisure Battery 115Ah
Finally, the last actual leisure battery we are going to discuss is the dual leisure battery from Exide – the ER550 model. Although there is not a lot to say about this leisure battery either, it is made by Exide, which means it has the benefit of 130 year’s worth of experience behind it.
Most people usually opt for a single purpose battery, but these are worth considering at the very least.
Accessories and Products Related to Leisure Batteries
Further to our look at the pick of the best leisure batteries there are available, we thought it would be helpful also to highlight some great accessories and other related items that you should consider investing in.
Pennine Caravan Yellow 110 Amp Leisure Battery Holding Box Large
If you are investing in a leisure battery, you may have to also look at purchasing some kind of holding box. The Pennine Caravan yellow 110 amp holding box in yellow is a reasonable sized product built for this purpose.
IT is essential to look at the dimensions carefully, as some customers have found that their batteries didn’t fit properly in it, or as snugly as they would like. It does have dividers though which can slot into the rails found along the full length of the box.
However, downsides aside, this product is very well priced and a cost-effective solution for your leisure battery housing. We have a full article on recommended battery boxes.
CE Car Accessories Car Battery Terminals – 1 Positive, 1 Negative
Another important accessory that you may have to invest in, if they are not included with the model you buy, are battery terminals for your leisure battery. These are made from solid brass, have brass plated screws and bolts and have been designed to fit standard sized batteries.
In the pack, you get 1 positive terminal and 1 negative terminal. Although some customers have noted some discrepancies in the quality, the majority of customers seem very happy with these bargain priced terminals.
Direct Importer Mono-crystalline Solar Panel 150 Watts
If you are looking to harness the power of the big yellow thing in the sky, you could do worse than investing solar panels. This is a pre-assembled kit and therefore requires little to no set-up from the box, giving you an almost completely plug-and-play solar solution.
Furthermore, the manufacturer suggests that there is more than £70s worth of extras and accessories included in the price of this set, such as a 6 metres long anti-UV cable, a cable pass, aluminium brackets and 2 batteries. The great thing that we especially like about this product is that it has been designed and constructed with motor-homes, chalets, boats and caravans in mind and will even work at yielding a high volume of solar energy on less clear and sunny days.
Some Further Considerations About Leisure Batteries
In addition to the information we’ve included in this post and the mini overviews of some of the products we think are best from the selection on the market right now, we felt it was a good idea to furnish you with some more information.
We understand the whole subject of leisure batteries can be somewhat intimidating, so we have put together a mini guide to some other considerations we feel you should take on board when choosing the best leisure battery.
Different Types of Leisure Battery
Predominately, you will find that leisure batteries are lead-acid, but within that main battery type, there are a few different variations available that it is important to understand. After discussing those, we will also look at some alternatives to traditional lead-acid batteries.
- Starter Batteries – Also often referred to as cranking or calcium batteries.
- Leisure Batteries – Also often referred to as deep-cycling or auxiliary batteries.
- Traction and Semi-Traction Batteries – Also often referred to as deep-cycling batteries.
With the standard lead-acid batteries covered, it’s now time to look at some interesting and useful alternative leisure batteries.
Gel Batteries are most commonly used in quad bikes and jet skies, vehicles that have a higher risk than normal for crashing. Why are gel batteries used? Using gel in the battery eliminates much of the risk of there being damage caused if the vehicle is tipped over and reduces the risk of corrosive acid leaking out and causing injury.
Although a rarity in British built caravans, there are some imported models of motor-homes and caravans that have gel batteries fitting into them to provide additional protection if an accident happens.
AGM Batteries were briefly mentioned closer to the top of the page. Absorbent Glass Mat or AGM batteries are made up of compressed glass fibre and lead plates in each individual cell and constructed using very specific manufacturing procedures.
This is to help build batteries that will last far longer than traditional lead-acid models. Furthermore, as noted earlier, AGM batteries are much more versatile because they can withstand a higher amount of charge cycles, making them perfect for both leisure and starter batteries.
You may be asking – what are maintenance-free batteries? Well, you often lead-acid batteries are designed with removable caps that allow you to check and then top them up with deionised water. Maintenance-free batteries are sealed and therefore can’t be topped up, but as most batteries are not charged over 14.6 volts, they rarely need topping up anyway.
Incidentally, if you are using a battery with a voltage over 14.8 Volts, then you should check it regularly to ensure there is a high enough level of electrolytes in it and replenish it as required.
Safe Handling of Lead-Acid Batteries
AS batteries are very flammable and consist of highly corrosive acid, when you handle them you should follow the best safety practices.
- Make sure batteries are mounted properly and that the appropriate vent to allow gas to safely escape is fitted correctly always.
- Make sure you wear protective eye equipment and safety clothing when inspecting batteries.
- Make sure you always connect high quality clamps to batteries, as this helps to reduce and even eliminate the chance of sparks and fires from occurring. NB. Crocodile clips are not recommended as permanent connections.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Best Leisure Battery
There are certain things you can do and practices you can follow that will help you to get the most out of your leisure battery, like:
- Applying a thin layer of grease or Vaseline onto the terminals of the battery
- As previously noted, only use clamps that are of a high quality
- Make sure the steel does not rust on the contact surfaces if you are using clamps that are spring-loaded
- Check the electrolyte levels in the battery regularly, to ensure it covers the lead plates. If it isn’t, then you need to top it up with some deionised water. You should always wear safety equipment and clothing when carrying out maintenance and checks on a battery.
- Regularly check that the gas relief tube is fitted properly and securely
- Whenever your battery falls below 50% power, you need to recharge it. It is important that you never allow it to completely run out of energy, as this will significantly shorten its lifespan.
- If your caravan or motor-home is going to be left in storage or anywhere else, unused for an extended period, you need to make sure you take proper care of the battery. In these situations, it is a good idea to invest in and use a trickle charger.
- Avoid leaving a battery uncharged. Sulphation, a white deposit, starts to form on its plates if a battery is left uncharged for too long. This will eventually make the battery useless. Keep it as fully charged as you can.
- It is is crucial that you understand that a battery requires a charger that has an output equal to or more than 10% of the battery’s full capacity. For instance, a 90ah battery needs a 9 amp charger at the very least, because anything less than that will reduce its capacity considerably.
What Can Affect The Performance Of a Battery?
There are a number of different factors that can have an effect on how well a leisure battery performs or not, including the following:
The general rule of thumb is – the lower the temperature, or cooler it is, the poorer a battery will perform. The amp hours rating that batteries have is based on the temperature being 25 degrees Celsius and with every degree drop, there is a drop in the performance by 1%. For instance, if you have an 110ah battery, but the temperature is 15 degrees Celsius, it will be performing like a 100ah battery.
Normally batteries do not last longer than approximately 5 years because of how much their performance levels decrease.
A battery that is used to run a lot of different appliances at the same time, will discharge much quicker and will need to be recharged more frequently. As a result, this frequent recharging will cause the battery to degrade quicker.
The higher the number of appliances you need to power and if these are especially power-hungry appliances; the bigger the leisure battery you invest in will have to be. For instance, caravan motor movers need larger batteries. It is also wise to consider when you travel in year, because of how much the performance decreases in colder weather.
The amp hours rating that the manufacturer provides for a battery is normally based on a 20 hours discharge time. There will be 2 or 3 different capacity levels. For example, 20 hour rate for 95ah, 5 hours rate for 80ah and 100 hour rate for 105ah.
Although the above factors can influence a battery’s performance, you need to keep in mind that there are various other aspects that come into play too. As a general practice, you should assume you will have to recharge a leisure battery more often than manufacturer’s calculations suggest.
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