As much as we hate to admit it, we’ve become far too reliant on electricity. Even when we venture out the city and into the wilderness for a camping trip we look for ways to take at least some of it with us. And can you blame us for that? Electricity is just an extra layer of convenience – it gives us entertainment and it makes things like cooking much easier. But when you’re out in the wilderness, having access to electricity can be quite difficult, especially if you aren’t in a camping ground. Many people use their vehicle’s battery to run their appliances, but that’s not a good idea, because it can drain it and leave you stranded. The perfect alternative? Leisure batteries.
Leisure batteries are specifically designed to provide power to appliances and devices and enable a stress-free holiday. They are typically deep-cycle, meaning they can be discharged and recharged for many times. A leisure 4WD battery also provides a steady flow of current over long time periods, whereas the vehicle’s main battery provides a high current surge which is soon replenished. There are 2 popular leisure 4WD battery types – AGM and Gel.
Gel batteries are popular among many campers and caravanners due to the fact that they don’t feature a corrosive acid like wet-flooded batteries do, so they’re pretty safe to have on board even if you tip your vehicle over. As their name implies, gel batteries have an electrolyte in the form of gel completely sealed. Gel batteries can be recharged over and over without losing capacity. Worth noting is that when recharging gel batteries, the charge voltage shouldn’t exceed 14.2 volts.
Absorbent glass mat, or AGM batteries, feature lead plates as well as a highly compressed glass fibre in each cell. The fibre absorbs the electrolyte, all the air is drawn from the casing during manufacturing, and a pressure valve is fitted. This makes AGM batteries the more expensive option, but they’re also the longer-lasting option. The main advantage of AGM batteries is that they can be used for starter batteries on top of leisure batteries. In fact, many new 4×4 vehicles are fitted with an AGM leisure battery that helps provide power to the many new electronics installed within the vehicle.
Most AGM and Gel leisure batteries are low maintenance, meaning after you get them you can pretty much forget about them. However, checking the electrolyte levels and replenishing the batteries with de-ionizing water can sometimes be necessary. Basically, it depends on the battery you’re getting, so make sure to read the instructions manual and ask the retailer what’s necessary to preserve the battery’s life.