How to Monitor a Deep Cycle Battery For Charging
To know when a deep cycle or marine battery needs charging you first need to know how much charge it has. To accurately check this, you can use a battery monitor.
Battery monitors can tell you how much charge a battery has left and sometimes even more.
The ANCEL BA101 Professional 12V Digital Analyzer (click to view on Amazon) can tell you how much charge the battery has, the health, cranking power, voltage, and more.
There are even Bluetooth versions (click to view on Amazon), you just connect to your battery then use the app on your phone to see the charge of the battery.
You can read more about the exact voltages you are looking for later on in this article.
When Does a Deep Cycle Battery Need to Be Charged?
Standard lead acid deep cycle batteries are made to withstand being discharged to 50% over and over again and take minimal damage.
If you want your deep cycle batteries to last for years to come with zero damage then charging them before they go below 50% discharge is the optimal way to go.
That being said it can be very difficult to stop a battery from going below 50% especially if it’s what’s running the lights in your trailer or RV.
The damage when the battery goes below 50% is minimal and as long as you never let it go below 30% the battery will still be able to hold a decent amount of charge for a long time.
AGM batteries are better than gel or wet lead-acid deep-cycle batteries when it comes to discharging damage and Lithium-ion is even better than AGM.
If you are planning on draining your battery to 20% over and over again getting a deep cycle Lithium-ion battery (click to view article) is going to be the best choice.
One thing to note about lithium-ion batteries for cold weather campers is you should never charge them in temperatures below 40°F. So if you camp in places that get down to freezing at night and your batteries are stored outside, make sure it warms up before trying to charge them otherwise they could get damaged.
Long story short if you have any kind of lead-acid deep cycle battery then charge it when it gets to 50%. If you have a Lithium-ion deep-cycle battery charge it before it goes below 20% and your batteries will last for years to come.
What Are The Voltages?
12 Volt Flooded & Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
With no load, a fully charged 12 volt deep cycle battery should read 12.7 volts. This number may be lower if the battery is old and has lost its ability to hold a full charge. It will also be lower if there is something drawing power from the battery.
12.2 volts is a 50% discharge on a standard 12 volt battery.
12 Volt Gel Deep Cycle Battery
Gel batteries are a little different and have a voltage of around 12.85 when fully charged.
When discharged to 50% the voltage should read around 12.35.
12 Volt AGM Deep Cycle Battery
AGM batteries will be around 12.8 volts when fully charged.
When discharged to 50% and AGM battery will have around 12.3 volts.
6 Volt Deep Cycle Battery
A fully charged 6 volt battery will read around 6.3 to 6.4 volts and only 6 volts when at 50% discharge.
To read more about batteries in general check out this article here.
Have any questions about monitoring or charging deep cycle batteries? Leave a comment below.