Campervan Batteries 101: Van Conversion Explained

A brief explanation of campervan batteries. What are campervan batteries, how are they used, and what do you need to know about campervan batteries for a van conversion?
Campervan Batteries 101: Van Conversion Explained

Campervan Batteries, or leisure batteries, are an isolated power source, providing power to all your campervan electrics.

This system allows you to run your lights, charge your phone, power a water pump, run an electric oven, or even run an air con unit in your van!

This blog will briefly explain what campervan batteries are, the different types of campervan batteries, and vital information you need to know about leisure batteries for a van conversion.

What are campervan batteries/leisure batteries?

Campervan batteries are an independent power source to power your campervan electrics.

In a house, you have wires coming from the grid. In a campervan, since it moves, you can’t do this.

Instead, you need a place to store electrical power. This is where batteries come in.

All vans have a battery to power the van itself (a starter battery).

You cannot use this battery to run your campervan electrics, as the only way this battery can be charged is when your van is turned on. If you use this battery for your campervan electrics, you will use all the power in this battery and won’t be able to turn your engine on.

Instead, you need a separate battery to which all your van’s electrical circuits are connected.

You also need a way to charge this battery. Otherwise, you will run out of power.

What are the different types of campervan batteries?

There are many different types of campervan batteries you can get.

This is down to the chemical makeup of the battery itself.

The two big competitors are AGM Lead Acid and Lithium (imagine them like Android and Apple).

There are many differences, advantages and disadvantages to both battery types, which you can read about in our blog here.

Both batteries work in the same way, however. You charge them up and then connect wires to them (usually via a fusebox) and this powers the electrical circuits in your campervan.

What do all the numbers mean on campervan batteries?

There are many numbers on campervan batteries. Here’s a quick explanation of what they all mean.

  • Amp Hours (Ah). This is the total power a battery can hold. The higher the number, the more power it can store.
  • Watt Hours (Wh). Exactly the same as Amp Hours, but measured in Watts instead.
  • Battery Voltage (12V). This is the voltage of the battery. Most batteries are 12V (labelled as 12V or 12.8V). You can get higher and lower, but 12V is the most common.
  • Type A/B/C. Usually referring to Lead Acid Batteries. These are different grades of batteries, A is higher quality than B and C, and are used for different purposes.
  • Cycle Life. This is the number of times a battery can be charged and discharged, called a ‘cycle’.

There are many other terms and campervan battery terminology, which we explain in our FREE Electrics 101 PDF.

12v wiring diagram campervan electrics explained

How can I charge my campervan batteries?

Batteries need to be charged up frequently in order to stop them from running out of power.

There are several methods to do this:

  • Solar. You can use solar panels to charge batteries. Excellent for off-grid.
  • Engine. Usually called a DC-DC Charger or Alternator Charger. This means when your van engine is on, it can charge your campervan batteries.
  • Hook-up. Using an AC Battery Charger, you can charge your campervan batteries by connecting to a power outlet in a house or campsite.

More information on campervan batteries

This blog just scratches the surface of campervan batteries and campervan electrics in general.

We have a FREE Electrics 101 PDF for you to download, which explains the basics of a campervan electrical system.

We also have an extensive Electrical Wiring Schematic, which explains every single product in a campervan electrical system, how they all connect together, how to know what sizes and types of products to pick, and some safety tips about campervan electrics.

And if you’d like to see us installing our campervan batteries and our entire electrical installation, we have a playlist on youtube dedicated to that too.


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