Leisure batteries are important for your caravan, campervan or motorhome as they supply electric to the necessaties within your living quarters. Things such as the lights, fridge and even TV. But like nay battery these need to be charged regulary to be able to use it again and again.
If you have a 100 amp-hour (Ah) leisure battery and you have used it to 50%, you will need to replace the 50Ah. The alternator delivers 5A to the leisure battery; therefore, it will take 10 hours of driving to recharge the battery. If you’re using the mains charger, then expect a max of 3-4 hours.
In this article, we are going to talk about what a leisure battery charger is, how long it takes to charge along with a table so you can see what size battery you have and how long it takes to charge.
What Is A Leisure Battery?
The 12V appliances and equipment in a caravan, boat, or motorhome rely on a source of power called a leisure battery. The leisure battery powers all these appliances, and it’s different from a car battery.
A car battery is intended to provide a burst of energy to kick start the car engine when required, while a leisure battery will deliver a lower level of energy over a long time to power the motorhome equipment and appliances.
Batteries intended to start a vehicle are made uniquely in contrast to batteries specifically designed to run caravanning machines. This is due to the unique differences in their operating requirements.
What Is A Leisure Battery Used For?
Leisure batteries are built to provide a stable power supply to your caravan or R.V.s over a long period. They are used to power the lights, oven ignition, T.V., fridge, kettle, and heater. You should also remember you will need to charge your phone, laptops, tablet, and camera batteries too.
So, in essence, leisure batteries help make your caravan into a cozy, habitable accommodation for you and your family. Aside from powering the appliances in your caravan, the leisure battery also helps correct any irregularities in the power supply. This helps to keep you and your appliances safe.
If you intend to buy a brand-new caravan, you should know that this essential item isn’t normally provided with a new caravan while most new R.V.s have one as standard.
Ask your vendor if you intend to buy a new caravan to make sure you have time to look for a leisure battery before deciding to take your first tour if one isn’t provided.
Types of Leisure Battery
The most common leisure batteries used in the U.K. are lead-acid batteries, though there are other alternatives.
We have open lead-acid batteries and sealed lead-acid batteries within the category of lead-acid batteries, and they are the most popular among users.
Open Lead-Acid Battery
The open lead-acid batteries consist of open cells, a removable cap, and are topped up with electrolyte solution. They are one of the best options for individuals who require a leisure battery for occasional use only because it’s a lot more cost-effective.
Regarding performance, they can be easily discharged by a level of 50% and are best suited for use on campsites where they can be recharged at will.
Sealed Lead-Acid Battery
Sealed lead-acid batteries are similar in design to open lead-acid batteries, except that the unit is closed and sealed. Another exception to sealed lead-acid batteries is that they do not require the constant addition of electrolyte solution.
For this reason, they are maintenance-free, which makes them a go-to option for many. Sealed lead-acid leisure batteries are probably your best option if you’re not on a tight budget and want a maintenance-free cell.
AGM, or Absorbent Glass Mat batteries, are similar in design to the two previous types discussed above but comprises lead plates and compressed fiberglass frame in each cell. This frame absorbs the electrolyte and makes the battery last much longer than the two previously discussed ones.
In addition to that, they are also maintenance-free and can withstand a greater number of charging cycles. They also have the functionality of being used as a starter and leisure batteries.
Gel batteries make use of a gel instead of a liquid for their electrolyte. This means it cannot leak and reduces or removes the danger and damage from being tipped over. They are also completely spill-proof, which eliminates the risk of injury from leaking corrosive acid. They are a great choice for individuals planning on camping ‘off-grid’ because they offer better-enhanced performance.
How To Charge A Leisure Battery
Though caravans or motorhomes do have a display light to show the leisure battery’s charge level, these lights might not display the accurate charge level. We recommend getting a hand-held metre, which can accurately obtain the correct charge level of the leisure battery.
The following can be used as a guideline to determine the battery charge level based on the multimeter readings.
- 12.7V = 100% Charge
- 12.5V = 75% Charge
- 12.4V = 50% Charge
- 12.2V = 25% Charge
The leisure battery can be charged on the mains system once hooked up in a caravan park. The hook-up system can simultaneously run the caravan or motorhome, and once the battery is fully charged, it can take over the operation of the 12v appliances and equipment. It’s advisable to keep the battery charge level topped up because leaving it in a discharged state can cause long-lasting damage.
The split charging method is the best method to ensure your leisure battery is always topped up, and this helps prevent the problem of low battery, especially when you need it for that urgent trip. In a split charge system, you will connect the leisure battery to your starter battery.
This safely charges the leisure battery while the engine is running. It solves the problem of manually monitoring the leisure battery and ensuring it never runs low.
How Long Does A Leisure Battery Take To Charge?
Recharging your leisure battery takes time. For instance, if you have a 100 amp-hour (Ah) leisure battery and you have used it to 50%, then invariably, you will need to replace the lost 50Ah. Let’s assume your alternator delivers 5A to the leisure battery; therefore, it will take 10 hours of driving to recharge the battery.
Alternatively, if you’re using the mains charger, you will need to leave it on long enough to recharge the battery. The majority of the on-board chargers are 15-20A units, so they’d do the job in about three hours.
What Size Battery Do I Need For My Caravan Or Motorhome?
Choosing the right size of leisure battery for your caravan or motorhome can be a bit tricky because it will depend on the total wattage of all the appliances on board.
To know the size and equivalent number of hours the battery will last depends on knowing the total wattage of all devices on board. Then you divide total wattage by the voltage to obtain the Ampere Hours needed from the leisure battery. You should note that these values might vary because of extreme temperatures, wiring efficiency, etc.
The table below gives a rough calculation of the battery size, run time, and appliance wattage.