A guide to buying deep cycle batteries in Australia
If you know you need a deep cycle battery but aren’t really sure what they are, this easy guide will give you a clear explanation without drawing you down into the overly technical side of battery manufacturing. They are mostly used in caravan, marine, golf carts, RVs and mobility scooters, and are becoming more popular in off-grid living and electric vehicles.
What is a deep cycle battery?
Deep cycle batteries are rechargeable batteries. They may look the same as your car battery, however, they are designed to be deeply discharged (i.e.: to 50%) rather than offering a short, high current burst to crank the engine.
Deep cycle batteries are a great source of renewable energy, particularly when they are used in conjunction with a solar charging kit. If you need power, yet you are not tapped into the power grid (I.e.: receiving an electricity bill for the power you’re using) then you need a deep cycle battery.
Deep cycle batteries are perfect for:
- Camping and caravanning
- Off grid living
- Holiday houses
- Mobility scooters
- Golf carts
- Kids ride on cars
- Standby power for Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS)
What voltage do the deep cycle batteries run at?
Most caravan batteries run on a 12v setup, the mobility scooters predominantly run on 24v and most off-grid batteries run on 24v or 48v battery system. There are the odd 36v systems but they are not as popular.
Types of deep cycle batteries
There are four types of deep cycle batteries;
- Flooded Deep Cycle Batteries
- AGM Deep Cycle Batteries
- GEL Deep Cycle Batteries
- Lithium Deep Cycle Batteries
Flooded batteries perform well (if you purchase a quality one) however, they must sit upright, require maintenance by adding distilled water, and need ventilation because they omit a gas when charged, so are unsuitable for placement inside a caravan, 4WD, etc.
AGM Valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries were invented to eliminate the need for maintenance and to allow the battery to be placed in any position. VRLA batteries are fitted with a pressure vent, which allows for the safe venting of gas so they can be used inside or outside.
Gel batteries have the same characteristic as AGM batteries; however, instead of using the glass mat, Gel batteries use PVC separators with silica gel in the electrolytes. In addition, they solidified the electrolytes to reduce the risk of spillage and evaporation.
Lithium iron batteries (LiFePO4)
Lithium deep cycle batteries are the latest addition to the deep cycle family. Lithium deep cycle batteries are a relative newcomer compared to lead acid batteries. They have a distinct advantage as they are 40% lighter, over 3 times the cycle life and can be recharged exceptionally quickly compared to lead acid batteries.
Lithium ion or Lithium iron? Please note that Lithium ion is different to Lithium iron (LiFePO4) batteries. Here is an article if you want to know more about the difference between the two.
How to choose between deep cycle batteries?
With all the deep cycle options on the market, choosing the correct battery can be confusing and overwhelming. Here are some comparisons between the various types to help you decide:
AGM vs Gel batteries
There are two main ways to make a VRLA battery: Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) and Gel. AGM batteries are generally less expensive than Gel batteries and resist shock and vibration well. However, they often do not perform as well as Gel batteries for certain uses.
Gel batteries can be more expensive, with some high-performance gel able to operate within higher temperature ranges. They usually deliver high performance for regular deep discharge and lower power applications.
Gel Hybrid vs AGM batteries
At Maxon Batteries, we offer a revolutionary hybrid version that combines the best of AGM and Gel to provide a high-performance, long-lasting, reliable, shock-resistant battery.
- Excellent energy storage capacity
- High-performance cycling at low discharge levels
- Improved high temperature resistance
- Ideal for our harsh Australian climate
- Resistant to heavy vibrations
In short, Maxon’s Gel Hybrid Batteries offer all the benefits of AGM and Gel, but without the disadvantages of either.
Lithium vs AGM batteries
With the advances in lithium technology and being a more affordable product these days, many consumers are opting for the lithium battery over the AGM counterpart, especially in the RV & caravan markets.
The initial purchase price is more expensive; however, lithium is a more sound investment over time. Lithium has an advantage over AGM in that it is lighter, has way more cycle life (up to 5,000 cycles) and can recharge much quicker.
How long does it take to charge a deep cycle battery?
The charging time will depend on a few factors: including the depth of the discharge, the size charger and the age of the battery. Below is a charging time guide you can use when making a decision about a battery purchase:
- Flooded batteries: 8-16 hours
- AGM battery: 6 hours
- Gel batteries: 6-10 hours
- Lithium batteries: 2-4 hours
How long do deep cycle batteries last?
All deep cycle batteries only have a certain amount of cycle life. A cycle is when a battery is discharged and recharged, regardless of how much is used. If you consistently use over 50% of the battery capacity, this will considerably shorten its life.
The life expectancy of a deep-cycle battery depends on how well you use and maintain the battery. Here are a few factors that will extend the life span:
- Use the correct battery for the application
- Charge battery correctly
- Store in a dry, cool place
- Monitor and keep up the maintenance
- Do not let it run or store flat
AGM/Gel Deep Cycle Battery Lifespan:
Deep cycle AGM batteries offer not only a stable, consistent power source for various applications. The best part is that they are a great environment-friendly choice, being 98% recyclable.
The lifespan of an AGM deep cycle battery depends on many factors, including how it is used, the application, how it is maintained, and the environment. They average out from 3-7 years, with the more demanding applications like mobility 1-2 years.
Lithium Battery Lifespan:
The lifespan of a lithium deep cycle battery like lead acid batteries, many factors affect the lifespan, such as application, usage, charging and maintenance. You should expect 10 – 12 years, but how you use them and how they are treated is totally up to you.
Lithium batteries need to be maintained, charged correctly with a dedicated lithium charger and stored at the right temperature to get the maximum life out of them.
Quality Lithium deep cycle batteries have a cycle life of more than 2000 cycles. However, if you maintain, charge, and use them properly, you can receive over 5,000 cycles.
This makes them a good bang for your buck.
How to extend the life of a deep cycle battery?
We have put together a few things to avoid that will shorten the life span of your deep cycle battery.
- The battery is not being used in the correct application.
- Over-discharging, how much energy are you using, and for how long?
- Not fully charging the battery after each cycle?
- Not charging correctly with the suitable charger and algorithms.
- Not enough solar input to charge the battery correctly
- Exposing the battery to extreme temperatures.
- Not storing the battery in a cool, dry place
- The level of care and maintenance
Where can I buy deep cycle batteries?
Flooded and VRLA deep cycle batteries are widely available for purchase in many hardware stores and online. Here is a list of stockists who carry Maxon batteries.
If you decide on a Gel hybrid deep cycle battery, Maxon Batteries are the perfect choice.
Our batteries are very competitively priced and reliable. They also come with up to 3 years’ warranty (depending on their use, though we often find they last longer than 5 years if taken care of properly). To learn more about Maxon Batteries, see Why Maxon.