Deep-cycle Campervan & RV Batteries. Batteries agm camping car

Deep-cycle Campervan RV Batteries

Batteries store the electrical energy that is used to power the 12V electrical appliances in Campervans and Motorhomes.

A 12V AGM (lead-acid) battery is made up of six internal cells, each producing around 2.1V of electricity.

A 12V LiFePO4 (Lithium) battery comprises four internal cells, each producing around 3.2V of electricity.

These internal cells are connected together (in series) and packaged into one container to produce around 12.6V – 12.8V, from what we know as a single 12V battery.

Going Deep

The batteries that are used to power appliances in Campervans and Motorhomes are deep-cycle batteries – which are different from the batteries used to start the engine in your vehicle.

The internal cells in engine starter batteries have thinner plates than those in deep-cycle batteries, resulting in an increased total plate surface area. These batteries are designed to supply a large burst of power over a very short time period, with only a small discharge that is quickly recharged by the vehicle alternator.

Deep-cycle battery cells have thicker plates than those in engine starter batteries. They are designed to provide a steady supply of power over a long period of time. Deep cycle batteries can be more deeply discharged than starter batteries, and recharged many hundreds (or even thousands) of times.

The two most popular types of deep-cycle batteries used in Campervans and Motorhomes are AGM batteries and Lithium batteries

Absorbent Glass Matt (AGM) batteries have been the most widely-deployed deep-cycle batteries used to power 12V appliances in Campervans and Motorhomes.

AGM batteries are sealed lead-acid batteries. 12V lead-acid batteries are made up of six internal cells each containing lead and lead dioxide plates ‘immersed’ in acid, causing a chemical reaction that produces electricity.

In AGM batteries, the electrolyte (ie, the acid) is absorbed into glass fibre mat, rather than having liquid acid sloshing around lead plates in the cells – which is the style of lead-acid battery with which many of us may be more familiar, from experience with car engine starter batteries. These ‘wet’ acid batteries also emit hydrogen gas when charging – which we definitely don’t want inside a Campervan or Motorhome.

AGM batteries are reliable and cost-effective. As a result of their lead content they are also very heavy.

Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries are the (relatively) new kids on the deep-cycle battery block.

Lithium batteries are becoming more common in Campervans and Motorhomes, and have a number of advantages over AGM batteries. (We have recently replaced our AGM batteries with 2 x 120 Ah Lithium batteries.)

The four internal cells in a 12V Lithium battery contain Lithium Iron Phosphate and Graphite plates ‘immersed’ in a chemical cocktail paste of lithium salts and dimethyl carbonate. expensive Lithium batteries are constructed around prismatic internal cells, while cheaper batteries often have cylindrical internal cells.

Lithium batteries are less than half the weight of AGM batteries, have deeper discharge limits, recharge more quickly, and have around four times the life span of AGM batteries (2000 to 8000 recharge cycles).

The downside is that they are about three times the upfront cost of AGM batteries. Is their performance worth the extra cost? Maybe. But like all new technologies, their price will most likely come down over time.

Measuring Electricity Supply

To successfully manage our 12V electricity supply we need to be able to measure the amount of electricity being consumed from our batteries, and consequently the amount of energy supply remaining in the batteries – known as the State of Charge (SoC).

12V electricity supply is measured in Volts and Amps. A neat analogy to help understand these terms is a comparison with water flowing through pipes….

  • Voltage (measured in Volts) is equivalent to the pressure pushing water through the pipes;
  • Current (measured in Amperes, or Amps) is equivalent to the flow rate or the volume of water flowing through the pipes;
  • A third factor, Resistance (measured in Ohms), is a measure of the resistance of the pipes to the flow of the water – eg, pipes that are too narrow might restrict the volume of water flowing through the pipes;
  • Battery storage capacity (measured in Amp/Hours) is equivalent to the amount of water stored in the water tank that is supplying water to the pipes.

In theory, a 100 amp hour (Ah) battery can continuously supply 1 Amp of electrical current for 100 hours, or 2 Amps for 50 hours, 4 Amps for 25 hours, etc, until fully discharged. (Though, as discussed further down the page, your batteries should never be fully discharged – AGM batteries not beyond 50% capacity, and Lithium batteries down to 10% – 20% capacity.)

The voltage supplied by AGM batteries declines in a linear fashion from around 12.8V when fully charged to 12.1V at their maximum 50% discharge.

By comparison, the voltage supplied by Lithium-Iron-Phospate (LiFePO4) batteries remains more constant over a longer period of time, dropping from above 13.5V when fully charged to around 12.5V at their maximum 80% discharge, but then dropping dramatically over the remaining 20% of charge capacity. (From real world experience, our Lithium batteries operate at around 13.1V most of the time, dropping to around 12.8V when ready for a recharge.)

The basic battery monitoring device most often installed in Campervans and Motorhomes is a Voltmeter. One of the most useful pieces of kit we have installed in our van is a more comprehensive Battery Monitor, providing details not only of the battery voltage, but also of current draw, charge / discharge monitor, and remaining Ah capacity.

State of Charge (SoC)

How much energy is left in your batteries? How long before your batteries will no longer be able to supply the energy required to power your 12V appliances?

The level of energy remaining in a battery at any given time during the discharge / recharge cycle is known as the State of Charge (SoC).

For an AGM battery the SoC can be estimated from a voltage reading, since the battery’s voltage falls in a relatively linear fashion as the level of stored energy declines. This is not so for LiFePO4 batteries, as their voltage output remains relatively constant across a narrow range during their period of discharge. (See graph below.)

SoC is accurately measured when there is no load on the battery, and there hasn’t been a load for a couple of hours.

SoC – AGM Batteries

With a load on an AGM battery (eg, fridge running) the voltage will display as less than the actual SoC. When the battery is charging (solar panel input, alternator or 230V charging) the voltage meter will display a higher voltage than the actual SoC.

All batteries have discharge/recharge limitations. Deep-cycle AGM batteries’ State of Charge (SoC) shouldn’t be allowed to drop below 50% capacity.

In the case of a 100 Ah AGM battery, this equates to a usable 50 Ah capacity. Discharging below this 50% SoC will reduce the long term life of the battery.

Each time a battery completely discharges (to 50% capacity in the case of AGM batteries) then fully recharges is known as a recharge ‘cycle’. An AGM battery that is allowed to regularly drop below 50% SoC can have its lifetime serviceability reduced to 100-250 recharge cycles, compared to over 500 cycles in a well-maintained charging regime.

An indication of having reached this 50% level of discharge (for an AGM battery) is provided when your digital voltmeter, usually located in an electrical control panel in your van, indicates that stored battery energy has dropped to 12.1 volts when ‘at rest’ – when there are no appliances drawing current and no charging input (see the chart above).

