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What Is The Best Type Of Battery For Van Life?

This post was updated on June 11th, 2021

A very important factor when choosing van life is the choice of battery to have inside the cabin.

In addition to the starting battery of the vehicle, it is necessary to have a second one for the internal services of the van. Without a quality battery, it would be impossible to perform any activity that needs electricity. There are different types of batteries available; the main ones on the market are lead acid, GEL, AGM, and lithium ion.

Lead acid batteries

Lead acid batteries require continuous maintenance and a vertical mounting, which could present a problem if you travel in a van with a reduced interior space. Not to mention this type of battery releases gases harmful to your health.

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GEL batteries

GEL batteries are equipped with a hermetic closure and do not generate any leakage of gas, so they can be used in any position, and have easier management in terms of placement. This type of battery does not require much maintenance, but if it is not used and properly charged regularly, it becomes very sensitive to wear and will not be able to perform the predetermined cycles.

AGM batteries

AGM batteries are very similar to GEL batteries as they require no maintenance and can also be used in all positions. This type of battery has many other positive aspects for travel: there is no risk of leakage of gas thanks to the airtight closure, short charging times, greater reliability in terms of duration and power, higher temperature resistance (both hot and cold), and most importantly, this type of battery is able to remain unused longer than the others before a recharge is required. Another positive aspect is that the AGM is less sensitive to vibrations, so if you decide to travel several off-road routes, the battery will not have any kind of problem.

You will also need to consider batteries in terms of watts, referring to the absorption of power that the appliances that you use. It is recommended to leave out equipment that is not strictly necessary to have as few problems as possible during your travels. Also connecting several devices at the same time may present malfunctions.

AGM batteries remain the most recommended for all aspects. Obviously they are not indestructible, so if you do not have a suitable charger (in this case be careful not to overload the battery) make sure you start the engine often so that you do not exhaust it completely too often. The problem of charging will be less relevant if you travel often because when you are in motion the battery automatically recharges. This, however, does not definitively solve the problem because a complete recharge takes 24 hours, so a journey of a few hours will not be enough to complete the cycle.

Lithium ion batteries

Lithium ion batteries are another popular choice. Check out this video on the differences between AGM vs Lithium ion batteries for your camper van:

That said, do not underestimate the choice of batteries. Keep in mind what are the needs and the type of van travels that you want to perform. In fact, one of the aspects that influences the choice of the battery is the duration of the stops that will be made. If you plan to stay in a certain place for a long time, it would be optimal to set up a solar panel system to ensure the battery stays fully charged.

Bon voyage!

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1 thought on “What Is The Best Type Of Battery For Van Life?”

  1. You probably should have mentioned that not all coach / RV house batteries re-charge off the vehicles alternator. Many Class B and C RVs charge their batteries from either shore connections / charging stations or on-board generators. You also don’t mention the fact that some RVs use the same battery to start the on-board generators as well as power everything else on board not connected to the vehicle starter / accessories battery. There are major differences between the demands and requirements on batteries when used to start engines vs. everything else. If your rv battery must serve both masters (i.e. starting the gen-set AND running everything else, what type of battery do you recommend?

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