As any 4WD pro will tell you, the 4WD battery you choose can make or break your trip. Choosing the right type, size and brand of 4WD battery means you can run the gadgets you need, when you need them, and get the best performance over a longer lifetime for your adventures.
The challenge is, with so many 4WD batteries to choose from, how do you know which one is right for your set up?
Our 4WD battery guide dives into the information you need, from working out which size battery you need to the best brands to compare.
Types Of 4WD Battery
There are two main types of 4WD battery to choose from: Deep Cycle 4WD Batteries and Cranking Batteries.
Deep Cycle 4WD batteries are often best for a second battery for use in 4x4 and camping adventures. They are designed to provide you with power over a longer period of time, so you can keep your appliances and gear powered.
On the other hand, cranking batteries are designed to hit a starter motor with a jolt of power.
Deep Cycle Batteries
There are two main types of Deep Cycle Batteries that are best for running appliances in your 4WD.
These are: AGM and Lithium.
AGM is a type of Lead Acid battery, with a typical size being around 100 to 120 amp hours.
An AGM battery can be charged down to about 50% of its capacity before it needs to be recharged. This is referred to as "Maximum Discharge Current" (be sure to check out the Depth of Discharge in a battery's specs when comparing models).
A typical 200Amp hour lead acid battery bank has 100 usable Amp Hours.
The thing about Lead Acid battery banks is that they weigh more than their Lithium battery equivalents, which is something to consider when choosing the right 4WD battery for your setup.
For example, a 200 Amp Hour Lead Acid battery bank hits the scales at about 50kg.
The main reason you might choose a Lead Acid 4WD battery is the lower price. If you're on a budget, an AGM battery won't break the bank.
In fact, a good quality, sealed, 135 Amp Power AGM Battery will cost under $300.
Lithium Batteries have tonnes of advantages for 4WD adventures. A lithium battery has a Depth of Discharge of almost 80%, which means a 200 Amp Hour lithium battery provides a massive 160 usable amp hours before you need to recharge it. That's some serious power.
Lithium batteries are also much lighter than their AGM equivalents, and they are smaller. However, they are more expensive.
Lithium 4WD batteries also require a special lithium charging profile. So it can be worth buying a Lithium battery pack which includes the right size charger with the right size battery. Here at My Generator, we have a wide range of Lithium Battery Packs.
Check out the following top brands for Deep Cycle Batteries:
The range of ePower B-TEC Lithium Batteries from Enerdrive are popular for 4WD enthusiasts. They all come with a built-in monitoring system, which means you can check out the stats you need to know on your smartphone. We're talking Battery Capacity, Battery Voltage, Battery Status, Battery Cycles, Battery Alarms, Battery Temperature, and more.
It's worth noting that Enerdrive Lithium Batteries cannot be connected in series. However, you can connect up to three of the same size (in Amp Hours) B-TEC batteries in parallel. Enerdrive recommends you only do this if you make sure not to overload the maximum current of the internal BMS board from one of the batteries.
200Ah batteries are one of the most popular sizes in the lithium range, check out the new Enerdrive B-TEC 200Ah Slim Metal Case Lithium Battery. With it measuring only 83mm wide this battery is the perfect solution where space is limited yet plenty of power is still necessary. With its metal casing it will become a favourite choice for canopy's and 4wd applications. Robust and reliability is the key and this new battery ticks all the boxes.
Invicta Lithium Batteries are very versatile. Some of the range can be connected in both series and parallel for "4 Series Functionality" in the product specs and you'll see that you can connect these batteries in series or parallel with up to 4 batteries. You can also install Invicta batteries under the bonnet, and unlike many battery banks, an Invicta battery can be installed on either of its sides (however not upside down) which saves valuable space in your 4x4.
Another thing we love about Invicta lithium batteries? The huge 7-year warranty. Invicta offers a range of lithium batteries in 12V, 24V and 36V and 9Ah through to 300Ah.
Renogy's Lithium Batteries are known for their reliability and efficiency, making them a preferred choice for off-grid adventurers. Equipped with cutting-edge technology, these batteries provide a long-lasting power solution for a range of applications.
The 200Ah Core Series Battery specifications speak for itself with:
- Exceptional 5000 Cycles (80% DOD 80% EOL), surpassing the market average.
- Capability to connect up to 8 batteries in parallel.
- 200Ah Continuous Discharge Current for powering a 2000W AC inverter.
- Built-in Bluetooth monitoring.
- IP65 water and dust resistance for durability.
- Lightweight and compact design.
Other Top Brands Include:
Cranking 4WD Batteries
Our top picks for cranking batteries are also deep cycle - they are known as Dual Purpose or Dual Force Batteries. This makes them perfect for 4WD start and dual battery set ups. A dual battery set up is a popular option for 4WD vehicles, especially if it is running multiple accessories such as fridges and winches. Dual batteries mean you have a dedicated starting battery and a deep cycle battery.
The starting battery is there to help crank the engine and is isolated when it is switched off. The deep cycle battery is to run your accessories. This means you can rely on the efficiency of the starting battery without compromising performance of your 4×4.
The cranking batteries below are under-bonnet rated meaning they can handle higher temperatures found in the engine bay without impacting performance.
Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) are also vital for your 4×4 to give you the pure grunt and starting power no matter the engine size or conditions. Typically, a heavy-duty battery has 600+ CCA, which means you won't have any issues starting a big-turbo diesel even on an icy winter morning.
Check out the following top brands for Cranking 4WD Batteries:
Invicta (Hybrid only)
The new Invicta Hybrid Starter Battery is designed for applications that require a dual-purpose solution for starting and deep cycling. It's packed with top features, including heat-resistant technology that allows the unit to manage a high rate of discharge/charge when the battery could be exposed to high heat. The battery can also be installed under the bonnet and connected directly to the alternator and deliver high Cold Cranking Amps (CCA).
Check out the following models:
The AGM "under bonnet" rated batteries come in lots of size and polarity options. It's completely sealed and is maintenance-free, leak-proof and usable in any position - a definite advantage. The Power AGM Batteries come with a 2-year warranty.
Which Size 4WD Battery?
That depends what equipment you want to power. Most 4x4 setups have a 12V fridge, lights and some other accessories.
How much will your appliances draw?
Which appliances will you want to run from your battery at the same time?
For example, a 46L Portable Fridge draws an average of 1 Amp per hour over 24 hours. So, in one day the fridge draws 24 Amp hours. The load on the battery is 24 Amp hours.
If your 4WD battery is a 50Ah lithium battery, it has a 80% Depth of Discharge. So you have 40 usable Amp Hours (50*0.8 = 40).
If your 46L fridge is pulling 24 Amps per day, the lithium battery will run the fridge smoothly for over a day and a half without needing solar top-up.
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.