SoC – Lithium batteries

By comparison, Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries have a completely different charge / discharge profile.

LiFePO4 batteries (generally referred to simply as Lithium batteries) maintain a relatively steady voltage over their 80% of ‘usable’ capacity.

Due to this steady voltage across the discharge period, Lithium batteries’ SoC is not able to be measured by a simple voltage reading – the voltage drops so little over its 80% discharge period, but then drops steeply beyond the point of 20% remaining charge.

Note: A Lithium battery discharged down to below 10% capacity may become ‘invisible’ to a battery charger, and may need to be reset / recharged using a Lithium jump starter (or recharged directly from your vehicle starter battery) to give it enough charge to make it ‘visible’ again to your regular battery charger.

Coulomb Counting – measuring current flow in and out of the battery – is the preferred mechanism used to measure the SoC of Lithium batteries. Coulomb-counting battery monitors display not only the battery voltage, but also the amps in and out of the battery, the remaining Ah capacity, and the SoC as a percentage of the battery capacity.

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AGM vs Lithium – DoD, SoC, cycles, and lifespan comparison

Overall battery life is impacted by continual discharging and recharging – let’s get on top of some related acronyms and jargon……

A critical factor in this process is the Depth of Discharge (DoD) – how ‘deeply’ a battery is discharged.

The percentage charge remaining at a particular point of discharge is known as the State of Charge (SoC).

A full discharge and recharge is referred to as a ‘cycle’.

A battery is capable of a finite number of cycles over it’s lifetime, and this number of cycles is greatly affected by how far a battery is regularly discharged before being recharged.

When maintained correctly, Lithium batteries have a longer lifespan (a greater number of ‘cycles’) than AGM batteries. The question is whether or not the extended lifespan is worth the extra upfront cost? (I think it is.)

The same question applies to the day-to-day usability of Lithium batteries – LiFePO4 batteries maintain a higher and more consistent voltage output over a longer discharge period…

Continuous Discharge Current

This is an important factor if you will be using your battery/s to power 230V AC appliances through an inverter – how many Amps your battery/s can supply as a constant flow of current. (Similar discussion if you are reading this in a country where the mains supply is 110/120V AC – except that the current (I) is doubled in many of the calculations to maintain the same power (P), due the relationships expressed in the formula P=VI.)

For example, a regular 2-slice toaster draws around 3 Amps when connected to a 230V AC mains power supply. When connected to an inverter this same toaster will pull a constant 70 Amps from your 12V DC battery. (To put this in perspective, residential cabling and power outlets in Australia are generally rated for a maximum current of 10 Amps. Going beyond that will trip a circuit breaker, or ‘blow a fuse’.)

A good quality 120Ah Lithium battery will be able to supply a constant 100 amps (per hour). This should not be confused with the higher ‘peak’ discharge current, which can be maintained for up to 5 seconds. Though I wouldn’t like to be actually running an appliance drawing 100 amps from our batteries for an entire hour!

Fortunately your toaster, coffee machine or hair dryer, connected to your battery through an inverter, will only be drawing continuous current at this rate for a minute or two.

The specifications for AGM batteries often list the ‘peak’ (5 second) current discharge, rather than the maximum continuous current discharge. The peak discharge rate for AGM batteries is usually over 1000 Amps, but you will have to go hunting to find that the maximum rate for continuous current discharge (for a 120Ah battery) is around 30 Amps.

Parallel battery connection can cumulatively increase the continuous current capacity of a battery bank – two batteries connected in parallel provide up to double the continuous current capacity of the individual batteries. I expect that this will be dependent to some extent on the quality of the battery cells, and the specification of the BMS.

Check the specifications for a battery’s continuous/peak current discharge capacity, and the power requirements of any appliances that you may be running through an inverter. (Some appliances also require a short high startup current.)

Why Lithium?

As mentioned above, Lithium-Iron-Phospate (LiFePO4) batteries are the new (and relatively expensive) batteries finding their way into Campervans and Motorhomes in preference to AGM batteries.

  • are less than half of the weight of AGM batteries;
  • maintain a relatively constant voltage over their discharge period;
  • have deeper discharge limits (down to 20%);
  • are able to sustain a high level of continuous current;
  • are able to recharge more quickly than AGM batteries;
  • have a longer life-cycle (over 2000 recharge cycles);
  • are currently very expensive (3x) compared to AGM batteries.

Lithium batteries have a different charging profile to AGM batteries. Most notably Lithium batteries don’t require a float stage to keep the battery charge ‘topped up’. They also have different voltage and current requirements in the Boost (Bulk) and Absorption stages of the charging process. Your battery chargers (DC-DC and AC-DC) should have a Lithium charging profile to tailor the charging process to suit the chemistry of the battery.

Lithium batteries have built-in electronics known as a battery management system (BMS). This BMS manages the charging of the internal cells, in particular balancing the cells so they all have an equal charge. This is important in Lithium batteries, as one undercharged cell, or one overcharged cell, can impact the performance of the entire battery.

Most suppliers claim that the BMS in their batteries goes beyond cell balancing management, and can adapt the output (voltage and current) from chargers designed for AGM batteries to suit the unique charging requirements of Lithium batteries, making their Lithium batteries “drop-in replacements” for AGM batteries. I take this claim with a grain of salt – though it may take many years to learn if the life span of a Lithium battery has been negatively impacted by the use of a charger with a non-Lithium profile.

The high continuous current capacity of Lithium batteries makes them particularly suitable for powering 230V AC appliances through a power inverter. It is often this continuous current capacity that differentiates cheap Lithium batteries from more expensive batteries.

The Parallel Universe

Campervans and Motorhomes often have multiple batteries installed ‘in parallel’ to increase 12V electrical storage capacity.

Future Battery Options

Another Lithium battery option which we may see in the future is the Lithium-sulfur battery. Still in the experimental lab, these batteries are likely to be much cheaper to produce than Lithium-ion batteries, since they use more easily-sourced raw materials. And they can store much more energy than Lithium-ion batteries. They may also compete with and provide an alternative to Lithium-iron batteries. The one shortcoming of Lithium-sulfur batteries is their overall lifespan – though researchers are busy trying to solve this problem.

The Lead Crystal battery was another contender that showed much promise, at least in theory. This derivation of AGM batteries claimed to be able to be discharged to 0V, have a faster recharge time than lead-acid batteries, and have a lifespan of 18 years. However, these batteries appear to have gone by the wayside (at least here in Australia) as Lithium batteries have become more pervasive.

What does it all mean?

The important take-aways from the above discussion…

AGM Batteries

  • If you have 1 x 100 Ah AGM battery you will have a ‘usable’ electrical storage capacity of 50 Ah – 50% of total capacity;
  • If you have 2 x 100 Ah AGM batteries connected in parallel, you will have a total usable electrical storage capacity of 100 Ah – 50% of total capacity.
  • Dropping below an AGM battery’s 50% State of Charge may result in the shortening of long-term battery life.

