Whether you’re travelling for days, weeks or even months, you need a way to power up your electronics and appliances so you can enjoy your trip in comfort. That’s where a caravan battery charger comes in.
Select the right caravan battery charger and you can enjoy power wherever you go.
What Is A Caravan Battery Charger?
A battery charger together with a caravan battery will let you power your caravan and camping electronics and appliances wherever you travel. They work by charging your battery using power from either a generator, main power, or your starter battery and alternator.
For this to work, you need a dual battery system in your caravan. This means you have one or more auxiliary caravan batteries, in addition to your car battery. Power is stored in the auxiliary battery so you can run electronic and appliances, such lights, fridge, air-con and more, when the engine or generator is not running. All the while you don’t need to worry about draining the starter battery and getting stranded.
There are different types of chargers depending on how you want to power your electronics.
One uses alternating current or mains power (AC to DC), the other uses direct current from your vehicle (DC to DC):
AC to DC chargers let you charge your battery from a generator or mains power, if you have access. We sell them in 12V, 24V, 36V and 48V options.
DC to DC chargers work when your engine is running. It pulls power from your alternator via the starter battery to charge your auxiliary battery. We sell them in 12V, 24V and 36V options.
There are pros and cons to both types.
Generally, an in-vehicle DC to DC charger offers more flexibility on the road. Quality DC to DC battery chargers are designed to sense a wide voltage range and work with any type of alternator or voltage. So, you can make sure you get the correct charging for your specific battery, alternator type, and amp size. As a bonus, some chargers accept other power sources, like solar panels.
Having an AC to DC battery charger onboard as well utilises modern electronics to monitor the charging process for maximum efficiency. Let’s say you’re trying to charge a flat battery with a generator. Most generators produce a 12 volt output and low amperage, so when you plug in a good AC to DC smart battery charger to the generator, you can get higher output voltages, which reduces charging times and therefore saves on fuel.
Do You Need A Lithium Charger To Charge A Lithium Battery?
In theory, a battery charger without a lithium profile can be used to charge a lithium battery. However, we do not recommend this as the battery will never be charged to 100%.
We recommend choosing a charger with a lithium profile to charge a lithium battery!
What Size Battery Charger Do You Need?
Once you’ve worked out which charger you want, you need to settle on a size. Battery charger sizes are measured in amps.
Caravan battery chargers come in sizes from 4 Amps (like this BMPRO charger) to 100 Amps.
As a general rule, a 40A charger is a good choice for caravanners. This is because battery bank sizes are typically around 75 to 200 Amp Hours. Check the battery specifications for the allowable total input charge current. This specification is called total charge current. Your total charging from everything including solar should not be greater than this specification. General rule of thumb though to size your AC battery charger is 10-20% of the size of the battery for AGM batteries and 20-30% for lithium batteries. Some chargers have the advantage of being able to be dialled up and down so you can run them off a small generator. For example, the Enerdrive 40A AC Charger or Enerdrive 40A DC Charger.
Your charger output also needs to be suitable for your system voltage. This means if you have a 12V system, choose a 12V battery charger, and so on.
How Much Do You Want To Spend?
As with all caravan gear, you can spend as much or as little as you want, depending on the features you’re looking for.
Want a top of the range caravan battery charger? Choose a "smart battery charger", once you choose your battery type ie AGM, the charger will automatically its charge profile to suit that battery chemistry type.
We sell the most popular AC to DC charger on the market: the Enerdrive ePOWER 40A Smart Charger for just under $600. And that’s with some top-notch features.
You don’t need to spend big to get a quality product. One of our most popular AC to DC chargers is the Projecta PC1600 12V 16A charger, which has a price tag of under $200.
What Are Some Pros & Cons Of Different Brands In The Range?
Different caravan battery charger brands have different features to offer.
Here are some differences to look out for:
All-in-one solutions – Enerdrive offers all-in-one options to make life even easier, like the Enerdrive 40A DC to DC Charger with installation kit. With the right cable, circuit breaker and cable lugs, it takes all the guesswork out of buying and installing the charger.
Market- leading technology – If it’s innovation you’re looking for, top brands like Enerdrive and Victron are ahead of the rest. For example, Enerdrive’s 40A DC to DC charger has a built-in MPPT solar regulator.
Cost – You’ll find that Enerdrive products are priced extremely well for what you get. BMPRO is a great value for money option (like this MiniBoostPro DC-DC charger) if you don’t need all the bells and whistles. And for a basic entry level unit, go for Thunder.
Pro Tip: Buy a charger from a reputable brand so you don’t run the risk of damaging your caravan battery or battery system.
What Accessories Do You Need With Your Battery Charger?
To install your battery charger for maximum safety and efficiency, you may need cables, circuit breakers and lugs. Always check the battery charger instructions or specifications before you buy, so you don’t wind up with missing parts.
Enerdrive has saved you the hassle with its all-in-one solution – the 40A DC to DC charger with installation kit.
Ready to find the right battery charger for your needs? Shop our caravan battery chargers now.
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.