Pole to Pole - Batteries for Your Overlander

Pole to Pole - Batteries for Your Overlander

by Stephan Edwards

Batteries are the lifeblood of your vehicle. They get your engine started in the morning, power your driving tunes, recharge your electronics and keep your food cold. Without them, your overlanding adventure would truly be impossible.

Given their importance it’s crucial to build your system around a high-quality power source and make sure you know how to take care of it well. We really geek out on electrical systems around here, but for all their potential complexity and convenience, they'd be totally dark without the simple chemical reaction that goes on inside a battery. Batteries aren't terribly sexy, but they are central to the entire enterprise.

Batteries for Overlanding - Two Types

When it comes to batteries on overland vehicles, they usually provide power for two different kinds of systems. The first is your truck's primary electrical system. From the moment you turn the key, your primary battery will be supplying power to the starter, the headlights, the interior lighting, the stereo, and the myriad other electrical and computer systems that modern vehicles rely on. These batteries are known as "starter" batteries, or sometimes SLI (starter, lighting, and ignition) batteries after their main functions, and the alternator keeps it charged as the engine runs. If properly looked after, a good, modern starter battery should be maintenance free and last for several years before needing replacement.

Odyssey battery


They come in a variety of sizes, but the general rule of thumb is that the larger your engine, the larger your battery should be. This goes for both the physical dimensions, and it's amperage rating. Larger motors and diesel engines require more "juice" to get going, especially in cold conditions. This starting capacity is called "cold cranking amps", and it calculates the number of amps the battery can deliver at 0°F for 30 seconds while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volts. Because SLI batteries are designed to deliver a big shot of power for a short time to get the engine started, and thus the alternator running, they don't do a particularly good job of powering lots of accessories that demand a constant source of electricity. This is where the deep cycle battery shines. 

The other electrical system common to overland builds is the accessory or "house" system. Just like your primary electrical system, it too requires a robust battery to function at peak capacity, but because the electrical demands are different, the battery needs to be different as well. Deep cycle batteries are specifically designed for this kind of application. Instead of delivering high powered bursts of energy all at once, your house battery needs to dole out a constant and consistent stream of electrons to keep your list of accessories running properly. This includes devices like 12 volt refrigerators that cycle on and off regularly, interior and exterior lighting, water pumps, and inverters. Unlike a starter battery, deep cycle batteries can handle longer periods of drain on their capacity, and easily accept multiple types of charging methods to keep them topped up. 

12 volt fridge in pickup


Most folks take advantage of this versatility by installing several parallel charging paths for the house battery that can be managed by a charge controller. Getting charge from solar panels, an AC plug-in, and the engine's alternator means you'll always have a full supply of power to keep your beverages cold and your traveling companions out of the dark. Some batteries on the market combine the starting power of an SLI battery and deep cycle capabilities all in one. One example of this is Odyssey's Extreme series.

Odyssey Batteries - 25 Years of Expertise

Odyssey has been, if you'll pardon the expression, cranking out hight quality automotive batteries for over two decades. In fact, Odyssey celebrated their 25th birthday just this year, and there are a lot of reasons why Odyssey batteries are among the industry standard across a wide range of applications for both starting and deep cycle use.

Odyssey Batteries

 

Odyssey was among the pioneers in AGM (absorbent glass mat) battery technology, which eliminated a lot of the danger and maintenance of old school flooded lead acid batteries. In fact, Odyssey's AGM batteries never need maintenance, and eliminating the water contained within a traditional battery means they can be mounted in any orientation except upside down. This is a great boon for folks who have tight spaces in their overland builds and need flexibility in their battery installations. 


Extreme series Odyssey batteries are designed both for deep cycle and SLI use. They have up to a 10 year service life, which is a 70% longer cycle life than traditional deep cycle batteries - up to 400 cycles at 80% charge. They can rapidly recharge back to 100% capacity in four to six hours, and they work in harsh conditions, ranging from -40°F to 176°F, perfect for globe trotters who see all kinds of climates. Extreme series batteries can last up to two years when disconnected, which is good news for overland travelers who often need to store their rigs for long periods.

Overlander stocks a wide range of Odyssey batteries for nearly any application. Questions about batteries for your overland build? Not sure which battery is the best fit for you? Drop a question down in the comments, or reach out to our killer customer service folks right here at Overlander. 

Photos: Odyssey Batteries


1 Response

Justin Casey
Justin Casey

September 21, 2021

What are your thoughts on dual battery setups? Specifically on my LC200..

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