Cautions About Life Expectancy:
Most average battery life expectancies are shorter these days due to increased energy demands onboard. Heres a sad fact only 27% of batteries sold today reach the 48-month mark. Whats worse is that sulfation build-up is the reason for 80% of all battery failures. Therere many causes of sulfation, such as:
Dont Maintain Your Battery
Water loss, due to evaporation from heat and other chemical reactions, is common in wet cell batteries. It can rapidly shorten a wet cell batterys life if left unchecked, so ensure the water level remains topped up . Only use distilled water, as impurities in tap water will accumulate inside the battery. Note that deep cycle batteries tend to lose water faster than starters.
External components should also be inspected. Check that the lead posts dont show signs of coming off . A gentle dose of grease, lanolin or Vaseline can stave off corrosion on exposed metal terminals. Once a year, clean out the battery box, check for signs of leaks and corrosion, check the vent is clear, and inspect the tie-downs.
Sealed Vs Flooded Lead Acid Batteries
Your deep cycle battery may very well be a flooded lead acid battery, also known as a wet cell battery. This basically means that you are able to replace water that is lost in the battery right through the top of the battery.
These batteries tend to be cheaper than gel or AGM cell batteries. They are more work because replacing the water can be annoying, but this is the best value battery that most boat owners buy.
If you have a sealed lead acid battery, you have bought a model that is essentially maintenance-free. The unit is completely sealed so that there is no water loss inside of the battery. You could have an AGM battery or a GEL battery if you have a sealed or dry battery.
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Adding An Extra Battery In Parallel
In a 12V system adding an extra battery is simply a case of mounting it as close as possible to the existing batteries and then connecting in parallel, connecting alike terminals using large diameter cable and properly crimped battery terminals.
Unless you have the tools and some hefty cable hanging around I would suggest you measure up and have the cross-links professionally-made. You could buy a crimper and terminals to do it yourself, but the investment for such a small job will usually be prohibitive.
When connecting two batteries in parallel its important to note that the output voltage of the bank will remain the same, but your available capacity will increase. There is often confusion with amps and amp hours. Put simply, an amp is a measure of current flow, whereas an amp hour is a measure of current flow every hour. So, in theory a 100Ah battery could provide a 20A current for five hours before becoming flat. It wont actually, for a number of complex reasons, but for simplicity Ill let it stand.
The Bilge Pump Automatically Runs
While the bilge pump is a great feature that can keep your boat in tip-top shape, it does come at a cost. Many bilge pumps turn on automatically each hour to check for water in the bilge. The only way to be positive that this is not the cause of your problem is to disconnect the bilge pump for a time and see if the battery is still being drained.
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Dual Purpose Marine Batteries
A dual purpose battery can be a good solution for some boat owners however these batteries are not guaranteed to work as well as a separate cranking battery and a separate deep cycle battery.
They combine the use of both batteries into one which seems like it would be convenient, however you should be careful to make sure that your battery performs well because these batteries can have problems at time when they get drained.
If you are out in harsh conditions, a dual purpose battery would also be more prone to overheating due to a compromise of the plate thickness that is found inside of the battery.
If you are not using a battery quite as often, a dual purpose marine battery may be a great option for you, but you just need to find one that offers a lot of quality and doesnt compromise too much for the performance that you need.
This is just some of the information that you can get about deep cycle batteries. If you are looking for more info, read on!
Use Determines Life Span Of A Battery
As a general rule, most batteries with heavy use will last approximately three years. Part of owning a boat is managing and maintaining a log of each batterys purchase date and age.
Always make sure your batteries are fully charged after each use. Be prepared to spend some hard-earned dollars when replacing your marine batteries so be looking for discounts beginning in the third year. You will get some moneyotherwise known as a core chargefor a trade-in when buying new batteries at reputable stores.
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House Batteries On A Boat
House boat batteries will generally be marine deep-cycle or even golf cart batteries which are also rugged and deep-cycle.
These are the marathon runner in the battery world and are meant to power your battery needs for the long-haul. You can even take them down to a state of full discharge .
A starter battery could only be discharged fully about 10-12 times before it would cease working. A deep-cycle battery can be fully discharged about 175 times before it dies. A starter battery can be discharged 30% about 175 times, whereas a deep-cycle battery can be cycled down 30% for over 1,000 times.
The difference between the two is pretty clear.
Internally, a deep-cycle battery has thicker plates , less surface area, and the plates are spaced more than a starter battery. This allows for low to medium amperages over a long period of time.
