Using Leisure Batteries Economically.

Battery capacity is pretty immaterial to people who always camp where EHU is available but for those of us who camp elsewhere then careful balance of usage and non-mains recharging of batteries will lengthen the time it is possible to carry on for.

After we had owned the Autoquest for a couple of years we saw some 110Ah batteries at a good price at one of the shows and (after measuring to ensure it would fit in the box) decided to get one as the leisure battery we had was the original fitted to the van and we weren't sure how long it would last. At that time we also still had the original light bulbs (four tungsten filament bayonet cap bulbs in eyeball spotlights, two small crown ceiling fittings with fluorescent tubes and a straight fluorescent over the cooker) so thought the extra power would come in handy.

I had previously bought some LED bayonet cap bulbs from China on eBay only to find that the length of the bayonet cap was too short/the bulb shoulders were too wide to use them in the fittings. This was the early days of LED bulbs and, to be fair, they were advertised as car indicator bulbs. Subsequently we were able to purchase suitable LEDs for the spotlights from Aten lighting. At the time there were no alternatives for the crown fittings but I was able to convert them a couple of years later - a fairly simple job of cutting the wire between the switch and ballast/inverter circuit and wiring in the new LED and its socket. I never did get round to replacing the straight fluorescent but we didn't use it all that often.

One of the first jobs I did in the Burstner was to replace all the bulbs with LEDs. The lights we use mainly are four spotlights and two ceiling fittings. Having used Aten products previously I bought LEDs for the spotlights from them. The ceiling fittings were a little "tired" and the most suitable replacements were from Ledbulbs4u. For the lesser used fittings I decided to try eBay suppliers (two in China and one in the UK) as they were significantly cheaper - the LEDs have worked fine so far but they are less robustly built than those from Aten and Ledbulbs4u.

A decision to be made with LEDs is whether to use Warm White or Cool White - very much personal preference. The easiest place to compare is at a motorhome show where several suppliers will have both on display.

It is basically a matter of matching the size of the battery bank and the recharging facilities to the amount of power required, something that varies with individual requirements. Many people use petrol generators but we haven't. It wasn't an option in the Autoquest as we had nowhere to carry a generator and petrol; we do have space in the Burstner but (with the solar panel, see Keeping Batteries Charged) simply haven't found the need for it. Generators can also be noisy and smelly, and are a source of annoyance to many, so that is another reason we have avoided using one.

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Last updated: 26 May 2016