Enertec advises on best practice usage and maintenance of Deep Cycle Batteries when Camping

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10th Aug, 2021

There is something to be said for exploring the wide outdoors and spending time in nature, camping, away from the hustle and bustle. It is food for the soul, relaxing and brings you closer to nature. In a South African context, we certainly have the optimum climate for camping and along the line you are bound to encounter an enthusiast that needs a leisure battery that can stand up to the test.


A leisure battery is a camper’s power source for all equipment and appliances (12V) in either a motorhome, caravan or site where power from the grid is not available. It would typically be used to power small appliances such as a fridge or TV, lighting and similar equipment. It is, therefore, not a battery that needs to provide a high current for a short period of time, such as a car battery; but rather a battery that is capable of providing steady current for a long duration, which is why a deep cycle battery is ideally suited for leisure purposes.


Deep cycle batteries can be discharged and recharged more frequently at various levels of discharge.   Depending on the application, a client can choose between various types of lead acid deep cycle batteries through to  lithium-ion deep cycle batteries. Application criteria as well as the frequency at which the battery will be used is paramount in advising the capacity and technology pf battery to be considered.


Lead acid batteries feature in the lower price segments from where you can consider pricier options such as enhanced flooded lead acid batteries and absorbed glass mat lead acid batteries, with Lithium-ion being the Rolls Royce of leisure batteries. The greater the investment, the higher the cyclic durability of the leisure battery and the lower the total cost of ownership per cycle. It all boils down to the application of the battery, available budget and how frequently the client intends to camp.


How to charge a deep cycle battery when away on outdoor activities:

Can you trickle charge a deep cycle battery?

A flat battery should be recharged at a minimum of 10% of its rated capacity. Anything under this may not necessarily restore a discharged battery to full capacity. Trickle or float charging is helpful ONLY in maintaining a fully charged battery


Will it drain your vehicle battery?

It is possible to charge your deep cycle battery together with a car battery. Ideally the starting and storage battery should be connected together by means of a Battery Management for example the CTEK 250 SE. When charging the batteries in parallel ensure that there is some form of protection to prevent the starting battery being discharged by the second battery either by means of a solenoid or preferably with the Ctek 250SE mentioned above


Is it better to charge a deep cycle battery slow or fast and can you over-charge it?

A flat battery should be recharged at a minimum of 10% of its rated capacity. Anything under this may not necessarily restore a discharged battery to full capacity. Trickle or float charging is helpful ONLY in maintaining a fully charged battery. Boost charging should only be done in extreme cases and will not necessarily recharge a battery  to full capacity


Is it safe to charge a deep cycle battery indoors?

Ideally, you want to be charging a deep cycle battery outdoors or in a well-ventilated room. The reasons for this are that battery may produce fumes, especially where lead acid batteries are concerned, that may be harmful to your breathing in an indoor setting. In a worst-case scenario, a battery can potentially explode if something should go wrong, which is also not ideal in an indoor setting.


How often should you charge a deep cycle battery when camping?

Ideally you want to know how much charge your battery has, before charging it, which is where a battery monitor comes in very handy. If you are using a lead-acid deep cycle battery, then you want to recharge the battery when it gets to the 50% mark. If you let it go below the 50% charge mark, it reduces the lifespan of the battery. A lithium-ion deep cycle battery should be recharged before it reaches the 20% charge mark. This rule will increase the longevity of your deep cycle battery.


How long will a 100ah battery run an appliance?

In general, battery amp hour capacity is measured in 20-hour cycles, which means that a 100ah battery can supply 5 amps an hour for 20 hours. In theory it makes sense, but the same rules apply as mentioned before: A lead-acid deep cycle battery needs to be recharged when it reaches 50% charge and a lithium-ion battery at 20%. Taking these limitations into account, you can calculate a better estimate depending on what appliances and amps you will have running off the battery. Most appliances will have a guideline on it of how much power it consumes, for ease of reference.