Lithium Batteries

  • If you have 1 x 100 Ah Lithium battery you will have a usable capacity of 80 Ah – 80% of total capacity.
  • If you have 2 x 100 Ah Lithium batteries connected in parallel, you will have a usable capacity of 160 Ah – 80% of total capacity.
  • Dropping below 20% capacity may result in the shortening of long-term battery life.
  • Dropping below a Lithium battery’s 10% State of Charge may require a special procedure to ‘restart’ the battery.

Charging Discharging

  • Batteries’ stored electrical energy is drained by 12V appliances. This energy can be restored by electrical current generated by solar panels, the vehicle alternator, or a 230V power supply.
  • Charging current must be fed to the batteries through an appropriate battery charger or regulator.
  • Lithium batteries have a number of advantages over AGM batteries, including a more constant voltage output, longer discharge period, lighter weight, higher continuous current capacity, much longer life-cycle, and (in some circumstances) faster recharging.

All of which leads to the following questions….

  • How long can we free camp without an external power supply?
  • How long will it take for the 12V appliances in our van to exhaust our batteries’ stored energy capacity?
  • Do our recharging facilities have the capacity to top up this depleted energy supply each day?
  • Are Lithium batteries worth the expense?

The next section – Appliance Consumption – takes the first step in answering those questions by considering how much electrical current each of our appliances drain from our batteries.

AGM v Lithium charging rates

Lithium batteries can, in theory, charge at up to 100% of their rated capacity. For a 100 Ah Lithium battery this is 100 Amps. Despite these ambitious claims, the reality is that this is a ‘peak’ (5 sec) figure. The recommended continuous charging current for most lithium batteries is 20 – 50 amps.

AGM batteries can charge at up to 20% of their rated capacity. For a 100 Ah AGM battery this is around 20 Amps.

With a high current input (say 40 – 50 amps), Lithium batteries will recharge more quickly than AGM batteries. Lithium batteries will charge up to 95% capacity before tapering off, while AGM battery chargers will begin tapering their charge current at around 70% capacity.

However, if you are re-charging your batteries with current feeding in from a 150W solar panel, the charging current is likely to be around 6 Amps. This is well below the potential maximum current input for both Lithium and AGM batteries (50A / 20A), especially when your fridge is probably consuming 3 amps of that solar-generated current.

Even when we connect our 200W solar blanket to deliver an additional 8 amps per hour (in good conditions!), we have a total input of 14 Amps. With a fridge drawing 3 of those amps, the net 11 amps is still well short of the peak charging inputs of both AGM and Lithium batteries. (Though there may still be some small benefit for Lithium batteries, as Lithium chargers maintain a constant charge rate up to the battery’s maximum capacity, while AGM chargers taper the charging rate as the battery approaches maximum capacity.)

So, I expect that there will be little noticeable difference in charging times between Lithium and AGM batteries in a typical Campervan or Motorhome environment when the batteries are recharging from a solar panel. Lithium batteries may charge a little faster in this environment, but not by a huge factor.

Lithium batteries’ faster charging capacity may be more noticeable when charging from the vehicle alternator, or a 230V charger. Our DC-DC charger is supplying 40 amps from the vehicle alternator, even when idling. The lithium batteries can accept this level of charge right up to 95% of capacity, so a few hours driving will recharge the lithium batteries from 40% to nearly ‘full’, which is considerably faster than our previous AGM batteries were able to recharge.

information

  • Battery Recharging
  • How batteries work – Video
  • What Size Battery? – Caravan RV Camping
  • Deep-cycle Battery Guide – Aussie Batteries
  • Deep-cycle Battery Guide – Energy Matters
  • Lead-Crystal Batteries – Trailer Camper Australia
  • Battery Voltage SoC – Energy Matters
  • When did 240V become 230V?
  • Our Lithium Battery Upgrade
  • Kings batteries are cheap. Are they any good? – Aussie Arvos
  • Lithium Battery Guide – Redarc
  • How do Lithium batteries work – Video
  • Lithium Iron Phosphate v Lithium-ion batteries – evergen
  • Lithium battery chemistry – Australian Academy of Science
  • Lithium Cell Balancing – Power Sonic
  • Pros Cons of Lithium Batteries – RV Daily
  • Lithium batteries – do you really need them? – Enerdrive
  • Lithium-sulfur batteries – Cheaper and more energy – ABC News
  • Lithium-sulfur batteries – new discoveries – FreeThink
  • Video: Lithium v AGM – Should I spend the money? – 4XOverland

Solid and Reliable

Ordinary automotive batteries aren’t designed to handle the deep-discharge accessory power that RVs demand. Reliable RV travel depends on batteries from East Penn – the ultimate power solution for your home away from home.

Recreational Vehicle Batteries:

Learn more about East Penn’s battery selection for recreational vehicles and the difference between flooded, AGM, and Gel technology.

Marine Master Marine and RV Flooded Batteries

Marine Master® Marine and RV Flooded Batteries offer the ultimate power solution for your home away from home.

Features Heavy-Duty Deep Cycle – True Deep Cycle Service

  • power for electronic accessories
  • Built-in protection against deep discharge damage
  • Rugged vibration-resistant construction
  • Reliable power for modest starting

Deep Cycle/Starting – The Best of Both Worlds

  • High starting and deep cycle capability
  • Longer cycling than starting battery
  • Extra reserve power for accessory loads
  • Rugged vibration-resistant construction

Additional Resources

Intimidator AGM Series

The Intimidator AGM battery series will never be intimidated by the power demands of today’s complex RVs.

  • Over 2x the cycle life withstands demands of heavy house power
  • 20x more vibration resistant for extensive travel protection
  • Best all-purpose service provides starting, cycling, and deep cycle capability
  • Safer install and transport with no-spill design to prevent acid leaks
  • High freeze-resistance provides better all-weather performance
  • Better capacity protection during periods of infrequent use

Above and beyond conventional designs

Additional Resources

Deka Dominator Gel Series

The Deka Dominator’s unique gelled electrolyte technology offers some of the deepest cycling batteries in the RV industry.

  • Longest deep cycle life
  • Ultimate performance for heavy house power
  • Superior protection against vibration and deep cycle damage
  • Better capacity protection during periods of infrequent use
  • Safer install and transport with no-spill design to prevent leaking acid
  • Dependable starting performance

Distribution

With over 90 warehouses and distribution centers in North America, East Penn is here to service your delivery and core return needs through one powerful network.

Whether it’s store-door or direct delivery programs, our network of company-owned and operated facilities and premier sales and service staff delivers the industry’s leading logistical support and highest customer satisfaction levels.