The also have a protective alloy on the plates which allows for lead sulfate to be more easily removed and reconverted through the recharge process.
What Is A Marine Battery
A marine battery uses a special design specific for to maximize powering a boat and its accessories. Invented in 1859 by French physicist Gaston Planté the flooded lead-acid battery was the first rechargeable unit for boats. Unlike the unit you use in a car, the marine version comes with heavier robust internal construction. This special design helps withstand the abrupt vibrations vessels experience out on the water.
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Replacing Your Boat’s Battery
Consult your boat owners manual or a marine dealer when replacing a marine battery, and be sure to buy a new battery that is a good match for your boat. Marine batteries are rated by their ampere hour rating, reverse capacity, and marine cranking amps. When shopping for a deep cycle battery, you’ll want to pay the most attention to the ampere hour rating and reserve capacity. For starting batteries, focus primarily on the marine cranking amps. Consult all three rankings when searching for a dual-purpose battery.
If you add electrical accessories to your boat, you may need to upgrade to a battery with a higher amp-hour rating, especially if you spend a lot of time trolling with the engine at a very low speed or you spend a lot of time beached or at anchor while using accessories like the audio system.
Think About The Reserve Capacity Of The Power Cell
The reserve capacity of a power cell indicates the amount of time it can stand on its own and provide the power your boat needs for its electrical components. It tells about the amount of time a fully charged marine battery requires to drop below 10.5 volts if it is discharging 25 amps. The larger the electrical load of your boat, the higher the reserve capacity it needs to be able to run the entire electrical grid relying on the battery alone. Batteries with higher reserve capacity can be a bit expensive, so make sure to weigh all your options carefully to come with a smart decision.
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The Gel Cell Boat Battery Explained:
A modern Gel cell boat battery uses similar principles to the flooded battery. How it is differs is the gel cell is a sealed battery. Also, it has its electrolyte fluid gelled with a thickening agent. Since these batteries are seal units, they are spill proof and leak proof if cracked or broken.
The formulation of todays Gel cells is from Otto Jaches and Heinz Schroeders U.S. Patent 4,414,302.
Charging A Marine Battery
Most of us understand that when we are buying a new or used boat, the batteries supplied may not necessarily be top-of-the-line. If they seem to do the job, we dont think much about them. But in the warmer climates everyday heat is a major enemy of batteries, and can shorten their life considerably. In areas of the country that force us to put boats in storage for the winter, how the battery is cared for during this period is also critical to increasing life expectancy.
Its best to keep batteries on a regulated trickle charger to maintain charge while not in use. A battery that is not charged can freeze in cold temperatures and a cracked case is the likely result. A battery is like a lot of things in lifeuse it or lose it! A car battery will typically last longer than a boat battery because the car is used regularly and the battery stays charged. When it comes to boats, the old adage of a batterys life being two years is pretty well on the mark. Youll usually get a heads-up when its about to give up on you, with the warning being a dead battery one morning or a bit slower cranking speed than youre used to. You plug in the charger, the battery miraculously comes to life, and youre off on your trip. You may think a light was left on, or that the radio memory pulled the voltage down. The reality may be that the battery is sulfating, plates are warped, and it no longer takes or holds a charge like it once did.
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What Position Should The Battery Switch Be In When Running The Engine
Dont skip this! This is probably one of the most important parts of running the boat when talking about battery juice. Especially when we are talking about offshore boating, reef fishing, or sandbar adventuring.
When the engine is running, like when you are headed to your fishing spot, sandbar, or the beach. Youll want to run with the battery switch in the both position. That way, the engine will be charging all of your batteries at the same time.
Then, once you get where you are going, simply change the switch to either of the battery positions.
That way, as you are hanging out, fishing, or adventuring. You can run the radio, GPS, lights, pumps, whatever you want.
Then when its time to go, change the switch to the other battery and start the engine! You wont have to worry about having a dead battery!
Now switch it to both as you run back and recharge the other battery back to full!
Of course, this only applies if there are two batteries in the boat. But, I would advise having two batteries for that exact reason!
Unless you are running say an 11-17 boat. Two batteries are the way to go!
