With more and more people leaving the comfort of their homes and engaging in outdoor activities, the demand for leisure batteries has increased.
A leisure battery is the best power source for all the electrical appliances inside your caravan or motorhomes. Demand has grown so much that the National Caravan Council (NCC) has launched its own verified leisure battery scheme. Unlike car batteries, a leisure battery does not need constant charging, making it ideal as a caravan battery.
However, since a leisure battery isn’t as common as a car battery, there are many questions and doubts that people have regarding leisure batteries.
If buying or replacing a leisure battery for the first time, you might ask yourself how much a leisure battery costs or how long it takes to charge. One of the most common questions we encounter is ‘how long does a leisure battery last?’
In this article, we will talk about the battery life of a leisure battery. You will know what to expect from a leisure battery and learn about those with a longer lifespan.
What Factors Influence the Lifespan of a Leisure Battery?
A common question we get is, how long does a leisure battery last off-grid? The lifespan of a leisure battery isn’t finite. Many factors can increase or decrease its useful life from what you expect it to be. Here are some of those factors:
Type of Leisure Battery
The most important factor that will decide your leisure battery’s life is the type of leisure battery you use. There are wet lead-acid batteries, gel batteries, absorbent glass mat batteries (AGM batteries), and enhanced flooded batteries.
Lately, LFP or LiFePo4 batteries have become the most popular due to their benefits and long-lasting nature.
If you are out to purchase a leisure battery, you will notice that manufacturers state data on discharge cycles. These figures refer to the useful working life of a battery – how many times it can be charged and fully discharged.
A battery doesn’t wear out with time – it wears out because of charging cycles. The higher the number of discharge cycles, the shorter time the battery will maintain its actual capacity, as rated.
Discharge State Duration
When a leisure battery becomes discharged to a low charge level, it requires recharging. Leaving the battery in a discharged state for long periods will shorten its lifespan significantly.
Very high temperatures can harm a battery by affecting the chemical structure of its components. Therefore, keeping your battery in a hot place can reduce the battery’s capacity and useful life. It is advised to keep batteries in a well-ventilated area.
The leisure battery you buy will have a listed capacity. The number of appliances run with it shouldn’t draw more power than the battery’s capacity. If the battery constantly runs at an overloaded state, it can reduce its capacity.
Heavy-duty applications that use deep cycling batteries, or traction batteries, need to provide power over a prolonged period of time. These are common in quad bikes, jet skis or a similar leisure vehicle. The drain on the battery is far greater than running a few appliances or electronic devices inside a caravan or motorhome.
How Long Do Leisure Batteries Last?
How long your leisure battery lasts mainly depends on the type of battery you use and how you use it. Since the latter entirely depends on you, we will examine the lifespan of various types of leisure batteries based on average use.
LFP batteries, even with daily charge and discharge cycles, should last about seven years. This is very good when you compare it to other alternatives for leisure batteries.
Good-quality lithium batteries come with a warranty. For example, Eco Tree leisure batteries come with a 6-year warranty, one of the best warranties offered by any brands you consider.
For more information on the battery technology used, we have an in-depth article about liFePO4 batteries and how they work.
Wet Lead Acid Batteries
The expected life of wet lead-acid batteries is about 3 to 5 years. Taking extraordinary care of your battery can make it last longer. While lead-acid batteries are very cheap, they can only provide short-term power and require frequent recharging.
Standard starter batteries such as a lead-acid car battery are an example – used for starting an engine in a vehicle. Then the vehicle’s alternator charges the battery.
Absorbent Glass Mat Batteries (AGM)
AGM batteries are also lead-acid batteries in essence. However, the performance and properties of these batteries are far superior to conventional ones. For one thing, these batteries last about six years on average.
However, there is a drawback to using AGM batteries as your main caravan battery. The battery capacity of an AGM battery drops significantly as the battery charge decreases. You must charge the battery once it reaches a fifty per cent discharged state.
Gel batteries provide optimum performance for about five to six years. After this time, the performance quality and battery capacity will decrease significantly.
While the lifespan of these batteries is quite good, the major drawback is their hefty price tag. Additionally, these batteries are susceptible to charging rate and overcharging.
Enhanced Flooded Batteries
Enhanced flooded batteries are also known as EFB. These batteries last for only three to five years, a short time. Additionally, these batteries cannot be discharged for long and require constant recharging.