Technologies

East Penn is one of the only battery manufacturers to make all types of flooded, AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat), and Gel technologies. This gives customers a powerful choice and reliable information source for these lead-acid battery products.

We also offer the exclusive UltraBattery® and Synergy technologies for partial state-of-charge transportation applications. UltraBattery technology combines the advantages of an Advanced VRLA battery with the advantages of an asymmetric supercapacitor, while our Synergy battery technology offers one of the most cost-effective solutions that is ideal for Micro or Mild HEVs.

Resources Downloads

If you’re unable to find what you’re looking for, please feel free to contact us.

FAQs

East Penn’s POWER-PERFORM Ⓡ PLATES

Why are East Penn’s Power-Perform Ⓡ Plates more efficient than other plates? The plate plays a critical role in the performance of the battery’s overall power system. The ability of the plate to store and deliver power is directly proportional to how well it supports the vehicle’s power needs. Power-Perform Plates perform these functions with the highest efficiency enabling more power-per-space and better overall performance. Full-frame structure provides better current transfer from all sides of the plate Enhanced crystallization of the active material and specially formulated oxide optimizes energy storage for high-powered performance Low resistance current path grids with more top frame intersecting wires allow the direct flow of energy for greater starting power Revolutionary paste adhesion techniques deliver better performance over extended use

How do East Penn’s Power-Perform Plates Ⓡ perform better while lasting longer? Power-Perform Plates work within an overall battery life protection system and an advanced durability design to extend performance and service life. Increased grid frame tensile strength resists plate growth to safeguard against life-threatening shorts Thicker backweb and puncture resistant separators prevent plate-to-plate electrical shorts Ultra-pure electrolyte with no impurities inhibits unnecessary water loss Full-frame plate structure prevents exposed wire electrical shorts Advanced battery formation controls prevent high temperature damage and under-formed, low-performance plates Precision craftsmanship, stringent testing, and consistent performance and quality analysis through advanced centralized laboratories ensure that Power-Perform Plates deliver optimized life, power, and durability, even under the most severe service. This means lower warranty claims due to less defects combined with better and longer battery performance.

AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) TECHNOLOGY

What is AGM? AGM stands for Absorbed Glass Mat

What is an Absorbed Glass Mat? A highly absorbent, micro-porous mat made of special glass fibers. The specially designed mats are an essential component in the battery’s electrolyte suspension system. All of the electrolyte is absorbed into this material enabling a spillproof design.

Why buy an AGM battery from East Penn? East Penn is a pioneer in developing the Form, Fit, and Function of AGM battery technology. The company’s engineering design and manufacturing process meets major US and European OE automotive manufacturers’ standards. From the company’s use of the finest raw materials to precision-focused manufacturing (like the weighing and thickness analysis of every battery group), East Penn’s AGM battery design and process has been tested and proven to best meet the Form, Fit, and Function criteria of the automotive industry.

Are AGM batteries OK for any application? AGM batteries will replace a flooded battery in any typical alternator voltage regulated system. These systems generally maintain a voltage at 13.8 to 14.4 volts (cars, trucks, commercial trucks, boats, etc.). In fact, the efficient recharging of the AGM battery design can cause less wear on the vehicle’s alternator system over time.

Can AGM batteries be recycled like conventional flooded batteries? AGM and conventional flooded lead-acid batteries are one of the most recyclable products on the planet. Lead-acid batteries have a higher recycling rate than glass, aluminum, and newspaper. In fact, virtually 100% of every battery component can be recycled to make a brand new battery. East Penn operates one of the most modern and environmentally-safe facilities in the world. This enables our customers to assure their customers that they are recycling their batteries with someone they can trust.

Is AGM really a premium battery product? Yes. This advanced AGM technological design offers superior performance over conventional flooded batteries. All automotive batteries are expected to meet a certain level of performance standards for engine starting and to provide reserve power for the vehicle’s electronics. AGM batteries, however, are expected to excel in certain key aspects of battery use such as:

CYCLING PERFORMANCE 2. SEVERE SERVICE DURABILITY 3. DEEP DISCHARGE RESILIENCY 4. VIBRATION RESISTANCE

As the electrical, high heat, severe service, and durability demands continue to intensify for today’s vehicles, conventional flooded batteries may not deliver the dependable performance and service life needed under these conditions. This is not only the trend for cars and trucks, but now commercial trucks, marine vessels, and power sports vehicles are requiring a more evolved type of battery power.

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CYCLING PERFORMANCE Why do customers need better cycling performance from their batteries? Today’s vehicles, and those to come, are being built with more factory-installed electronics and more places to plug in portable devices. For example, cars and other passenger vehicles have to provide power for items like LCD viewers, GPS systems, stereos and speakers, powered Windows or doors, cell and Smart phone charging, and anything else that plugs in or turns on. Boats need power for accessories like live-wells, GPS systems, stereos, hazard lighting, fish finders, and any other item that plugs in or turns on. Cars that utilize stop/start functions, like Micro Hybrid Electric Vehicles, demand extra durability and a better charge acceptance from their battery. As more types of electric vehicles evolve, so will the need for a higher cycling tolerance from the battery.

How do AGM batteries help to deliver better cycling performance? AGM battery technology withstands these additional accessory power and cycling demands while still having the power to start the vehicle. An AGM battery’s enhanced durability and charge acceptance makes it an essential component for many stop/start and other electrical system technology. Its ability to have over twice the cycle life of a conventional flooded design gives it a clear advantage for its implementation into progressing electric vehicle technology.

SEVERE SERVICE DURABILITY Why do customers need better severe service durability from their battery? Severe service and higher temperature conditions continue to escalate because there is less open space under-the-hood with more demand on the battery. Also, more vehicles undergo stop-and-start driving conditions, further increasing the need for enhanced durability.

How do AGM batteries help deliver better severe service durability? AGM battery technology can be utilized to help offset these increasing power and durability demands. The AGM battery’s ability to withstand severe service and accessory power demands under elevated temperatures and stop-and-go conditions will better safeguard performance and extend battery life.

DEEP DISCHARGE RESILIENCY Why do customers need a better deep discharge resiliency from their battery? Vehicles that aren’t used everyday have a higher risk of not starting because of parasitic accessory power loads. Parasitic loads, or even leaving something on when the ignition is off, can completely drain the battery’s power.

How do AGM batteries help deliver better deep discharge resiliency? AGM battery technology delivers a higher deep discharge abuse tolerance. This helps protect the battery longer from situations like infrequent use, parasitic power drains, or other deep power discharge (like leaving your vehicle’s lights on when the ignition is off).

VIBRATION RESISTANCE Why do customers need a battery that resists vibration damage? Vibration resistance is extremely important to protecting the battery’s life in almost any application that moves. Vibration or jolting movements can lead to electrical shorts or the loss of electrical storage capacity that can significantly decrease the battery’s performance.

