The search for a suitable second battery in a campervan is a quite confusing. For hours we browsed through forums, blogs and manufacturers pages. After a week of intensive research, we came to the conclusion that there is no general right or wrong for one certain battery. However, we can now say that there is a solution that works for almost every budget.
To save you the long and frustrating research, we briefly summarized our results as informative as possible.
At first it is important to differentiate between a starter battery and a leisure battery. Starter batteries are designed for starting the engine. Thus to provide high currents for a short time. They are not specifically designed for continuous current drain and charge cycles. Nevertheless, there are some campers who favor the use of a starter batteries as a leisure battery. Whether people may favor it because of its cheaper purchase or not I have no idea. However, due to the theoretical suitability I would always prefer a leisure battery to ensure the demand for electricity in the van.
The lead-acid battery is the cheapest alternative. Older models require regular level control of the battery acid, while the modern and now common models are maintenance-free. Nevertheless, the use of lead-acid batteries produces oxyhydrogen gases, which should be conducted through a tube to the outside when installing the battery. This sounds complicated, but it is not. Lead-acid batteries become charged very uncomplicated. According to the manufacturer their competitors are slightly inferior in life expectancy. It is possible that lead-acid leaks when tilting the battery, which is a small disadvantage compared to the other battery types.
Price circa 100 EUR (for 100 Ah)
The gel battery is more expensive than the lead-acid battery. It is very cyclical and therefore well suited as a leisure battery. In contrast to the lead-acid battery, the gel battery is leak-proof and has a longer life expectancy. These characteristics make a good suitability for camping use. However, not every charger can be adapted for this type of battery because a specific charge plan must be followed to fully charge the battery. Charging via the generator it is recommended to use a special charger via the 220V mains at regular intervals (at least every 2-4 weeks). Otherwise, the life expectancy of the battery can be significantly reduced.
Price from 180 EUR (100 Ah)
The AGM battery basically equals to the gel battery. In addition it has fleece layers in which the battery acid is bound. Therefore, the battery is completely leakproof even if damaged. The AGM battery also requires a special charger. However, this is the only way to charge this type of battery. Normal chargers are not suitable. For maximum life expectancy the AGM battery should be fully charged daily. In contrast to the gel battery high currents can be taken from the AGM battery.
Price from 200 EUR (100 Ah)
100 Ah lead-acid battery with a bracket stored under the driver's seat
We decided to buy a lead-acid battery. So far the battery has not leaked, although we parked on steepest slopes and the van got shaked quite a bit. It works well with our solar panel. In terms of the price, this was the cheapest alternative for us. In theory the battery should have a slightly lower life expectancy. The comparison, however, is only if you maintain the other battery types permanently appropriate.
Important NOTE! A deep discharge of the battery, of whatever type, should be avoided as it can drastically affect the life expectancy or even lead to a total loss of the battery. To prevent this we would recommend the purchase of a battery warden. There will be another article considering these information soon.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about our leisure battery shoot us an email at email@example.com. We will get back to you ASAP.
@wander.horizons vanlife | travel | adventure