From runabouts to large-scale yachts, your boat’s batteries are crucial system for any watercraft. Unlike your standard automotive batteries, marine batteries require consistent maintenance in order to keep functioning properly. Failure to properly service your watercraft batteries may end up leaving you stranded on the water.
So what can you do to keep your batteries functioning to their full capacity? Here are some helpful hints to maximize the life of your power supplies.
1. Keep your batteries properly charged.
One of the most important things you can to ensure you are getting the most out of your batteries is to keep them properly charged. That being said, keep in mind that boat batteries tend to be more sensitive to how they are charged. Under or overcharging can lead to a shortened lifespan, and most automotive chargers are not equipped to handle a marine battery. Therefore, it is best to find an automatic float charger that is designed specifically for marine and deep cycle applications. Automatic float chargers usually charge at a bit slower rate than standard ones, but will shut off on their own then the battery has reached proper voltage. Battery size can also play an important role in the kind of charger you use, be sure to find one that is rated at about 15% of the battery’s amp-hour rating.
2. A clean battery is a happy battery.
Make sure your batteries and cable are kept free of corrosion. In marine conditions, batteries are often exposed to a fair bit of condensation. The ensuing corrosion can lead to poor battery performance and can also be a safety hazard. Be sure to check them regularly and use a wire brush to clean the terminals and cable lugs if needed. You can also coat them with an anti-corrosion spray or dielectric grease.
3. Avoid sulfation.
Batteries that are only lightly used are at risk for sulfation, the buildup of sulfuric acid and crystals in the bottom of the battery. This condition can drastically affect performance. To combat this, batteries should undergo a process of equalizing once a year. Certain marine chargers are designed to be capable of doing this by temporarily charging at a higher voltage to the battery, which will dissolve the sulfuric crystals. Keep in mind this can only be performed on wet cell batteries.
4. Know your types of batteries and maintain accordingly.
In today’s market there are three types of marine batteries available flooded acid, gelled acid, and Advanced AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat). Gelled acid and AGM batteries are virtually maintenance free, however it is crucial they are kept properly charged and stored when not in use. Flooded acid batteries however, are not sealed like the other two, and therefore will lose electrolyte over time. Letting a battery lose too much electrolyte can expose the lead plates within a battery causing poor performance and heat transfer issues. Therefore, it is best to make sure these batteries are kept full. Use distilled water to top them off. Never use tap water, as it will contaminate the cells. You can also purchase a hydrometer, a handy tool that will show you the specific gravity or concentration of acid within your battery.
If you are not using your boat for an extended period of time, it is best to store your batteries in a location in which they will not freeze. Once a battery freezes, irreversible damage is done that will dramatically shorten its life. Also, be sure your batteries maintain a proper charge and keep terminals covered to prevent corrosion or possible contact with conductive items.
By taking these yacht battery care precautions, you can ensure that you are getting the maximum potential life out of your marine batteries. Saving you money and allowing you more time to have fun out on the water. Here’s wishing you a safe and fun boating season from S3 Maritime. Systems Service Support.