How do AGM batteries help deliver battery vibration resistance? AGM technology utilizes an Absorbed Glass Mat that protects the battery’s internal components. These special separators serve as a shock absorber to the battery, which buffers vibration or other potentially damaging movement. This added vibration protection is especially ideal for off-road vehicles, watercraft, performance cars, tuner cars, or any other vehicles that undergo intense vibration during normal use.

CYCLE LIFE IN AGM BATTERIES

What is Cycle Life? A CYCLE is a single occurrence when energy is taken out of the battery and then put back in. CYCLE LIFE is the ability of the battery to do that over and over again and continue to deliver reliable performance.

How does claims of extended CYCLE LIFE differ from claims of just extended battery life? LIFE vs. CYCLE LIFE Claims that a battery has extended LIFE could simply mean it survives longer than average in a typical automotive application in an average climate. In the real world, actual battery life is highly variable and unpredictable. The stresses on a battery differ by climate, vehicle differences, and user habits. A battery may last a long time under ideal conditions, but fail with only minimal abuse.

A battery with extended CYCLE LIFE survives longer than average under more grueling demands that portray a more realistic picture of real world use. This includes warmer climates, higher under-hood temperatures, longer than typical hours of usage, higher annual miles of operation, and frequent electrical loads while the engine is off.

Why do customers need better cycling performance from their batteries? Today’s vehicles, and those to come, are being built with more factory-installed electronics and more places to plug in portable devices. For example, cars and other passenger vehicles have to provide power for items like LCD viewers, GPS systems, stereos and speakers, powered Windows or doors, cell and Smart phone charging, and anything else that plugs in or turns on. Boats need power for accessories like live-wells, GPS systems, stereos, hazard lighting, fish finders, and any other item that plugs in or turns on.

Newer cars are also utilizing additional electronic functions in areas that were traditionally powered by the engine. This is not only the case for Hybrid Electic Vehicles, but is also being incorporated throughout a variety of standard automotive designs. These additional electronic services demand extra performance from the battery. As more types of vehicles evolve further into electrification, so will the need for the higher cycling tolerance and overall durability in a battery that can be found in the AGM design.

How does East Penn’s AGM product have extended CYCLE LIFE? East Penn’s AGM batteries have special glass mats that are strategically wrapped around the battery’s power producing components. The main reason for this mat is to absorb all the battery’s acid so the battery won’t leak or spill if turned over or if cracked. However, these mats also provide an added layer of protection for these components. This added protection enhances the battery’s durability against continual power drains like electronics. In fact, East Penn’s AGM batteries have 2x the cycle life over traditional maintenance-free flooded batteries to power more accessories for much longer. This enhanced durability also protects the battery from vibration, high temperatures, the rigors of stop-and-go driving and frequent vehicle use.

VRLA AGM AND GEL BATTERIES

What are VRLA batteries? Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid or VRLA, including Gel and AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery designs, can be substituted in virtually any flooded lead-acid battery application (in conjunction with well-regulated charging). Their unique features and benefits deliver an ideal solution for many applications where traditional flooded batteries would not deliver the best results. For almost three decades, East Penn has been manufacturing valve-regulated batteries using tried and true technology backed by more than 65 years experience. East Penn produces a complete line of Gel, AGM, and conventional flooded products for hundreds of applications. This diverse product offering enables East Penn to be objective as to the advantages of each type of battery. East Penn’s VRLA (Gel and AGM) products have the reputation of being the highest quality VRLA batteries available.

How do VRLA batteries work? A VRLA battery utilizes a one-way, pressure-relief valve system to achieve a “recombinant” technology. This means that the oxygen normally produced on the positive plate is absorbed by the negative plate. This suppresses the production of hydrogen at the negative plate. Water (H2O) is produced instead, retaining the moisture within the battery. It never needs watering, and should never be opened as this would expose the battery to excess oxygen from the air. In addition to damaging the battery, opening it also voids the warranty.

What is the difference between VRLA batteries and traditional flooded batteries? Flooded electrolyte batteries do not have special one-way, pressure-relief valves, as they do not work on the recombination principle. Instead, flooded designs utilize a vent to allow gas to escape. They contain liquid electrolyte that can spill and cause corrosion if tipped or punctured. They should not be used near sensitive electronic equipment. They can only be installed “upright.” Flooded batteries lose capacity and become permanently damaged if: Left in a discharged condition for any length of time (due to sulfation). This is especially true of designs that require water maintenance. Continually over-discharged (due to active material shedding). This is especially true of automotive starting types.

What are ideal applications for VRLA batteries?

Deep Cycle, Deep Discharge Applications Marine Trolling Electronics Sailboats Electric Vehicles Wheelchairs/Scooters Golf Cars Portable Power Floor Scrubbers Personnel Carriers Renewable Energy Village Power (Solar, Wind) Marine RV House Power Commercial Deep Cycle Applications

Standby and Emergency Backup Applications UPS (Uninterrupted Power Systems) Cable TV Emergency Lighting Computer Backup Renewable Energy Frequency Regulation (Solar, Wind) Telephone Switching

Other Applications Race or High Performance Cars On-Highway Trucking Off-Road Vehicles Wet Environments Marine RV Starting Diesel Starting Cars and Light Trucks Vehicles with with Accessories Start-Stop Systems

What are Gel and AGM batteries? VRLA technology encompasses both gelled electrolyte or gel batteries and absorbed glass mat or AGM batteries. Both types are regulated by special one-way, pressure-relief valves and have significant advantages over flooded lead-acid products.

AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries The electrolyte in AGM batteries is completely absorbed in separators consisting of matted glass fibers. This causes them to be spillproof, meaning they don’t leak acid like a flooded design if tipped on their side. The glass mats in AGM batteries are wrapped around the positive plate, which helps prevent damage from vibration and extend cycling. The battery’s groups are packed tightly in the case partitions also protecting its power producing components. AGM battery designs can have over twice the cycle life of a conventional flooded product in the right application.

Gel or Gelled Electrolyte batteries The electrolyte in a Gel battery is permanently locked in a highly viscous gelled state instead of the traditional liquid form. Because there is no liquid-type electrolyte, it will not leak out of the battery if tipped on its side. The thick, gelled electrolyte and tightly packed groups also protect the battery’s power producing components. Gel battery designs have a superior deep discharge resiliency and can deliver over two to three times the cycle life of an AGM product in the right applications.

