When you buy a new or used pop up camper (Jayco, Forest River, Livin Lite, Coachmen, Aliner, etc), the first thing you’ll notice is how bad you need a battery. Pop up camper batteries are your source of energy since it powers up your engine, lighting systems and electrical appliances. Even though it’s a 12V battery you’re going for, where exactly do you start, and how do you maintain your battery once you’ve bought and installed it?
Understanding Pop Up Camper Batteries
The type of battery you’ll buy:
Deep cycle batteries are the best when it comes to batteries that power recreational vehicles. The fact is, deep cycle batteries have good starting energy than batteries used in cars. These batteries also have better long term energy delivery than standard 12V batteries. Furthermore, these batteries can be discharged down to 80% and recharged again.
This is very important for people who camp for days since their batteries tend to drain deeply. Different deep cycle batteries require varying maintenance procedures. So far, the cheapest deep cycle battery is the lead acid battery. Though lead acid batteries are cheaper, they require more maintenance than their maintenance-free counterparts.
The size of deep cycle battery you should buy:
These batteries come in different groups based on physical appearance and terminal placement. Larger batteries will give you more amp hours, which is ideal for your daily pop up camper needs.
The most popular deep cycle battery sizes are 24, 27 and 31, although there are bigger sizes. The 24 size is just okay, though more amp hours is better, and this can only be delivered by a larger battery.
The size 27 deep cycle RV battery from Costco is a good battery that only costs $90. It’s big, plus their return policy is also very attractive. You’ll only need to invest in a bigger battery box for this purpose.
What exactly are amp hours?
When you go buying deep cycle batteries, you’ll notice that they are marked in amp hours (AH). This is basically the amount of amps the unit will consistently deliver for hours before it can be recharged.
Standard amp hour rating is 20hours. In other words, this means the unit is discharged down to 10.5V over a 20-hour period before it can be recharged again. If a battery is capable of delivering 5 amp for 20 hours, then it means the battery has 100 amp hour rating. It’s basically a multiple of the amps and the number of hours it can sustain that energy.
If you buy a 24 group deep cycle battery, it will deliver between 70-85 amp hours. On the other hand, a typical 27 group deep cycle battery will deliver between 85-105 amp hours. So if you’re a camper who goes pitching tent for days, i.e. using electricity to charge PCs, phones, gaming equipment, lights, heaters and many more, you’ll need to go for the biggest battery you can afford.
Maintaining your battery
The length of time you’re battery will last for depends on how well you use and maintain it. It also depends on the temperature, how you charge and discharge it, plus how you store it. Most deep cycle batteries last between 4-8 years.
When charging your battery
When charging your deep cycle battery, you’ll need a 3-stage converter. While it’s true that pop up campers have in-built charging systems, it’s always good to charge your battery using a dedicated deep cycle battery charger/converter.
These batteries also need to be deeply discharged before they can be recharged. Correct battery charging usually takes place in 3 phases: bulk, absorption and float. The bulk stage is the first phase where 80-90% of the unit’s capacity is refilled. The next step is the absorption phase, where the voltage remains stagnant though the current will taper until the battery is 98% charged. Float is the last phase where voltage is stepped down so the life of the battery can be prolonged.
The main purpose for maintaining this phase is to keep the fully charged battery from discharging, thus you’ll hear the float phase being referred to as maintenance or trickle charging.
This stage is very important especially in campers that channel higher voltage while providing less sufficient float charge. This usually results in a scenario where the current eats the battery’s electrolyte level. There are lots of dedicated sites that talk on battery usage and maintenance, so make sure you refer to those.
If you want a new battery for your pop up camper, you should check out the VMAX V30-800 12V deep cycle battery which costs $94. Here’s the link http://is.gd/jgcqUK for more information.