Typically, these batteries are used for simple start and stop engines with a small capacity.
How to Prolong the Lifespan of Your Leisure Battery?
Regardless of which battery type you buy, to get the best return on your money, follow these simple steps to prolong the life of your standard leisure battery.
Charging It Right
To ensure you get a longer lifespan from your leisure battery, you need to choose the right leisure battery and also charge it right. For this purpose, the battery manufacturer provides instructions on how to do it.
Always use the authentic battery charger that comes with the battery or any other trickle charger that the manufacturer recommends. You can even buy intelligent chargers to protect your battery from overcharging. Third-party accessories might be cheap but damage your battery in the long run.
The best way to handle the constant charging of batteries is by adding a solar panel to your caravan might be a good idea. A solar panel will provide charging ability all through the day. Solar panels are the most effective way to recharge your leisure battery while on the road or outdoors where there is no electrical hook-up.
As we mentioned earlier, high temperatures harm battery life. Therefore, to keep the battery healthy, keep it in a well-ventilated area. And make sure it is not adjacent to any sources of high heat.
Many people end up ruining their battery in the first or second year because they don’t use it correctly. When buying a battery, it comes with usage instructions, such as the number and type of appliances it can power. Constantly monitoring its performance will help make sure it lasts a long time.
All leisure batteries require some maintenance, such as filling the electrolyte level covers or putting a little petroleum jelly on the battery’s terminals. Regularly check electrolyte levels and follow other maintenance steps to get the most out of your leisure battery.
One of the main benefits of lithium batteries is that they are completely maintenance-free. With maintenance-free batteries, there is no need to fill up the electrolytes. And they have a system connected to the battery to monitor important parameters like voltage, over charge controller, and temperature.
Cleaning your battery is something that will help it last longer. Accumulated dirt on the terminals can lead to excessive heat in your battery, reducing the current flow. While cleaning, apply petroleum jelly to the connectors as well.
How to Detect If Your Leisure Battery Has Issues That Might Shorten Its Life?
Troubleshooting standard leisure batteries is easy, and you should know the basics if you want your battery to last a long time. Don’t worry! You can detect most issues easily without requiring technical knowledge or tools.
At very low temperatures, most leisure batteries become frozen and cease to operate. High temperatures can also ruin a battery. Therefore, check your battery, especially when travelling to extremely hot or cold areas.
A helpful tip to combat extreme temperature is to keep your battery fully charged. Fully charged batteries can handle extreme temperatures better than a battery with low or zero charge.
On rare occasions, you might notice your battery is giving off a rotten egg smell. Typically, it signals that your battery has been damaged by being overcharged. It can also mean that you left the battery in a discharged state for a long period and your battery is now irreversibly damaged.
If you encounter this smell, you should stop charging it immediately. Additionally, there can be the release of flammable gases in the case, so take extreme care while handling the battery. Fitting a gas relief tube can help overcome this problem.
To stop the charging process, don’t remove the leisure battery charger directly from the battery. If the charger is on, it can cause an electrical spark. First, switch off the charger at the mains or disconnect it from the solar panels. After that, wait five minutes before disconnecting the charger from the battery.
If your new battery is not providing sufficient battery voltage or current, there might be something wrong with the connection. Firstly, fully charge your battery. Next, check all the terminals, and tighten them if they seem loose.
Also, apply a little petroleum jelly to the connectors. For optimum performance and longevity, make sure you use high-quality clamps.
Generally, faster discharge over-discharge happens when batteries become significantly older. For instance, you might notice fewer amp-hours after 7-8 years of using your Eco Tree Lithium battery or after 3 years of using a generic lead-acid battery.
If your new leisure battery is discharging faster than it should be, it might be a sign of a faulty battery. Also, make sure you are using the correct leisure battery charger recommended by the manufacturer.
With outdoor recreation on the rise, leisure batteries have become one of the most sought-after automobile commodities. However, these can be significant investments, so you must make the right choice.
Most people, after diligent research, invest in an Eco Tree Lithium LFP battery. Why? Because an Eco Tree LiFePO4 lithium battery provides performance equivalent to 15 lead-acid batteries.
Not only that, the Eco Tree offers a minimum warranty of six years on any battery you purchase from them. With these batteries, you get an ABS case and temperature overload protection to keep them up and running for their entire lifespan.
So go ahead and get your leisure battery right away. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss your camping holiday. Feel free to get in touch with us for any queries.