What are some similarities between Gel and AGM batteries? Batteries utilize special one-way, pressure-relief valves and must never be opened. Requires no electrolyte maintenance unlike deep cycle flooded batteries that require frequent checking and adjustment of electrolyte levels. Uses a recombination reaction to prevent the escape of hydrogen and oxygen gases normally lost in a flooded lead-acid battery (particularly in deep cycle applications). Spillproof design enables installation in virtually any position (upside-down installation is not recommended). Has a higher tolerance against damage from deep discharge. These batteries have optimized amounts of electrolyte (which is also referred to as “acid-starved”) so that they use the power in the acid before they use the power in the plates. This minimizes the destructive nature of ultra-deep discharges. Ultra-deep discharging is what causes plate shedding, which can destroy a battery.

What are the Major differences between Gel and AGM battery performance? A Gel battery is better suited for super-deep discharge applications, which means it can withstand deeper discharges without damaging the battery’s performance. However, due to the physical properties of the gelled electrolyte, Gel battery power declines faster than an AGM battery as the temperature drops below 32ºF (0ºC). AGM batteries excel for high current, high power applications and in extremely cold environments. AGM batteries deliver a better dual purpose solution for a combination of starting and accessory power.

What are the advantages of GEL and AGM battery designs? (waiting on image)

What do I need to know about VRLA battery charging? All lead-acid batteries release hydrogen from the negative plate and oxygen from the positive plate during charging. VRLA batteries have one-way, pressure-relief valves. Without the ability to retain pressure within the cells, hydrogen and oxygen would be lost to the atmosphere, eventually drying out the electrolyte and separators.

Voltage is electrical pressure (energy per unit of charge). Charge (ampere-hours) is a quantity of electricity. Current (amperes) is electrical flow (charging speed). A battery can only store a certain quantity of electricity. The closer it gets to being fully charged, the slower it must be charged. Temperature also affects charging. If the right voltage is used for the temperature, a battery will accept charge at its ideal rate. If too much voltage is used, charge will be forced through the battery faster than it can be stored.

Reactions other than the charging reaction also occur to transport this current through the battery—mainly gassing. Hydrogen and oxygen may be given off faster than the recombination reaction. This raises the pressure until the one-way, pressure-relief valve opens. The gas lost cannot be replaced. Any VRLA battery will dry out and fail prematurely if it experiences excessive overcharging.

Note: It is too much voltage that initiates this problem, not too much charge — a battery can be “over-charged” (damaged by too much voltage) even though it is not fully “charged.” Never install any lead-acid battery in a sealed container or enclosure. Hydrogen gas must be allowed to escape.

Can continual undercharging harm a VRLA battery? In many respects, undercharging is as harmful as overcharging. Keeping a battery in an undercharged condition allows the positive grids to corrode and the plates to shed, dramatically shortening life. Also, an undercharged battery must work harder than a fully charged battery, which contributes to short life as well.

An undercharged battery has a greatly reduced capacity. It may easily be inadvertently over-discharged and eventually damaged.

Do VRLA batteries have a “memory” like Ni-Cad batteries? One of the major disadvantages of nickel-cadmium (Ni-cad) batteries is that after shallow discharge cycles, the unused portions of the electrodes “remember” the previous cycles and are unable to sustain the required discharge voltage beyond the depth of the previous cycles. The capacity is lost and can only be restored by slowly discharging completely (generally outside the application), and properly recharging. VRLA lead-acid batteries do not exhibit this capacity robbing effect known as memory.

What are the safety precautions for VRLA batteries? Although all valve-regulated batteries have the electrolyte immobilized within the cell, the electrical hazard associated with batteries still exists. Work performed on these batteries should be done with the tools and the protective equipment listed below. Valve-regulated battery installations should be supervised by personnel familiar with batteries and battery safety precautions.

Protective Equipment To assure safe battery handling, installation and maintenance, the following protection equipment should be used: Safety glasses or face shield (Consult application specific requirements) Acid-resistant gloves Protective aprons and safety shoes Proper lifting devices Properly insulated tools

Procedures Consult user manual of specific application for safety operating requirements. The following safety procedures should be followed during installation: (Always wear safety glasses or face shield.) 1. These batteries are sealed and contain no free flowing electrolyte. Under normal operating conditions, they do not present any acid danger. However, if the battery jar, case, or cover is damaged, acid could be present. Sulfuric acid is harmful to the skin and eyes. Flush affected area with water immediately and consult a physician if splashed in the eyes. Consult MSDS for additional precautions and first aid measures. 2. Prohibit smoking and open flames, and avoid arcing in the immediate vicinity of the battery. 3. Do not wear metallic objects, such as jewelry, while working on batteries. Do not store un-insulated tools in s or tool belt while working in vicinity of battery. 4. Keep the top of the battery dry and clear of all tools and other foreign objects. 5. Provide adequate ventilation as regulated by Federal, State and Local codes and follow recommended charging voltages. 6. Extinguishing media: Class ABC extinguisher. Note: CO2 may be used but not directly on the cells due to thermal shock and potential cracking of cases. 7. Never remove or tamper with pressure-relief valves. Warranty void if vent valve is removed.

Can VRLA batteries be installed in sealed battery boxes? NO! Never install any type of battery in a completely sealed container. Although most of the normal gasses (oxygen and hydrogen) produced in a VRLA battery will be recombined and not escape, oxygen and hydrogen will escape from the battery in an overcharge condition (as is typical of any type battery).

These potentially explosive gasses must be allowed to vent to the atmosphere and must never be trapped in a sealed battery box or tightly enclosed space!

Does depth of discharge affect cycle life? Yes! The harder any battery has to work, the sooner it will fail.

The shallower the average discharge, the longer the life. It’s important to size a battery system to deliver at least twice the energy required, to assure shallow discharges.

Follow these tips for the longest life: Avoid ultra-deep discharges. The definition of ultra-deep discharge may vary with application and battery type. Don’t leave a battery at a low stage of charge for an extended length of time. Charge a discharged battery as soon as possible. Don’t cycle a battery at a low state of charge without regularly recharging fully. Use the highest initial charging current available (up to 30% of the 20-hour capacity per hour) while staying within the proper temperature-compensated voltage range.

What is a thermal runaway? The appropriate charge voltage depends on the battery temperatures. A warmer battery requires a reduced voltage. If the voltage is not reduced, current accepted by the battery increases. When the current increases, the internal heating increases. This can rise to destructive levels if not taken into consideration.

Thermal runaway can be prevented with: Temperature compensation monitoring at the battery —not at the charger. Limiting charging currents to appropriate levels. Allowing for adequate air circulation around the batteries. Using timers or ampere-hour counters. Using Smart chargers that recognize the signature of a thermal runaway event which will shut the charger down.

How to Choose the Right AGM Battery for Your RV or Camper

Having reliable power on your RV or camper trip is important, and the battery is the heart of your power supply system. AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries are a popular choice for RV and camper owners who want a battery that can handle frequent recharging and discharging cycles without reducing its lifespan.

In this article, we will take a look at some factors you should consider when selecting an AGM battery for your RV or camper.

