Caravans and motorhomes are powered by a leisure battery, a power source that’s also known as a marine battery (when used for a house boat) or a deep cycle battery. It’s responsible for providing a steady level of power for all of the 12V appliances you use, such as the fridge, TV and oven, helping to turn your vehicle into a home away from home when you’re on holiday.
To help you find out more about leisure batteries, we’ve created a guide explaining how they work, what to look for in a leisure battery and to outline the choice of leisure batteries on the market.
How Do Leisure Batteries Work?
Leisure batteries vary from standard car batteries due to their construction and also the way that they release energy. A leisure battery has thicker plates and separators between its plate, which makes it perfect for providing power to not only the vehicle over a long journey, but also multiple appliances over a prolonged period of time. A car battery, on the other hand, is designed to provide a short catalyst of power to the engine when it’s being started up, and so can’t be used as a direct replacement for a leisure battery.
A leisure battery can provide a power source until it’s fully drained, but it should be regularly checked as it’s not advisable to let it drop below 50% of its charge. Leaving your leisure battery with low or no charge can result in long-lasting damage. Whenever you charge your leisure battery, make sure that it returns to a full charge – this process is known as ‘deep cycling’.
What To Look For In A Leisure Battery?
Although all leisure batteries supply 12V of power, the amount of power a leisure battery can store is measured in ampere/hours (Ah). The higher the Ah, the more powerful the leisure battery is, meaning it may require less frequent charging. There’s a variety of options on the market for holidaymakers who use their caravans and motorhome in different ways.
In 2016, to provide guidance for buyers, the National Caravan Council (NCC) split the options into three categories to ensure people didn’t purchase the wrong leisure battery.
Category A – The leisure batteries for those who are likely to set up camp without an electrical hook-up point, or just want to spend some time off grid. These are the highest powered leisure batteries available and provide the best performance.
Category B – These are the mid-powered leisure batteries for those who want to spend the majority of their time connected to a mains hook-up, but would still like the option of an extra bit of power if they want to use a high powered appliance, such as a motor mover.
Category C – The lowest powered leisure batteries are also the most popular and best on the market for caravans and motorhomes. These batteries are designed to be hooked up to a campsite’s 240V system and to run lower energy appliances when not plugged in.
What Are The Best Leisure Batteries Available?
There are four types of leisure batteries for use in motorhomes and caravans, depending on your requirements. Some are more cost effective than others, and batteries with a higher Ah are larger in size than their less powerful counterparts. Before choosing a new leisure battery, measure your caravan’s compartment and take a note of the dimensions, because there are a range of sizes available.
1) Open Lead Acid Battery
This type of leisure battery is one of the most popular leisure batteries in the UK – this is largely down to its affordability. It’s perfect if you plan to stay at campsites where you spend your time hooked up. Like its name suggests, it has open lead acid cells, and so needs to be handled with care when charging. It needs to be regularly topped up with electrolyte solution, with a removable cap providing access.
2) Sealed Lead Acid Battery
Like the first on this list, this battery contains lead acid, and also has an affordable price-tag. It contains sealed cells, however, which means that it doesn’t require any maintenance. It’s often seen as one of the best leisure batteries, especially for those who don’t require a large number of Ah when they’re away from home.
This leisure battery is similar in its general construction to the lead acid batteries, but features a galvanising addition. Its internal plates have been crystalised using a fibreglass frame, which absorbs the electrolyte inside, preventing it from spilling. They are also maintenance free, and due to the fact that they can be safely discharged at a level beneath 50%, are a solid option for spending some time unplugged from the campsite mains.
4) Gel Battery
This is the leisure battery that provides the highest performance of the four. The battery’s gel is used to replace the liquid that sits inside the other three varieties, and due to its more solidified state won’t leak or spill. Due to this, they are perfect for anyone with a motorhome or caravan, who fancies a wild camping experience, especially because the battery can survive being discharged down to a level of 80% without being damaged.
Are you looking to pick up a new leisure battery for your motorhome or caravan ahead of your summer holiday? Here at Euro Car Parts, enjoy free next day delivery or same day click and collect when you order from our wide range of leisure batteries.