What Is the Best Deep Cycle Battery for Camping?

Contents: Battery for Camping

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Best Deep Cycle Battery for Camping

When learning how to build your own off-grid solar system for camping, you’ll often be recommended 1 of 2 types of deep cycle batteries:

  • AGM sealed lead-acid batteries
  • lithium batteries

Both AGM and lithium batteries are great options, but which one is best for camping?

And is there an easier solution than buying a deep cycle battery and building a solar system from scratch?

I’ll answer all of these questions (and more) in this post. Keep reading!

AGM vs Lithium Batteries: Similarities

Lithium batteries are known to be maintenance-free but most lead-acid batteries are not. However, AGM (absorbent glass mat) sealed lead-acid batteries are the exception.

Although AGM batteries are more expensive than most other kinds of lead-acid batteries, they’re maintenance-free and typically last longer than the other lead-acid batteries.

Other types of lead-acid batteries, mainly flooded lead-acid batteries, require routine maintenance of electrolytes, must always be upright in orientation to prevent electrolyte leakage, and needs a ventilated environment to diffuse gases created during cycling.

I couldn’t be bothered with trying to maintain those batteries!

Both lithium and AGM batteries are clean, safe, and you don’t have to worry about maintenance or keeping them upright. They’re worth the extra money!

Why Choose AGM Lead-Acid Batteries

Upfront Cost

The main reason most people will choose AGM batteries is that they have a lower upfront cost compared to lithium batteries.

But you can expect lithium batteries to have roughly 5 to 6 times more lifespan than AGM batteries. So lithium batteries are cheaper in the long run if you’re going to use them daily or on a regular basis.

However, both AGM and lithium batteries will degrade naturally over time. So if you’re only going to use your battery occasionally (like only every summer), cheaper AGM batteries can be a good choice.

Cold Temperatures

Another reason why AGM batteries are great is that they tend to handle cold, freezing weather better than other types of batteries. (Weather can affect battery performance, especially when it comes to winters.)

Why Choose Lithium Batteries

Cycle Life

Lithium batteries are known for their amazing cycle life. (A battery’s cycle life is the number of charges and discharges that a battery can complete before losing performance).

With a sealed lead-acid battery, you’ll have around 900 to 1200 cycles. (One battery cycle involves discharging the battery by a certain amount and then recharging it to full the amount.)

However, with a lithium battery, you can have around 5000 to 8000 cycles!

Compared to AGM batteries, lithium batteries are commonly more expensive initially but they have a better cycle life. So lithium batteries are cheaper in the long run.

Discharge

Also, you can discharge a lithium battery 100%. But with a lead-acid battery, you really should only discharge it to 50% before you start negatively affecting the battery’s lifespan (although this varies depending on the battery).

So, if you can only discharge a lead-acid battery to 50%, that only gives you half of the electricity stored in the battery. Meanwhile, you’d be able to access 100% of a lithium battery’s stored electricity.

Efficiency

Lithium batteries are also much more efficient with electricity than lead-acid batteries.

When you put electricity inside a new sealed lead-acid battery and then you take it out, you lose about 10 to 15% of that electricity. That means you only get 85-95% of that electricity back. But when you put electricity in a lithium battery and then you take it out, you’re getting 99% of that electricity back.

Lithiums also give off electricity way easier than AGM batteries, so it’s more efficient at powering large household appliances (like your washer and dryer).

Weight

Lithium batteries are about 30% the weight and 70% the size of an AGM battery.

That’s why you’ll see things like portable power stations, meant for bringing power on your hiking and camping trips, built with lithium batteries. Consumers want to have smaller, lighter products when they’re looking to buy portable power.

Constant Voltage

A lithium battery will also out-perform an AGM battery because the voltage will stay constant, no matter how much it’s discharged. So if no matter if a lithium battery is 100% charged or 1% charged, it’ll have the same voltage.

However, the more you discharge an AGM battery, the more the voltage will drop which affects its performance.

Conclusion: AGM vs Lithium Batteries for Camping

If you don’t expect to discharge your battery more than 50% and you’re only going to use your battery occasionally (like the occasional camping trip where you don’t need much power), then the cheaper AGM batteries are definitely a good way to go.

However, in most cases, I recommend that people buy lithium batteries if they’re going to be using them constantly. Lithium batteries are smaller, lighter, will last longer, perform better, and (in the long run) will be cheaper than an AGM battery if used regularly.

If you’re now wondering what kind of lithium battery you should buy, check out my post: What Is the Difference Between Lithium-Ion and Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries?

Easier Alternative to DIY Solar Systems: Portable Power Stations & Solar Panels

If you don’t want to install a DIY solar system yourself, and you’re only looking for a small solar system with minimal electricity required, there’s another easier alternative.

Solar power stations with lithium batteries! (See images of the solar power stations on Amazon).

With a solar power station (also called a solar generator), you can create off-grid, mobile, solar power by just plugging in solar panels directly into the generator! That’s it! The generator acts as the charge controller, battery, and invertor!

Solar power stations are truly is an all-in-one battery-powered system that is safe, completely mobile, and you don’t need to learn more about solar energy. It’s definitely something to think about if you’re just looking to go camping.

I’ve been living in an off-grid cottage for over a year, and I just recently bought the EF EcoFlow Delta Max (2000) Portable Power Station* (Amazon) with 4 x 200W 12V monocrystalline solar panels I already had.

I’ve tried and reviewed a lot of different solar products over the years, and I’ve always been a fan of EcoFlow’s products (the only drawback is they tend to sell out really fast).

But the EcoFlow Delta Max has been such a life changer! I can keep my office and cottage running all day long without thinking about power (I got 2 extra EcoFlow batteries from Amazon because there’s not a lot of sunny days where I live). I can even do my laundry with this thing!

* EcoFlow has less expensive versions of this power station on Amazon too, just in case you don’t want massive amounts of electricity like I do.