Understand Your Power Needs: Calculating the Required Capacity

The first and important step in selecting an AGM battery for your RV or camper is to understand your vehicle’s power needs. The capacity, measured in ampere-hours (Ah), is the amount of current that the battery can produce for a specific period. You can calculate the required battery capacity based on your power needs. The average power requirement for a typical RV or camper ranges from 50 to 100 Ah per day.

One important factor to consider is the type of appliances and electronics you will be operating. High-power consuming devices such as air conditioners and refrigerators require a battery with a higher capacity to maintain power for more extended periods. Therefore, it’s essential to select an AGM battery with the right capacity that can meet your power needs during your trip.

Consider the Battery Size and Fit

AGM batteries come in different sizes to fit different RV and camper models. Ensure you match the battery size to the compartment it will occupy. over, make sure you understand the weight of the battery and factor that into your vehicle’s gross weight.

AGM batteriesare a popular choice for RV and camper owners because they are maintenance-free and sealed, which allows them to install the battery in any orientation. As you choose the right size and fit for your battery, it is essential to consider the charging system compatibility.

Quality and Durability

The quality and durability of the AGM battery are essential factors to consider as you choose the right battery for your RV or camper. Select a battery that is made with premium materials, technology, and manufacturing processes to ensure maximum energy storage, speed up charging, and guarantee long-term durability.

Another critical factor to consider is the cycle life of the battery, which is the number of cycles that can be recharged and discharged before the battery loses its capacity. High-quality AGM batteries can last up to seven years under regular use conditions, making them a solid investment for anyone planning for long trips or multiple uses.

Charging System Compatibility

AGM batteries have a specific charging system, which requires precise voltage and amperage to charge. Your camping setup should have a charging system designed to work with AGM batteries with a specified input range. Otherwise, you risk damaging or undercharging the battery, reducing its lifespan and ability to hold a charge over time.

Cost

The cost of AGM batteries varies depending on the brand, quality, reliability, and durability. While budget is an essential factor, it should not be the only determinant in choosing an AGM battery for your RV or camper. Investing in high-quality AGM batteries gives you the peace of mind to enjoy long trips and multiple uses, making them cost-effective in the long run.

Conclusion

AGM batteries are a proven technology that has become a popular choice for powering RVs and campers. When selecting an AGM battery for your RV or camper, consider your power needs, size and fit, quality and durability, charging system compatibility, and cost. Properly sizing, installation, charging, and maintenance of the battery are critical to ensure maximum lifespan, efficiency, and performance. With the right AGM battery and proper upkeep, you can extend your off-the-grid trips and enjoy a reliable power supply system on your RV or camper trip, making it a more comfortable, convenient, and enjoyable experience.

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Which Battery is Best For Camper Vans – And Why We Chose Lithium

This site contains affiliate links to products. info in our disclaimer.

Every van conversion requires batteries these days to charge all our electronics, including our laptops, phones, lights, fridge, and more. Therefore, we all want to know WHICH is the best battery to buy for our camper van.

But the problem is that there is no “best” camper van battery. This is because we all have different budgets, intended travel duration, and electrical power requirements. So, what might be the best battery for one person may not necessarily be the best battery for someone else.

The truthful answer is that the best battery DEPENDS on your situation. And simply trying to recommend an expensive Battleborn-branded lithium battery would be irresponsible.

Therefore, to help you decide the best battery for your needs. we review these three major battery categories:

Other Types Of BatteriesWe understand that there are also FLA (flooded lead-acid) and GEL batteries. But these are not realistic options for most van lifers. So, for simplicity, we leave these out and only FOCUS on the above three battery types.

For many of us, “cost” is a major factor when we select our camper van batteries. However, too many of us FOCUS on the battery’s “initial cost” when deciding their value. Instead, a better cost metric to look at is “cost per cycle”. which is the purchase price of the battery divided by the average number of charge cycles.

(Purchase Price / Total Charge Cycles) = Cost Per Cycle

And so, for each of the above battery categories, we provide you with the following information for each battery category to help you determine which battery is best for your van:

  • Average initial cost
  • Usable lifespan (total charge cycles)
  • Cost per cycle (/cycle)
  • Who this battery is best for

What Is Our Goal? The goal of this post is to show you that AGM batteries are not always the “cheapest” option. We believe that budget lithium batteries (non-premium branded) provide excellent long-term value and are the cheapest option when looking at cost per charge cycle.

So if you’re ready, let’s get started!

Confused where to start with DIY electrics? Check out our comprehensive camper van electrical system guide to start from the very beginning.

Camper Van Battery Summary Table

We researched 9 different batteries and averaged the data in the table below. So if you’re just interested to compare the final stats, below is a table we created to compare each of the three battery categories.

Budget Lithium

Premium Lithium

Avg. Initial Cost

Avg. Charge Cycles

Usable Lifespan (1 cycle/day)

Big Caveat(!): For a better “apples to apples” comparison, it is more realistic to compare two AGM batteries for every one lithium. This is due to depth-of-discharge differences (50% for AGM 90% for Lithium). This means the “cost/cycle” for AGMs is realistically double than the 0.34 in the table above.

Key Summary Takeaway

Budget lithium batteries provide the absolute best value for camper vans today. While they are slightly more expensive than purchasing an equivalenttwo AGM batteries, their considerably longer lifespan make lithium batteries considerably cheaper over the long run.

Download our electrical eBook (with diagrams) to visualize which wire sizes you need.

Which Battery Is Best For Your Camper Van?

Based on the summary table above, we can clearly define which battery is best for each type of van life traveler.

The Case For: AGM Batteries

AGM batteries are still the best option for those who are trying to convert a van as cheap as possible. At an average price of 204 per 100aH, AGMs are the absolute cheapest from an initial purchase price standpoint.

These batteries, like the Mighty Max [Amazon], can also be ideal if you are only planning to travel occasionally (weekender) or less than 2 years in total.

  • ML100-12 SLA is a 12V 100AH group 30H Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) rechargeable maintenance free battery
  • Dimensions: 12.09 inches x 6.65 inches x 8.48 inches. Listing is for the Battery and Screws only. No.
  • SLA / AGM spill proof battery has a characteristic of high discharge rate, wide operating.

The Case For: Budget Lithium Batteries

If your budget is a bit more flexible, no-frills lithium batteries, like Li Time, provide the best long-term value for camper vans. While they also have a relatively low purchase price (370 per 100aH), their high number of charge cycles (~3,500) means that you end up paying the least per charge cycle (~0.11/cycle).

These LiFePO4 batteries are a fantastic option if you plan to travel for longer than 1.5 years, as these batteries have a typical lifespan of 10 years (or more).

  • 【Mini in Size Max on Power】LiTime 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 auto battery MINI took up only 0.25ft³ of.
  • 【Weighs 19lbs, 10% Lighter Than Ever】Be your first choice of LiFePO4 batteries for every outdoor.
  • 【All-New Design, All-Round Safety】The lithium battery is wear-resistant thanks to the newly.