Different Types Of Battery Chemistry
Now that you are familiar with the different types of batteries available in the market, this is the time to learn about the different types of battery chemistry. Which is another crucial aspect in choosing the right type of battery that can keep with the needs of your boat. To be familiar with this different battery chemistry, refer to the list below:
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The Ideal Charge Curve
Bulk phase: This is where the heavy lifting takes place. Charge at a rate up to 20 percent to 40 percent of the batteries capacity in amp hours to a voltage of about 14.6 volts . For example, a 200 amp-hour battery would be charged at 4080 amperes. This will bring the battery to about 75 percent of full charge, and is efficient since the battery accepts more current when it is discharged. AGMs require slightly different voltages, and unless there is an AGM setting, should be charged using lead-acid settings.
Acceptance phase: Maintains battery at 14.6 volts while the amperage is steadily reduced. This will restores the next 25 percent of capacity at a declining rate. Your battery can be considered fully charged if it will accept current equal to 2 percent of C at 14.6 volts .
How Long Will My Battery Last
One of the reasons that you shouldnt use your deep cycle battery for starting your boat is that it will kill the performance of the battery.
Your deep cycle battery isnt designed for starting a boat, so if you try to use it that way all the time, you are going to erode its ability over time and pretty much make your battery useless.
How long your battery will last depends a lot on how well your battery is maintained. If you regularly overcharge or undercharge your battery, it is going to harm your lifespan in a big way.
Batteries are more complex than they seem, so you should always use them in the intended way to get the most out of your purchase.
Your deep cycle battery should last anywhere from 1 to 2 years up to 6 to 8 years on the high end. While it is impossible to guarantee any one batterys life based on how it will be used, if you are taking good care of your battery and using it appropriately, you should find yourself on the higher end of these ratings.
The best way to take care of your deep cycle battery is to perform regular maintenance on them. That means that they have the appropriate amount of water and you should try to keep them from discharging too low. Your charger should be monitored so that you arent overcharging them either.
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Types Of Marine Batteries
There are three basic types of marine batteries:
- provide quick but powerful spurts of energy over short periods of time and are designed to start the engine and be rapidly recharged by the engine alternator. A starting battery should not be used for trolling motors or powering appliances.
- are designed to discharge slowly over a long period of time and to withstand several hundred charging and discharging cycles. A deep cycle battery is the right choice for powering an electric trolling motor and other battery-powered accessories such as audio systems, a windlass, depth finders, fish locators, and applicances. Deep cycle batteries should not be substituted for starting batteries.
- combine the performance of starting and deep cycle battery, and are a good choice on smaller when theres no room for two batteries. While they’re able to perform the tasks of a starting battery and deep cycle battery, they’re not as efficient as separate batteries.
Deep Cycle vs. Cranking
The cranking battery has more yet thinner plates to give a fast voltage spike to crank an engine, but is not intended to maintain high power output for long periods. Yes, a deep cycle battery can be used to start your motor in a pinch, but a two- or three-battery system is highly recommended to separate the engine battery from the accessory batteries.
Should I Leave My Boat Battery Charger On All The Time
When it comes to leaving your battery charger plugged in all the time, it all comes down to what type of charger you have. For example, there are 3 stage and 4 stage chargers that have a built-in microprocessor that monitors the charge in the battery and automatically shuts itself off when the battery reaches a full charged.
There are also 1 and 2 stage chargers that shouldnt be left on for a long period. Usually, people who own these types of chargers will plug their battery in and fully charge it. Once the battery is fully charged they will unplug it. Then the day before they plan on heading out with the boat, theyll plug the charger back in to top the battery back up again.
The problem with leaving your battery charger plugged in for a long period if it doesnt have an auto-shutoff function is that it could dry up the battery cells and when that happens, you run the risk of overheating, which could lead to a fire if left too long.
If you store your boat on land or a lift just out of the water, you generally dont need to keep your battery plugged into a charger all of the time. Unless you live several hours away from where you store the boat, and you leave the boat for a few weeks at a time. In which case, you could always take the battery home with you to make sure it stays charged.
BMK makes a very nice smart charger that has been working great for me so far. You can buy them from Amazon for $35.99.
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Think About The Warranties Included
You also have to think about the included warranties when purchasing the power cell. Aside from it can keep you from buying incompetent batteries that wont be able to keep up with your needs. It will also help you save a lot of money in the future because it can reduce the maintenance cost and then it can provide a lot of benefits like manufacturers support, free repairs, and even replacements.
Following this guide will help you come up with a smart decision and pick an excellent investment for your boating needs. It will make sure the battery you are going to purchase can keep up with the demands of your boat as well as its applications. It will also make sure that you are going to get the best suitable power cell for your boat which you can consider as an excellent investment. So keep these significant aspects in mind because it will help you a lot if you are going to look for a new power cell for your boat or fishing vessel.