When it comes to service batteries for campers, it’s no joke. All camper owners know it well: the trailer is a precious travel companion, so why not take care of it properly? The service battery is the beating heart of a camper: it is used to make all the accessories on board the vehicle work correctly, and therefore it helps satisfy small everyday needs, from charging a mobile phone to powering a compressor fridge up to being able to keep the heating or air conditioning on 24 hours a day without problems.
Given the importance of these energy accumulators, we want to help you make the right choice. In this article, we have collected all the information you need to carefully choose your camper service battery from Lead-acid, gel, AGM and lithium battery.
What is a service battery for campers?
Like all batteries, even that of services for campers is a device that accumulates electricity. A storm does not produce energy but stores it in the form of chemicals: it collects energy during the charge phase and releases it during the discharge phase.
An important rule to follow is to fully recharge the battery every 60 days for at least 36/48 hours: more is needed to take a neighbourhood tour to restore it. On the other hand, charging the battery is very important, primarily if you use your vehicle only for a short period. You can recharge the service battery in 3 different ways:
with your vehicle’s alternator (if equipped);
with solar panels, if you have them;
by connecting to 220V.
Furthermore, if used little, the service batteries for campers could lose their initial performance. It may seem strange, but using them constantly could lengthen the life of your batteries. In any case, sooner or later, you will have to replace them with new ones and then, let’s see the four types of service batteries for campers on the market.
1. The wet battery
Popular and inexpensive, flooded batteries are the ideal compromise between cost and charge capacity. Flooded batteries consist of positive and negative plates of different compositions suspended in a solution of sulfuric acid called an electrolyte (i.e. a substance which, when placed in water, makes the solution capable of passing current). Thanks to the key points that we have grouped in this table, you will be able to understand if the flooded batteries are the alternative you are looking for.
Suppose, unfortunately, you should have even a tiny bump with your camper. In that case, we advise you to ensure you have kept the casing of the Lead-acid battery: indeed, they are never completely watertight, but in these cases, you need to be particularly careful.
Furthermore, if you intend to place them under the passenger seat or a chest, we advise installing them with outward exhaust valves.
2. The gel battery for campers
The main characteristic of gel batteries is that the electrolyte has the consistency of a gelatinous compound. To summarize all the features of the gel service batteries for campers, here is an easy table to consult whenever you need it:
A 300Ah gel service battery costs around €350 and if you intend to buy one, make sure you have a specific battery maintainer available for this type of device. If the voltage supplied by the charger is too high, you will risk causing hydrogen bubbles to form inside the gel, inevitably damaging the battery.
3. AGM batteries for campers
An AGM RV battery contains spongy fibreglass tissue inside, which absorbs and retains the acid to increase the battery’s efficiency. AGM stands for “Absorbed Glass Mat”; if loaded correctly, they can also withstand heavy work cycles.
Did you know that they last at least three times longer than classic lead acid batteries? Find all the features of AGM service batteries in this handy list:
Thanks to an AGM battery, which you can find for around €250, you will have the advantage of robust current flows: an essential feature in start-stop vehicles and those with regenerative braking.
4. Lithium batteries for campers
Camper owners who want maximum performance from all onboard accessories can count on lithium batteries for campers. Of course, they require a significant investment compared to the other service batteries we have seen, but their extended life cycle can offer considerable advantages.
Your trusted dealer could also call them Lithium-Iron Phosphate or LiFePO4 batteries, but what is certain is that these batteries are longer-lived, lighter and much faster than traditional ones in recharging.
Although they cost about three times more than a traditional battery, 12v lithium ion battery is the greenest choice. The extended life cycle, their compact shape concentrated in just 13 kg and the ability to maintain the same charge percentage despite a prolonged lack of use make them valuable allies for all campers.
Choosing a new service battery for your camper can be difficult, but we hope we have cleared up at least a few doubts. Always give the last word to a trusted professional: depending on your type of vehicle and the types of use envisaged, he will be able to advise you on the best camper service battery to meet all your needs.