The Case For: Premium Lithium Batteries

High-end lithium batteries contain lots of additional features that may be worth it to a particular segment of camper van travelers. These features can include internal battery heating capabilities, extended warranty (8-10 years), high-quality components, and more.

But be aware, at ~950 per 100aH battery, these premium batteries are also premium priced. You will need to consult your budget to decide if premium lithium batteries are right for your van conversion.

  • Up to a Decade of Use. Enjoy superb return on your investment with this heavy duty LiFePO4 battery.
  • Built for Rugged Adventures. Our fast-charging lithium-ion batteries are perfect for RVs, campers.
  • Designed for Versatility. This eco-conscious and lightweight 100Ah 12V battery can be wired in.

What Size Battery Do You Need?

To help you determine just how much battery you need for your van conversion, check out our battery size calculator. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone who is confused about how to start sizing their electrical system.

Are AGM Batteries Good For Camper Vans?

AGM batteries are good for camper vans if budget is a concern and if you only plan to travel part time with your van. Generally, under constant ‘deep-cycle’ use (50% DoD), AGM batteries have a usable lifespan between 1-2 years. So, if your travels will be less than this time frame, AGM batteries can be a good financial choice.

Rather than look at one single AGM battery, we looked at AGM batteries as a whole, assuming limited differentiation between cheap and premium AGM batteries. The statistics below are an average of four AGM batteries we researched.

AGM Data Table

Average Cost

Average Charge Cycles

deep-cycle, campervan, batteries, camping

Avg. Cost/Cycle

Average Weight

Depth of Discharge

Can survive with only 100aH

According to the table, though AGM batteries may be the cheapest battery type from an initial purchase price view, their relatively low number of total charge cycles mean that the cost per cycle is considerably higher than lithium batteries. That is why if you plan to travel for more than two years, AGM batteries are likely not the “cheapest option.”

We chose ‘two years’ as our reference point because we assume that after 2 years, the current AGMs will have run out of useful life and new AGM batteries must be purchased. Thus increasing the total overall cost spent on van batteries.

AGM Batteries: Pros Cons

robust to extreme temperatures

Likely needs replacement after 2 years

Heavier than lithium batteries

Requires more batteries than lithium for equal usable energy

Are Budget Lithium Batteries The Best Van Batteries?

Using Cost/Cycle: We Think So!

Lithium batteries are a great choice for camper vans when planning to travel longer than two years. At that point, most lithium batteries surpass AGMs as the cheaper option. And because lithium batteries have a considerably greater total number of charge cycles, they are cheaper than AGMs when looking at cost per cycle.

Lithium battery have come down substantially in recent years and so we researched four different ‘budget’ LiFePO4 batteries and aggregated the data below.

Budget Lithium Data Table

Average Cost

Average Charge Cycles

Avg. Cost/Cycle

Average Weight

Depth of Discharge

Travell Than 2 Years

Concious About Camper Weight

Interested In Camper Resale Value

Looking at the table above, the most eye-catching statistic is that a budget lithium battery only costs 13 CENTS per cycle. Compare that to ~34 cents per cycle for AGM batteries. That’s 1/3 of the cost of an AGM. Looking at battery cost in this way really changes the way we answer the question ‘which battery is the cheapest for van life?’

Budget Lithium Batteries: Pros Cons

Not prohibitively expensive

Uncertain customer service quality

Are Premium Lithium Batteries Worth It For Van Life?

Awesome Batteries, But Is The Value There?

For this segment, we only looked at BattleBorn LiFePO4 batteries. For premium-build camper vans, BattleBorns are the most common batteries used.

Premium lithium batteries are used in van conversion when the builder simply isn’t price conscious and values quality and features above all else. In the case of the Battleborn batteries that we feature below, pay premium price entails certain premium features, like:

Does that mean premium lithium batteries are worth it over their budget alternatives? Not necessarily. That is for you (and your budget) to decide.

Premium Lithium Data Table

Average Cost

Average Charge Cycles

Avg. Cost/Cycle

Average Weight

Depth of Discharge

Bells whitles = Important

Assuming you use the premium priced Battleborn battery for the full lifecycle, it would cost approximately 0.27 cents per charge cycle. That is roughly double the amount of a budget lithium battery, but still less than that of an AGM battery.

Camper Battery Resale Value

Though this is a secondary consideration, the resale value of a battery can be an important factor when deciding which battery is best for your camper van. After all, if you can sell a used battery, the money you receive offsets the battery’s initial cost.

Due to an AGM battery’s low cycle-life count (~600), we don’t consider an AGM to have much, if any, resale value. In our experience, when we’ve met people who recently purchased used camper vans, they’ve typically have had to purchase new AGM batteries since the old ones were dead.

But if you are purchasing lithium batteries, its resale value is something you can consider because the battery has quite a long usable lifespan (10 years).

Download our electrical eBook (with diagrams) to visualize which wire sizes you need.

AGM vs. Lithium: Head To Head Facts

By now, you might think that lithium batteries are simply the better choice compared to their AGM counterparts. And in many cases they are. But AGMs do have some advantages.

Initial Cost

Usable Energy

Initial Cost: AGMs almost always cost less initially than lithium batteries. Oftentimes, they can cost as much as half the price. Winner: AGM

Weight: Lithium batteries are much more energy dense than AGMs. As a result, they can pack in more energy per unit weight. Oftentimes lithium batteries are less than half the weight of a comparable AGM. Winner: Lithium

Usable Energy: In order to preserve the lifespan of an AGM battery, it’s typically recommended not to discharge the battery past 50% (DoD). Lithium batteries can typically be discharged down to 80% without major affect to their lifespan. Winner: Lithium

Lifespan: Assuming normal usage rates, a lithium battery can be expected to preform about 3,500 charge cycles before drastically diminished performance. AGMs typically only have about 600 charge cycles before it’s time to replace them. Winner: Lithium

Sensitivity Robustness: Lithium batteries have a stricter temperature range for which they can be charged and typically do not like to be kept at 100% charge for long periods of time. Winner: AGM

Which Battery Do We Recommend For Camper Vans?

Due to their low cost/cycle, we believe selecting a budget, no-frills LiFePO4 lithium battery is the best option for the majority of camper vans. Their extremely low cost/charge makes them an affordable option for long-term van lifers.

  • 【Mini in Size Max on Power】LiTime 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 auto battery MINI took up only 0.25ft³ of.
  • 【Weighs 19lbs, 10% Lighter Than Ever】Be your first choice of LiFePO4 batteries for every outdoor.
  • 【All-New Design, All-Round Safety】The lithium battery is wear-resistant thanks to the newly.

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